This Epiphany season, members of the St. John's family have received "Epiphany stars," each with a different word to reflect on for the upcoming year. Throughout this season, they will be sharing reflections on how these stars--just like the star that the wise men followed--help lead them to God.
We begin on the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6), with our first meditation. Daily meditations will continue to be posted here, Mon-Fri, until February 12. They will also be posted on our Facebook page, where you can add your own comments and reflections too.
We invite you to join us on this journey, as together we follow these stars leading the way...
"HUMILITY is a very important virtue every Christian should possess, by showing a modest view of one's own importance. I recognize Humility is a practise and a discipline, and that I am not perfect in any way. We all can make mistakes, and must try to accept our own strengths without being defensive. God teaches us nothing but great Love, Faith and enormous gratitude for what we do have, in these troubled times.
From Proverbs: 'When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.'"
How might "Humility" help lead YOU to God?
"God gave us discipline to enhance our character and therefore our lives. Discipline helps us to stay true to God and to ourselves by doing the best that we can with what we have. We practise discipline daily in our lives by making ethical choices in how we live our lives and how we interact with others. I pray that God will give us the strength and discipline to do what we must each day."
How might "Discipline" help lead YOU to God?
"I loved the assignment of this word from the moment I saw it. And I feel it is very relevant for me to hear right now.
In the middle of our most challenging moments there is still beauty. There is still joy. Sometimes you need to seek it though. It can be easier to dwell on the challenges. I sometimes quip that Newton's laws aren't just about physics. They relate to life in general. The 1st one about inertia - bodies continue on a path until acted on by an opposing force.
I have often used playfulness in performance. When singing I will apply a style incongruent with how I have normally seen the song... playing a ballad as rockabilly or ska or country or metal. It allows me to see things that I wouldn't otherwise. When dealing with a child who is stuck in their 'lizard' brain and acting out I will tickle or play fight instead of just yelling and confronting.
And then there is the term attributed to Sunday School, Godly Play. Why not Scriptural Studies or Gospel Pursuits or Holy Half Time...
But that is life and science and performance and parenting. What about scripture? I looked it up, broadly, in the Bible and got a few references. In the old testament there was Ecclesiastes and Proverbs reminding us to enjoy life - with several references.
And then there was the story of Jesus, as presented in the Gospels, through his disciples. One in particular at the end of John. After his crucifixion and resurrection the disciples were fishing, unsuccessfully. I can't help but wonder how traumatic the whole experience would have been for the disciples. How much would they have been caught up in touching the experience. Reflecting on the turbulence, the upheaval, the conflicts. The persecution continued and will always continue. They were going about the drudgery of existence. Doing and being. Staying out of trouble. Looking after their basic needs. A figure appears on the shore and tells them to try the other side. They respond back that they know what they are doing and have already tried that. Go about your own business and let us tend to ours. Try the other side. Begrudgingly they do. With great success, hauling in net loads of fish. And they recognize the figure as Jesus, wherein Peter is reminded to tend to his lambs and sheep.
So... yeah. Try the other side. When the sham and drudgery piles up... and at times it will. But don't get caught up in it. Try a different approach. Try Playfulness."
How might "Playfulness" help lead YOU to God?
"In Acts 28:26-27, Paul delivered the message, 'You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull... lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.'
My reflection is to pray on this message of salvation: to continuously open my heart to the kingdom of God. It is easy to lose our perceptiveness in the daily routine, especially as all our days blend together. But we should pause for a moment to notice and appreciate the people and things in our amazing world."
How might "Perceptiveness" help lead YOU to God?
"God has shown us his great generosity by creating the whole world for us to live in. We in turn can show our generosity by our actions towards others. When we are generous to others, we are pleasing God by our actions. We can be generous with our Time, Talent & Treasure – helping those in need – being polite and kind to everyone we meet – assisting whenever possible. Every act of generosity that we offer someone shows them God’s generosity through us."
How might "Generosity" help lead YOU to God?
"CONFIDENCE in self fluctuates from day to day. We often struggle with whether we are making the right decisions or choices. One thing is certain though and that is having CONFIDENCE that God sees us worthy to answer our prayers and bestow his blessings upon us."
How might "Confidence" help lead YOU to God?
"In the immortal words of Thumper to Bambi: 'If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all'.
