This year, Epiphany fell on a Sunday.

I was delighted to go to church and find the tree lit and the two Nativity scenes still in situ. The vicar announced from the pulpit, ‘The season is not over until Epiphany’, even though the churchwardens wanted to take all the Christmas decorations down on Saturday, January 5. Instead, they will come down on Monday, the 7th.

There are two old traditional European festive days that follow Epiphany.

One is St Distaff’s Day, or Roc Day, which is always on January 7. It has no religious significance, but is centuries old and is still a part of life in Europe where textiles and fibers are spun:

St Distaff’s Day — Distaff Day: January 7

The second is Plough Monday, still celebrated in a few English towns, which is the first Monday after Epiphany. Between the 15th and 17th centuries, the local church and parish community were involved. Afterwards, it returned to its secular roots:

The English tradition of Plough Monday

Plough Monday — the Monday after Epiphany

In 2019, the two coincide. Imagine what fun was had centuries ago when people celebrated both traditions on the same day.

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Epiphany Magi salesianity_blogspot_comChristmastide ends on January 5, Twelfth Night.

January 6 is the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. These posts explain its significance as well as old traditions that developed centuries ago:

A Lutheran pastor reflects on the Epiphany

More Lutheran reflections on the Epiphany

Remembering the Epiphany in chalk

The Epiphany and the Bible

Why the Epiphany is so important — a Lutheran perspective

A Lutheran perspective on the Magi

Jesuit astronomer discusses the Star of Bethlehem (2016)

What to remember about Epiphany (2016)

Epiphany and king cake — a history

The readings for Epiphany follow, with posts discussing each one, except for the Psalm.

First reading

This post discusses the reading from Isaiah:

Epiphany — Old Testament reading — Isaiah 60:1-6

Isaiah 60:1-6

60:1 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

60:2 For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.

60:3 Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

60:4 Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.

60:5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

60:6 A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

Psalm

The Psalm mentions kings from far away bringing gifts to honor the king’s son. Although David appears to have written this for his son, Solomon, it also prophesies Christ and His Kingdom.

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14

72:1 Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.

72:2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.

72:3 May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.

72:4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

72:5 May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.

72:6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.

72:7 In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

72:10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts.

72:11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.

72:12 For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.

72:13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.

72:14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.

Epistle

This post discusses Paul’s message to the Ephesians:

Epiphany — Epistle — Ephesians 3:1-12

Ephesians 3:1-12

3:1 This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles–

3:2 for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you,

3:3 and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words,

3:4 a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ.

3:5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:

3:6 that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

3:7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power.

3:8 Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ,

3:9 and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things;

3:10 so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

3:11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,

3:12 in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

Gospel

This post elaborates Matthew’s account of evil Herod wishing to see the child the Magi — all of whom were Gentiles — called ‘king of the Jews’:

Epiphany — Epistle — Ephesians 3:1-12

Matthew 2:1-12

2:1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,

2:2 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.”

2:3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him;

2:4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.

2:5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

2:6 ‘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.'”

2:7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared.

2:8 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.”

2:9 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.

2:10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.

2:11 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.

2:12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Over the years I have really come to look forward to and better appreciate Epiphany. It is always that much more special when this feast day falls on a Sunday.

I hope that you have a blessed Epiphany.

Whether people realise it or not, President Trump’s economic policies are designed to redress the increasing inequality in the United States.

Look at this chart (click image to see it in full) of data from the Census Bureau comparing 1977 with 2016:

I came of age that year, and I can tell you that, minus the Internet (unimaginable), life in 1977 was definitely better on the whole than life in 2016 for young adults.

Our generation was highly optimistic — perhaps naively so — about the future. As you can see from the chart, we had reason to be.

Whether it is ‘Boomer Privilege’, as the tweeter states, is another matter. Economic policies — despite Carter’s presidency — still favoured the middle class at that time. So did lower university tuition fees. When necessary, students took a job on or off campus that pretty much paid their annual room and board. These days, most students have to take out a loan they cannot easily pay back.

On that note, a high school diploma was all that was required four decades ago. Now most young people must have at least a four-year university degree.

The responses to Jeff Giesea’s tweet are varied and interesting. Some blame feminism. A few others, more switched-on, blame successive economic policies that eventually ruined any continuation of a normal middle class lifestyle. An average household did not need two incomes in the 1970s. Now both husband and wife have to work out of necessity.

