Epiphany and Pluralism – from Rev. Welch

 

Dear Friends and Members of the United Church of Norman-UCC

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The season of Epiphany begins January 6th and continues until Ash Wednesday. Epiphany, in the Greek could be likened to a manifestation, a striking appearance, or a vision of God. In the Western Church, an epiphany is had by the wise men who came bearing gifts to the infant Jesus. And so Epiphany is inaugurated by the retelling of the story of these magi from the east.

Where did they came from? Some scholars believe they were from Persia. That they were likely Zoroastrian, an Iranian based monotheistic faith that predates Christianity and modern Judaism. They were the first to recognize God’s work in Jesus. They had an epiphany of what God was doing in Jesus and they traveled far to see this for themselves.

And yet they never converted. They didn’t convert to the Judaism of Jesus’s family. They certainly did not become Christian which did not come into its own as a distinct religion until century after this story. The wise men could recognize God’s work in Jesus and remain true to their own religious faith.

And this is the beginning of the Christian story. The story that involves another religion all together. And how these wise men could see God in a religious context not of their own. Can we do likewise? Can we as Christians recognize God’s work in other religions not of our own?

It’s hard to not think of Islam in this regard. A religion which also originally came from the Near East, which also recognizes God’s work in the story of Jesus, of his birth, and of the importance of Mary. Islam recognizes what the Wise Men recognized, God can be found in another religion.

We live in a world marked by any number of religious and political divisions. One where people are willing to separate themselves from, harass and even kill people who are different from themselves. Yet the church calendar begins in 2017 with a story of how people of other religions could recognize God’s work in people, in contexts so different from their own.

I’d argue that the ethical, social, and political challenge we face in our age is whether we can be as open as the wise men. Can we begin to recognize God in other religions? Can we recognize God’s work in nations quite different from our own? Can we recognize God’s work in those who differ from us politically? Our ability to answer that affirmatively is tied to whether we can live together or not in peace.

Join us this Sunday as we celebrate Epiphany and dream the possibilities of a new year this Sunday at 11 a.m.

Blessings,

Rev. Dwight Welch

 

 

Adult Education and Future Events

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January 8, 15, and 22nd 2017 our adult education will be lead by Chris Carter as we explore the PBS Frontline series “From Jesus to Christ.” It’s a historical documentary on the origins of the New Testament and the early church. We start Sundays at 9:45 a.m.

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Women’s March at the Oklahoma State Capital on January 21, 2017. For all of us, men and women, who are unable to attend the march on Washington DC this is a way to add our voices concerning the issues we care about. The demonstration starts at 10am and goes to 3pm. There will be speakers during the event.

If you cannot attend for the full time, please consider coming for whatever time you can so that we will be counted in the numbers that take part in this important event in order to get the attention of those in DC. Many are bringing signs, so feel free to champion the cause that is close to your heart.

 

 

Book Club January 16th

 

We’re finishing the 9th chapter of the Last Puritan and begin discussing Listen Liberal at Nancy Logan’s home 3200 Summit Bend at 7pm.

 

 

Food and Shelter Needs

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Resident and Shelter Needs include soap, cleaning supplies, furniture, diapers. Kitchen Needs are dry sealed foods. Care Packets for the homeless include deodorant, self care products, snack foods

 

 

A New Recycling Box

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Given the number of paper products we use for our morning gatherings and conversation box the Social Justice committee has set up a recycling box to discard those items. Look for it on Sundays!