“Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” Ephesians 4:12
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! It’s time for New Year’s Resolutions. If only I could get my New Year’s Resolutions to work. My resolutions are too vague. Like, “pray more” or “exercise more.” Or, they’re too specific. Like, “attend the preaching conference in February”. Either way, I set myself up for failure. But, year after year, here we are again with New Year’s Resolutions. Lord, give me strength.
In an effort to honor a long ago New Year’s Resolution, I’m reading R. J. Palacio’s book, Wonder, introduced to me by our grandchildren. The story is of a young boy who, due to a severe facial abnormality has not attended regular school. Instead, he’s been home schooled. Ready for fifth grade he now enters public school and experiences the loves and hates of school as a kid with unique circumstances. A history class assignment instructing students to write a short paragraph on an ancient Egyptian tombstone precept reads: YOUR DEEDS ARE YOUR MONUMENTS leads the boy to write the following…
We should be remembered for the things we do. The things we do are the most important things of all. They are more important than what we say or what we look like. The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor heroes after they’ve died. They’re like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honor the pharaohs. Only instead of being made out of stone, they’re made out of the memories people have of you. That’s why your deeds are like your monuments. Built with memories instead of with stone.
This week Epiphany and friends will most certainly be remembered for the monumental things they do. Our Hypothermia Prevention Shelter guests arrived Christmas Eve. Immediately they were greeted by Epiphany, Rabbi Mina and members of Congregation Beth Emeth preparing and serving a delicious holiday dinner. Christmas day our guests awoke to a full hot breakfast, an opportunity to worship with Epiphany and a festive lunch cooked and served by our partners in ministry, New Hope Baptist Church. St. Anne’s Episcopal Church arrived Christmas night with hot soup and grilled cheese sandwiches to warm our tummys. Last night guests were entertained by a local Girl Scout troop singing Christmas carols. The Unitarian Universalist church circled back round to help with meals. Epiphany folks and friends from all faith traditions are driving folks back and forth, providing entertainment, gracious hospitality, handing out gift bags, visiting with guests, cooking, serving, cleaning and simply being here. The deeds of these fine folks are their monuments.
Epiphany is hosting Hypothermia during Christmas week for its fourth year. We are accumulating some well- heeled memories. Somehow the shopping and the presents under the tree just don’t have the same sparkle as they might have had before we began Hypo. Rather, what sparkles are the memories of long nights of friendly conversations over card games with guests. Or the efforts made to help one guest find employment and his own place to live. Or how we see the face of Jesus in our guests as they join us to worship and serve as readers. Or, the variety of folks from various religious backgrounds who felt called to serve and found a welcome way to do so with Epiphany. And most assuredly, the hours and hours of the Epiphany leadership of Susan and Bill Forbes, Ruth and Tim Skjerseth, Sally Campbell, Patrick Walsh and Sharon Coviak and dozens of others who have sacrificed and given to build a monumental memory of hope for our homeless friends.
Our guests will depart on Sunday, December 31, New Year’s Eve by 7:00 a.m. There’s still time to visit, help, and create your own memories through good deeds. Feel free to come by any time from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. each day. If you’re not able to stop by, offer up prayers for our guests and all those who gather to help. Prayers are lasting monuments.
Thank you for your support of the good work of the Hypothermia Prevention Shelter. Your help brings in a New Year of monumental memories.
I hope to see you as the week goes along. Sunday, we’ll bring in the New Year with worship at 8:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. May attending worship be your New Year’s resolution!
Thank you for building up the body of Christ with your good deeds. We are a most blessed community!