Save the Best for Last and Other Lessons from a Wedding in Cana

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday: 

‘Save the Best for Last and Other Lessons from a Wedding in Cana’

 © October 21, 2018, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin October 21, 2018

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer 

Opening Hymn #57: I Sing the Almighty Power of God; Choruses 

Prayer and Tithing – Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayer Requests

Responsive Reading #601 (Faith and Confidence – Psalm 27) 

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                Saving the Best for Last and Other Lessons from a Wedding in Cana’

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to BLCF Sunday Praise and Worship Service. For our lesson this morning, which is entitled Save the Best for Last and Other Lessons from a Wedding in Cana’, where we will examine the account of the first of Jesus’ signs or miracles, at a wedding in Cana, from the second chapter of John’s Gospel:

John 2:1-12 (ESV): The Wedding at Cana

 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers, sisters, and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

Footnotes: a. John 2:6 Greek two or three measures (metrētas); a metrētēs was about 10 gallons or 35 liters b. John 2:12 

Some critics seem to place more importance on the metaphorical aspects of the Lord’s first sign, rather than focus on the importance of the miracle.

At one extreme, some authors tend to describe the signs performed by Christ in the Gospels as merely a collection of metaphorical stories, rather than acknowledging that the miracles of the Lord, including the changing water into wine at the wedding in Cana, describe a miracle performed by our Lord as witnessed by John on his gospel, John 2:1-12.

While the use of six stone jars containing water for purification rituals may be laced with religious symbolism, the changing water into wine is what it is, a miracle performed by Jesus, the Word made flesh. It is NOT a symbolic action or metaphor to be interpreted to represent something else. To think otherwise tends demean or diminish the importance of a sign from the Lord.

Jesus came into our world as a Son of Man, but also the Son of God, the Word made flesh, to offer humanity a path to righteousness and salvation by emphasizing a choice centered in faith and obedience to what God provides, rather than what may be gained from this world. With God, all things are possible and in the world, much is not possible:

Matthew 19:23-28 (ESV)

23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world,[a] when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 19:28 Greek in the regeneration

The choice of stone jars as vessels of Jesus’ miracle, considered by some to be symbolic, was likely more one of convenience. But why were the vessels made from stone:

 Archaeologist Yitzhak Magen explains why in “Ancient Israel’s Stone Age” in BAR:

 What was it that connected these stone vessels to Jewish purity laws? Simply this: Stone vessels, unlike ceramic and glass vessels, were not subject to impurity.

Laws of ritual purity and impurity are of Biblical origin (Leviticus 11:33 ff.). During the Second Temple period, however, the rules were greatly expanded. Most of the purity laws relate to rites in the Temple. But the territory of the Temple was at least metaphorically expanded beyond the Temple confines, and ritual cleanliness was not limited to the bounds of the Temple but spread through the Jewish community. The laws affected ordinary people.

It made sense to purchase a vessel that could not become unclean, for once a vessel became ritually unclean, it had to be taken out of use. An impure pottery vessel, for example, had to be broken.

https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/ancient-cultures/daily-life-and-practice/jewish-purification-stone-vessel-workshop-galilee/

Laws intended for the Temple had been expanded metaphorically to outside the bounds of the temple to include ordinary people, not just the priests of the Temple. So it is not surprising that the Pharisees perceived those who had committed actions considered to be contrary to traditional rules, even though the disciples by  not washing their hands through a violation of Jewish tradition, reacted as if they had broken a Commandment of God:

Mark 7:1-4 (ESV): Traditions and Commandments

 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly,[a] holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash.[b] And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.[c])

Footnotes: a. Mark 7:3 Greek unless they wash the hands with a fist, probably indicating a kind of ceremonial washing b. Mark 7:4 Greek unless they baptize; some manuscripts unless they purify themselves c. Mark 7:4 Some manuscripts omit and dining couches

The stone jars of water which were used to symbolically remove the soil that was thought to defiled the hands of the guests, allowing a ceremonial purification, became containers where the true power of the Lord became manifest: water was transformed to wine. Not just ordinary wine but what the master of the wedding feast indicated that the groom, who was responsible for providing the wine for the wedding banquet, had apparently saved the best for last as we see in John 2:8-10:

And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”

We should not confuse what the stone jars, which was a man-made tradition with the miracle that occurred inside. Changing water to wine was a miracle performed by the Son of God taking place in a jar made from stone. The miracle was from God in a vessel for man. Just as Jesus is God expressed in the vessel of a man, or the Word made flesh.

Since Jesus came to humanity in the form of a man, does that not mean that he be considered the greatest among all men. The Lord’s answer to this very question may surprise you, as it did to the disciples:

Luke 22:24-30 (ESV): Who Is the Greatest?

24 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

28 “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, 29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 

In this life, we honour the Lord, and in turn the Father in heaven, when we acknowledge their authority and Lordship by serving others. In this life, we are expected to take a place at the banquet table not as the greatest, but alongside the youngest who role it is to be considered last. This is where least in this world, those who serve will be honored as the greatest in the next kingdom, which belongs to the Father in heaven.

When Jesus performed the miracle of changing water into wine at a wedding banquet in Cana, he did so not to impress the bride or groom, nor officials of the wedding, but to engender faith hope in the hearts of the disciple, those who chose to follow and serve the Lord, John 2:9 and 11:

When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew) 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

Jesus used his response to a simple request from his mother, Mary, to provide wine for a wedding banquet, as a lesson to show his disciples that the Son of Man is truly the Son of God who has come not to rule humanity, but to serve them. In doing his service, the Lord would humbly forfeit his own life to pay the debt for the sins of humanity. In return, humanity would be offered salvation, given in exchange for faith expressed by humble trust and obedience to the Lord.

The Lord expects those who accept his gift of salvation, to follow His example of humbly serving the least of our brothers and sisters as the only way of inheriting the Kington that has been prepared for the faithful:

Matthew 25:31-40 (ESV): The Final Judgment

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’                                                                                                                              

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #74: Shepherd of Eager Youth                                                     

Benediction (Ephesians 3:20-21):  Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Epiphany: Celebrating the Power of the Trinity and the Manifestation of Christ

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

 ‘Epiphany: Celebrating the Power of the Trinity and

the Manifestation of Christ’

© January 7, 2018 by Steve Mickelson

Revised Sermon, Originally Shared at BLCF on December 29, 2013

BLCF Bulletin January 7, 2018

Opening Hymn #118: Shepherds Came, Their Praises Bringing; Choruses                                                        

Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572:  Praise God from Whom All Blessings; Prayer Requests                                                                                 

Responsive Reading #667 (Humility and Exaltation – Philippians 2; Matthew 23); Prayer                                                                               

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Epiphany: A True Manifestation of Jesus’

Let us pray…

Our lesson today will focus on Epiphany, not to be confused with the secular use of epiphany, such as the ‘Eureka!’ moment experienced by the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes, when he stepped into a bath and noticed that the water level rose and he suddenly understood that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged, known today as the Archimedes’ principle.

