Now be honest: You love this weather.  Maybe not to the extent that I do-- few love cold weather more than me-- but have you not sensed the excitement building all week?  Ever since I first heard of this possibility more than a week ago I have barely been able to sit still.  And I have not been disappointed!  I know our students and teachers were also overjoyed to have yesterday home from school, but shouldn't we all join in the celebration?  How often do we wake to 15 degree temps?  Is summer really so much better-- when we experience 100 days or more of the same thing over and over?  Can I get an amen?

Normal is so... normal.  When I send this message I will leave the office to go: not somewhere I've never been before, nowhere where there is any excitement, but to the store.  To buy groceries for Sunday's Epiphany Party.  Think how exciting that is!  Something I do over and over again, seemingly every day, because even though I always have a list something is forgotten, is used too quickly, or a new need is discovered upon returning home.  When we go to Bay City, my Mom loves sending me to the store, partly because she knows I always forget something and she receives a little tool much joy from that.  Most of the stuff I will buy at the store is-- you guessed it-- normal stuff.

Routines are so... routine.  So... normal.  Brush your teeth.  Wash your sheets.  Put away your clothes.  Dinner at 5:30 or 6:00.  But what happens when we celebrate those things as gifts?  As opportunities?  Christy loves the feel of climbing into a bed with newly washed sheets.  As a child, I would sit by the dryer, waiting for "This"-- my all-time favorite blanket-- to be released so I could drape myself in its warmth.  Everyone has a favorite game, shoes, hobby.  To everyone else that may seem normal-- to those who cherish it, it's anything but normal.

And yet when Christy gets a hold of that normal stuff that I will buy this morning, like chocolate chips, coconut, pecans, pineapples, and biscuits, something powerful and wonderful and just about every other good word ending with -ful happens: a delicious creation that can't be purchased anywhere else.  And when shared in the company of others who share genuine relationships there's even more to enjoy.

Christy and I have offered the Epiphany Party every year at every congregation we've served.  It's a time when we get to show our appreciation to you for having us as your parsonage family.  For a couple of hours, there is no talk of budgets, concerns, difficult decisions.  We just enjoy each other's company.  The Epiphany Party could be a very normal thing: a holiday party.  But there's nothing normal about it.  Really.

By the time we gather Sunday afternoon between 2:00-4:00 (come and go; remember the house is directly behind the church on Parvin Street) the weather will be creeping back to... normal.  It will be a sunny, cool, ordinary January day.  At least outside.  Every year the party's attendance has at least doubled, meaning we're expecting roughly 150 Sunday afternoon!!!  I hope you are one of them!