SERMON TITLE: “Starting the New Year Well: Mentally”
SERMON TEXT: Matthew 2:1-12
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: January 1, 2017
One of our church members, Stephen Boyer, sent me an interesting Christmas letter this year. Besides telling a little bit about himself, Stephen wrote in his letter some interesting facts about the history of Methodism in Utah. Stephen noted that the early Methodists made a great contribution to the development of education in this state. The LDS folks were engaged in a struggle for survival that didn’t allow for a concentrated effort toward education. Methodists who arrived in this area had more financial resources to put toward the cause.
Stephen wrote, “From the Methodist church arrival, at Promontory, Utah, in 1869, until 1894, Methodist education in Utah thrived.” In that 25-year period, “a total of forty-two schools were established. Not all of the schools were open at the same time, and some lasted only a year. Young women representing the Methodist Episcopal Church’s Women’s Home Missionary Society made up a majority of the teachers within the schools. In 1890, the most successful year, there were 26 schools operating with 32 teachers and 1,467 pupils.”
According to Stephen’s research, Methodists helped persuade the Utah state legislature to establish a free public education system, and Methodists helped support Westminster College, which was founded by the Presbyterians in Salt Lake City in 1875. In 1896, the Methodists opened a college of their own right here in Ogden at 24th and Jefferson. Unfortunately, there was a massive recession two years later that caused most of the Methodists to move away. Whatever was left of the Methodist college was then incorporated into the LDS Weber Stake College, which later came to be known as Weber State University.
I’m passing along this interesting Methodist educational history because today is the Sunday when Christians traditionally celebrate Epiphany, the day when the Wise Men learned about and worshiped Jesus. Today is also the beginning of a New Year, and the first in a series of sermons I will preach on “Starting the New Year Well.” In this New Year’s series, we’re going to explore what it means to start the New Year well physically, emotionally, spiritually, creatively, societally, relationally, and financially. But before we get to all those ways, I invite you today to reflect with me on Matthew’s story of the Wise Men, and think about how we might start the New Year well mentally.