The Epiphany which is the object of  today’s lesson is spelt with a capitol “E”, a Christians use to describe when the supernatural powers of Jesus, the Son of God, became manifested or expressed to all. We have a little more background from the Web site sharefaith.com:

Epiphany Observances

Observed on January 6th, the Epiphany celebration remembers the three miracles that manifest the divinity of Christ. The name “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word Epiphania, and means “to show, make known, or reveal.” The celebration originated in the Eastern Church in AD 361, beginning as a commemoration of the birth of Christ. Later, additional meanings were added – the visit of the three Magi, Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River, and his first miracle at the wedding in Cana. These three events are central to the definition of Epiphany, and its meaning is drawn from these occurrences.

For many Christians, the definition of Epiphany is a reminder of God the Father’s unlimited love and mercy, which He has extended to all of mankind through the revelation of His Son, and of the hope of salvation that is now manifest for all who come to him in faith.                                                              http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Holidays/definition-of-epiphany.html

Last week we watched the film, the nativity story, which included a depiction of the visit of the Three Magi or  the Three Wise Men.  Epiphany is associated in the Christian Church and includes one or all three of the accounts recorded in the Bible:

  1. The Magi’s visit to the newborn Jesus at Bethlehem. (Matthew 2:1-12)
  2. The Miracle performed by Jesus to convert water into wine at a wedding in Cana. (John 2:1-12)
  3. The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John. (Matthew 3:13-17)

The first of today’s Scripture verses gives the only account of the visit of the Magi or Wise Men who came from the east, beyond the borders of the Roman Empire, as unlike Joseph and Mary, they came to Bethlehem to worship and bear gifts to the newborn king as foretold by prophecy and guided by a star, and not in response the Census mandated by the Edict of Caesar.

The fact that the Magi were unaware that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, indicates that the three were Gentiles, being ignorant of the prophecy known to the scribes and chief priests, only that a star will mark the location of the birth of Christ Child as we see in Matthew 2:1-12 (ESV):

The Visit of the Wise Men

2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.                                       

 Footnotes: a. Matthew 2:1 Greek magi; also verses 7, 16 b. Matthew 2:2 Or in the east; also verse 9

The birth of Jesus, the Messiah, the son of God, in the town of Bethlehem is an event that marks the fulfillment of God’s promise, an event foretold by the prophets, through visits by angelic messengers, and marked by a heavenly star. Our Scripture passage from Matthew 2:1-12 describes a prophecy that describes a visit by Wise Men or Kings, assumed to be three in number, based upon the three gifts of treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. Their visit was based upon a prophecy they which the priests and scribes described to King Herod as follows:

“In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

This prophecy is found in Isaiah 60:1-3 (ESV):

The Future Glory of Israel

60 Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.

The next manifestation of the Lord, takes place at a wedding at Cana in Galilee, considered to be either the first or second miracle performed by Jesus. If you consider the birth of the son of God to the Mary, a virgin, a miracle, then this wedding would be the second performed by the Lord which we find in John 2:1-12 (ESV):

The Wedding at Cana

2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers[b] and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

Footnotes: a. John 2:6 Greek two or three measures (metrētas); a metrētēs was about 10 gallons or 35 liters b. John 2:12 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters

The changing of water to wine by our Lord is considered by many Biblical scholars to be symbolic how faith in Jesus Christ transforms the believer into a new creature.

Our third Scripture passage describes how the Spirit of God came upon our Lord, after he was baptized in the River, Jordan, which is found in Matthew 3:13-17 (ESV):

The Baptism of Jesus

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,[a] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,[b] with whom I am well pleased.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 3:16 Some manuscripts omit to him b. Matthew 3:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

From the three miracles of Epiphany, we see that God, as the Godhead/Holy Trinity, demonstrates His power and presence in many ways.

Our Epiphany study marks three events and aspects of the walk on earth by Jesus:

  1. His birth as prophesied by God and recorded in Scripture, which is supported by the visitation by the Magi.
  2. The power of the Lord was made manifest when Jesus transformed water to wine.
  3. The alighting of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus after His baptism, supported by words spoken to John by God.

All three Epiphany Scripture verses demonstrate how our Lord manifests or expresses his Devine power and presence: by his birth, his miracles and by way of the Holy Spirit. All three accounts take place between the birth and crucifixion of Jesus, while he walked on the earth as a man who the angels called the son of God, but who chose to refer to himself, more modestly, as the son of man.

The birth of Christ in such humble circumstances, as in a stable, with a manger as a crib, first announced by angels to shepherds, reveals that Jesus came as child to serve all men and women, not to rule from a palace, as he Magi had mistakenly expected. This child, Jesus, grew to become the Savior and Lord, not by power and conquest of battle and destruction, but by an act of love and surrender on the cross at Calvary.

Before he died, Jesus lived and experienced the world as a man, died a human death, but was resurrected from the tomb, and then ascended into heaven in order to bring Devine forgiveness and sanctification by taking upon himself our judgment for our sins. And Jesus continued to assure that we would have Emmanuel or the presence of God with us by way of the Holy Spirit.

I would like to point out that the Three Miracles of Epiphany focus on actions involving part of the Godhead or Holy Trinity:

  1. The Wise Men arrive in response to God, the Father’s prophecy fulfilled.
  2. The Wedding of Cana is an account where Jesus the Son, at the bequest of his mother, Mary, changes water into wine.
  3. The Baptism of Jesus, the Holy Spirit appears and alights upon Jesus.

Each of these miracles, the people witness an aspect of God’s will and power, be it the fulfilment of a prophecy of the arrival of the Messiah, the Christ, Jesus; Jesus changing water into the best wine for a wedding celebration; and the appearance of the Holy Spirit descending to Jesus, whose identity is confirmed by the words of the Father, Speaking from heaven.