Of course, on the other hand, older people responding to the tweet pointed out that the 1970s was still a time of mend-and-make-do. Americans weren’t going out to eat every doggone day, either. Dining out was, for most families, a special treat, not a habit.

Another huge factor was that the United States still made most of its own goods in the 1970s. When all of that, including ceramic mug manufacture, went to Asia — particularly China — plants closed and people who had been making a decent wage lost their jobs.

There also wasn’t the influx of immigrants, either, which has had an impact on the job market. In some states, you must now be fluent in Spanish in order to get some types of jobs. That was not always the case, as those of us who are long in the tooth know. But, nowadays, it is the new normal.

Furthermore, globalism didn’t exist in the 1970s. Few have benefited from it. More have been damaged by it since the 1990s.

In closing, here are more outside sources saying roughly the same thing. However, there is also some good news below, a testament to the successful policies of Donald Trump for the working man and the middle class.

First, here is a chart from TheLastRefuge showing US changes in prices between 1997 and 2017. TheLastRefuge is Sundance at The Conservative Treehouse:

Secondly, for years, what The Conservative Treehouse calls the Wall Street economy has been vastly promoted by politicians, the Federal Reserve and the rest of the Establishment at the expense of the Main Street economy which concerns everyday Americans. However, President Trump has been gradually — and successfully — redressing the balance. Another factor is that Trump’s policies are increasing employment in decent jobs. On January 4, ZeroHedge posted an article, ‘Jobs Blowout: December Payrolls Soar By 312K As Wages Jump Most Since 2009’: (emphases in the original):

the BLS reported that in December the US added a whopping 312K jobs, far above the 184K expected, and the highest since February 2018. The total number of payrolls surged above 150 million for the first time ever, to 150.263 million to be specific …

After revisions, job gains have averaged 254,000 per month over the last 3 months

It wasn’t just the scorching payrolls number, but also the average hourly earnings print, which jumped by 3.2%, higher than both the November 3.1% and the 3.0% consensus; in fact it was the highest number since April 2009!

The article says that these results give the Fed — which promotes Wall Street — a bit of a problem. Another ZeroHedge article featuring Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow quotes him as saying (emphasis in purple mine):

“There’s no recession in sight…I know this has been a gloomy period and I know people are concerned about the stock market,” Kudlow said.

Kudlow also criticized the Philips Curve – the Fed’s go-to inflation model – arguing that “more growth, more people working does not cause inflation” (since the financial crisis, the relationship between employment and inflation has apparently broken down).

Finally, Tucker Carlson had an excellent opening editorial on January 2 explaining how America has declined over the years. (See the first 14 minutes of his show below; those who are politically aware can start four minutes in). He said that the Establishment’s focus on corporate shareholders at the expense of the American people’s well being (e.g. ability to get married and raise a family) is killing the country. This is a policy, he says, that has been governing the US for the past few decades. It has produced family breakdown. Only the most financially comfortable can envisage marriage and a family. Meanwhile, the blight that affected cities like Newark and Detroit in the 1970s is now spreading to smaller cities and rural areas. There is a sharp increase in drug addiction and an inability for Americans to function properly. He says that Republicans must step up to the plate to redress this balance. He says it will lose them donors, but, if successful, they will be able to repair the frayed fabric of the nation:

It will take time to resolve America’s social problems, e.g. drug addiction and family breakdown, but, from this, it should be more apparent that the rot has been setting in over decades and is only now starting to be addressed. That said, as Tucker Carlson points out, more Republicans — because the Democrats are too far gone — must fully support President Trump’s agenda to Make America Great Again.

Mitt Romney was the Republican candidate for president in 2012.

He lost. Every Republican (including Independents) who cast a vote for him has a theory about that loss.

No matter. He ended up being a never-Trumper in 2016 …

… even though Donald Trump had donated to his campaign and even took him out to a fancy post-election dinner in 2016:

President-elect Trump — as he was at the time — also interviewed Mitt for the Secretary of State post that month. Fortunately, Rex Tillerson got the job:

Last year, Mitt ran for senator in Utah. Look at how nice President Trump was:

Mitt won in November. He began his term on Thursday, January 3, 2019.

