Youth mission update # 3

Well, we had another fantastic day working in the great Smoky Mountains.  The  weather was once again very favorable, and our team responded with energy and imagination. We find that having limited access to tools and ladders poses a challenge to involving everyone  all the time, but the young people are  very understanding, and everyone is taking turns to make sure that each person is contributing to and participating in the work at hand.

We were amazed that on Wednesday we were able to essentially complete the large porch structure, including the roof.   One of the things that I love about these trips is that it pushes all of us – including the leaders – out of our comfort zones. We were able to innovate and adapt with what we had on hand in order to get the job done.

Our evening on Wednesday had a decidedly different rhythm, and we were grateful for that. First, we enjoyed an amazingly bountiful potluck dinner at the  Cherokee  United Methodist Church.  There was no program – just an opportunity for us to sit and visit with another work group  ( from Ohio!)  as well as members of this congregation.

Following the meal, we went to an outdoor ampitheater, where we enjoyed a live production entitled  “Unto These Hills”.  For about 2 1/2 hours, we watched local actors engage in some traditional Cherokee dancing, followed by a presentation of the history of the inhabitants of this area.   We continued to soak in aspects of Cherokee history and culture of which many of us have been ignorant. The drama included some Cherokee mythology about the nature and purpose of the creation, but was mostly centered in on how the Cherokee people  developed a peaceful agricultural community in these mountains. It narrated the history of relationship between Native Americans and the Europeans and included a glimpse at some of the ways that the various groups of native Americans related to one another. Of course, no telling of the Cherokee story  would be complete without reference to the removal in the late 1830s and the “Trail of Tears”  in which so many died. It was a somber moment for our group to participate in this.

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Rachelle using the saws-all!

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The old guy is flexing in ways he’s not used to!

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Can you imagine this in 2 days?!?!

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Waiting for the drama to start

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The cast of “Unto These Hills”

Youth Mission Update #2

We are having a great time in Cherokee NC, and I wish I could tell you just HOW wonderfully this team is coming together.  We are technologically limited, and I forgot my “real” camera, so the updates will be sparse.  However, here are a few images of our work on Tuesday – the kids put in a looooong day and then came back and had a great conversation about how God seems to use the “little” and “foolish” things in the world to make big differences.

You’ll see the deck beginning to take shape and the progress that the young people are making.  You will not see the huge rocks that people pulled out of the ground, the amazing smiles when our hosts shared the sweetest watermelon I’ve ever tasted, or the relief and laughter we shared when the day was finished and it was time to sing.

The weather poses a challenge to our plans, but it appears as though today is another workable day!

You’ve gotta start somewhere… with some deep holes!

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Setting the stage!

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Measure twice….

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Danielle ratchets things up!

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Maddy putting in some pilot holes. 

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Grace at work in so many ways on this trip!

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Living with the past, into the future…

I was a mess…

I had just experienced the most intense pain of my life, a back spasm that was literally crippling.  That pain led to what I later learned was a “Vasovagal response”  – essentially, the trauma was so intense that it triggered a slowing of my heart rate and a drop in my blood pressure – and in fact I lost consciousness for a few moments.  It was frightening.

It happened on Wednesday, November 23.  Several hours previously, Sharon, Ariel, Drew, and Lucia and I had arrived at La Communidad Llaguepulli in the Araucania region of Chile, where we were intent on learning more about these indigenous people and their culture.  The Mapuche are the “first people” of Chile, and were here to greet (or suffer under) the conquistadores of Spain several hundred years ago.  As an ethnic group, Mapuche comprise nearly 10% of the Chilean population, yet we have heard many of the older members tell of the ways in which the Mapuche were deprived of opportunities to practice their culture and in fact suffered from attempts to “educate the Mapuche” out of them.

Our hope was to spend two days in this remote place, bearing witness to the heritage of the Mapuche and learning more about their culture and world-view.  And when I suffered my spasm, I was afraid that this hope would be crushed.  However, this is what happened: a young woman who is studying to be a doctor immediately took my blood pressure and other vitals; she gave me fluids and made me comfortable.  Another woman offered me some tea made from the bark of the Palo Santo tree, a traditional remedy for inflammation.  And the entire community made accommodation for my limited mobility for the next twenty four hours.  As a result, our family was able to spend Thanksgiving with a beautiful community and learn a great deal about how they view life, the universe, and everything.  We made sopaipilla (fried bread), soup, and other delicacies; we tried our hand at weaving and spinning yarn (the really productive kind, not what I usually do when I spin a yarn…); we heard about the theology and cosmology of these people; and we even took a boat ride wherein Lucia and I tried our hand at fishing.  And I should mention that we were the first people ever to stay in a newly-constructed cabin within that community, which is trying to expand their hospitality to eco-tourists in the hope of bridging cultural gaps and promoting awareness.

