The second service’s recording for Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Plum City was artfully framed in an oval reminiscent of a Christmas tree ornament.
There were three camels on one side and white domes and towers of buildings on the other. Inside the church were white walls with soaring arches and an abundance of red and green decorations complete with strings of lights and an array of lit candles.
Before the announcements, we were given a preview of the message. Epiphany is about the revelation of who Christ is – the savior of all the nations. We would hear more about the Wiseman who “dared to look up and set out despite all odds.”
Announcements included about free books that were available — one with a cheerful title that talked about developing practical habits and another for daily devotions. There were also announcements about a restoration project for the cathedral’s steeple, a men’s group that would be meeting (please wear your masks) and be sure to check the lost and found basket for any missing hats, scarves or other items.
Father Joe explained in a slow resonant voice what epiphany means: “Manifestation. Revelation. Appearance.” He also explained how it was a combination of science and scriptures that lead the magi to Bethlehem. The wisemen were the scientists of the day studying the sky. I had forgotten that the star led them to Herod’s palace first, where they studied the scripture to discover Jesus was born in Bethlehem, just a few miles away. I did remember the part about them having a dream to “go back by another way,” Herod being fearful and destructive and all.
Of the gifts they brought, we were told the valuable gold represented love; the incense of frankincense, faith; and bitter herb of myrrh, hope.
We were further told bringing bitter prayers to God is also presenting a gift.
At the end, Father Joe graciously thanked by name all those who assisted with leading worship — complete with applause for the pianist who very helpfully filled in at the last moment, further inspiring glad voices.
Father commented on looking forward to a day when the whole congregation could again worship “in peace and not in pieces.”
As for pieces, it was announced there’s chalk in a basket at the foot of the altar that families could take home to make marks on their door frames as a traditional home blessing.
The final hymn included the faithful words — “still proceeding.”