My incomparable grandmother used to say that only animals do what they want, when they want. If we claim to be superior, we should exercise restraint and self-discipline in our actions, she would argue.
Joking aside, the Bible has plenty of words about restraint, about following the law, and the importance of self-discipline, even in our prayer life. Proverbs 29:18 says: 'Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained. But happy is he who keeps the law.'
Restraint is fundamental to our relationship to God and one another. It is often what we don’t say that can serve best, rather than what we do say. Being there for those in need, swallowing words, practicing self-assessment and prayerful consideration is vital even in the midst of a busy and often overwhelming life."
How might "Restraint" help lead YOU to God?
"'Once I was blind, but now I can see, the light of the world is Jesus.'
A few years ago, I was on a cruise boat in the Caribbean. At the end of the day returning home, it got very stormy--the boat was rocking back and forth in the dangerous waters. I took a look at the faces around me and saw that everyone was afraid. I closed my eyes and asked God to get us all home safely.
After I opened my eyes, I saw a flashing light coming from a lighthouse that showed the path home.
In my mind, I was looking at the light of Christ showing us the way home in the dangerous waters of this life. We are meant to be the light of God shining through us, in spite of all that's going on in this world today.
The world waits today for each of us to shine that light into the darkest corners, to show a lost world the way home."
How might "Vision" help lead YOU to God?
"The word 'Wonder' first comes to mind... and I think in life many people, many things, as well as myself could be different for many reasons.
At times I wonder about the world, what beauty many of us live in... and still at times I often wonder, could the world be a better place to live in or not?
As I see the sun, the seas, the stars, the moon, the clouds, and all the creatures that live on this earth... I wonder could it be different? I wonder at times, if so, how could it be?
I often wonder what the world would be if there was a reversal... for example, if the Third World and its people lived in a different part of the world, such as the U.S.A. or Canada. What would be the difference, and I wonder how would one see the world in a reversed situation? These thoughts make me wonder and bring me closer to God."
How might "Wonder" help lead YOU to God?
"The word joy is always a double-sided image to me...
'Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning'(Psalm 30:5). Sometimes a painful experience can bring great satisfaction and joyfulness.
'The foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy... because You are good to me, good to me, You are good to me' (Audrey Assad) - the words of this song have become both a lament and an anthem to me.
In darkest night and moments of fear and uncertainty I find hope in the promise of a beautiful dawn that is always on its way - a morning filled with joy.
'May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.' (Romans 15:13)"
How might "Joy" help lead YOU to God?
"My imagination is in the clouds. There is nothing like a soft fluffy cloud to help me slow down, relax, meditate.
Watch them a few moments... there is GOD!"
How might "Imagination" help lead YOU to God?
"Throughout history, Music has always had an important role in worship in all societies. Even the most primitive peoples have found music to be crucial to their religious experience. The role of music in worship is also very biblical.
In the Old Testament, singing was an integral part of Israel’s Temple worship (1 Chronicles 6:31–32, 16:42). The Book of Psalms is filled not only with songs of joy, praise, sorrows and lament, but also urged us to 'Praise God with trumpet sound; with lute and harp; with tambourine and dance; with strings and pipe; with sounding cymbals; and with loud clashing cymbals.' (Psalm 150:3-5)
The new Testament too contains many songs to God. Three of the best known include the BVM’s 'Magnificat' (Luke 1:46-55) that used to be a regular part of Vespers and Evening Prayer; Zechariah’s 'Benedictus' (Luke 1:68-79) that used to be part of Matins or Morning Prayer; and Simeon’s 'Nunc Dimittis' (Luke 2:29-32) that is part of the office of Compline.
The early Apostles and Disciples not only sang hymns (Mark 14:26) but also urged that 'with gratitude in our hearts, we should also sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.' (Colossians 3:16–17).
Regretfully, I am not gifted with a singing voice. Since my throat surgery in 2006, I don’t even have the range of an octave. But I have always valued music (even if it is from a CD or computer) as an important aid in my worship. We’re so blessed that our parish has a good choir to assist us in our Liturgy.
Music is very conducive to meditation. Music not only lifts me up emotionally, but also helps me in my 'talk' with my Lord. To me, music is an indispensable ministry of the Church. It has the ability to deepen piety, and bring out the highest expression of reverence and awe in the presence of the Almighty God."
