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Monday, January 16, 2023

Epiphany 2023

Wow, time flies! January 6th was over a week ago... we had our little traditional home-grown Epiphany celebration, and I haven't talked about what my family received. I try to talk about this every year, not because I want to have something to talk about, but because I hope to inspire others to do something similar for their families. I've seen it become very meaningful to my wife and kids.

This year I gave my daughter a mustard seed coin similar to the one on the right. She is in 9th grade this year, just starting high school, and she is also a pretty fantastic musician, able to play several instruments at performance level and noodle around on several more. I felt like she needed to know not only that faith in God is a seed that can cause great things to grow, but that the seed of practice and hard work that you put into school assignments and practicing music can grow into something amazing as well! It's difficult to see in the picture, but there is an actual mustard seed in the middle of the coin. The one I gave her is I believe something like an inch in diameter, and it came with a card something like this one. (It may actually be the same one, but I didn't get it from Amazon.)

I did, however, give my son something I found on Amazon! This spring, after a short break, he's getting back into college to finish up a degree in biological sciences. I got him this keychain to remind him that he has great things in his future, and his family is always behind him as he works toward his goals. You can see the keychain has several charms that are science related. Interestingly, one of my wife's nephews gave him a gift of a keychain several days later - this keychain is music-themed (it may be this one). My son is also a terrific musician, a trumpet player and he is also teaching himself to play electric bass. I told him it seems like God is telling him that there are two sides to his personality, the scientific and the artistic, and he needs to nourish both of them to grow into the person God has made and called him to be!

I'm a big book guy. If you ever need to give me a gift, a book is a pretty good bet (in fact, my wife got me this book by Bono of U2 for Christmas, and I've been loving reading it!) She, on the other hand, is not much of a book reader. Fortunately, the book I gave her is not a book to read... it's a book to write! Last year she started writing a memoir, telling stories of her life that she has told over and over to friends. When she told me she was doing that, immediately I knew she needed to do it and finish it. It's in her mental DNA to talk about her past, and when she told me she was writing a biography I knew that anointing was for that purpose. You know, when God has a nail that needs striking, He makes a hammer - I believe the thing you gravitate to naturally (outside of sin, of course!) is the thing you do well because it's the purpose God created you for. She worked pretty hard on it for a while, but then she lost her way a little bit. This book has page after blank, lined page, and at the top of every page is a question to answer about your life. It's the perfect inspiration to get juices flowing to write! I'm hoping she'll use it to get back on track and create a book that will be meaningful and help people!

If you're inspired and you read this in the middle of January when I'm writing it, or in the middle of July or any other time that's nowhere near Epiphany, you have two choices. You can wait for Three Kings Day to roll back around and start a new tradition for your loved ones. OR: you can start your tradition right now! Ask God for ideas of things to give to people that will "stir them up to good works" as it says in Hebrews 10:24. Do it now! Why wait? Then mark your calendar, and do it again next January 6th! Join me in a new take on an old traditional holiday!

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

It's the Eleventh!

Guess what today is? RIGHT, it's the eleventh day of Christmas! And you know what that means! NO, not that a bunch of pipers are going to show up on your doorstep piping away! That's just a song, silly!

BUT: the twelve days of Christmas are not just a song. In many church traditions, the Christmas season is indeed celebrated over a twelve day stretch starting on December 25th and ending on January 5th.

January 6th, then, is the real day after Christmas. In those church traditions, it is a holiday named "Epiphany" or "Three Kings Day". For those who have lost their scorecard: Bible scholars tell us that the "three kings" or the "magi" that came to give their gifts to Jesus almost certainly did not arrive when Jesus was a newborn lying in a manger. In fact, Jesus was likely a year or two old by the time they made it there. The most clear evidence of this is that in the Gospel of Matthew, King Herod (who wanted to eliminate the competition of a new king) questioned the magi about when they had seen the sign of the birth of the Messiah, and then he tried to kill Jesus by killing every baby under the age of two years.

Anyway, in recognition of the fact that the three kings (there were almost certainly a lot more than three of them, too, but that's a different blog post!) showed up some time after Jesus' birth, Three Kings Day comes some time after Christmas Day.

There is a lot of significance to the appearance of the magi for those of us who are not Jewish by birth. They are the first Gentiles recorded to have recognized Jesus as the Messiah. They brought Him gifts that not only financed His family's flight to Egypt (fulfilling prophecy in the process) but recognized that His death one day would be significant (frankincense was used during embalming).

Regular readers will know that years ago, I had the idea to adopt Epiphany as a special tradition in my little family, and I invite you to do the same. As a Christian father, I believe that I have a special responsibility as a priest in my household. My tradition is to spend some time in prayer and ask God to give me ideas for special small gifts for each family member that will have a prophetic significance to them. The gift should be something that will carry them through the upcoming year, hopefully help each of them grow in their faith and grow personally into the kind of person God has made them to one day be.

So, what are you doing still reading this? It's two days until Epiphany! There's still time to join my family in our annual tradition of seeking God for the next year! If you want some inspiration, take a look at the kinds of gifts I've given in past years, and then seek God for what to do for the people God has placed in your life!

Monday, January 2, 2023

Copy And Paste This!

This is true! Try it! Mark this entire status update with your mouse, select copy, and paste it into a new post. When you do, the following will happen: you will have a new post on your wall that looks exactly like this one, and everyone you know will realize that you are good at following instructions, even when they are nonsense.

You will, in fact, be safe from Facebook charging you for your account, because when you use Facebook, Facebook uses the information you voluntarily put on your timeline to target you with ads. You already pay for Facebook by volunteering this information. Other than that hidden cost of your own privacy, you are already safe, probably forever, from paying a subscription fee to Facebook. This has exactly nothing to do with this or any timeline post.

Facebook will not take any action based on your timeline posts, including this one, unless you disagree with them politically. In that case they will censor your post and possibly soft ban you. The best thing Facebook will ever do for you based on one of your posts, including this one, is to show you an advertisement for something that you indeed do want to buy. They will not change the order of the posts you see or begin to display old friends you haven't seen posts from in a while in your timeline, based on something you copied and pasted into a new post.

When you copy and paste this post, your status picture will not change into a picture of an angel, a cute Corgi, Al Gore, or the Grinch who stole Christmas. Nothing online or offline will change in color, other than your face turning red when you realize you have been tricked. You will still have to wash your laundry and do your income tax and pay for your cheeseburgers. You will not be contacted by any celebrity or receive any kind of compensation. It is a Facebook post, not a magic incantation. Exactly nothing at all of any circumstance will happen.

Except that you will have a new post on your wall that looks exactly like this one.

MJ 12/30/2022