Let us pray…

Communion Observance: #663 (1 Corinthians 11)

Closing Hymn #158: I Serve a Risen Savior

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

 

The Manifestation of the Light and Glory of the Lord

BLCF: magi_natalBLCF: canaBLCF: Jesus-baptism

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

The Manifestation of the Light and Glory of the Lord

© January 8, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin-January-8-2017

BLCF: epiphany3

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Opening Hymn #358: We Praise Thee, O God                                             

Tithing and Prayer; Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers                                              

Scriptures: Isaiah 60:1-3, John 2:1-12, John 3:31-36, Ephesians 3:1-12

Responsive Reading #667: (Humility and Exaltation – Philippians 2; Matthew 23)

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Praise and Worship Service at BLCF Church, for Sunday January 8, 2017.

Our lesson today is on the topic of the significance to Christians: Epiphany. But what is Epiphany. For the answer, let us look at our Wikibits for a definition of Epiphany. Oxford Online Dictionary gives the following definition:

epiphany – NOUN

BLCF: Epiphany

  • 1 The manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1–12).
    1. 1The festival commemorating the Epiphany on 6 January.
    2. 2A manifestation of a divine or supernatural being.
  • 2A moment of sudden and great revelation or realization.

Origin – Middle English: from Greek epiphaine in reveal. The sense relating to the Christian festival is via Old French epiphanie and ecclesiastical Latin epiphania.

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/epiphany

And for those who seek a little more detail on the subject, the Encyclopædia Britannica online briefly gives a historical background as follows:

 Epiphany – RELIGIOUS FESTIVAL

BLCF: Epiphany

WRITTEN BY: The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica

LAST UPDATED:  12-9-2016 See Article History

 Epiphany, ( Greek epiphaneia, “manifestation” ) also called Feast of the Epiphany,Theophany, or Three Kings’ Day, Christian holiday commemorating the first manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, and the manifestation of his divinity, as it occurred at his baptism in the Jordan River and at his first miracle at Cana in Galilee. Epiphany is one of the three principal and oldest festival days of the Christian church (the other two are Easter and Christmas). Roman CatholicsLutheransAnglicans, and other Western churches observe the feast on January 6, while some Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Epiphany on January 19, since their Christmas Eve falls on January 6.

The festival originated in the Eastern church, where it at first included a commemoration of Christ’s birth. In Rome, by 354 Christ’s birth was being celebrated on December 25, and later in the 4th century the church in Rome began celebrating Epiphany on January 6. In the Western church the festival primarily commemorates the visit by the Magi to the infant Jesus, which is seen as evidence that Christ, the Jewish Messiah, came also for the salvation of Gentiles. In the East it primarily commemorates the baptism of Jesus and celebrates the revelation that Christ was both fully God and fully man.

In the West the evening preceding Epiphany is called Twelfth Night. The time between December 25 and January 6 is known as the Twelve Days of Christmas.

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Epiphany

On January 5th  or 6th, depending on how you mark the days as beginning on the evening or morning, marks the 12th Day of Christmas, which is known in the church as Epiphany. The Epiphany celebration marks one or all three events in the earthy walk of our Lord, Jesus Christ: the arrival of the Wise Men or Magi to visit the newborn Jesus at Bethlehem; the Miracle performed by Jesus to convert water into wine at a wedding in Cana; and/or the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John.
BLCF: magi_natalBLCF: Jesus-baptism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Sundays’ ago, on Christmas Day, our lesson included a reading from Matthew 3:16-17 (ESV): Jesus is Baptized and last Sunday, our lesson included a reading from Matthew 2:1-15 (ESV): The Visit of the Wise Men.

The birth of Jesus, the Messiah, the son of God, in the town of Bethlehem is an event that marks the fulfillment of God’s promise, an event foretold by the prophets, through visits by angelic messengers, and marked by a heavenly star, Isaiah 60:1-3 (ESV):                                                                                            

The Future Glory of Israel

lBLCF: Light-of-Christmas

60 Arise, shine, for your light has come,     

and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,    

 and thick darkness the peoples;

but the Lord will arise upon you,     

and his glory will be seen upon you.

And nations shall come to your light,     

and kings to the brightness of your rising.

 The next manifestation of the Lord takes place at a wedding considered to be either the first or second miracle performed by Jesus. If you consider the birth of the son of God to the Mary, a virgin, a miracle, then this wedding would be the second performed by the Lord which we find in John 2:1-12 (ESV):

The Wedding at Cana

BLCF: cana

2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers, sisters,[b]and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

Footnotes: a. John 2:6 Greek two or three measures (metrētas); a metrētēs was about 10 gallons or 35 liters b. John 2:12 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters

The miracles and manifestation of our Lord give us a supernatural proof and affirmation of Lord’s power and presence. These miracles give testament to the true identity of Jesus, as the Son of God, and yet the miracle at the wedding at Cana, Jesus responds to a request from his mother in a miraculous way.

Mary’s earthly request is answered in a non-earthly way, which is what one might expect from the Word of God made flesh, which is explained in the Scripture, John 3:31-36 (ESV):

BLCF: John3-36

31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

While many see the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and focus on the death of Jesus, the Lord wants us to remember the reason for the sacrifice which transformed all who believe into sanctified recipients of God’s most precious gift, which should be the focus of our witness and testimony, the transformation Christ which the Apostle Paul describes in Ephesians 3:1-12 (ESV):

 The Mystery of the Gospel Revealed

BLCF: Ephesians-3_1-12

 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is[a] that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in[b] God, who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Footnotes: a. Ephesians 3:6 The words This mystery is are inferred from verse 4 b. Ephesians 3:9 Or by

So let us embark on this new year, with a conviction and determination to share not only the miracles that the Lord performed as a proof of his supernatural identity as the Son of God, but our transformation from the punishment of death for sin and gift of eternal life, granted through Jesus, who granted us proof of God’s New Covenant given as a free gift to all who believe in Christ’s name.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #560: Another Year Is Dawning

Benediction (Romans 15:5-7): May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

BLCF: Christian-Unity

 

The Manifestation of the Holy Spirit at Epiphany and Pentecost

BLCF: Trinity_of_God

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘The Manifestation of the Holy Spirit at Epiphany and Pentecost’

© January 10, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

 BLCF Bulletin January 10, 2016

BLCF:Trinity

Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #624: (The Great Commission – Mark 11 and Matthew 21); Prayer          Opening Hymn #581: There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit                                                                                                         Tithing and Prayer; Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers                                                                                                   Today’s Scriptures: Luke 1:26-38, Matthew 3:13-17, John 2:1-12, Acts 2:1-13

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday morning Praise and Worship Service at BLCF Church, where our lesson today is entitled: ‘The Manifestation of the Holy Spirit at Epiphany and Pentecost’. Before we get too involved in the lesson, let us check out the definition of three terms used in the lesson’s title: manifestation, Epiphany and Pentecost.