How might "Music" help lead YOU to God?
"Openness has always been very important in our family. We believe that being open and honest brings us closer as a family as we do not hide who we are. In the same way, being open about our thoughts, feelings, and fears in prayer can lead us to feel closer to God."
How might "Openness" help lead YOU to God?
"As I grow older, I realize I have had a life full of opportunities to rejoice:
--My wife and family and the opportunity to rejoice with them in all the wonders of their lives as they enrich mine,
--Numerous opportunities to be healed, physically and spiritually,
--Obvious chances to help some others.
I have not earned these things, but I have been blessed, so as the old hymn says: Rejoice and be glad!!
I would also like to add something even if it means that this contribution is going on for too long (what’s new?!). This semi-autobiographical song was written by my aunt Juanita Jairath (Aunty Nita) c. 1988 and she dedicated it to my mother (her sister May). She never documented the music (!), but along with several of my cousins, who knew the words and the music, we sang this at my mother’s funeral in Jan 1993.
A SONG FOR MAY - Words and Music by Juanita Jairath.
Dear God, when I was very small,
I needed not the world at all.
It was enough to be loved and wanted,
And there were things that I took for granted:
School on the corner, friends down the street,
Brothers and sisters and lots to eat:
But always, somewhere out there,
Something wonderful waited for me.
Dear God, when I was somewhat grown,
Boldly I woke to face the dawn:
Threw wide my soul and was torn asunder;
I searched for love--was it nought but thunder
That tore up the roots and trampled the soil
And filled my life with trouble and toil?
But always, somewhere out there
Something wonderful waited for me.
Dear God, my days are nearly done.
My dreams have vanished one by one.
I know I am loved and wanted;
Clearly, I see what I took for granted.
From the beginning unto the end,
All unaware, I had walked with a Friend!
God-like you created, Man-like you were there!!
Thank you, thank you tenderly for a life time of care.
God–like you created, Man-like you were there.
Thank you, thank you tenderly
Just for always being there!!"
How might "Rejoicing" help lead YOU to God?
What if I could hear Jesus as if--
As if for the first time,
As if he’s here with us now,
At Rocky Point Park saying
God’s here--God’s here now,
Here in Port Moody.
And Heaven’s Kingdom’s here too--
Inside us--inside us all.
I’m listening--can it be true?
Someone says he’s speaking tomorrow,
Speaking on Burnaby Mountain.
There’s more to learn--I’ll go,
I’ll go early--there’s sure to be a crowd.
I’ll get up close so I can hear,
As close as I can so I can listen."
How might "Listening" help lead YOU to God?
"When I saw this word that was chosen for me, my first thought was God had answered my prayers.
How does this word lead me to God?
I have been praying for guidance lately because I need it. I believe God is saying be open-minded to others. Especially when I am driving. Go to God before I open my mouth and he will lead me."
How might "Tolerance" help lead YOU to God?
"Delight, I smile just saying it!
So much in God’s world brings delight, from the tiniest intricate lichen in the forest to the beauty of a sunset over the ocean, babies and warm hugs. Most wonderful of all God delights in us (1 Kings 10:9)."
How might "Delight" help lead YOU to God?
"Stability is a quality we all crave. We value the stability of employment/income, family life, health, peace, and community. The security of this solid base empowers us for our work in the world. But is this divine child in the manger promising us stability? If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that nothing is guaranteed, and as Christians, we have seen that Jesus came, not to defend the status quo, but to shake things up. Jesus shows us that our sense of stability is an illusion. And 2020 has reminded us that the status quo serves only those in power. That child in the manger leads the way to the only true stability in our lives, the only stability we really need, and that is the love and protection of God our creator. God's love provides the solid base which empowers us to do His work in the world."
How might "Stability" help lead YOU to God?
"Trees standing tall like sentinels
Daffodils trumpeting the Glory of The Lord.
A newborn baby’s cry
The final breath of a life well lived.
Each a moment of reverence to the Mystery and Majesty
of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
I am drawn into the inner sanctuary of prayer, and
LOVE pours forth"
How might "Reverence" help lead YOU to God?
"I have spent many days walking and praying with the word selected for me, SYMPATHY.
I think the past year has been a time of people feeling deep sympathy for all the losses there have been - individual, collective, and world-related.
