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Epiphany--Still Finding Christmas Awe by Sue Wright





I have to admit when I saw my blog assignment was Epiphany, I had to scratch my head. Why me and why Epiphany? I know next to nothing about Epiphany. I grew up a Southern Baptist. Still wondering, I eventually whined my perplexity to our pastor. In response, Jason just smiled. “It’s Christmas, Sue!”

“Oh . . .” And with that “epiphany,” I have begun to write this blog.

According to Google and one of its online theological sites, what we celebrate as Epiphany is “the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the story of the Magi—The Three Kings—in Matthew 2:1-12.” And what a story it is!

Think about it! These three guys—these three wise guys-- hearing the rumors that a baby has been born worthy of their adoration, embark on a trip by camel into seriously unfamiliar territory, and begin knocking at door after door, palace after palace-- stirring up all kinds of trouble-- until they finally give up on finding Jesus in Jerusalem, and follow the star they’ve been following for what seems like forever, to a house some miles away, maybe even years away. They “see the child with his mother Mary, and bow down and worship him. Then they open their treasures and present him with gifts of gold and incense and myrrh.”

Until fairly recently, you know, sometime in the last forty or fifty years, I put the Magi and their gifts right alongside the shepherds and their flocks on Christmas night. You have to agree, makes a nice picture: rich and poor gathered around the newborn Son of God. Certainly adds diversity to the crèches we love perching on our mantles each December. But in truth, Epiphany is a January extension of the Christmas story—a story that happened in addition to what we mark as Christmas Day—a story proven to earn its own commemoration. For without the Magi, who knows how Christ’s birth would have been broadcast from his hometown to other nations. By “returning to their country by another route,” no telling who they may have told about the “the perfect light” they now so joyfully claimed as theirs.

Not to worry if you want to go on combining all the characters of Christmas into one beautiful scene. It’s hard to change old habits. On the other hand, isn’t it nice we have another opportunity by way of the Epiphany story to experience the Holy Awe of locating our Savior, and then like the Wise Men, giving Him a permanent place in our hearts?

Sue Wright

at Friday, January 12, 2018 | 0 comments
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7 x 3 Things to Make Ourselves and Our World Better in 2018 by Jason Edwards

Unity without uniformity. This is one thing I have long cherished about our church. There is a diversity of personal perspective in theology, politics and all manner of other subjects, but there are also numerous friendships that cross these lines of belief. These kinds of relationships don’t seem prevalent in our country and, honestly, they have seemed more difficult to maintain within our own church over the last year. Partisanship has intensified, and people want to huddle in groups where the disparity in belief is small.

We have never needed to learn to like people who are unlike us more than we do right now.

With that in mind, I asked our friend Ed Chasteen to distill some guidance for how we might do a better job learning from people who are unlike us in the coming year. Ed was a professor of sociology at William Jewell College, the founder and longtime leader of Hatebusters, and has been the Second Baptist Church Ambassador to other faith communities since the 80’s. Getting people to learn from and love people who are unlike them is his specialty.

In short, Ed says when we encounter people who are different from us (in perspective, culture, religion, race, etc.), we should first choose to believe these things seven things:

  1. Their ways make as much sense as mine
  2. But for my circumstances, I could be them
  3. “Who’s right?” is the wrong question
  4. I may never agree with them, but I can relate to them
  5. They are as attached to their way as I am to mine
  6. The world would be a poorer place if they did not exist
  7. Only by understanding them do I come to understand myself

Next, we should think about these seven things:

  1. What are the basic differences between us?
  2. How and when did our differences start?
  3. How am I like them?
  4. Are they as uncertain about how to relate to me?
  5. What is really happening in my encounter with them?
  6. How will my children and theirs relate to each other?
  7. What does knowing those who are not like me tell me about myself?

Finally, if we want to go NEXT LEVEL, we should consider doing these seven things to learn from and like people who are REALLY unlike us:

  1. Learn another language
  2. Visit ethnic communities; attend their place of worship
  3. Eat their foods
  4. Study other cultures
  5. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations
  6. Feel good about not trying to change them
  7. Don't pretend to understand

One of the points, of course, is that people who are unlike us are really much more like us than we think.

Just a little food for thought, as you consider how to make yourself and our world better in 2018.

Posted by Jason Edwards at Wednesday, January 10, 2018 | 0 comments
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Meet Caroline Moss, a Founding Sister of 2BC by Eleanor Speaker

"I . . . went from house to house, gathering the children that were in no other school. The Lord hearkened to our prayer, and we have by his blessing had within fifteen months 220 scholars in attendance. We thank the Master for so much encouragement in the good work. . . The Sunday school I do hope will claim a greater effort from the members."

So reads the diary of Caroline Moss in 1856. On that day she would have been wearing a hat, and a fashionable dress with slender shoulders, a pointed waist, and long bell-shaped skirt. She was the daughter of Judge and Mrs. John Thornton, the wife of Captain Moss, captain of a company of volunteers who marched to Mexico and a leading Clay County citizen, and sister-in-law of Col. Alexander Doniphan.

I do not know just how she gathered these children. It was not on the church bus! Perhaps they walked or had a horse-drawn buggy to carry them up the hill to the church on Water Street. Caroline and her mother carried out this ministry until interrupted by political events in the 1860's. The Mosses, along with
other Union-sympathizing families fled to St. Louis because of bushwhacker activity in the area.

After the Civil War and returning to Liberty, Caroline began work to support foreign missions. In December of 1867, she accepted an invitation from James B. Taylor of the Foreign Mission Board in Richmond, Virginia, to act as an agent for the Board by promoting its work within the church and collecting funds for foreign missions. Three months later she sent a check for $10.00 to Richmond.

The following year the first documented Female Missionary Society in Missouri was formed at Second Baptist Church with Caroline Moss as president, Or "directress." She was also elected the first president of the Missouri Baptist Women's Missionary Society in 1876.

In 1881 Mrs. Moss sent a report of the missionary society to the associational meeting. Being a woman, she could not address the gathering personally.

Caroline Moss is the first of many people to whom you will be introduced this year--people who have given themselves to Christ and found avenues to serve Him through Second Baptist Church.

by Eleanor Speaker

at Tuesday, January 9, 2018 | 0 comments
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