It was ironic that all of this happened on Thanksgiving, because it’s not the first time that some visitor named Carver has had his skin saved by the kindness of Native Americans.  If I can believe what the older folks have told me, my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great uncle John Carver was in a similar fix.

Sketch depicting John Carver and Yellow Feather Oasmeequin [of the Massasoit] smoking a peace pipe commemorating the treaty.

Sketch depicting John Carver and Yellow Feather Oasmeequin [a.k.a Massasoit] smoking a peace pipe commemorating the treaty.

In 1620, old Uncle John had been elected by his fellow travelers on the Mayflower to be the first governor of what they’d decided to call Plymouth Colony.  Interestingly enough, there were already people living on that spot – the Wampanoag people.  The so-called “Pilgrims” were in a tough spot – the land, the weather, the animals, the inhabitants, and even many of the trees were new and frightening.  The food ran short, and folks were dying.  The Wampanoag were gracious, and pretty much everyone agrees that none of the passengers from the Mayflower stood a chance of survival apart from the help they received from the First People.  Many of us in the USA remember this as “the first Thanksgiving” in 1621.  While I’m pretty sure it didn’t happen the way that we read about it in the picture books, the long and the short of it is that when things got tough, folks chose to work together, to learn from each other, and celebrate – even while keeping an eye on one another.

If you know much about “the rest of the story”, you’ll know that the first Americans didn’t fare so well with the folks who followed Uncle John.  The European immigrants to the “new world” were unwilling to adapt to prevailing culture and languages of the people who were already there, and scores of people groups were simply wiped out.

Which is why I counted it a privilege to be taking my grand-daughter – the 15th generation of Carvers to be found in the Americas – to visit a community of indigenous people on Thanksgiving.  Make sure you get what I’m saying: we didn’t travel all this way to somehow atone for the ways in which conflict has soured relationships between various ethnic groups; and we didn’t come to place anyone on a pedestal nor to abase our own culture.  We came to simply celebrate the fact that there are MANY cultures, many voices in the choir, many ways to look at life.  What we take for granted may or may not be “what everybody knows”.  And that’s OK.

My hope is that in making a visit like this, we are modeling for our communities (both here in Chile as well as at home) the truth that “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and ALL that dwell therein.”  I want to honor those who are different; I want to learn about that of which I am ignorant; I want to be a better neighbor to the folks on Cumberland Street as well as the Mapuche who breathe the same air and need the same water.

It was a miserable, painful day.  And yet one which occasioned thankfulness.  I hope to pass it on in the days to come.

Outside a "Ruka", the traditional home and gathering place of the Mapuche.

Outside a “Ruka”, the traditional home and gathering place of the Mapuche.

Inside the Ruka

Inside the Ruka

Three generations of crafty women to bless my life!

Three generations of crafty women to bless my life!

Drew helping with the stew.

Drew helping with the stew.

Making Sopapailla

Making Sopapailla – the young woman instructing us is the medical student who attended to me.

A walk through the herbal and medicinal garden

A walk through the herbal and medicinal garden

We had a ride in an ox-drawn cart!

We had a ride in an ox-drawn cart!

A walk down to the lake, which is surrounded by 120 Mapuche communities (about 13,000 people).

A walk down to the lake, which is surrounded by 120 Mapuche communities (about 13,000 people).

They weren't biting, but we gave it a go!

They weren’t biting, but we gave it a go!

The cabin where we were privileged to stay the night.

The cabin where we were privileged to stay the night overlooks the lake.

I'm not sure how traditional it is, but we were served a lemon meringue pie for breakfast on Thanksgiving! I think Uncle John would approve.

I’m not sure how traditional it is, but we were served a lemon meringue pie for breakfast on Thanksgiving! I think Uncle John would approve.

