Happy New Year!

As you read this, Christmas has come and gone.  But as I sit down to write this message I’ve just returned from a quick trip to Milwaukee to visit my husband, Paul, who needed help preparing the house for a staff Christmas party. Because last year was a time of such transition in our family, we didn’t bother with a tree or decorations. Though our transitions continue, we do now own a house in Milwaukee, and it was especially fun to open the plastic tubs marked “CHRISTMAS” and to deck the halls of our new home.

Over the years, we’ve accumulated a large collection of ornaments representing various chapters of our lives. I enjoy the anticipation of unwrapping each one and the commentary that follows. Every year I wonder which ornaments will be placed in the front at eye level and which will be relegated to the back of the tree. A Barney ornament is proof of David’s lengthy love affair with the big purple dinosaur – it’s quickly stashed out of sight in the back. Sarah’s moustache phase? Something she’d now rather forget. The branches sag under the weight of these fragile treasures— homemade and collected, broken and mended, remembered and forgotten.

To my great surprise, Sarah’s giant blue-glittered pine cone, usually forced to occupy a sturdy, low-hanging branch near the wall, was hung front and center this year, enjoying a rare moment of glory. That ridiculous blue pine cone, which has been quietly shedding glitter and enduring ridicule for a more than dozen years, is an unex- pected source of joy.

The season of Epiphany follows the surprising birth of Jesus. The Magi, traveling from the east, come bearing gifts to worship the newborn king. With the angels and shepherds, they spread the good news that the Messiah has come. The light of Christ pierces the darkness of our world – every corner, every nation, every heart – bringing hope and joy for all people. For the shepherds. For the Magi. For you. As promised.

This makes Epiphany a wonderful season for another kind of sorting. Are there things in your life that need to be left behind in order to make room for something new? Perhaps you’ve outgrown a relationship or you’ve nurtured a habit that needs to be given far less time and attention. Could your priorities be rearranged to allow for less fear and more joy? Could we have a blue-glitter, pine cone kind of year—one that offers a surprising dose of hope and joy?

“Arise! Shine! Your light has come; the Lord’s glory has shone upon you.

Though darkness covers the earth and gloom the nations, the Lord will shine upon you;

God’s glory will appear over you.

Nations will come to your light and kings to your dawning radiance.” —Isaiah 60:1-3

Lynn Erickson, Interim Congregation Care Pastor

Let us arise and shine together, for our Light has come. Peace to you in this season of light. -Pastor Lynn