But, shortly before, he wrote an editorial for the Washington Post, published on January 2, roundly criticising President Trump:

Trump’s campaign manager for 2020, Brad Parscale, nailed it by mentioning jealousy:

Think of it this way:

In 2016, Mitt made it clear that he objected to Donald Trump’s character (the quote on the left is one of his):

And Romney seemed to voice what many people were thinking that year. The debate continues about Trump’s personal character (click on the text message image to see it in full). I agree with Jack Posobiec here:

So, how does character affect the office of President of the United States?

A conservative lawyer discusses Mitt’s — and never-Trumper journalist Jonah Goldberg’s — views on ‘character’:

I’m going to interrupt with a gratuitous photo of JFK:

Now back to Will Chamberlain’s findings on character and the presidency:

There is no way a man of ‘decency’ is ever going to be a successful world leader — anywhere.

A world leader needs to command respect. It’s always fascinating to see how leaders from the Middle East and Asia react to President Trump. They respect him, even — especially — when he’s driving a hard bargain with them.

It’s a pity that weak Republicans like Mitt Romney and the entire Democrat Party cannot see that.

A ‘decent’ man of ‘character’ is hardly able to transform the nation’s economy and begin re-establishing a long-lost manufacturing base.

Nor can such a man take strong-willed decisions that might just result in — strangely enough — world peace.

This is President Trump’s reaction to Romney. Flake refers to anti-Trumper former Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), who did not run for re-election last year:

The point is: a man of character as Mitt defines it is unlikely to make a good president. For that, one needs a brawler — someone who is fearless in stepping up to the plate and getting things done. Trump would call that winning. He is the right man at the right time, not only for the United States but also for the world.

POSTSCRIPT: Even Mitt’s own niece, Ronna Romney McDaniel, head of the Republican Party, thought he was bang out of order —

Whoa. That’s saying something right there.

Emergency Medicine is a physician’s speciality which has to do with the Emergency Room, or, as we (used to) say in the UK, Casualty.

A young doctor, Rick Pescatore, from New Jersey has a fascinating Twitter thread (also on Thread reader) explaining his choice of speciality:

One day, a poor, desperate woman arrived at the ER when Dr Pescatore was on duty. She had a broken tooth, which he says is extremely painful when the exposed nerve comes into contact with air.

His supervisor responded:

I was happy to see that he got many supportive comments and was able to take the time to respond to several.

I hope that Dr Pescatore, his supervisor and other dedicated ER staff are richly blessed this year — along with their patients.

May the good Lord watch over them all.

Over Christmas, I received one message from a loved one worried that President Trump will lead the US into war.

It was a bit surprising, as he had already laid out his policy to withdraw from Syria and would begin a troop draw-down in Afghanistan. That said, my loved one is a faithful MSNBC viewer. I have tried but cannot persuade her to get news from other sources.

As the American president noted yesterday:

As Charlie Kirk, the founder and president of Turning Point USA — an organisation for university-aged Trump supporters — says, President Trump had a very successful 2018 despite his opponents’ best efforts to thwart him:

As an article in today’s Tennessee Star (initially posted on ConservativeHQ.com) pointed out:

President Trump’s been remarkably successful in a short time — through legitimate means. Democrats and the media relentlessly peck at him for his brash personal style and reflexive tendency to punch back via tweet, but if the success of a president is measured in actions performed, Trump rates extremely high.

It’s important to look back at Donald Trump’s personal history through his outstanding career in real estate. He knew anybody who was anybody. He went to all sorts of parties and receptions. People told him all manner of secrets in conversation.

The important thing to remember here is that Donald Trump does not drink. Nor has he ever used drugs. So, he remembers all sorts of details about what people — his friends, at the time — told him.

Shortly before the election on November 8, 2016, he held one of his many campaign rallies. At this particular one, he explained why his notional friends hated him for running for president:

He won the election he was not supposed to win. He became the leader of the free world, in traditional parlance.

It was more than just the media who had it in for him. A coup of sorts has been going on ever since he was elected, so please read the text inside the box:

At some point, however, one has to question the abject hatred. Is it just about President Trump — or is it about something more?

Because it’s about more than Trump.

This visceral hatred from the Left — media included — is also aimed at half of the US population:

President Trump spent all of Christmas and New Year at the White House:

All of the legislators have been on holiday, except for one, a Republican.

