January 3, 2nd Sunday after Christmas – Divine Service
Luke 2:40-52 – Christ our exemplar
January 10, The Baptism of our Lord – Matins
Luke 3:15-22 - Heaven is open to You
January 17, 2nd Sunday in Epiphany – Divine Service
John 2:1-11 – Christ man manifest in His miracles
January 24, 3rd Sunday in Epiphany – Setting Three without Communion
Luke 4:16-30 – Christ made manifest in His preaching
January 31, 4th Sunday in Epiphany – Divine Service
Luke 4:31-44 – Christ made manifest in His forgiving sin
A national election will held on Tuesday, 8 November 2016. As a nation, we will be electing leaders on a local, state and national level. A yearlong debate will remain as the nation considers which individuals will be our country’s leaders. Discussions begin in earnest January 1.
According to the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms (referred by many as the doctrine of Church and State), we Christians recognize our president (and all elected leaders whether on the local, state or national level) as God’s man for this time - whether he knows and understands it or not. St. Paul in Romans 13:1 reminds us, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” For this reason we are directed to “give everyone what you own him: If you owe taxes, pay tassel if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect, if honor, then honor.” [Romans 13:7]
Daily we should pray for our leaders that the Lord would give them wisdom. They need the Lord’s direction to use their power for our country’s good so that we may live in peace and safety. They need divine guidance that we as free people might exercise our rights of free assembly and worship. We need to treasure our freedoms and support those who have sworn to protect them so that we can gossip the Gospel before the Lord returns in glory.
We live under a representative republic, which means we elect individuals to stand in for us for a certain moment of time. Every four years we inaugurate a head of state, not a king. When we are satisfied with our leader’s work, they are re-elected. If not, others will take their place. We are given freedoms in this great country: to speak our mind, to disagree, and to come together. Every time a new administration is elected, there is a peaceful transfer of the figurehead of power. There are no riots. Life does not cease. In all reality, not much changes. The bureaucrats keep their jobs.
We are living in challenging times. In many respects, we are entering uncharted waters. Some of these challenges we have not had to confront in over fifty years. Others have been looming over us for a while. Now they need to be addressed. We will need the best minds our country has to face the difficulties and challenges of our 21st Century. In this New Year, commit yourself to daily pray for those who serve as your representatives. Vigilance is needed. Serving both God and country is what makes us model citizens. Love God. Serve your neighbor. Be a sermon in shoes.
As we begin a new year we find ourselves in the Christmas/Epiphany season. Epiphany is the shepherds recognizing the Messiah. It is the Magi acknowledging the king of glory. It is Peter's "You are the Christ...." It is the two disciples on the way to Emmaus having their eyes opened. It is any time that our eyes are opened to the manifestation of God in our Savior, Jesus Christ.
The experience of Epiphany is the most important goal of Christian teaching or preaching. It is the moment when Christ is perceived by the eyes of faith. Throughout this coming year may we see God’s hand at work among us, drawing us closer to Him has He continues to order our days directing us through every circumstance of our lives. Christ has come to bring light and life. May His hand guide us throughout this coming year.