A beautiful experience...a day filled with Thanksgiving!

A beautiful experience…a day filled with Thanksgiving!

Malawi 2015 #8

On Wednesday morning, our time on the shores of beautiful Lake Malawi came to an end. As mentioned in the previous entry, our friends from South Sudan really opened the eyes of many of their partners with an informative and personal reflection on the history of their nation and church. The bus ride from Mangochi to Zomba featured in-depth discussions about the nature of ministry in South Sudan, the needs and the gifts of our partners there, and the ways in which our lives and callings can intersect. It is worth noting here that our colleagues from South Sudan seem to be very interested in partnership with individuals and congregations in Pittsburgh, but positively passionate about the possibilities of deepening ties with the CCAP in Blantyre Synod. There have been many times on this journey when I’ve compared our tripartite partnership to a stool, indicating that it was possible to balance on a chair with two legs, but a stool with three functional legs was even better. That third leg is getting sturdier each day!

Davies Lanjesi and Silas Ncozana, representing the present and past of the partnership.

Davies Lanjesi and Silas Ncozana, representing the present and past of the partnership.

We traveled south from the lake to the town of Zomba, a journey of about three and a half hours. Here, we were met by many from the Blantyre Synod Partnership team as well as many dignitaries from Domasi Presbytery and the host congregations for those of us who have sister churches in the northern part of the Synod. Newly-ordained ELDER Davies Lanjesi and his Partnership Steering Committee team organized a fantastic lunch buffet for us at the scenic Ku Chawe Inn on the upper slopes of Zomba Plateau. The Rev. Dr. Silas Ncozana gave a stirring history of the Pittsburgh-Blantyre Partnership and we rejoiced in the fruit of recent days as well. One surprise for me was when Silas said, “I really appreciated that sermon you preached in Mulanje on Sunday!” I apologized for not even recognizing that he was in attendance, and he said, “I wasn’t! It was on the national radio twice!” I’m glad I didn’t know that ahead of time!

CK and Doreen Chirambo are Partnership Pioneers who came to join us in Zomba.

CK and Doreen Chirambo are Partnership Pioneers who came to join us in Zomba.

Our congregation helped to provide this borehole, which supplies clean water to thousands of people.  It is my great honor to drink from it!

Our congregation helped to provide this borehole, which supplies clean water to thousands of people. It is my great honor to drink from it!

After lunch came a pivotal moment in our pilgrimage, where our team of sixteen split into thirteen as we paired up with hosts and departed for Balaka, Nansambo, Chiphola, Sande, Blantyre City, and other destinations. Sharon, Gabe, and I headed to the north and to the east, up to another plateau atop of which rests the small town of Ntaja. Here, we are staying with Abusa Johnson Damelekani and his family as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the twinning of the Mbenjere and Crafton Heights congregations.

The Mbenjere congregation is home to about 700 Christians and is divided into 15 “zones”, each of which is guided by a team of elders and gathers for midweek prayers in various homes. In addition, there are three smaller worship centers, called “prayer houses” that are attached to this main congregation. I should note that Abusa Damelekani has four other congregations (and each of them has zones and prayer houses as well!).

A portion of the student body at Michongwe School.

A portion of the student body at Michongwe School.

Our task on Thursday was to introduce ourselves to the community, and it was a grand day. We began with a breakfast in the home of one of the elders, and from there we proceeded to the Michongwe Primary School. This school has at least tripled in size since the first time we visited it, and there are now 3800 students in grades 1-8. These students are taught by 58 teachers and 14 student teachers. The crowds are so large that on some days as many as 17 classes meet outside under the trees. The students held an assembly in our honor, and Dr. Sharon Carver presented an impassioned plea for the students to work hard and stay in school (especially the girls!). I got the kids to sing Palibe Wofana Naye with us, and then we were deafened by the sound of the entire student body singing the Malawian National Anthem at the top of their lungs. Such pride in their nation! We met with many in the teaching staff and also heard a presentation by two young ladies who are studying to enter a secondary school course in tourism.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." (Psalm 139)

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139)

We then were pleased to visit the Ntaja Health Centre, where our friend Edith Makuluni has worked for many years. She was off today, but we were given a full tour of this clinic, which functions as essentially the Malawian equivalent of an “urgent care” center in the USA. A highlight for me was being given the opportunity to speak and pray with a group of about a dozen extremely pregnant women and their “guardians”. These women have come to the Health Centre because their deliveries appear imminent, and most have been accompanied by another family member who will care for them, cook their meals, and so on as they await the arrival of their babies. I explained to them that one of my highest privileges in ministry is greeting new babies and reading with them the 139th Psalm. We read this together, and I encouraged the women to remind their children over and over again that they have been “fearfully and wonderfully made”.