The first term is manifestation:

Manifestation – from the Thesaurus portion of freedictionary.com

BLCF: Jesus_dove

 

noun 1. manifestation – a clear appearance; “a manifestation of great emotion”

appearance – the event of coming into sight

epiphany – a divine manifestation

theophany – a visible (but not necessarily material) manifestation of a deity to a human person

Word of God – a manifestation of the mind and will of God

tidal wave – an overwhelming manifestation of some emotion or phenomenon; “a tidal wave of nausea”; “the flood of letters hit him with the force of a tidal wave”; “a tidal wave of crime”

 http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Noun

 

The term manifestation might be illustrated when BLCF Cafe volunteers help with various chores at our Community Dinner as an expression of compassion and care to the guests.

Those Christian volunteers among the team believe that by serving the least of their brothers and sisters is a manifestation of service to their Lord, Christ Jesus, where physical actions are an expression of love and faith.

Next, let us look at Epiphany:

Epiphany – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BLCF: Epiphany

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphany

And last, but not lease, we have Pentecost:

Pentecost – from Wikipedia.org

Pentecost (Ancient Greek: Πεντηκοστή [ἡμέρα], Pentēkostē [hēmera], “the fiftieth [day]”) is the Greek name for Shavuot (Hebrew: שבועות‎, lit. “Weeks”), the Feast of Weeks, a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law to Moses at Sinai. In Christianity, Pentecost is celebrated fifty days after Easter Sunday, inclusively (i.e., 49 days with the first day counted, seven weeks), hence its name.

In the New Testament, Pentecost was the occasion of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1–31. and therefore in the Christian liturgical year, it became a feast commemorating this occasion. For this reason, Pentecost is described by some Christians as the “Birthday of the Church”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentecost

BLCF: signs_wonders_miracles

 

Christians commonly accept that Epiphany marks the occasion when our first Lord demonstrates his supernatural divine nature to humanity as part of the Godhead or Holy Trinity, though there is some disagreement among scholars as to when the Epiphany took place.

Let us look at the three events in the Scriptures, which happen to involve two of the three members of the Trinity: Jesus, the Son of God and the Holy Spirit. Depending on the scholar, each event may be considered Epiphany or the first physical manifestation of Epiphany.

Our first Scripture verse concerns how Mary became the mother to Jesus, from Luke 1:26-38 (ESV):

Birth of Jesus Foretold

BLCF: Angel and Mary

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[a] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[b] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[c]

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant[e] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Footnotes: a. Luke 1:27 That is, legally pledged to be married b. Luke 1:28 Some manuscripts add Blessed are you among women! c. Luke 1:34 Greek since I do not know a man d. Luke 1:35 Some manuscripts add of you e. Luke 1:38 Greek bondservant; also verse 48

Mary conceived her son by way of the Holy Spirit, where the Power of the Most High had overshadowed her. In this verse, the Holy Spirit is described as “the Power of God, who is the Most High. The conception is a miracle of God.

Our next Scripture describes the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, in Matthew 3:13-17 (ESV):

The Baptism of Jesus

BLCF:Jesus_Baptism

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,[a] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,[b] with whom I am well pleased.”

Footnotes: a.Matthew 3:16 Some manuscripts omit to him b.Matthew 3:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

In this Scripture, the Holy Spirit descends like a dove upon Jesus after his baptism. We hear a voice from heaven, from the Most High, describing Jesus as His beloved Son, with whom He is well pleased. Both the arrival of the Spirit, Who appearance is descending like a dove and the voice from heaven announcing the identity of Jesus are miraculous in nature, from God.

Our third verse describes the miracle Jesus performed at the wedding at Cana, where our Lord changed water into wine, as described in John 2:1-12 (ESV):

The Wedding at Cana

BLCF: Miracle_Wedding_at_Cana

2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers[b] and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

Footnotes: a. John 2:6 Greek two or three measures (metrētas); a metrētēs was about 10 gallons or 35 liters b.John 2:12 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters

This miracle performed by Jesus, who was conceived as the Son of God and baptized by the Holy Spirit. All three verses describe events which demonstrate the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit enables Mary to conceive God’s Son; empower Jesus, who is also the Son of Man to resist testing and temptation from the devil, and enable Christ to transform ordinary water to wine.

This same Holy Spirit is sent by Jesus, who sits beside the Father in heaven, to transform common believers into Spirit-filled Apostles of the Lord. As is told in our final Scripture verse, Acts 2:1-13 (ESV):

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

BLCF: Pentecost_Dove

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Footnotes: a. Acts 2:3 Or And tongues as of fire appeared to them, distributed among them, and rested

In conclusion, the Holy Spirit enables both the Son of God and Believers in Christ to demonstrate His power and purpose to share the Word, which is the Gospel manifested through Christ Jesus.

God has come in human form, as Jesus, whose sacrifice provided the way for the Holy Spirit to come to all believers, so that we are empowered to prepare the way of the Lord, when all will be brought before the Father, at the time of Jesus’ return.

Let us pray…

BLCF: Epiphany

Closing Hymn #350: Open My eyes, That I May See

Benediction – (Romans 15:13):                                                                                                                                                       May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

 

BLCF: Power of the Spirit

 

Mother’s Day Message: Divine Miracles to Satisfy: A Wedding, a Widow, and a Multitude

BLCF: faith_thanking-God_in_advance

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Divine Miracles to Satisfy: A Wedding, a Widow, and a Multitude

© May 10, 2015 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 10, 2015

BLCF: God_I_need_a_miracle

 

Announcements & Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #603 (Divine Providence – Psalm 34);Prayer

Opening Hymn #417: What a Fellowship, What a Joy Divine; Choruses

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers

Today’s Scriptures: John 2:1-12, 2 Kings 4:1-7, Matthew 14:13-21    

 

BLCF: bread-of-life 

 Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to BLCF Church’s Praise and Worship Service  on this Mother’s Day, Sunday May 10, 2015. I pray the Lord will bring a special blessing to our mom’s attending the service, today.

For our lesson this morning, I would like to examine how the Lord supplies for the needs of those who serve Him faithfully. Today’s lesson, ‘Divine Miracles to Satisfy: A Wedding, a Widow, and a Multitude, began with the reading of three accounts in the Bible, where the Lord responded to needs of His faithful servants by way of a Divine miracle.

The first Scripture, John 2:1-12, describes the miracle at the wedding at Cana:

John 2:1-12 (ESV) The Wedding at Cana

BLCF: thefirstmiracle

2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers[b] and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

Footnotes: a. John 2:6 Greek two or three measures (metrētas); a metrētēs was about 10 gallons or 35 liters b. John 2:12 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters

In this passage, Jesus was asked by his mother, Mary, to help provide more wine for wedding. The wine had run out and, though Jesus told his mother that his hour had not yet come. Jesus obeyed his mother’s wishes by changing six stone jars of water into wine.

