St. Francis – Gary Kester

Jan. 5, was the Second Sunday after Christmas. The secular or big box store Christmas has ended but at St. Francis we are still in full Christmas mode as our Christmas is the traditional Christian Twelve Days of Christmas, until Epiphany on January 6, the arrival of the wise men. The church is still resplendent with Christmas light & color and the Christ Candle is lighted on the Advent Wreath. In his sermon Bishop Hartley noted that we are beginning a new year in the secular calendar and a new season in the Christian Church calendar, beginning the seasons during which we study the earthly life of Jesus and our scripture lessons reflect the theme of new beginnings. In Isaiah 61:1, the prophet proclaims “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord hath annointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek…” He announces that he has a new ministry & a new audience, that the reign of sin & death is over. He speaks of the trees of righteousness, which symbolize the human spirit linked with God. Jesus later applies this passage to Himself. 

In the Gospel for the day, St. Matthew 2:19, he tells us the story of how the Holy Family were told by an angel to go to the land of Israel and came to dwell in Nazareth, “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.” As we start a new year in both the secular and Christian calendars it is time for us to begin anew in our own lives as Christians. 

During prayer time Bishop Hartley said the birthday prayer for Andy Hartley whose birthday is Jan. 9. After the service we enjoyed coffee hour then took down and put away our Nativity scene and our indoor Christmas decorations until next year. 

Last week’s news:

After the solemnity and seriousness of Advent, a penitential season in which we prepare ourselves for the coming Christ, Christmas Eve the church is alive with light & color with which we welcome the Christ child. Altar and vestment colors are white, the color of spirit, and the altar is alive with flowers, not used during Advent, the traditional red poinsettias as well as red and white altar flowers. The four candles of the Advent Wreath are lighted and the white Christ candle placed in the middle, lighted by the priest after the Communion service as a symbol of the Christ who is now among us. The nave, too, is alive with greenery and red ribbons; a wonderful job by the ladies of the altar guild.

Christmas Eve begins with singing many of the traditional Christmas carols, led by our organist Kip Smith. Following the singalong we have the Christmas Eve liturgy and Holy Communion.  Afterwards we enjoy coffee hour and fellowship.

Sunday Dec. 29 was the First Sunday after Christmas Day. In the secular world Christmas ends with the feasting & presents of Christmas Day but in the English Christian tradition we observe the Twelve Days of Christmas through Jan. 6, the Epiphany. In his sermon Bishop Hartley reminded us to keep the spirit of Christmas & the birth of Jesus in mind. Jesus is God made man, or the Incarnation, and His birth is the first act in His earthly life. In the Epistle for the day, Galatians 4:1, St. Paul defines their (and our) place in God’s plan, that Jesus came for everyone and not just for the Jews. He uses the laws of inheritance to illustrate his point. As long as the heir is a child he is dependent but comes into his inheritance at the right time, and for us that time is now through Christ. Paul explains that we are all children & heirs of God through Christ. Jesus has broken the barrier between God and man and the basis of Christianity is the belief that Jesus has brought man into a new relationship with God.