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A reflection on Matthew's Infancy Narrative

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Diocesan Life ... The most recently published issue you received and which is also available online was December. A January issue will not be published. Diocesan Life will resume with the February issue. Beginning then, the national print insert, Episcopal Life, will be replaced by Episcopal News Monthly (ENM) which will continue to offer in-depth reporting and analysis of local, regional, national and international news compiled from Episcopal News Service. ENM will replace Episcopal Life as the officially sponsored monthly newspaper of the Episcopal Church published for Episcopalians and others interested in the church's mission and ministry. For daily news and information, visit Episcopal Life Online and the Diocese of Bethlehem's newSpin blog.

Recent columns, sermons, reflections by Bishop Paul ... Redeem the gift card, a Christmas sermon ... • Are church leaders getting it, at last ... • The Presiding Bishop - An appreciation and reminders for parish leaders ... • Pastoral Provision for same-sex couples ... • Remembering Loved Ones ... • Address to 2009 Diocesan Convention ... • The Spirituality of Integrity ... • Mother Jones - More than a magazine ... • Don't confuse being valuable with being right ...

Recent reflections by Archdeacon Stringfellow ... • A reflection on Matthew's Infancy Narrative ... • Bridging Ideas and Things, a reflection on John's prologue ... • Friends in low places, A Christmas reflection ... • We don't help people, we help them help themselves ... • Jesus' birth exalts the poor ... • Sudan –– U.S. Policy and New Hope ... • The Religious Sports Fan: the boundaries blur, the boundaries clarify ... • A prophet with a new message, but he's not the Savior ...  • Revelation gives hope ...

Bishop's School, 2010 ... Courses for the spring session of Bishop's School: (1) Planning and Leading Liturgy - taught by The Reverend Raymond Harbort; (2) Pastoral Care - taught by The Reverend Canon Andrew Gerns. More info here.

Bishop's Bakery Coffee House and Open Mic Night ... [From Kim Rowles, Youth Ministry Coordinator] The 2010 Bishop's Day with Youth. Friday January 29 to Saturday January 30 at Good Shepherd Scranton. All-Night. Open Mic Night. Local Christian Worship/Praise Band. Midnight Eucharist. No Lights Out. Doors Open at 6:30 pm. Open Mic from 7- 9 sign up for 10-minute slots; play your own music, cover songs (church appropriate no profane language or sexually explicit lyrics), read your own poetry, perform a dance routine, or a skit from your favorite comedy show. Band is on from 9:30 - 10:30. Eucharist from 11- 12. Games and Activities in the main hall for the remainder of the night, through the morning. Baked goods, coffee and snacks will be provided as well as breakfast on Saturday morning. Pick up at 9 am on Saturday. Get more info and register online here.

Milford seeks organist ... [From Father Bill McGinty] Christopher Prestia, young organist, musical director and musical prodigy of the church of the Good Shepherd and St John the Evangelist Milford has been appointed assistant organist, music director and section leader by St.Stephen's Pro Cathedral, Wilkes Barre. Christopher studies under Canon Precentor Mark Laubach at Marywood University. Good Shepherd Milford is now looking for an organist. Anyone interested should contact the parish office at or 570-296-8123 or see the website,

The Reluctant Organist ... October to January columns here.

Plan Ahead ... Jan 18-25: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ... Resources here. ••• Jan. 23: St. Paul's Montrose will celebrate the new ministry of the congregation with Father Paul Walker as their rector, 4:00 p.m. ••• Jan. 23: Lay Worship Leaders Training, formerly Lay Readers, will take place Jan. 23 at Trinity Mount Pocono. More info here. ••• Jan. 30: Lay Eucharistic Visitors Training will take place at St. Brigid's Nazareth, 9:00 to noon. More info below. ••• Jan 29/30: Bishop's Bakery and Coffee House for Youth ... Friday, Jan. 29 (6:00pm) - Saturday, Jan. 30 (9:00am) at Good Shepherd Scranton. Online registration is now open. More info here. ••• Feb. 6: Grace Kingston will celebrate the new ministry of the congregation with Father John Hartman as their rector on February 6 at 4:00 p.m. ••• Feb. 7: St. George's Italian Night Dinner, 735 Delaware Avenue, Hellertown. Doors open 4:30. Dinner at 5:00. Adults, $10. Children under 12, $5. Questions, 610-838-9355. (Note: They are rethinking the date because of the conflict with the Super Bowl.) ••• Feb. 27: Dive In: A Day Exploring Christian Baptism will be held Saturday, February 27, at Good Shepherd Scranton. This day of Christian Formation will offer resources for parents, Christian educators, clergy, and anyone seeking a deeper life in Christ. Online registration and more information is available here and here. ••• March 25: Chrism Mass at the Cathedral, Bethlehem, 11:00 a.m. ••• April 16-18: Christophany, more TK ••• April 24: Diocesan Training for MInistry will be held on Saturday, April 24 at St. Stephen's Wilkes-Barre. Details will be available here when online registration opens on February 20. ••• April 30-Mary 2: Creating a Culture of Peace at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. ••• July 10: Bishop's Day with Kids at Good Shepherd Scranton. [If you have a brief announcement you'd like listed in this PlayAhead, send it to Bill. Please keep it brief.]

