An Epiphany message from the WJ College of Bishops

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The Western Jurisdiction’s College of Bishops offers a short video message for Epiphany. In it, they reflect on the season of change underway in The United Methodist Church and the promise reflected in the generosity and grace of ministries across the region as faithful disciples “respond to God’s call to be nurturing communities, ministries and churches where love lives.” Churches are encouraged to share this message and can download it for use in their local settings.

The video features Bishops Karen Oliveto of the Mountain Sky Conference, Interim Bishop Sally Dyck of the California-Nevada Conference, Dottie Escobedo-Frank of the California-Pacific Conference, Carlo Rapanut of the Desert Southwest Conference, and Cedrick Bridgeforth of the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area. 

Epiphany falls on Friday, January 6, 2023. Please share this message with your congregation as you see fit on Epiphany, the Sunday following Epiphany, or at another time that works best for your ministry.

Click here to view the video.  
Click here to download the video.  

Transcript

Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ on this day of Epiphany from the bishops of the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church.

Today, we recall the story of three Magi who, according to the Gospel of Matthew, followed a star to visit the baby Jesus. They came to honor the one who was born king of the Jews. When they found him, they were overwhelmed with great joy, and offered their gifts to him.

After they had paid their respects to the Christ Child, they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, who wanted to know where the baby was. He wanted to harm this One who was seen as a threat to his power. The Magi heeded the angelic message and returned home by another road.

We are a people who have lived in darkness, who have seen a great light. It is this light that leads us home through roads we haven’t intended to travel, journeying with people we never intended to be in relationship with, listening to voices that are both strange yet life-giving.

In this season of great change in The United Methodist Church, as some choose disaffiliation, we are walking an unfamiliar and uncomfortable road. It is hard to have some churches divided on whether to stay United Methodist and other churches already heading out the door. 

We also know that it is in moments like this–of uncertainty and fear–that God breaks into our lives and offers us a way forward. 

As new and continuing bishops, serving the Western Jurisdiction, we are excited by what God is doing in communities across our connection. We give thanks for congregations committed to extending God’s generous grace and wide welcome to all people. We rejoice in ministries that share the love of God to those beyond the walls of the church. We celebrate lives touched and changed by an encounter with Christ.

We believe that the best days for United Methodism could still be before us. To live into the promise, we must respond to God’s call to be nurturing communities, ministries and churches where love lives. As we enter 2023, may we, like the Magi, follow the star so that we may be bearers of the Christ light to a weary world. May the ways we share this light be a beacon of hope to those who are struggling. May this light be so compelling that people will want to know more. May this light illumine a new and unfamiliar yet life-giving path that leads us all home to the Body of Christ.

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