Sunday, January 15, 2012

Calendar 2012 Epiphany-Lent-Easter

Our Calendar    "Come, join our journey through 2012!"

January 15, 2012      
2nd Epiphany   Pot Luck Fellowship Lunch

January 22                 
Combined English/Mandarin Service
Chinese New Year’s Eve

January 29                 
4th Sunday in Epiphany / Ordinary Time

February 5               
Fr. Herb B.  on Leave 5-19 February
The Rev. Dr. Graham Ogden will  be serving us for            
 two Sundays.  Father Graham is a long time member 
 of the Church of the Good Shepherd and a world renown Old Testament scholar.

February 12             
Father Ogden, Celebrating and Preaching

February 19             
7 Epiphany/Ordinary Time 
The Rev. Lily Chang: Celebrating
Preacher: Catherine Lee, Missionary to the Taiwan Episcopal Diocese

February 22               
Ash Wednesday----No Service

February 25             
1st Confirmation Class: Time and Place TBA

February 26               
1st Lent--Ashes will be dispensed to the congregation

February 26                
Combined English/Mandarin Service
Church Annual Meeting
Vestry Meeting

March 2/3                  
Taiwan   Diocesan Convention

March 11                  
Congregational Pot Luck Fellowships

March 18                  
Lenten Lunch and Movie Review with Fr. Herb B.

March 25                 
Lenten Lunch   and Movie Review with Fr Herb B.
Movie Review TBA

April 1                     
Palm Sunday

April 5                     
Maundy Thursday Service TBA

April 6                    
Good Friday Service at Noon

April 7                    
Last Confirmation Class
Easter Vigil  8PM

April  8                   
Easter Primary Service  
English at 9:30AM/11AM Mandarin
English Congregation Easter Pot Luck Fellowship Lunch 
Easter Egg Hunt after lunch

May 27                   

Monday, January 9, 2012

Epiphany: A Light Home

As we assign Christmas 2011 to “Christmases Past”, we are like the shepherds returning home to the fields to wandering among their sheep always searching for green pastures.  Like the three wise men, we too make our way home by a different way.  All eyes are now turned away from the manger and the “glad tidings” that had been told us in lessons and carols and by angels. We too are eager to get on with the New Year’s promises and challenges that are now illuminated by Jesus, the light of the world.

Epiphany is a curious Feast of the Church.  It marks the coming of the three Kings from the East, or wise men, who are some times called the Magi, which means the magicians.  They were three astrologists who studied the lights of the heavens.
The visit of these three wise men to Jesus’ birth place is only reported in St. Matthew’s Gospel. We seem to get confused about the time of their arrival at the manger.   We have them in our mind following the star on Christmas Eve to Bethlehem and arriving in time to witness the newborn Jesus.  They fill out the manger scene: shepherds and sheep, Mary and Joseph, ox and ass, who are all adoring this child sleeping in a stable.
Yet, on our liturgical calendar, we celebrate their arrival on January 6, 12 days after Jesus’ birth.  They come; they see; they present gifts; and they return to their home by a different route to avoid King Herod.  It was revealed in a dream to the three wise men that King Herod seeks the child to kill him, because he believes that this child is a contender for his throne of David.  Already we see that even at his birth, Jesus is confronted with threats of death. 
We may be confused about the timing of the arrival of the three wise at the manger.  We may be confounded by the hostility toward Jesus.  In spite of these quandaries, most of us Christians see and believe in the Nativity story as an appearing of God on earth.
The English word, "Epiphany" comes from the Greek word epiphaneia, which means, "appearing" or "revealing." Epiphany focuses on God's self-revelation in Jesus the Savior. 
Epiphany is the sum of Advent and Christmas, in many ways.  The Epiphany is the Feast that gives us a flash of light that reveals to us even now who Jesus is.  We understand his purpose for us; and we understand our calling in receiving him as our savior.
The three wise men got it right.  This child is named, “Jesus” that means, “God Saves”.  God is saving us from alienation from heaven and from one another
See! The wise men are teaching us in their visitation that Jesus, “God Saves”, is joining us in solidarity with human flesh.  This union of divine spirit with human flesh is healing our fractured nature.  Jesus mends our hearts and minds and spirit with the gift of solicitude with strangers who are to be embraced as family members, friends, and as mutual citizens in the Kingdom of God.
I pray that we all may “get it”! I hope that we understand this message of sharing an epiphany, a revelation, that in Jesus we become one with God and humanity.  I pray that we in the congregations of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd may come to believe that by giving ourselves in a relationship with Jesus that our common life is revealed as the Body of Christ in Taiwan.  We become a living community of koinonia that is communion by intimate participation with one another in Christ Jesus.
         When I was a boy growing up in Nurnberg, Germany, like the wise men, I saw the revealed at Christmas.  I came to understand the message of Epiphany in a life changing way.  For weeks during Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, our family would sing hymns around my mother as she played the piano.  One hymn claimed my mind and heart and my life.
“We’ve a story to tell to the Nations”
We’ve a story to tell to the nations,
That shall turn their hearts to the right,
A story of truth and mercy,
A story of truth and light,
A story of peace and light’
For the darkness shall turn to the dawning,
And the dawing to noonday bright;
And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,
The kingdom of love and light.

This hymn became my theme song.  It became the guiding vision of my life.  It was a light that guided me through years of education and training for ordination.  I sang it in times of loses of loved ones.  It comforted me as I endured challenges of military conflicts as an Army and Navy Chaplain.  These words give me courage to face every kind of spiritual testing. Its words and rhythms’ even now lead me to His ministry here at the Good Shepherd Church in Taiwan.
 After more than 50 years, I still have a story to tell to the nations that shall turn hearts to the right.  It is a story of truth, mercy, peace, love and light.   I give myself to its telling each day.  
In telling His story, I become at one with God who saves.  I become atoned with all the families of dust.

May you all see Jesus as Epiphany, the very light of God on earth.  Its light guides us home. May we tell our Epiphany story along the way.

[An Epistle to the English Congregation of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Shilin, Taipei, Taiwan 
Father Herb. B., Priest-in-Charge]