This was the first of the miracles Jesus was to perform as a sign to his disciples of his manifested glory.

The second Scripture, 2 Kings 4:1-7, tells of how widow of one of the sons of the prophets has died, and that a creditor has come to make the widow’s two children his slaves, as payment for the dead man’s debts. The widow asks Elisha to help save her sons:

2 Kings 4:1-7 (ESV) Elisha and the Widow’s Oil

BLCF: widow-oil

4 Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”

In our second Scripture, Elisha asks the widow, what does she have in the house? Her reply is a single jar of oil. The widow is instructed to acquire as many empty vessels as possible, from her neighbors, close the doors and to fill the empty vessels from her single vessel of oil. When all of the empty vessels were filled, the oil stopped flowing. Elisha instructed the widow to sell the oil from the vessels in order to pay off her debts, and that she and her sons live off the rest.

These two accounts, show how the Lord takes care of the needs of the faithful, providing wine for a wedding and oil for an indebted widow.

The third Scripture account, Matthew 14:13-21, describes how Jesus multiplies five loaves of bread and six fish to feed some five thousand men, plus their women and children:

Matthew 14:13-21(ESV)

BLCF: feeding-the-multitude

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

In these three miracle accounts, we see that the Lord provided an abundance of wine, oil and food to take care of his faithful servants. Not only do these miracles demonstrate the ‘Glory of God’, they provide food from the earth and wine to gladden the believers’ hearts; oil to make his face shine and to gladden their hearts, as well.

It is appropriate that on Mother’s Day, we see that the first two miracles are in response to requests from His faithful servants, who are mothers seeking the Lord’s help for the needs of others. It is just like a mother, who is faithful to the Lord, to put the needs of others ahead of her own!

In the three Scripture accounts that we studied, we have miracles of the Lord providing an abundance of wine, oil and food, all staples and necessities of life. These miracles demonstrate how God provides for the needs of His own, which the Psalmist acknowledges in, Psalm 104:13-16 (ESV):

13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;     t

he earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock     

and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth 15     

and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine     

and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

16 The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly,     

the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.

BLCF: God_blesses_those

Our righteousness, as demonstrated by our obedience to God, gives us His reward of wine, oil and food, to gladden our hearts. In the same manner, when we honor and obey our parents, we provide joy to our parents. For when we honor our parents, we honor His commandment, Proverbs 23:22-25 (ESV):

22 Listen to your father who gave you life,     

and do not despise your mother when she is old.

23 Buy truth, and do not sell it;     

buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.

24 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;     

he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.

25 Let your father and mother be glad;     

let her who bore you rejoice.

BLCF: God Listens

When we are not obedient to the Lord, by not serving God and following His commandments; worshipping other gods, we face His wrath and judgment, Deuteronomy 11:13-17 (ESV):

13 “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 he[a] will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. 15 And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. 16 Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; 17 then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the Lord is giving you.

Footnotes: a. Deuteronomy 11:14 Samaritan, Septuagint, Vulgate; Hebrew I; also verse 15

And just as a servant of the Lord may look to Him to provide for the physical needs, Jesus promises to provide for our spiritual needs, John 6:35 (ESV): 

BLCF: I_Am_The_Bread

                                                 

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

The Divine Miracles shared in today’s lesson are: wine, oil and bread, all multiplied by the power of the Lord. The three  are not just staples of our physical life, providing for the physical needs, when blessed, they are also used as elements of spiritual worship; wine and bread when we remember the Lord as elements of communion and oil to anoint those who seek His healing.

Just as the ordinary elements of these staples of life are transformed to elements of spiritual worship, when blessed through faith, by faith, ordinary people are elevated to a place of sanctification when they accept, by faith, the gifts of the bread of life and living water, given by our Lord and Saviour, Jesus.

The provision of the Devine, both physically and spiritually, is faith’s reward, which gladdens our hearts and glorifies His name. Let us praise His name and share the Gospel of the Lord Jesus unto the ends of the earth and until the end of our days.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #408: I Will Sing of My Redeemer

Benediction – (Philippians 4:19-20):  And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen

BLCF: believe

Epiphany: Celebrating the Manifestation of Christ

 BLCF: three_wise_men_1

 

 Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Epiphany: Celebrating the Manifestation of Christ’

© December 28, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin December 28, 2014

Revised Sermon Originally Shared at BLCF on December 29, 2013

BLCF Bulletin December 29, 2013 

BLCF: Epiphany-of-the-Lord

 

Call to Worship and Prayer: Responsive Reading #667                                                  (Humility and Exaltation – Philippians 2; Matthew 23); Prayer             

Opening Hymn #109: Once in Royal David’s City; Choruses

Today’s Scriptures: Matthew 2:1-12; Isaiah 60:1-3; John 2:1-12; Matthew 3:13-17

Let us pray…

Today is the final Sunday of 2014, and since it is the first Sunday following Christmas Day, marks the first Sunday of the Church’s Calendar year and for many churches the approach of the Epiphany or the manifestation of the Christ or Messiah, who is our Lord Jesus.

Our lesson today will focus on Epiphany, not to be confused with the secular use of epiphany, such as the ‘Eureka!’ moment experienced by the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes, when he stepped into a bath and noticed that the water level rose and he suddenly understood that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged, known today as the Archimedes’ principle.

 

 BLCF: Archimedes

The Epiphany which is the object of  today’s lesson is spelt with a capitol “E”, a Christians use to describe when the supernatural powers of Jesus, the Son of God, became manifested or expressed to all.

A few weeks ago, when we lit the Bethlehem Advent Candle, we talked about how Epiphany marks one or all three events in the earthy walk of our Lord, Jesus Christ: the arrival of the Wise Men or Magi to visit the newborn Jesus at Bethlehem; the Miracle performed by Jesus to convert water into wine at a wedding in Cana; and the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John.

We have a little more background from the Web site sharefaith.com:

Epiphany Observances

BLCF: Epiphany

Observed on January 6th, the Epiphany celebration remembers the three miracles that manifest the divinity of Christ. The name “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word Epiphania, and means “to show, make known, or reveal.” The celebration originated in the Eastern Church in AD 361, beginning as a commemoration of the birth of Christ. Later, additional meanings were added – the visit of the three Magi, Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River, and his first miracle at the wedding in Cana. These three events are central to the definition of Epiphany, and its meaning is drawn from these occurrences.