Gabe in his preaching debut.

Gabe in his preaching debut.

The afternoon was spent visiting one of the zone meetings, where Gabe Kish honed his preaching skills by leading an inspiring Bible Study from Acts 2:42-47 about the church’s call to celebrate the awesome nature of our God. Following a time of worship, the group stayed for well over an hour of question and answers about the church in America, and Crafton Heights in particular. It was a very fruitful time of discussion and sharing, and if you can judge by the size of the crowd that followed us singing and laughing as we walked the mile or two back into Ntaja center, they enjoyed it every bit as much as did we.

The Nkuna North District Prayer Meeting from Mbenjere CCAP.

The Nkuna North District Prayer Meeting from Mbenjere CCAP.

Of course, the entire day was punctuated by way too much food (prepared by our friends Mr. and Mrs. Haiya and Mr. and Mrs. Mphaso – Mrs. Mphaso is better known to some old friends at CHUP as “Ronnie Gonani”, a visitor in 2000). Tea was drunk, biscuits were shared, and joy abounded. I believe that’s how partnership works!

On a sad note, we learned today of the untimely death of Silimyake Mutafya, a beautiful and engaging young woman who visited our congregation in 2012. She got married in 2013 and was expecting her first child when something went wrong with the pregnancy and both she and the baby died. It was a grim reminder that we can take nothing for granted.

Tomorrow we will be up and out early again, as we visit several prayer houses and zones. As always, your prayers are appreciated. Zikomo kwambiri!

Malawi 2015 #2

 

Whoever said “Getting there is half the fun” has never traveled to Malawi from the USA. Getting there is tedious, boring, cramped, and well, not a little miraculous. I mean, really – the notion of putting all that stuff into a plane, with all of us and all the food and beverage and other supplies necessary to sustain our village at 36,000 feet for fifteen hours – well, that’s just magic, is what that is.

Checking our bags at Dulles Airport.  We were not everyone's favorite customer that morning!

Checking our bags at Dulles Airport. We were not everyone’s favorite customer that morning!

Regardless of what percentage of fun getting there was, that’s what we’ve done for most of the last 36 hours. After our drive from Pittsburgh to DC, we awoke on Tuesday and headed over to Dulles International Airport for a series of flights that took us from DC to Addis Ababa to Lilongwe to Blantyre. And in spite of the inconveniences that such travel occasioned, it was worth it when, after arriving in Addis Ababa, we connected with the three members of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church who will be joining us in this venture. And it was sheer joy when we were whisked from the plane in Chileka onto a patio filled with members of the Limbe CCAP choir and representatives from more than a dozen congregations. It was a joy to see members of churches here – some of whom had ridden minibuses for hours in order to be present – greet and celebrate their visitors from the USA and South Sudan. And, oh, the fun of watching the South Sudanese revel in the singing and dancing of their Malawian sisters and brothers!

With the General Secretary of the CCAP, the Rev. Alex Maulana.

With the General Secretary of the CCAP, the Rev. Alex Maulana.

I meant it when I said, ndi wokondwa nda bwelaso kumudzi – “I am happy to be at home”

We came to the Grace Bandawe Conference Center, where we rested for a bit, enjoyed a few appetizers and soft drinks (along with a few more speeches), and finished the night with a team devotional led by Pastor Aaron Gordon. Tomorrow we hit the ground running as we do some banking and are then collected by our first host families. I’m happy to indicate that everyone is well and we are really feeling cared for.

Our three delegates from South Sudan are with Blantyre Synod Partnership Chair Davies Lanjesi

Our three delegates from South Sudan are with Blantyre Synod Partnership Chair Davies Lanais

The choir from Limbe CCAP led the welcoming!

The choir from Limbe CCAP led the welcoming!

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Vanessa is pretty good at making friends!

Vanessa is pretty good at making friends!

Barb with friends from her sister church.

Barb with friends from her sister church.

