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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Epiphany 2016

You know, year after year God has used Epiphany to effect our family in any number of ways. This year, as you will see, the Holy Spirit is clearly trying to tell my wife and me something! Read on for the details.

First off: if you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, you might want to review some of my past Epiphany posts. The short version of the story is that for the past five years, every year in my family we have a special tradition on January 6th where my wife and I, as the leadership in our home, give one gift to each family member which we hope will lead each of us to a closer walk with the Lord in the coming year.

In addition to that, every year I try to come up with something interesting to share with my family about the Wise Men, or the history of the church holiday, or whatever. Something relevant and edifying. Well, this year I realized that in my Logos Bible software installation I have access to lectionaries from several denominations, and those lectionaries contain Bible readings specifically chosen for use on any day of the year, especially holidays like Epiphany. I went through all of them to see what they have, and as it turns out, most of them had selected more or less the same Scriptures. And they were awesome.

For those from church traditions (like the one I come from) that don't use this kind of prescribed Scripture readings, generally there will be an "Old Testament" reading, a "Psalms" reading, a "Gospels" reading, and an "Epistles" reading for each date. The ones almost unanimously chosen for this date are:

Old Testament: Isaiah 60:1-6  which is a remarkably vivid prophetic description of a bright light rising and appearing over Israel and people (including kings) bringing caravans of camels laden with gold and frankincense.

Psalms: Psalm 72 in which David (who calls himself "the king" in his psalms) prophetically describes visitors from distant lands bringing gifts to one of his descendants (remember, Jesus was known as the "son of David").

Gospels: Matthew 2:1-12 which is of course the Gospel account of the coming of the Wise Men to see Jesus.

Epistles: Ephesians 3:1-12 The significance of the arrival of the Wise Men is that they were the first who recognized that Jesus was given not just to the Jews, but to the Gentiles also (they were not Jewish). In this passage Paul explains that God has called him to share the message of Christ's salvation with the Gentiles as well.

I actually copied all of these passages into a Word document to print out and read to the family - if you'd like to see it or use it, I've shared it here. As in the links above, I used the New Living Translation, specifically because my daughter is still young and I didn't want to confuse or bore her with long Bible passages she couldn't understand.

So after we read through those passages and talked briefly about their significance, we moved on to the presents!

At my daughter's school, they make a point to have all the kids bring water bottles, on the theory that well-hydrated kids make better learners. This year my wife and I spotted a cute sports bottle covered with flowers that has printed on it "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. Philippians 4:13". I explained to my daughter that sometimes there are hard things that people ask you to do - like a tough assignment in math class. God can strengthen you to complete that task. Then sometimes there are things that the Holy Spirit speaks into your heart - like showing love to someone who hasn't been nice to you. God can strengthen you to do those hard things too. She took it to school with her the next day - she really loved the multicolored pinwheel of a flower right in the middle!

My son was up next. This past year he expressed some interest in Sherlock Holmes, so when I saw a book called A Sherlock Holmes Devotional I was immediately interested! Basically, the book contains a synopsis of a Sherlock Holmes story, and then a kind of "personal application" kind of thing that goes along with it. When I handed it to him I explained that we chose it for two reasons: first, we thought he would enjoy using it. But second, we wanted him to remember that sometimes you have to search out the things of God, look for clues to find them. When he opened it he immediately started leafing through it with a smile on his face - I hope it makes a big difference for him!

My wife was next in line. We just moved into a new house this past year, and frankly we haven't had the chance yet to decorate it like she would like for it to be. I took a little bit of a chance (sometimes a woman's sense of taste is really specific) and got her a small piece of framed art with a quotation from C. S. Lewis, "You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream," and a partial quote from Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you to give you a future and a hope." She has often told me about certain choices she made as a girl that she has since regretted, and I felt it in my heart to let her know that it's never too late to pursue the dreams God has placed on your heart. She loved it! She found a perfect place for it as soon as we were done, and we hung it then and there. You can see a picture of it proudly displayed on our wall below:

The "Dream" framed art, proudly displayed in our new house!
Last of all it was my turn. This year my wife collaborated with my son, and they found a triangular office desk decoration that they liked for me. And it also has Jeremiah 29:11 quoted on it! Seems like maybe the Lord is saying to my family that He's got a plan for us this year, and it's going to be a good thing!

It's really cool to see that God has laid similar things on my heart and on my wife's heart for the upcoming year. If you read my blog post last year, my gift to my wife displayed a verse that says that God would back up her plans (conceived of course from a Godly heart), and this year her gift reassures her that God has His own plans for her. The gift I received last year said that I would be blessed if I put my trust in the Lord, and this year's gift lets me know that God's plans are for good things and not for disaster. How great is that?

Epiphany was on Wednesday this year, and my daughter wanted to bring the Wise Men with her to church. I let her bring the ones from our Little People Nativity set, along with the baby Jesus, but she also brought something else: a chest from her My Little Pony toy castle, containing gold, frankincense, and myrrh. You can see it in the picture at the top of this post!

I write about our Epiphany every year, not to make us seem so cool and spiritual, but because it is a special time for us. I hope you make your own "plans" next year to follow our example with your own family. It's one of my favorite traditions from the holiday season!

"His Plans" on my desk at work

By the way... if you are interested in purchasing a base package of the Logos software I mentioned above - which is REALLY incredible, by the way - get in touch with me so I can give you my email address. If you call them and tell them I referred you, with my email address so they can locate my account, not only will you get 15% off your purchase and some other valuable books for free, but I'll get a credit on my Logos account so I can add some stuff to my library too. Win-win!

1 comment:

Michelle Morrison said...

Catching up here. This is cool, thanks for sharing this. :-)