For many Christians, the definition of Epiphany is a reminder of God the Father’s unlimited love and mercy, which He has extended to all of mankind through the revelation of His Son, and of the hope of salvation that is now manifest for all who come to him in faith.                                                       

http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Holidays/definition-of-epiphany.html

Johann Roten authored the following about Epiphany in the East and West, posted on the University of Dayton Web site:

Epiphany

BLCF: Epiphany

The feast of the Epiphany, as we presently understand it—the adoration of the Magi—is found very early in Gaul, where it probably predates Christmas.  The Council of Saragossa in 380 decreed a three-week fast before Epiphany.  The feast existed in North Africa in the time of Augustine.  Several of Leo the Great’s sermons witness to the feast’s observance in Rome.  The principal object in the Roman liturgy is the adoration of the Magi.

However, the feast of the Epiphany most certainly originated in the East, where it is mentioned by Clement of Alexandria.  It may have been assigned its date in reference to a pagan feast.  In the Egyptian calendar, the winter solstice and the feast of the Sun-god were observed on January 6.  On the previous night, pagans of Alexandria commemorated the birth of their god Aeon, supposedly born of a virgin.  It was also believed that the waters of rivers, especially the Nile, acquired miraculous powers and even turned into wine on this night.

This may be a partial explanation, why it is difficult to circumscribe the original object of this feast in the East.  By the fourth century Epiphany could embrace the birth of Christ, His baptism, the adoration of the Magi, and the miracle at Cana.  According to some liturgists (cf. C. Mohrmann), Epiphany was an idea feast (as opposed to an event feast) from the beginning and admitted any manifestation of the divine power of Christ. As a matter of fact, in classical Greek epiphany and theophany designate the manifestation of a divinity and, later, important events in the life of a king.  Epiphany is first used in a Christian sense by St. Paul for both the first and the final comings of Christ (Titus 2:11-13).  The word epiphany was soon used to describe the miracles of Christ as manifestations of divine power.

St. John Chrysostom explains the eastern meaning of Epiphany with these words: “We give the name Epiphany to the Lord’s baptism because he was not made manifest to all when he was born, but only when he was baptized, for until that time he was unknown to the people at large.”  In similar fashion, St. Jerome, drawing upon his Palestine experience, declares that the idea of showing forth (Epiphany) belonged not to the birth in the flesh, for then he was hidden and not revealed, but rather to the baptism in the Jordan, when the heavens were opened upon Christ.

According to oriental ideas it was through the divine pronouncement “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,” that the Savior was first manifested to the great world of unbelievers.  The western tradition of this feast lies more along the line of what we are used to call fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding).  There is no overwhelming Epiphany or divine manifestation on the path of the Magi.  The Magi were wise men who saw the star and its unusual brightness.  Steadfast in the resolution of following the divine call and fearless of danger, they traveled, inquired, explored, and let themselves be conducted by the star to the place where they were to see and worship their Savior.  But again, no divine pronouncement thundering from open skies, only a poor babe in a manger.  As St. Leo the Great put it, “When a star had conducted them to worship Jesus, they did not find him commanding devils or raising the dead or restoring sight to the blind or speech to the dumb, or employed in any divine action; but a silent babe, dependent upon a mother’s care, giving no sign of power but exhibiting a miracle of humility.”

Eastern theology has always been eschatological in thrust, eager and anxious to show the unabridged Godhead in all its splendor and majesty, beyond and in spite of its manifestation in human condition and according to human categories.  Western theology in turn develops according to a different religious sensitivity: it is more incarnational, amazed by and preoccupied with the miracle of humility, God’s being in the flesh and becoming one of us.  The spirituality of the East is a spirituality of vision, based on “ta phota” (what is visible) or illumination, the Jordan experience; the spirituality of the West is the spirituality of journey, originating in God’s call and transformative power, it is the “Magi-experience.”

Yet, both traditions are but two different and complementary facets of the same reality, just as ear and eye are dependent on and complement each other.  In a similar way, the Feast of the Epiphany manifests the comprehensive reality of God’s encounter with humanity: it shows not only God’s self-giving presence in the miracle of humility, but also his authoritative self-disclosure at the baptism of Christ. Epiphany manifests not only God’s gratuitous and hidden presence to us, it also reminds us of our personal and active role in this encounter with God, made explicit through the acts and gestures of the Magi.

The Magi offer to Jesus as a token of homage the richest products their countries afforded – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Gold, as an acknowledgment of Christ’s regal power; incense, as a confession of his Godhead; and myrrh, as a testimony that he has become man for the redemption of the world.  But even more important than gold, frankincense and myrrh were the dispositions the Magi cherished in their souls: their fervent charity, signified by gold; their devotion, figured by frankincense; and their unreserved sacrifice of themselves, represented by myrrh.      

In the Middle Ages it was customary on this day (January 6) to bless homes with the newly-blessed water, and with incense.  Later the initials of the names of the Magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar) were written with blessed chalk on or above the doors of homes.  CMB stands also for Christus, Manisionem, Benedocal (May Christ bless this home).  May these initials be carved on the doors to our spiritual homes, too, as a reminder, that each one of us is called upon by God’s Epiphany to the world to assume a threefold role: that of the child, the disciple and the steward. 

As a child we receive and cherish God’s Epiphany to us; As a disciple we follow God’s call to crib and cross; and As steward we are accountable to God and the world of what we did to his Epiphany, understood as vision and journey.

 Johann Roten    

http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/meditations/epiphany.html

 

BLCF: 3 Wisemen

The first of today’s Scripture verses gives the only account of the visit of the Magi or Wise Men who came from the east, beyond the borders of the Roman Empire, as unlike Joseph and Mary, they came to Bethlehem to worship and bear gifts to the newborn king as foretold by prophecy and guided by a star, and not in response the Census mandated by the Edict of Caesar.

The fact that the Magi were unaware that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, indicates that the three were Gentiles, being ignorant of the prophecy known to the scribes and chief priests, only that a star will mark the location of the birth of Christ Child as we see in Matthew 2:1-12 (ESV):

The Visit of the Wise Men

Eiphany01

2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 2:1 Greek magi; also verses 7, 16 b. Matthew 2:2 Or in the east; also verse 9

epiphany_01

The birth of Jesus, the Messiah, the son of God, in the town of Bethlehem is an event that marks the fulfillment of God’s promise, an event foretold by the prophets, through visits by angelic messengers, and marked by a heavenly star, Isaiah 60:1-3 (ESV):                                                                                            

The Future Glory of Israel

BLCF: Epiphania

60 Arise, shine, for your light has come,     

and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,    

 and thick darkness the peoples;

but the Lord will arise upon you,     

and his glory will be seen upon you.

