st pauls church of german lake

St. Paul’s Lutheran
Church of German Lake
22693 German Lake Rd.
Cleveland, MN, 56017

January 2023 – Epiphany: The Revealing of God’s Love

Random Pastoral Ponderings…

During the month of January, the church celebrates the season of Epiphany.  It’s a funny-sounding word…perhaps something you might come across while doing a crossword puzzle or playing trivial pursuit.  It’s not a household word that you could define off of the top of your head.

Yet our not-so-trivial pursuit of the meaning of Epiphany tells us something quite clearly…as clearly as a winter’s night illuminated by an unusually bright star.  Epiphany is God’s “coming out” party.  It is the announcement of God’s engagement with the world as God comes to us in human form in the person of the baby born in Bethlehem, Jesus Christ.

Actually, the word means “manifestation,” as in God’s love was made manifest to us in this way: God sent His only Son into the world so that we might live through him”.  (I John 4:9)

Epiphany is the Light of the World shining into the cold, dark, wintry nights of January… or those dark nights of the soul…as we lay awake wondering what our world is coming to.  Epiphany is the Light of the World shining in the dark places of our lives…where sickness, broken relationships, doubt, and low self-esteem lurk, threatening to extinguish the spark of hope lingering in our bruised and beaten spirits.  Epiphany is the manifestation…or the revealing…of Jesus as the Light of the World…a light no darkness can overcome.

Epiphany may be a funny-sounding word, but we need this manifestation of God now as much as ever as our world struggles with war, terrorism, economic and food insecurity, COVID, and a host of other dark and ominous difficulties.  We need this manifestation of God because it is in this Light that we find our hope.  It is this Light that rekindles the spark in our hearts… inspiring us with ways to become peacemakers, filling us with the desire to reach out to those who are in need, bringing us healing, wholeness, and reconciliation where there is brokenness, and guiding us on our way through the darkness of life.

Epiphany reminds us that we are not alone…that God is here with us as Emmanuel, giving us life, that we may not be overcome by the darkness.  Rejoice in the Light that has come!  Walk in the Light that darkness cannot conquer!  And let your light shine for all the world to see!

Pastor Karl

The Season of Epiphany

The Day of Epiphany is traditionally celebrated following the 12th day after Christmas… on January 6th.  This is the day the Magi from the East arrived to pay homage to Jesus as the Son of God.  The season of Epiphany is celebrated from the Day of Epiphany until Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent.  Epiphany is a “flexible” season, meaning that it can include from four to nine Sundays, depending on the date of Easter.  Lent, Easter, Advent, and Christmas are “fixed” seasons, meaning that they always have the same number of Sundays.  The other “flexible” season is Pentecost which fluctuates to balance the season of Epiphany.  In other words, where the other seasons of the church year have a fixed number of Sundays, when Epiphany has more Sundays, Pentecost has fewer Sundays, and vice versa.  All of this is because Easter is a variable date…falling on the 14th day after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.  When Easter is later in the year, the season of Epiphany is longer, and Pentecost is shorter.  When Easter is early, Epiphany is shorter, and Pentecost is longer.  It’s kind of confusing, but that’s how the church year is set.

As mentioned in the preceding article, the term “epiphany” means “to show” or “to reveal.”  The Day of Epiphany remembers the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to visit the Christ child and, by doing so, “reveal” Jesus to the world as Lord and King. 

             During the season of Epiphany, the lessons are about the “unwrapping” or revealing of God’s gift of the Christ child as the only-begotten Son of God and Israel’s long-awaited Messiah.  Christmas is about Jesus as fully human…a baby son born to Mary and laid in a manger.  Epiphany is about Jesus, who is fully divine…the Son of God.

On the first Sunday of Epiphany, we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus where, as Jesus rises out of the waters of the Jordan, a voice from the heavens (God) identifies Jesus as “God’s beloved Son with whom God is well-pleased.”  On the final Sunday of Epiphany, we celebrate the Transfiguration of Our Lord.  On that day, Peter, James, and John accompany Jesus up a mountain where he is “transfigured” (his clothes become dazzling white).  Once again, a voice from the heavens identifies Jesus as God’s beloved Son with whom God is well-pleased.

The theological significance of Epiphany is that the Magi were the first Gentiles to acknowledge Jesus as “King”, and so were the first to “show” or “reveal” Jesus as God incarnate to a wider world.  This act of worship by the Magi, which like Simeon’s blessing on the temple steps, tells us that this child, Jesus, would be a “light for the Gentiles”.  It is one of the first indications that Jesus came for all people, of all nations, of all races, and that the work of God in the world would not be limited to a few.

