Posts Tagged ‘1-6-2019’

God Within 1-6-2019

Sunday, January 6th, 2019

True story:
The congregation was very proud of their beautiful church, which had stood proudly on the village common for generations.
But, one night just before Thanksgiving, a spark in the heating system ignited a fire that destroyed the New England clapboard structure. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the congregation was devastated.
As soon as the fire marshal gave the all-clear, the stunned pastor and parishioners combed the rubble to salvage the few things they could.
Then, interesting things began to happen.
A nearby church — a congregation that the displaced parish had little to do with before — offered them the use of their religious education building for services and meetings for as long as they needed it. Churches from nearby towns offered hymnals and other supplies; several churches took up a special collection for the congregation.
At the first service following the fire, the congregation, who were used to sitting in their “own” places at a comfortable distance from one another, found themselves sitting side-by-side on folding chairs. After the service, teams started to form to deal with insurance issues, organize temporary arrangements for religious education and parish programs, and to sketch out first plans to rebuild. The pastor tapped the expertise of everyone in the parish to help — and everyone readily signed on. Parishioners who knew one another only by name, who had, until then, exchanged pleasant but perfunctory hellos on Sunday, were now working together to rebuild not just their beautiful building but the community they had taken for granted.
And, in their grief and loss that first Sunday morning in their temporary quarters, they prayed and sang in a way few had ever experienced before.
In the new journey they had begun as a church, they had rediscovered the God within.

The Epiphany of the Lord is a story about seeking and finding the God within, the God in our midst. As the magi undertakes a long and arduous journey by the light of the mysterious star to find the newborn king (encountering, among other things, a murderous tyrant along the way), the suddenly churchless parish rediscovers, in their coming together to deal with the catastrophe, the Spirit of God in their midst. The Epiphany challenges us to slow down and check our own bearings on our life’s journey, to focus on the “star” we should follow to make our lives all that God has created them to be, to fix our lives on the constant, eternal values of peace, compassion, mercy, justice, forgiveness that are the unmistakable signs of God within our hearts and homes.