And nations shall come to your light,     

and kings to the brightness of your rising.

 

BLCF: Cana

The next manifestation of the Lord, takes place at a wedding considered to be either the first or second miracle performed by Jesus. If you consider the birth of the son of God to the Mary, a virgin, a miracle, then this wedding would be the second performed by the Lord which we find in John 2:1-12 (ESV):

The Wedding at Cana

BLCF: manefested_lory

2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers[b] and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

Footnotes: a. John 2:6 Greek two or three measures (metrētas); a metrētēs was about 10 gallons or 35 liters b. John 2:12 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters

 

BLCF: Cana_Miracle

The changing of water to wine by our Lord is considered by many Biblical scholars to be symbolic how faith in Jesus Christ transforms the believer into a new creature.

Our third Scripture verse for today describes how the spirit of God came upon our Lord, after he was baptized in the River, Jordan, which is found in Matthew 3:13-17 (ESV):

The Baptism of Jesus

BLCF: baptism_of_Jesus

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,[a] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,[b] with whom I am well pleased.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 3:16 Some manuscripts omit to him b. Matthew 3:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

 

BLCF: Epiphanies

Epiphany  marks three events and aspects of the walk on earth by Jesus: his birth as prophesized in scripture, supported by the visitation by the Magi; the power of the Lord being manifest by his transformation of water to wine; and alighting of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus after His baptism supported by words spoken to John by God.

All three Epiphany scripture verses demonstrate how our Lord manifests or expresses his Devine power and presence: by his birth, his miracles and by way of the Holy Spirit. All three accounts take place between the birth and crucifixion of Jesus, while he walked on the earth as a man who the angels called the son of God, but who chose to refer to himself, more modestly, as the son of man.

The birth of Christ in such humble circumstances, as in a stable, with a manger as a crib, first announced by angels to shepherds, reveals that Jesus came as child to serve all men and women, not to rule from a palace, as he Magi had mistakenly expected. This child, Jesus, grew to become the Saviour and Lord, not by power and conquest of battle and destruction, but by an act of love and surrender on the cross at Calvary.

Before he died, Jesus lived and experienced the world as a man, died a human death, but was resurrected from the tomb, and then ascended into heaven in order to bring Devine forgiveness and sanctification by taking upon himself our judgment for our sins. And Jesus continued to assure that we would have Emmanuel or the presence of God with us by way of the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #105: What Child Is This, Who, Laid to Rest

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all

 BLCF Epiphany Wise Men

Epiphany: A True Manifestation of Jesus

BLCF Epiphanies 2013

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Epiphany: A True Manifestation of Jesus

©December 29, 2013 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin December 29, 2013 

 

BLCF Call to Worship and Prayer:

Responsive Reading #667 (Humility and Exaltation – Philippians 2; Matthew 23); Prayer                 

Opening Hymn #109: Once in Royal David’s City

Today’s Scriptures: Matthew 2:1-12; John 2:1-12; Matthew 3:13-17

Let us pray…

Today is the final Sunday of 2013, and since it is the first Sunday following Christmas Day, marks the first Sunday of the Church’s Calendar year and for many churches the approach of the Epiphany or the manifestation of the Christ or Messiah, Jesus. A few weeks ago, when we lit the Bethlehem Advent Candle, we talked about how Epiphany marks one or all three events in our Lord, Jesus Christ: the arrival of the Wise Men or Magi to visit the newborn Jesus at Bethlehem; the Miracle performed by Jesus to convert water into wine at a wedding in Cana; and the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John. We have a little more background from the Web site: sharefaith.com:

Epiphany Observances


Observed on January 6th, the Epiphany celebration remembers the three miracles that manifest the divinity of Christ. The name “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word Epiphania, and means “to show, make known, or reveal.” The celebration originated in the Eastern Church in AD 361, beginning as a commemoration of the birth of Christ. Later, additional meanings were added – the visit of the three Magi, Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River, and his first miracle at the wedding in Cana. These three events are central to the definition of Epiphany, and its meaning is drawn from these occurrences.

 BLCF_EpiphanyCanaMiracle

 

For many Christians, the definition of Epiphany is a reminder of God the Father’s unlimited love and mercy, which He has extended to all of mankind through the revelation of His Son, and of the hope of salvation that is now manifest for all who come to him in faith.                                                        http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Holidays/definition-of-epiphany.html

And Johann Roten authored the following about Epiphany in the East and West, posted on the University of Dayton Web Site:

BLCF: Epiphany Nativity

 

The feast of the Epiphany, as we presently understand it—the adoration of the Magi—is found very early in Gaul, where it probably predates Christmas.  The Council of Saragossa in 380 decreed a three-week fast before Epiphany.  The feast existed in North Africa in the time of Augustine.  Several of Leo the Great’s sermons witness to the feast’s observance in Rome.  The principal object in the Roman liturgy is the adoration of the Magi.

However, the feast of the Epiphany most certainly originated in the East, where it is mentioned by Clement of Alexandria.  It may have been assigned its date in reference to a pagan feast.  In the Egyptian calendar, the winter solstice and the feast of the Sun-god were observed on January 6.  On the previous night, pagans of Alexandria commemorated the birth of their god Aeon, supposedly born of a virgin.  It was also believed that the waters of rivers, especially the Nile, acquired miraculous powers and even turned into wine on this night.

This may be a partial explanation, why it is difficult to circumscribe the original object of this feast in the East.  By the fourth century Epiphany could embrace the birth of Christ, His baptism, the adoration of the Magi, and the miracle at Cana.  According to some liturgists (cf. C. Mohrmann), Epiphany was an idea feast (as opposed to an event feast) from the beginning and admitted any manifestation of the divine power of Christ. As a matter of fact, in classical Greek epiphany and theophany designate the manifestation of a divinity and, later, important events in the life of a king.  Epiphany is first used in a Christian sense by St. Paul for both the first and the final comings of Christ (Titus 2:11-13).  The word epiphany was soon used to describe the miracles of Christ as manifestations of divine power.

St. John Chrysostom explains the eastern meaning of Epiphany with these words: “We give the name Epiphany to the Lord’s baptism because he was not made manifest to all when he was born, but only when he was baptized, for until that time he was unknown to the people at large.”  In similar fashion, St. Jerome, drawing upon his Palestine experience, declares that the idea of showing forth (Epiphany) belonged not to the birth in the flesh, for then he was hidden and not revealed, but rather to the baptism in the Jordan, when the heavens were opened upon Christ.

