Beginning January 6 and ending Ash Wednesday (March 1), the Church celebrates The Epiphany, commemorating the historic moment when the Gentiles were first received into the fold of God’s chosen people Israel. At the manger where lay the infant Christ, strangers became friends with God. The familiar story of the wise men’s journey from the East to honor the Jewish Messiah points us toward the biblical theme of reconciliation ... which reminds me of another story, closer to our own time.
On Christmas Eve, 1914, the first year of World War I, a strange quiet settled on the Western Front, a welcome respite for a group of lonely British soldiers. As they lay in their trenches, each man began to speculate about the activities of loved-ones back home. A stout man from Ely uttered wistfully, “My whole family will soon be walking out the door to hear the boys’ choir at the Cathedral.”
The men sat quietly for several minutes before a lanky soldier from Kent looked up with tears in his eyes. "This is eerie," he stammered, “but I can almost hear that choir singing.” “So can I," cried another puzzled voice. "There’s music coming from the other side!" The men scrambled to the edge of the trench and cocked their ears, where they heard a few sturdy German voices singing Martin Luther's Christmas carol, "From heav'n above to earth I come, to bear good news to every one. Glad tidings of great joy I bring to all the world, and gladly sing." When the hymn ended, the English soldiers sat in frozen silence. Then a Brit with a powerful voice broke into "God rest ye, merry, gentlemen." By the time he finished, the entire regiment was singing. A somewhat wary interlude of silence followed. Then a German tenor began to sing out sweet and clear, "Stille Nacht." Soon, a chorus of nearly a hundred voices echoed "Silent Night" in different languages back and forth across the trenches: "Silent night, holy night! All is calm, all is bright."
"Someone’s approaching!" a British sentry shouted, and they focused on a single German soldier walking slowly toward them, waving a white cloth with one hand and holding chocolate bars in the other. Gingerly, men from both sides eased out into the neutral zone and began to greet one another. In the next golden moments, each man shared what he had with the others--candy, cigarettes, even a bit of Christmas brandy. But most important, they exchanged battered, yet treasured, pictures they carried of their loved-ones.
A few days later, once more the cannons boomed and rifles whined across "no-man's land." But for some, that war was never the same. The enemy was no longer faceless. When men looked down their gun barrels at the opposition, now they saw the smiling faces of those whose pictures were shared on that silent, holy night when the birth of Christ drew hostile forces together as brothers, and for a few moments, gave weary warriors a taste of the peace and good will Jesus came to bring us.
This story reminds us that the wise men who traveled from the East to worship the infant Jesus were foreigners entering unknown, potentially hostile, Israelite territory. Even so, they came to worship Him, bringing gifts. As we recall their courage, how will we respond to Christ in our time? Will we accept His merciful hand reaching out to befriend us in the battle, as did those World War I soldiers, one Christmas night? Will we, like the wise men, kneel before Christ in humility and adoration, honoring Him as our Savior, High Priest, and King? Only in this posture can we be truly reconciled to one another--whether as nations or as individuals--and peace become a reality. May it be so!
Yours in Christ's Service,
The Rev. Dr. Nina George-Hacker, FHC ~ Rector
Sunday, January 15th Potluck Luncheon &Annual Meeting after Mass
Saturday, February 11th at 7 pm: Taizé-Style Service of Worship & Prayer
Sunday, February 12th Youth Sunday & Valentine’s Day Party during Coffee Hour
January 20, 2017
Worship With Us!
Our Services include music, with the organist, choir, and congregation contributing a "joyful sound!"
The Episcopal service uses a liturgy, or standard order of worship found in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). These liturgies are used by Episcopalians world-wide, fostering a sense of community and continuity across distance and time.
We Celebrate Holy Communion at every service. Every baptized Christian is welcome and encouraged to come to the altar rail to receive the bread and/or wine of Communion or receive a blessing.
Learn With Us!
Adult Bible Study resumes
April 26 - June 28
Wednesdays from 6:00 to 7:30 pm
This 10-week study of the book of James uses:Max Lucado's Book of James: Practical Wisdom from his “Life Lessons” series.
10:15 am September through May