Come and join us for worship as Jesus’ identity as God’s beloved Son is revealed to us, and we contemplate what that revelation means for us and the way we live.

Music to Our Ears…

Each month we plan to include a little article about a favorite hymn.  If you have a favorite hymn you would like featured in this space, please send your suggestions to  Although it isn’t necessary, we would love it if you would include a little story telling us why this is your favorite hymn.

Although this month’s hymn, We Three Kings of Orient Are, is not included in our current hymnal, it has been a favorite Christmas carol for generations.  It is actually an Epiphany hymn since it tells of the Magi who came to pay their respects to the baby Jesus.  We celebrate this event on the Day of Epiphany (January 6th…the thirteenth day after Christmas).  Although the Bible never tells us how many Magi came to honor Jesus, this carol, along with the fact that they brought three different gifts (gold, frankincense, and myrrh) has contributed to the idea that there were three. 

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod, the king,
                        behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem”   Matthew 2:1

Strange but true: a visit from St. Nicholas paved the way for “We Three Kings”.  After the War of 1812, Anglicans in America decided to establish their own seminary for training Episcopalian ministers.  The proposal was first made in 1814, and in 1817, the Episcopal General Convention voted to locate the school in New York City.  But where in New York?

Clement Clark Moore, the son of New York’s Episcopalian bishop, was an up-and-coming land developer.  He had recently become well-known because of a poem he had written which began:
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
            not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…”
The popularity of his poem (reportedly written after a sleigh ride home from Greenwich Village) made his name a household word.  Their fame and increased income made him a more generous and sought-after layman.

Moore owned a large estate in the undeveloped northern regions of Manhattan.  He referred to it as “a quiet, rural retreat on the picturesque banks of the Hudson River”.  Hearing that the Episcopalians needed land for their seminary, he offered them a portion of his estate and thus was born General Theological Seminary.  Moore, also a linguist and Hebrew scholar, became one of General Seminary’s first professors, teaching Biblical languages.

Some years later, a reporter named John H. Hopkins Jr. enrolled in the seminary.  Born in Pittsburg, Hopkins had studied at the University of Vermont before moving to New York to pursue legal studies.  But he fell in love with the Lord’s work, enrolled in General Seminary, graduating in 1850.  In 1855, he was hired as the school’s first instructor of church music.  Hopkins wrote “We Three Kings” as a part of a Christmas pageant produced by General Theological Seminary in 1857.  In 1863, it was published in his Carols, Hymns, and Songs.  This hymnal went through three editions by 1882, establishing Hopkins as a leader in Episcopal hymnody.  He wrote other hymns, but most have fallen into obscurity.  “We Three Kings” was his crowning achievement (pun intended), made possible, in a way, through the generosity of another poet whose most famous work ends:
                “But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
                    Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Community Outreach Opportunity

The Lutheran Social Service in Waterville has an urgent need for volunteer Meals On Wheels drivers.  The delivery routes are scheduled Monday through Friday usually between 10:45 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. and take about 45 minutes to an hour to complete.  The meals are picked up at the Village in Waterville.  They offer contactless delivery (meaning you knock or ring the doorbell, leave the meal, and walk away and wait to see if they pick up the meal).  Gloves and masks are available for volunteers who would desire them.

If you are interested in volunteering for this important and rewarding program, you can contact the LSS Regional Manager in Waterville, Donna Dunlap by phone at 507-351-2120 or by e-mail at donnadunlap@lssmn.  She will be able to answer any questions you may have.

This is a great opportunity to be part of meaningful work that helps bring a nutritious meal (and a smile) to those in need in the Waterville community.

Outreach Update…

Last September, a couple of our members challenged us to see how many rolls of paper towels we could gather in two weeks, which would be donated to Ruth’s House in Faribault.  Those members matched our donation, and together, we donated almost 1,000 rolls!  Like the parable of the mustard seed in the gospels, this project took on a life of its own.  Our donation inspired the staff of Ruth’s House to challenge their staff to match our donation and share their collection with the Community Action Center in Faribault.  The moral of the story is that your small donation has grown to benefit more people than we could imagine.  Thank you for your kindness and generosity.

Support of the ministry of Ruth’s House is an ongoing outreach ministry of St. Paul’s.  Their current needs are Windex, Ice Melt, Fabulous Floor Cleaner, and Deodorant.  Look for the baskets in the hallway between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall.


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