Training for Lay Eucharistic Visitors ... A training session for Lay Eucharistic Visitors will be held at St. Brigid's Nazareth on Saturday, Jan. 30 from 9:00 until noon. Led by the Rev. Edward K. Erb, member of Diocesan Commissions on Ministry and Liturgy & Music, the training seeks to prepare parishioners to take the sacrament to shut-ins, those in hospital and nursing facilities. Training is required for licensing by the bishop for this ministry. Cost for the training is $15.00 which includes materials and hand-out resources. To register, contact Father Erb at or call (570) 253-2760.  Deadline for registration is Jan. 15th.

The altruism in economics ... Standard economic theory states that people are interested only in their own material gain. But new insights from behavioral economics show that altruism rather than avarice is our primary motivation ... The idea that people have an innate morality has been tossed about for millennia ... but for economists weaned on the brutal model of Homo economicus, proof of something as simple as fairness was revolutionary ... The challenge is for economists to nurture this intrinsic motivation instead of crowding it out. More here. H/T to Jim Lewellis.

Sparking a savings revolution ... The world’s poor might benefit hugely from the ability to bank their money safely. Read more by NYTimes op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof.

Compassion is not to be confused with gullibility. More here.

A "development" that would save St. James Church and its ministries in Cambridge, MA, has put the church at odds with its North Cambridge neighbors. More here. H/T to Neva Rae Fox.

On prayer: Show up and do the best you can ... [By Roberta Bondi] We often have a kind of notion, as part of this highfalutin, noble picture of ourselves as pray-ers, that when we pray we need to be completely attentive and we need to be fully engaged and we need to be concentrating and we need to be focused. But the fact is, if prayer is our end of a relationship with God, that's not the way we are with the people we love a large portion of the time. We simply are in their presence. We're going about our lives at the same time in each other's presence, aware and sustained by each other, but not much more than that ... However we are, however we think we ought to be in prayer, the fact is we just need to show up and do the best we can do. It's like being in a family."

Top reasons those "get fit" resolutions don't stick ... here. H/T to Diana Marshall.

The Clinic in Phoenixville, a nonprofit health center in the former rectory of St. Peter's Episcopal Church, treats uninsured patients, is funded through private grants, donations and medical personnel who donate their services, and has a waiting list for volunteers. Patients pay what they can, which covers about 16 percent of its annual cost. More here and here. H/T to Neva Rae Fox.

Carpe diem? Maybe tomorrow ... For once, social scientists have discovered a flaw in the human psyche that will not be tedious to correct. You may not even need a support group. You could try on your own by starting with this simple New Year’s resolution: Have fun ... now! More at the NYTimes. [H/T to Ann Fontaine reporting at Episcopal Cafe] Somewhat related to this, read Bishop Paul's Christmas sermon, Redeem the Gift Card.

She knits to increase her attention to what is transpiring. More here.

Ireland confronts its sex abuse crisis ... The recent government investigation into clergy sex abuse in Ireland, which produced a scathing critique of church officials and their role in attempting to protect the reputation of the institution at the expense of young victims, has resulted in the resignation of four bishops and sparked calls for cutting the number of dioceses in Ireland and for deep reform of the hierarchical culture. Read more here. Related to this, read Bishop Paul's column, Are church leaders getting it, at last?

Spiritually literate films ... Find many here.

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Find earlier issues of the newSpin newsletter here.

Conversion/Transformation is the experience by which one becomes an authentic human being. [Bernard Lonergan] ... Be attentive, be intelligent, be reasonable (seek the true – intellectual conversion); be responsible (seek the good – moral conversion); be in love (seek God – religious conversion). It's a lifelong process. Many conversions, many transformations. Only those who work on their own transformation have the power to transform others. A blessed 2010 to you all. I'm looking forward to a year better than 2009 was for me. I hope your 2010 will be blessed with love for one another and many transformations toward human authenticity. Thanks.

Bill Lewellis, Communication Minister/Editor (1986), Canon Theologian (1998)
Diocese of Bethlehem, 333 Wyandotte Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015
Website, Blog, Email (c)610-216-2726, (w)610-691-5655x229, (h)610-820-7673
Be attentive. Be intelligent. Be reasonable. Be responsible.
Be in Love. And, if necessary, change. [Bernard Lonergan]


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