Encounter Jesus Along the Way

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” - Matthew 2:1-2

Dear Friends,

Have you ever heard the theory of Seven degrees of separation? It’s the idea that even with 7.5 billion people on the planet, we can all be connected by 7 degrees or relationships.

Whether that’s truly the case or not, I’m starting to believe that there may not be much more than seven degrees of separation from Pittsburgh in this world!

One ritual that our family celebrates each Advent season is the reading (or watching) of The Night Before Christmas. It was two hundred years ago that Clement Clarke Moore, son of New York’s Episcopalian Bishop, had written this poem after a sleigh ride home from Greenwich Village. It made him some money and fame and is still one of the most widely heard Christmas poems today!

As it turns out, land was sought in New York for an Episcopalian seminary, and Moore was more than happy to offer part of his estate, leading to the formation of General Theological Seminary. Some years later, a young graduate of the University of Vermont by the name of John H. Hopkins Jr, enrolled at the seminary. A few years after his graduation, he became the school’s first instructor of church music.

Christmas pageants have long been a part of the season’s celebrations and General Theological Seminary in 1857 was no different. For that year’s edition, Hopkins penned an original song “We Three Kings” which was later published and is still sung today. It’s a wonderful re-telling of the giving of gifts to Jesus at his birth by Magi who had taken an incredible journey to get there. It’s not all that unlike Hopkins journey and transformation. He hadn’t begun his life in Vermont and he hadn’t originally intended to be an instructor of church music. He’d originally intended to be a lawyer, and he’d been born and raise, out in the Western frontier of… Pittsburgh!

Even if all roads don’t lead back to the Burgh, it’s fun to trace all those that do. And it’s even more comforting to be reminded that all roads do wind their way back to Jesus.

Whatever roads you’re traveling this season, may to encounter Jesus all along the way!

Welcoming people to Grow in Jesus,

Pastor Don

(You can read this and many other stories about the carols & hymns of the church from Robert J. Morgan’s Then Sings My Soul, vol 1-3, Thomas Nelson Publishing)

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