St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
It may come as a shock to many people to learn that the Twelve Days of Christmas did not end on Christmas Day. In fact, the Twelve Days of Christmas actually start on Christmas Day, and extend until Jan. 5, the day before the feast of the Three Kings, also known as Epiphany.
According to the Gospel of St. Matthew, wise men from the East came to the birthplace of Jesus to honor him as the savior of the world. The gospel does not say how many, nor does it refer to the men as kings. The Magi, or wise men, have acquired many attributes, including names that differ across cultures, over the centuries. Their importance, however, is not only that they are rich and wise and possibly royal but that they were the first Gentiles to seek and experience the divine aspect of the Christ child.
Again, according to Matthew, the Magi find Jesus by following a star. Light in the darkness is a theme of the Epiphany, which falls at the darkest time of the year in this hemisphere. The date of the feast, Jan. 6, was used by some cultures as the Winter Solstice. In early Christianity, and even now in some churches, it is called the Feast of Lights, showing how the presence of Jesus Christ illuminates the world.
At St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, we usually celebrate Three Kings on Jan. 6 or the following Sunday. We always hang a lovely Epiphany banner (gold letters against a dark green background), and move the Magi figures, which have been patiently waiting at the back of the church since Christmas Eve, up to the crèche, to join the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, assorted shepherds, angels, sheep and a St. Mark’s exclusive, a pig.
This year, of course, will be different. There is no crèche set up at the church as there have been no services since mid-November, but the vestry sent out lovely cutouts of the usual crèche components to all our parishioners in mid-December. We will, however, be celebrating the Epiphany when we are together online for our Sunday service Jan. 10.
So once more, until then, St. Mark’s wishes all a very blessed Christmas!
Penn Yan First Presbyterian Church
Like many small to mid-size churches, FPC spent most of 2020 adapting to different technologies in order to reach our members. As a New Year unfolds, it brings a much anticipated change for FPC, a new and dynamic website, https://www.pypc.org/. FPC would like to extend a huge Thank-You to Mike S., for all his hard work to provide such great design and content. What a wonderful gift and it arrived just in time for Christmas!
Our site has multiple tabs to choose from that are devoted to various aspects of our church. These include; scheduled church activities, participation in community outreach events, news and photos of our church family and friends, monthly updates from each committee and the Presbytery, a monthly calendar and newsletter, several reports, and even a Kids Corner. In relation to the Kids Corner, FPC has also recently made available a Sunday Bulletin especially for children. The bulletins have activities related to each Sunday’s lesson and cover two age groups, 3 to 7 years old and 7+.
One of the most important additions to the new website is the ability for anyone to live-stream our Sunday services at 10 a.m. using YouTube. From the new Home Page, just scroll down to the “Sunday Worship” title and click on the left-most video for the current Sunday. Each service also includes a link, shown to the right, for the featured musical selection. The new website also allows you to scroll through past Sunday services by date and view previous services and music. While a separate Facebook account is no longer required, you still have the option to stream live via Facebook.
As with any technology in today’s world, this website is constantly evolving. FPC welcomes suggestions and ideas which you can email to firstname.lastname@example.org. FPC’s desire is to provide support, inclusion and information as well as finding more ways to come together as a congregation. In accomplishing this goal, we strengthen not only our church but the entire community. We encourage everyone to take a look at the website and join us for a Sunday service.
Bluff Point Methodist Church
Holiday Greetings! We recently had a drive through hot chocolate and cookies event at church on Christmas week. An occasion for some distanced waves to our friends during this pandemic year. We hope the next Christmas season will include more traditional hugs and greetings!
Christmas Eve service was all about listening to carols and to the traditional scriptures of the birth of Christ. We had both in -person and Zoom opportunities for worship. We were left with the warm glow of our candles, and the songs of "Silent Night" and "Joy to the World."
Christmas Sunday was a special service filled with both music and the videos that Phil Pearce had compiled from the last six years of kids presentations of their Christmas skits. It was so much fun to see them again, and see how the children have grown!
Many of us opened our greetings and notes from church friends on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. So warm and welcoming to hear from our church colleagues that we have not seen in quite a while. We were able to put together Christmas baskets for local families, and many of us helped at the Living Well with lunch meals, and cookies. Some knit hats and mittens to keep folks warm. Others of us submitted recipes or put together a wonderful Advent Cookbook to share and enjoy.
Wishing all a healthy and blessed New Year. Hopefully soon we will begin to receive Covid vaccines, and have the difficult times of staying home and staying put behind us, though even that had given us time for reflection and prioritization of daily events. Thanks to all who contributed in efforts this year for Zoom church, limited church reopening, new technology and innovations, recorded scripture readings, recorded small choral presentations, internet Bible Studies, drive-through gatherings, prayers, phone calls, and letter and card-writing that have kept us connected while apart. It certainly takes a congregation of many to accomplish this all. Finally, here’s to an even better 2021 from all of us at BPUMC!
St. Michael’s Catholic Church
This Sunday we end our Christmas season with the recollection of the Baptism of Jesus by John. Of course, Jesus was sinless, so John protested, but Jesus wanted to give us example. This pleased the Father so much that the Heavens opened, the Holy Spirit in the image of a dove descended, and the Father spoke! Have there been times over the holidays that God spoke to you?
Our Catholic Bishops speak to us, asking us to observe Poverty Awareness month throughout January. The site www.povertyusa.org gives us opportunities to encounter the poor, learn about their situations (including daily reflections delivered to your email inbox and a calendar) as well as an action platform. We are also encouraged to learn, pray, fast and act for a greater value of human life this month. On Jan. 22 we mark the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. Over 60 million lives have been aborted, more than the population of Italy! If life, especially eternal life, is God’s greatest gift to us, then we need to help others understand and value it, too.
Please continue to pray for those who are suffering due to the pandemic, the frontline workers, those who are angry, and those lives lost to abortion and the parents who made that choice, to those who work for peace & justice. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called Children of God.” Matt. 5:9.
Penn Yan First Baptist Church
Our Mission's treasurer reported that due to our generous contributions to our mission outreach, we are able to send the Hope Center Food Pantry and the Backpack Program of Milly's Pantry an additional $500 each! And, our RMMO (Retired Ministers and Missionaries Offering) has exceeded our goal of $500 and we now stand at $815. Thank you all who gave so generously from your hearts. Worship service at First Baptist is at 10 a.m. Sundays, and we welcome you to join us.
Milo Center United Methodist Church
Prayers to our friends Judy, Tammy, Julie, Joanna and Jen.
As our nation continues to see struggles with illness, prayers for resiliency and strength to all in this new year.
Was the miracle of Christmas in your heart this season?
For many this holiday was very different. Pastor Kim reminded us to not let the difference of this year take away from the beauty and joy that Jesus Christ gives us. Be sure to look for our blessings, for certain there are others hurting more than us. It may not be December 25 but it isn't too late to find our joy. How is God revealed to you?
In the scripture He comes to us through his disciples and the acts performed. How we choose to see Him and accept Him is only ours to hold. He is the one above all, and through whom all things exist. This overpowers whatever circumstances we encountered this Christmas and the days that follow.
In January we are collecting cans of soup for Souper Sunday!! Help if you can.
The fellowship hall lending library is available if you need a good book to curl up with this winter.