January 2 - 8, 2006




This year, pray for your own Epiphany

The Magi looked at the stars and determined that a new king had appeared on the earth. Following the star, they arrived at Bethlehem and were the first to acknowledge Jesus as King, thus giving the world a great Epiphany.

Now as we remember that first Epiphany 2,000 years ago, what lessons can we take from those wise men? First, they were aware of their environment. They noticed when something was different in the night sky. How much awareness does it take to notice that there's a new star in the sky? Plenty!

Also, remember that as divine signs go, a star is hardly a private revelation. Moses had a burning bush. Isaiah had his vision in the temple. Both were relatively discrete revelations. But a star? It's there for everybody to see.

Which beckons the next question: If the star was there for all to see, how come only three guys responded? The obvious conclusion is that people didn't notice the star, or if they did notice the star they did not understand the significance.

Today we live in a world that is facing many pressures that are unprecedented in history. Now more than ever is the time for us to be a little more like the Magi and a lot less like the rest of humanity at the time of Jesus' birth. It's time for us to open our eyes and our hearts and become aware of our world today, to look at the changes that are happening all around us in our economics, our values, our environment.

And like the Magi, we need to respond with wisdom and insight. As most issues of discipleship, awareness and response deal with fundamental issues of stewardship. We must be good personal stewards of our minds, bodies, souls and possessions, just as we must be good collective stewards of our social values, economics and policies. 

This Epiphany season, we can pray that the Christ child reveal himself to us, give us awareness of the world he came to save, and inspire us to respond with boldness and wisdom. 

-Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster

New This Week:


More than Money: Capital Fund Drives and Congregations
Looking for inspiration and direction on a capital campaign? Here are stories of four congregations. "While meeting financial goals is itself a rewarding accomplishment, these congregations found additional blessings in the process: a renewed sense of community, an enthusiasm for ministry, and the discovery of gifts and abilities." Click here for a "More than Money," from the Alban Institute's Center for Congregations.

A Lifetime Guarantee
"At a meeting with a stewardship team recently, one of the team members asked me how much I could guarantee that they would achieve in their stewardship appeal. ... One thing I could guarantee I told them, was that they would increase the awareness and understanding of the members of what stewardship was all about." Click here for "A Lifetime Guarantee," from ELCA Stewardship Resources.

Stewardship foundations
A New Year is a good time to reaffirm the basics, and this document starts at the beginning: "Stewardship is an answer to Jesus' call to 'follow me.' At the heart of stewardship is the belief that everything we have -- our talents, time and treasures -- and all that we accumulate during our lifetime, are gifts on loan to us from a generous and abundant God."  Click here for "Stewardship foundations," from the New Jersey Synod's Stewardship Resources.

  Resolutions Worth Keeping
How are you doing on those New Year's resolutions? So far so good? Here's an article that explores the surprising Pagan origins of this yearly custom, as well as how Christians through the ages have approached it. (Guess what the Puritans did!) "Many of us may have taken New Years Eve and New Years Day as God-given opportunities. We have taken at least a few minutes to reflect, pray, and dedicate ourselves anew to our Lord." Click here for "Resolutions Worth Keeping," from ChristianityToday.com. This week's Treasure Chest offering.