President Trump — and this Republican legislator — were hoping for an early return of senators and congressional representatives in order to press ahead with urgent legislation regarding the southern US border. But to no avail. Here is the Speaker-Designate of the House of Representatives:

Meanwhile, the First Lady hosted the Trumps’ New Year party on her own:

So, when the Democrats rail against President Trump come January 3, remember why the media and political elite — including his own Republicans — are doing so. They are being duplicitous in their rants.

Regardless, 2019 promises to be a ‘fantastic’ one for the United States, and, by extension, the world!

Perhaps less so for the president’s detractors.

If we want peace in the world, we need to continue to pray for President Trump’s safety and well-being.

Happy New Year to all my readers!

May 2019 be a year of blessings, comfort, health and prosperity!

On a serious note, traditionally, January 1 is the feast of the Circumcision and Naming of Christ Jesus, about which you can read more below:

January 1 – Feast of the Circumcision of Christ (2010)

New Year’s Day: the Circumcision — and Naming — of Christ Jesus

Circumcision of Christ stained glassThe stained glass window at left, depicting our Lord’s circumcision, is probably the only one of its kind in existence. It was originally made in the mid-15th century for the Crutched Friars in Cologne, Germany, and is now displayed in the Cloisters Museum in Manhattan. You can read more about it below:

New Year’s greetings — and the Feast of the Circumcision

It is always interesting to contemplate how closely the Holy Family obeyed Jewish laws and traditions. Surely, given that Jesus is Messiah, they did not need to, but they did — because they loved God and they wanted to obey Him.

The greatest sign of obedience was the Crucifixion, the ultimate, all-sufficient sacrifice that Jesus made for our sins.

For all the ‘fun’ we might be having at this time, may we be always mindful of our all-loving Creator who sent His Only Begotten Son to us to humble Himself as Saviour and Redeemer.

On Thursday, December 27, the good Lord took Richard Arvin Overton, America’s oldest veteran and living male, to his heavenly rest.

Mr Overton was 112 years old and died of pneumonia-related complications.

A God-fearing churchgoer, he was of the old school in his daily habit of smoking Tampa Sweet cigars — up to 12 — and enjoying whisky. He was still driving a car at the age of 109.

This intriguing video shows us more about this good man, who served his country during the Second World War:

Black History Heroes honoured him on Veterans Day this year:

Prior to that, Richard Overton, a lifelong Texan, received other public honours, as Wikipedia tells us:

Overton gained media attention during the 2013 Memorial Day weekend when he told Fox News he would spend his Memorial Day “smoking cigars and drinking whiskey-stiffened coffee.”[11] On that same Memorial Day, Overton met with Texas Governor Rick Perry. Overton was also invited to the White House where he met with President Barack Obama, and to the Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, where he was singled out by name for praise by the President.[5][12][13]

During an NBA game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies on March 24, 2017, Overton was honored during a half-time break.[14]

Overton is the subject of a 2016 documentary, Mr. Overton, in which he is interviewed about his daily routine, thoughts on his longevity, and his military service.[15][16] On May 3, 2016, he became the oldest surviving American veteran after the death of Frank Levingston.[17][18][19]

On his 111th birthday, the University of Texas club feted him with a luncheon. Biography reports that he said:

111, that’s pretty old, ain’t it. I can still get around, I can still talk, I can still see, I can still walk.

His home city of Austin — the Texas state capital — even officially designated his birthday as Richard Overton Day. How cool is that?

Richard Overton was born to Gentry Overton, Sr. and Elizabeth Franklin Overton Waters on May 11, 1906, in Bastrop County, Texas. He was a great grandson of John Overton Jr., whose father served as a political adviser to President Andrew Jackson.

Wikipedia provides us with details about his tour of duty during the Second World War:

Overton enlisted into the U.S. military on September 3, 1940 at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.[8]

He served in the South Pacific from 1940 through 1945, including stops in Hawaii, Guam, Palau and Iwo Jima. He left the U.S. Army in October 1945 as a technician fifth grade.[9]

He earned several service medals, including the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the US Army Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

After the war ended, Overton worked in furniture shops before taking on a position with the Texas Department of the Treasury, as it was known at the time.

He married twice and had no children.

In 2016, his relatives launched a GoFundMe campaign so that he could continue to live in his own home rather than go to an assisted living facility. The GoFundMe campaign was wildly successful and raised more than $200,000 as of 2017. Biography says that Home Depot and Meals on Wheels also made their own donations. Ultimately, Richard Overton was able to have his house refit to accommodate his changing health circumstances and enable round the clock care at home.

