Welcome to the New Year of 2020. 

The two scriptures below appear during the season of Epiphany.  Scriptures can be used in a variety of ways. Sometimes they are memorized.  Sometimes short verses are put on placards and posted by mailboxes. Other times, as in Handel’s Messiah, scriptures have been put to music.  Movies and dramas are another way that attempt to give understanding to certain scriptures.

For something new try taking a colored pencil or highlighter in hand and read through the Psalm reading.  Color in a word or phrase that is especially close to your heart as you are about to face the year ahead. It has been said the best thing about the Psalms is their raw experience with the human condition.   Color in the parts of this Psalm that connect with your hopes and dreams. Be honest.

Psalm 72:1-14

1 Give the king your justice, O God,
   and your righteousness to a king’s son.
2 May he judge your people with righteousness,
   and your poor with justice.
3 May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
   and the hills, in righteousness.
4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
   give deliverance to the needy,
   and crush the oppressor. 

5 May he live while the sun endures,
   and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
   like showers that water the earth.
7 In his days may righteousness flourish
   and peace abound, until the moon is no more. 

8 May he have dominion from sea to sea,
   and from the River to the ends of the earth.
9 May his foes bow down before him,
   and his enemies lick the dust. 

10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles
   render him tribute,
  may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts.
11 May all kings fall down before him,
   all nations give him service. 

12 For he delivers the needy when they call,
   the poor and those who have no helper.
13 He has pity on the weak and the needy,
   and saves the lives of the needy.
14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
   and precious is their blood in his sight. 

Matthew 2:1-12

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
   are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
   who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’ 

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. 

For many people the dawn of a new year is the traditional time to make resolutions.  In this scripture lesson the magi come into Jerusalem on one road but leave by a different road.  

Q.  Is there anything about your 2019 life that will require a different road?