Our old friend Silas Ncozana caught up with us at GBCC!

Our old friend Silas Ncozana caught up with us at GBCC!

The whole group at the Grace Bandawe Center.

The whole group at the Grace Bandawe Center.

 

Important Update to “Ordinary Time”

Friends,

There are quite a few folks who receive this blog via their email.  It has come to my attention that the most recent post, “Ordinary Time” (2/2/2015) when viewed in email, does not contain the links to the youtube videos I inserted that attempt to reflect the power of the children’s singing and voices.  I would encourage you to view this blog posting on your web browser at this site:

https://castyournet.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/ordinary-time/

so that you can see and hear the children who so deeply impacted me.

I apologize for any inconvenience.

Dave

When The Kings Come Marchin’ In

On Epiphany Sunday, January 4, the people of Crafton Heights wondered about the power of celebrity and the difference between Jerusalem and Bethlehem – then and now.  Our texts for the day were Isaiah 60:1-6 and Matthew 2:1-12.

Think about these people for a moment: Shia LaBeouf, Alice Cooper, Pocahontas, and Tim Tebow. What do you think connects these people? What do they have in common?Celebrities

Each of these people has self-identified as a “Bible-believing Christian”. I know that because some other Christian writer or speaker has pointed to those folks and said, “See? These people are Christians…” as if acknowledging Christ is somehow more attractive or effective when a celebrity does it, rather than when you do.

Every now and then I’m with a group of pastors and someone will nudge me and say, “Do you know so-and so?” And I’ll say, “The famous athlete/musician/politician?” And the other person will say, “Yes, that person. Did you know that she worships at my church? Yep. A believer.” Or take a look at the “head table” at just about any prayer breakfast around the country – the wealthy and powerful elite, calling the rest of us to be encouraged and faithful.

XnCelebsWe love our celebrities, don’t we? In fact, in Christianity, we have our own: Joyce Meyers, Tony Campolo, Chris Tomlin, Rick Warren, and others.

Why do we do this? What makes us care more about what, say, Clint Hurdle has to say about faith than about the woman who works in the cafeteria line?

I heard one man compare it with the practice of putting our University stickers on the back windows of our car – we seek to bolster our own insecurities by reminding people that although we might drive like jerks, we’re probably smarter then they are. We appeal to celebrity Christians in an effort to remind ourselves that we don’t need to doubt – almost as if we’re saying, “Well, sure, I might be wrong about a few things, but would Chuck Colson or Tom Hanks or Donna Summer steer me wrong? They believe, and so I can too.”

There is an attractiveness in celebrity Christianity that bears examining.

Isaiah 60 describes a similar situation. The reading you heard is a poem that was read to the people in Jerusalem hundreds of years before Christ. Isaiah 58 and 59 describe a people who are cut off from God. They are not walking in God’s ways, and they complain that God has forgotten them. They have returned to Jerusalem after decades of life in Babylon and they hate it – and who wouldn’t? Who wants to live in a burned-out, bombed-out city where there are no jobs, the economy is in the toilet, and nobody does anything? But the prophet says to them in chapter 60 that things are going to change – the city will be reborn! Prosperity is coming! Peace can be found, and the King himself will come and lead us! The inhabitants of Jerusalem are, not surprisingly, encouraged by this.

The Three Wise Men Visit Jesus MAFA Art in the African Christian Tradition (used by permission) http://www.jesusmafa.com/?dt_portfolio=n-4-the-three-wise-men-mt-2-1-12&lang=en

When Matthew got around to writing his account of Jesus’ life, he chose to use the passage from Isaiah 60 to remind people about the fact that God himself indicated that the power, wealth, and majesty of foreigners would come to worship the true King of Israel…although as it turns out, they do not do so in Jerusalem.

The Magi show up from distant lands looking for this wonderful new king and Herod, unsurprisingly, is a little concerned: He kind of likes the current King (himself!). He decides that he’d like to find this new king as well, and so he calls in his best advisors to see if they can’t help locate the one for whom the wise men are searching. As it turns out, they recall an obscure verse from the prophet Micah, who indicated that the light of God would indeed shine forth, not from Jerusalem, but from Bethlehem.