BLCF_EpiphanyJesusBaptism

According to oriental ideas it was through the divine pronouncement “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,” that the Savior was first manifested to the great world of unbelievers.  The western tradition of this feast lies more along the line of what we are used to call fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding).  There is no overwhelming Epiphany or divine manifestation on the path of the Magi.  The Magi were wise men who saw the star and its unusual brightness.  Steadfast in the resolution of following the divine call and fearless of danger, they traveled, inquired, explored, and let themselves be conducted by the star to the place where they were to see and worship their Savior.  But again, no divine pronouncement thundering from open skies, only a poor babe in a manger.  As St. Leo the Great put it, “When a star had conducted them to worship Jesus, they did not find him commanding devils or raising the dead or restoring sight to the blind or speech to the dumb, or employed in any divine action; but a silent babe, dependent upon a mother’s care, giving no sign of power but exhibiting a miracle of humility.”

BLCF Nativity 3Kings

 

Eastern theology has always been eschatological in thrust, eager and anxious to show the unabridged Godhead in all its splendor and majesty, beyond and in spite of its manifestation in human condition and according to human categories.  Western theology in turn develops according to a different religious sensitivity: it is more incarnational, amazed by and preoccupied with the miracle of humility, God’s being in the flesh and becoming one of us.  The spirituality of the East is a spirituality of vision, based on “ta phota” (what is visible) or illumination, the Jordan experience; the spirituality of the West is the spirituality of journey, originating in God’s call and transformative power, it is the “Magi-experience.”

BLCF_JesusEpiphanyJordan

 

Yet, both traditions are but two different and complementary facets of the same reality, just as ear and eye are dependent on and complement each other.  In a similar way, the Feast of the Epiphany manifests the comprehensive reality of God’s encounter with humanity: it shows not only God’s self-giving presence in the miracle of humility, but also his authoritative self-disclosure at the baptism of Christ. Epiphany manifests not only God’s gratuitous and hidden presence to us, it also reminds us of our personal and active role in this encounter with God, made explicit through the acts and gestures of the Magi.

The Magi offer to Jesus as a token of homage the richest products their countries afforded – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Gold, as an acknowledgment of Christ’s regal power; incense, as a confession of his Godhead; and myrrh, as a testimony that he has become man for the redemption of the world.  But even more important than gold, frankincense and myrrh were the dispositions the Magi cherished in their souls: their fervent charity, signified by gold; their devotion, figured by frankincense; and their unreserved sacrifice of themselves, represented by myrrh.      

In the Middle Ages it was customary on this day (January 6) to bless homes with the newly-blessed water, and with incense.  Later the initials of the names of the Magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar) were written with blessed chalk on or above the doors of homes.  CMB stands also for Christus, Manisionem, Benedocal (May Christ bless this home).  May these initials be carved on the doors to our spiritual homes, too, as a reminder, that each one of us is called upon by God’s Epiphany to the world to assume a threefold role: that of the child, the disciple and the steward. 

BLCF_3WiseMen

 

 As a child we receive and cherish God’s Epiphany to us; As a disciple we follow God’s call to crib and cross; and As steward we are accountable to God and the world of what we did to his Epiphany, understood as vision and journey.

–        Johann Roten    

http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/meditations/epiphany.html

 

The first of today’s Scripture verses gives the only account of the visit of the Magi or Wise Men who came from the east, beyond the borders of the Roman Empire, as unlike Joseph and Mary, they came to Bethlehem to worship and bear gifts to the newborn king as foretold by prophecy and guided by a star, and not in response the Census mandated by the Edict of Caesar.

 

BLCF:EpinayManefestedGlory

The fact that the Magi were unaware that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, indicates that the three were Gentiles, being ignorant of the prophecy known to the scribes and chief priests, only that a star will mark the location of the birth of Christ Child:

 

Matthew 2:1-12 (ESV) The Visit of the Wise Men

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 2:1 Greek magi; also verses 7, 16 b.Matthew 2:2 Or in the east; also verse 9

BLCf -3Mahi

 

The birth of Jesus, the Messiah, the son of God, in the town of Bethlehem is an event that marks the fulfillment of God’s promise, an event foretold by the prophets, through visits by angelic messengers, and marked by a heavenly star.

The next manifestation of the Lord, takes place at a wedding considered to be either the first or second miracle performed by Jesus. If you consider the birth of the son of God to the Mary, a virgin, a miracle, then this wedding would be the second performed by the Lord:

John 2:1-12  (ESV) The Wedding at Cana

2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers[b] and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

Footnotes: a. John 2:6 Greek two or three measures (metrētas); a metrētēs was about 10 gallons or 35 liters b.John 2:12 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters

Cana

 

The changing of water to wine by our Lord, is considered by many Biblical scholars to be symbolic how faith in Jesus Christ transforms the believer into a new creature.  And our third Scripture verse for today describes how the spirit of God came upon our Lord, after he was baptised in the River, Jordan:

Matthew 3:13-17 (ESV) The Baptism of Jesus

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,[a] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,[b] with whom I am well pleased.”

Footnotes: a.Matthew 3:16 Some manuscripts omit to him b.Matthew 3:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

BLCF_BaptismOfJesus

 

Epiphany  marks three events and aspects of the walk on earth by Jesus: his birth as prophesised in scripture, supported by the visitation by the Magi; the power of the Lord being manifest by his transformation of water to wine; and alighting of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus after His baptism supported by words spoken to John by God.

All three Epiphany scripture verses demonstrate how our Lord manifests or expresses his power and presence: by his birth, his miracles and by way of the Holy Spirit. All three accounts take place between the birth and crucifixion of Jesus, while he walked on the earth as a man who the angels called the son of God, but referred to himself modestly as the son of man.

The birth of Christ in such humble circumstances, as in a stable, with a manger as a crib, reveals that Jesus came as child to serve all men and women, not to rule from a palace, as he Magi had mistakenly expected. This child, Jesus, grew to become the Saviour and Lord, not by power and conquest of battle and destruction, but by an act of love and surrender on the cross at Calvary. Before he died, Jesus lived and experienced the world as a man, died a human death, but was resurrected from the tomb, and then ascended into heaven in order to bring Devine forgiveness and sanctification by taking upon himself our judgment for our sins. And Jesus continued to assure that we would have Emmanuel or the presence of God with us by way of the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #105: What Child Is This, Who, Laid to Rest

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all

 

BLCF;God's Blesdings2014

BLCF:HappyNewYear2014Wordle