I have considered if sympathy is inborn, learned through parents, etc. I still don’t know. An example of very young children is my 2 youngest (13 months apart). When Michael came from a traumatic doctor appointment, Shawn comforted him by holding him and using what is called twin talk - their own language to soothe him. Sympathy!
In this time of Covid we are reminded in the Beatitudes: 'Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.' - Matthew 5:4. I know my life and ministry have put me in many situations where I am called to reach out in sympathy to someone who is mourning. At times like this it is when God is nearest me as I receive words of comfort to share with those who mourn. I know it is not me but God working through me to bring hope, comfort, and God's redeeming love."
How might "Sympathy" help lead YOU to God?
"I remember teaching the concept of sharing to my children. Learning to share helps children to make and keep friends, to take turns, and be fair. Once we learn to share, we're able to experience the joy sharing brings to not only those who we share with, but also the joy we experience ourselves because God is pleased with us when we share what we have with others."
How might "Sharing" help lead YOU to God?
"Serenity is peace, calm, untroubled which is where we get when we have our Epiphany and God is revealed to us in the birth of Christ. In my frantic world, seeking serenity brings me closer to God by hearing my authentic self, seeing my unique talents gifted by God. This year in particular, serenity is not only a pleasure and a practice but rather a life-giving necessity."
How might "Serenity" help lead YOU to God?
"How does education, my star word, help to lead me to God? The obvious thought that comes to mind is the church programs that have enabled me to learn about God--Bible Studies, EfM, Lent, and Advent Studies. Through these educational offerings, I have learned about God, Jesus, and the Bible. It amazes me that there is so much that can be learned! But more important than the content alone, is the reflection that goes along with the learning. The courses enable me to reflect on the ways that God may be speaking to me.
Education, in a more general way, can also lead people to God. I had been pondering this thought for a few days when I saw a documentary about Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria. He had written that it was his belief that a person's status, wealth, and education should be used to help people. And he acted upon those beliefs! In only twenty years he had established many social initiatives that would hugely benefit the people of England--especially the very needy. What an inspiration he is! I pray that my education and interest in learning can help me to see where there is need in our world and that I will be open to God's nudge to do something about it."
How might "Education" help lead YOU to God?
"The writer of Matthew 6:34 states...'So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.'
Over the past months as I have reflected on the state of the world, I have come to realize that life experience has helped me in many ways. There have been many times in my life when I have fretted about the future only to realize that I gained nothing by doing so, other than maybe sleepless nights. Now, although I still go through brief moments of despair, I come out of those moments realizing that God is in control and whether the outcome is what I thought I wanted or not, it is only I who has abandoned God during the process, God waits patiently for me to return to 'the one' who holds me as I journey into the future."
How might "Experience" help lead YOU to God?
"Thankfulness is what makes me get up every morning. Thankful to be alive and well, thankful that I have family, friends and my faith. Thankful that we have clean air, water and food. Thankful that I can go to sleep each night, with a grateful heart, and thanking God for another day."
How might "Thankfulness" help lead YOU to God?
"Solitude is something I rarely experience but when I do, I find that it helps lead me to God by letting me be alone with my thoughts. I have a chance to reflect on things that I am struggling with, or it helps me understand where I need to go. It helps me hear what God wants from me, and how I can get there."
How might "Solitude" help lead YOU to God?
"As I ponder this word, 'devotion', I think of daily devotions... time spent in prayer and reflection, and time spent discovering God’s purpose for my life. This year it has been easier to find time for reflection with a few less things to do, but difficult to think ahead to the future with so much uncertainty. There has been much opportunity though to be thankful for health and safety and things maybe previously taken for granted sometimes, and more time to be thankful for faith, hope, love, and a God who loves me, asking only for my devotion and desire to follow the example of Jesus as best I can.
This star will keep my mind busy... reflecting on devotion."
How might "Devotion" help lead YOU to God?
"We are called to a special kind of unity as the Body of Christ, as fellow followers of Jesus and fellow travellers on the Way. It is not about having the exact same thoughts and opinions or pretending away differences that matter (or that need to be resolved and called to account). This sort of unity, however, recognizes that something sacred holds us together. It recognizes that each of us are indispensable to the other, as we each hold the key to a different experience of the revelation of God."
How might "Unity" help lead YOU to God?