Biography tells us that, when asked if he had any secrets to a long life:

Overton simply replied that he has none. “I don’t have a secret,” he told People. I am here because the man upstairs wants me to be here… He put me here, and he decides when it’s my time to go.”

Well said!

His funeral will take place in Austin on January 12, 2019; KXAN has details. His house could well be turned into a museum — his dying wish.

Richard Overton honoured God, his country, his family and his fellow citizens.

One cannot say better than this …

… other than to add: may he rest in peace.

What follows are the readings for the First Sunday after Christmas Day, December 30, 2018.

These are for Year C in the three-year Lectionary.

Emphases mine below.

The themes are priesthood and God’s rewarding His faithful.

First reading

This reading is about Hannah’s fulfilling her promise to the Lord of her son Samuel’s fulfilment of a life-long Nazirite vow. Only two others in the Bible did so: Samson and John the Baptist. Eli knew about Hannah’s profound desire for a child, which the Lord finally granted. Elkanah was Hannah’s husband.

1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26

2:18 Samuel was ministering before the LORD, a boy wearing a linen ephod.

2:19 His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.

2:20 Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the LORD repay you with children by this woman for the gift that she made to the LORD”; and then they would return to their home.

2:26 Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the LORD and with the people.

Psalm

The Psalm reflects the praise of those rejoicing in the Lord’s enduring love and mercy. The ‘horn’ in verse 14 is thought to refer to David, whom Matthew Henry wrote, was ‘a type of Christ’ for his people at that time.

Psalm 148

148:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights!

148:2 Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host!

148:3 Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars!

148:4 Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!

148:5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.

148:6 He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

148:7 Praise the LORD from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps,

148:8 fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!

148:9 Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!

148:10 Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!

148:11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!

148:12 Young men and women alike, old and young together!

148:13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.

148:14 He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful, for the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the LORD!

Epistle

St Paul exhorted the Colossians — and us — to be Christlike in all that we think and do. Even laypeople have a quiet ministry to accomplish for family, friends and neighbours.

Colossians 3:12-17

3:12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

3:13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

3:14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.

3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Gospel

Here we have Luke’s description of our Lord’s visit to the temple as a 12-year-old, a good tie with the story of young Samuel’s ministry in the first reading.

Luke 2:41-52

2:41 Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover.

2:42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival.

2:43 When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.

2:44 Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends.

2:45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him.

2:46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

2:47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

2:48 When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.”

2:49 He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

2:50 But they did not understand what he said to them.

2:51 Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

I am not sure why the Sunday after Christmas has ‘First’ before it, as the Feast of the Epiphany is on January 6. That said, some churches do commemorate the Second Sunday after Christmas, as happened in 2016, another Year C set of readings — and after Epiphany.

Of the Gospel reading, Matthew Henry’s commentary says that Mary and Joseph were confused by Jesus’s spending time in the temple. Henry says they understood him to be an earthly Messiah who would inherit his ancestor David’s throne. Interesting, to say the least.

President Donald J Trump and First Lady Melania Trump gave a Christmas message on December 25, taking turns in relating the Nativity story and how this season brings out the best in the American spirit of giving to and caring for others. They also remembered those who serve in the military.

This is a very Christian message. I applaud them for it:

President Trump also participated in his customary Christmas conference call with selected military bases:

On Christmas night, America’s first couple travelled to Iraq to meet and greet US troops serving there. Contrary to what Big — Fake — Media say, this trip would have been planned weeks, if not months, in advance.

This is a superb video of their entrance:

This is my favourite photo:

Mrs Trump is the first wife of a US president to visit Iraq since 2003, at which time Laura Bush went:

Trump gave a short speech to the troops, discussing his foreign policy decisions in the Middle East:

He also said:

In a private meeting with military officers, Trump made this revelation about the trip there:

After the Trumps left Iraq, they flew to Ramstein Air Base in Germany:

Cameras were out in force:

Neo-con national security adviser John Bolton also made the trip:

However, it does not look as if Bolton was in this particular meeting aboard Air Force One:

Then it was time to return home:

Mrs Trump is wearing leather trousers, by the way — not a miniskirt.

In closing, everyone involved put together a painstakingly involved, whistle-stop overseas tour that, thankfully, went beautifully and brought all concerned home safe and sound. For that, we can thank divine providence.

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