Pastoral letter from Richard Steven 6/1/2021
Dear Church Members and Friends,
Happy New Year to you all.
Today is the start of Epiphany. Angela Merkel is seen here celebrating in Germany with children dressed as the Magi. In nearly thirty countries it is a public Holiday. In some countries it is also the day when the Christmas gifts are given, with the Magi replacing Santa Claus as the gift bringers.
The word Epiphany comes from the Greek language, being found in the New Testament it means manifestation or appearance. It is used here to refer either to the birth of Christ or to his appearance after his resurrection, and also to refer to his second coming.
The earliest reference to Epiphany as a Christian feast was in 361AD. It has since become a season when Christians in the Anglican Church and other Churches reflect on how Jesus has made himself manifest to so many different people over the centuries, causing a wonderful transformation in their lives. Epiphany has spilt into the public arena with people quite often speaking about having an Epiphany in their lives. This season takes us right up to February 2nd, 40 days after Jesus birth when we celebrate Candlemas, the day Jesus was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem to be dedicated to God by Mary and Joseph.
The Magi were non Jews from a land to the east of Israel who noticed a sign in the heavens that alerted them to the fact that a special King was to be born in Judea. What did they see to make them think this? It is possible that they observed a conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in 7BC. The conjunction appeared three times that year, firstly in May then October and finally in December. The planet Jupiter was in those times seen as the Royal Planet and Saturn was known as a symbol of Israel. This conjunction also first appeared in Pisces, apparently this also may well have been significant. You might think that this is too early for the Magi to set out looking for Jesus, but it could well have been the right year because we do know that Jesus was born before 0AD, and we know this because King Herod died in 4BC.
A photo taken in Alaska on 20th December 2020 of a conjunction of Saturn & Jupiter on the right side, plus the moon on the left.
It would seem that the Magi knew very little about God. Maybe they already did have a faith in God the creator from their observations of the sky “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” Psalm 19v1. However, they acted on what was revealed or ‘manifested’ to them and then much more was discovered as they followed God’s initiative. If you don’t read anything else please read today’s set morning readings.
Bible verse: Seek His will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:6)
Readings for the days ahead:
Services: Due to the current high rate of the Covid Virus in our community
we will be meeting on-line only for the next two weeks.
7th January Thursday Home group online and by phone.
10th January Sunday 10 am Home Communion Service on line and by phone.
11th January Monday Evening Prayers 5.30pm online and by phone.
17th January Sunday 10 am Zoom Morning Service online and by phone.
18th January Monday Evening Prayers 5.30pm online and by phone.
For anyone who’s been intending to sign up to the easyfundraising scheme, the £5 bonus given by the scheme to the church for each new person who signs up expires “on the 6th”. So if you are thinking of signing up, please do it straight away. There is no obligation to shop, and no obligation to make further donations through the scheme unless you want to, but if for example you place supermarket orders on line, you may well be able to claim a donation to All Saints each time, at no expense at all to yourself.
You can sign up HERE.