AWAKE-Week 5 // Epiphany // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture:  Matthew 2:1-12

Dear Church,

Christmas is not over.  We still have more of the nativity story to remember, celebrate and ponder in our hearts.

This Sunday we gather to tell the next part, when a strange star rises in the East and Magi see it as a sign and come seeking the new-born King of Israel.  They travel to Jerusalem, assuming this great new King would be found in the palace in the heart of the holy city.

He wasn’t.

It won’t be the last time people don’t find Jesus where they expect him to be.

Christians call this part of the nativity story Epiphany, but it holds more than one unexpected insight into the Kingdom of God: the star in the heavens reveals the birth of the savior to the whole earth; the so-called ‘pagan’ outsiders perceive the sign and travel across the known world to worship, while the wise experts in the sacred scripture are unwilling to make a six mile journey, King Herod and all of Jerusalem hear the news and respond with fear, not joy.

If you listen for it, you can hear the whole gospel in these 12 verses.


Pastor Kate

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AWAKE-Week 4 // Overshadowed // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture:  Luke 1:26-38

You may be experiencing the full sacred bliss of these days.  Your cup may be overflowing.  God may be exceeding your wildest expectations.  If so, I rejoice in your spiritual abundance and I encourage you to honor God by savoring and delighting in this blessing.  But if you are anything like me, you may feel like you aren’t quite getting Christmas.

We prepare for it during the weeks of Advent, lighting candles of hope, peace, joy and love.  And yet, when it arrives, after all that preparation and anticipation, I struggle to feel those things.  I believe them, I proclaim them–but I don’t feel them.  At least not purely, the way I think I should.

Hope gets overshadowed by grief. Peace gets overshadowed by exhaustion. Joy becomes overshadowed by resentment and conflict. Love is overshadowed by worry.  And this year, all of these sacred days are overshadowed by brutal war in the land we call holy, against exactly the kind of family we worship in our nativity scenes.

I don’t know how to feel in these days.  All is not calm.  All is not bright.  But when I seek wisdom in the word, the Spirit shows me that, in the message that first started it all, the angel came to Mary and announces that God’s own Spirit is going to overshadow her, and that beneath and within that shadow, God will conceive new life in her.  She will know the miracle of salvation in her own flesh, because all that she is will be encircled and embraced by the fullness of God.  She will be overshadowed. That is the revelation.  That is the promise.

So I hope you will come knowing and feeling all that is true and good and bright without denying or numbing all that is also true and hard and painful.  Because our hope isn’t in how we prepare, what we know or how we feel, but in the goodness of the God who sees us, loves us, chooses us and overshadows our whole selves and our whole real world with sacred, transforming love.


Pastor Kate

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AWAKE-Week 3 // John the Baptist // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture:  Mark 1:1-8

This time of year, as we wait for the coming of the Lord it is important to remember that God sent someone ahead of Jesus to prepare the way for him and announce his coming.  The someone was a prophet named John.

The beginning of the good news is a wild holy man calling people to a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He wore animal skins and ate bugs, and the nearness of the Kingdom of God was all the sweetness and solace he needed.

There is so much goodness in these days.  We find joy and comfort in gathering with loved ones, in preparing feasts & treats for one another, in the lights that blaze in the darkness. We should savor every blessing that comes.

And we should also remember that the Kingdom whose advent we celebrate is so good, so satisfying, so all-encompassing that it will fill us to overflowing even in adversity and hardship.

We should enjoy every blessing and tradition of this season.  But we rejoice in the coming of the Kingdom, we rejoice in the sacred knowledge that our souls have been awakened by the voice of the prophets–we rejoice because we are on the edge of the end of sin and suffering.

We know the beginning is near!


Pastor Kate

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AWAKE-Week 2 // It’s About Time // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture:  Isaiah 7:1-17

We have a beautiful art installation hanging in our sanctuary, intertwining strands of blue and purple yarn and sliver and gold wire trace out letters that spell the word ‘Awake.’  I know that might not seem like a very Christmassy word to you.  But that’s because Advent is about time.

These holy days are set apart for us to seek the Lord and wonder about how what happened before when God put on flesh and was born among us as a child shows us how to live in the present and what to expect in the future. Past, present and future come together in one brilliant kairos moment (iykyk)*

Ultimately, Advent is about time–the birth of Christ is the fulfillment of all God’s promises in ways that are beyond our understanding.  The worst thing we could do is close our minds and hearts, confident that we are holy experts with all the revelation we need.  There is always more.

This Sunday we will hear the words of the prophet Isaiah who first gave the sign of a baby born to save his people.  It was given hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus to King Ahaz of Judah while he was preparing the city of Jerusalem for a long brutal siege.  Both King and Prophet understood and expected the sign to be fulfilled in their own life-time.  And it was. And it wasn’t. The sacred prophecy held more truth, more meaning, more revelation than they ever could have comprehended. The words God gave Isaiah encompassed the past, present and the future.  The eternal words of God always do.

*Here’s your daily Greek language lesson. Kairos is a Greek word meaning the right, critical, opportune moment. It’s pregnant time, harvest time, anointed time.  The opposite of kairos is chronos time (that’s the root of the word chronological), which is ordinary specific limited time.

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