Praying Towards Sunday for January 8th

Greetings in this New Year, 2017!  We are now in the “home stretch” of the Twelve Days of Christmas. The definition of the word EPIPHANY, in the Cambridge English Dictionary is:

1. a moment when you suddenly feel that you understand, or suddenly become conscious of, something that is very important to you; 2. a powerful religious experience. An epiphany happens too many of us several times a day, it seems, taking the first definition. The second, a powerful religious experience, now that is more to the point of this coming January 5 and 6.  Yes, we celebrate Advent, Christmas every year. We wait; we celebrate the birth, as one musician said to a group of musicians…“we got the baby born again!” Now I understand that may sound not so reverent, but, we are musicians take a sigh of relief that Christmas Eve and Day services have come to a conclusion, once again. We have helped our congregations find wonder, awe, and beauty in this festival of the birth of Jesus, we have worked hard with our choirs, and our instrumentalists. This happens every year, and it is SPECIAL to us and to all who prepare for these days, EVERY YEAR!  I would not want to miss these days of celebration, of wonder and renewal.  So, then we have a week of quiet, and here at COS, we have celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany for the last 9 years.  My first Sunday as your Organist/Choirmaster, was January 6, 2008, the Feast of the Epiphany. This now begins my ninth year in this gracious and Spirit-filled place! So you see, sometimes we have celebrated on the day, because it has fallen on a Sunday, other years, like this year, we celebrate on the 12th Night, the Eve of the Epiphany. The Our Saviour Choir and guests, will lead you in this celebration with hymns and anthems.  Come, 7:30 p.m. this Thursday evening, and sing with us the great hymns/carols of the Epiphany: The First Noel, We Three Kings, Brightest and Best. The choir will sing the anthem, “Arise and Shine, Jerusalem” by the American composer, Leo Nestor. (This anthem was commissioned by the Choir of the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour, San Gabriel, California, to honor the musical ministry of James A. Person.) The settings of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in B-flat Major, is by the English composer, Charles V. Stanford. The guest organist for this service is Joseph Peeples.  After the Evensong we will celebrate in Cleaver Hall with the Three Kings Cakes. We will crown the King and Queen and they will then reign over the Shrove Tuesday celebrations on Tuesday evening, February 28th, the day before Ash Wednesday. 

This is a “Music for a Season” service. I thank you for your generosity this season. We will take a freewill offering to help with the expenses of this service.

Now, I have not even written about the Sunday following this festival. We continue on January 8th with another special day in the liturgical calendar, The First Sunday after the Epiphany: The Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This day we remember our own Baptismal Covenant and celebrate the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan.  The Collect of the Day:  Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

The Gospel of Matthew, John the Baptist question Jesus, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Of course, John consented and when Jesus was baptized, suddenly the heavens opened and the Spirit of God descended like a dove and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” And so, we begin the next Sundays with the life and ministry of Jesus.

Blessed are WE, who are called by God.  Be active in your time of prayer, in your time of preparation, and in your attendance, as we GATHER TOGETHER to pray and praise and listen once again to the Word of God through the spoken word and music.

Blessings to us all,

Phil Smith

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