Now, the truth is it’s only nine miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, but by any objective measure, it’s a lot further than that. If Jerusalem is the “Golden Triangle” downtown – the center of commerce, industry, wealth, and power – then Bethlehem is Wilmerding. Nowheresville.

But what surprises Herod – and us, if we’re honest – is that the wise men go ahead and make the trek to Bethlehem, a village of peasants. They thought they were en route to meet a powerful king, but somehow they were able to reorganize their lives and their trip around the information that Herod gave to them. They arrive in Bethlehem and discover a “king” who is a vulnerable baby, the son of a teen mother and a father who is virtually unknown. And in that crude place, these scholars from the East bow down and worship.

And I thought this morning about the fact that today nobody knows who these “wise men from the East” were. We’re not sure where they’re from, who they represent – heck, we’re not even certain how many of them there actually are. Matthew doesn’t give us any of the details about them. But he does give us Jesus’ name, doesn’t he? We may not know who they are, but we know who they came to worship.

Nine miles. It’s not that far. Most of you could walk that in a few hours. Some of you have run farther than that in a morning. I’m not sure what would compel you to do so, but I know that you’ve done it… Nine miles is close.

It is. But while the line that starts in Jerusalem is quite close to line that starts in Bethlehem, their trajectories are significantly different. What looks like only nine miles at the start is light-years away at this point.

As we start 2015, are you looking for power, security, and prestige? Are you looking for celebrity status and recognition? Or are you willing to trust a God who shows up in anonymous backwaters and speaks quietly to the poor? A God who not only comes to those places, but who invites us to humbly follow him there; moreover, a God who seems intent on sending us to those places to celebrate, discover, and share his love and grace.

In two weeks, I’ll be (Lord willing) in some village you’ve never heard of in South Sudan. I’ll be trying to keep up in worship with a group of people who have spent far too much of their lives as refugees and aliens, who may not be able to read well, if at all, and for whom fear and uncertainty could be constant companions. I’m not going because I’m all that; I’m going because in that place of need and vulnerability and war and hope and perseverance and joy I hope to get a glimpse of how and where the God who was behind that star 2000 years ago is on the move today. I know God is at work there – and I’m not going because I have any illusion that my showing up is going to somehow make some poor man’s life better. The purpose of this trip is to strengthen and encourage the church – by allowing some American church leaders to see where God is on fire.

I have it easy. You’ve got the hard part. While I’m off gallivanting around Northern Africa preaching to and praying with the church under fire, you’ve got to try to get a glimpse of that same God and where he is at work as you ride the 31 bus or walk through Brashear High or visit friends in nursing homes or pick your produce at the Giant Eagle. That same God is surely at work in those places, my friends.

This morning we celebrate our Epiphany Communion. Epiphany is not usually celebrated that well, at least by Protestants. One writer blames that on the fact that it happens to fall between Christmas Eve (the Christian Super Bowl) and Lent, which is capped off by Holy Week (the Christian World Series).[1] Many of us are too worn out from a week of holidays to think about one more little religious afterthought. In fact, I would imagine a few of you are wondering why in the world we’ve still got the old Christmas carols out…

Because the story isn’t over until the Magi make it to the manger. The story of Epiphany is a deep and powerful message, centered in hope and directed toward peace. In this story, we are reminded that we, like the Magi, are to follow the light of Christ and then to reflect that same light.

Epiphany is here to remind us, and the rest of our celebrity-crazed culture, that the God of the ages comes to us by way of Bethlehem, not Jerusalem. Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann writes,

Most of us are looking in the wrong place. We are off by nine miles. We are now invited to travel those hard, demanding miles away from self-sufficiency. Epiphany is a good time to take the journey, for [the conflict in our world] reminds us of the shambles that can come through our excessive pretension. The way beyond is not about security and prosperity but about vulnerability, neighborliness, generosity, a modest future with spears turned into pruning hooks and swords into plowshares.[2]

Let’s you and me be found in Bethlehem this Epiphany. As we continue to live in and under the light of that star, we can be assured that the celebrities from Jerusalem will find us sooner or later. The only starpower that matters is the light that calls us to live in the same manner as did our Lord. Thanks be to God for the ability to do so together. Amen.

[1] MaryAnn McKibben Dana, http://thq.wearesparkhouse.org/old-testament/epiphanycot/

[2] Walter Brueggemann, “Off By Nine Miles”, Christian Century 12/19/2001.