Today, we celebrated the feast of the Epiphany. Preaching from this week’s Lectionary readings, Rev. Augustin drew parallels from the story of Joshua’s crossing of the Jordan river into the Promised Land to we could look at our transition from year 2012 to 2013.
In the Bible account, God covenanted with Israel saying, “You will be my people.” It was a challenging time for the Israelites – Moses – the charismatic, miracle producing leader – was dead. Now they all had to cross the Jordan into the promised land – without Moses.
This can be intimidating. But the Lord says, “I am with you, as I was with Moses.” This, for Joshua who had to take on the leader’s role after Moses, was an epiphany moment. Just like how the Magi had their epiphany moment with Jesus – the sudden realization that they were in the presence of something greater than themselves.
The cusp of a New Year can be like this for many of, but we are all assured of His abiding presence. In crossing the Jordan, the Israelites had to move away from what they already knew to what they were about to be given. Just like, in the Hobbit, Bilbo was faced with an unexpected adventure, we all need to learn that our adventures in God is often less about the destination but more about the journey.
The Bible calls this discipleship. It is not a destination – but a lifelong journey. Every step is an opportunity to be discipled; making us into the people He wants us to be. Discipleship takes us into what God has prepared for us; though this is not necessarily what we can see or expect. In fact, it could be said that God showed Joshua where the borders of the Promised Land lay in an attempt to enlarged Joshua’s vision of what was possible through God!
The call to discipleship is also to the entire community and nation. God calls us to arise and shine as a community and nation. We are called to engage God on His terms, not ours. But this is not easy – that’s why Israel kept making idols… attempting to grasp God on their own terms and not His. That is also why God continually had to break those presumptions, saying, “I AM that I AM.”
We are thus called to be careful, to not turn to the left or right and not to create a conception of God. Thus, this requires obedience. Obedience implies discipline. In turn, discipline implies pain. But what comes out of us is based on what we put in it.
Therefore, a reminder to parents to remember to provide Christian education to their children – beyond the numerous other classes for music, language, school work, sports and more. Parents are called to keep the book of the law always on their lips as well as those of their children.
Having said all that, Rev. Augustin also outlined a few important things the church will emphasise in this new year 2013: Education, Discipline, and Practicing The Presence of God.
We will do this by:
- Introducing an Education Hour, once a month after service. The first one in January will be about Early Communion (to Children)
- Enforcing discipline by starting our worship services promptly at 10am
- Opening the church every Friday for an open time of prayer so that we can practice the presence. There will be no set “program” for these open times – but all are welcome to just come and spend time in the church. Rev. Augustin will be present for prayer and counselling as necessary.
Therefore, God has provided the opportunity; assurance is given and provided. Now it is up to us to respond – will we undertake the journey and cross the Jordan?