1st Scripture Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6 and Psalm 72
“Arise, shine; for your light has come.” Isaiah the prophet, said this more than 700 years before the arrival of Jesus into the world. The prophets of old knew something was coming, that things would change, that the darkness would not forever be the dominant theme of human existence.
Isaiah had great faith in God – in the triumph of good over evil. His message was one of hope, hope that this great Light that he saw coming would save the world from itself – would lead to a new way of being in the world – a way that would guarantee great gifts in some form (maybe not camels or gold – tho these were very good symbols for wealth and prosperity in that time). It’s hard, even for some of us, to appreciate the amazing gifts of God that surround and envelope us. The prophets had to use colourful language to get the message across to people that our God is a god of great abundance.
And the Psalmist prays for guidance and enlightenment for the king, for the rulers of the people, that they rule with wisdom and fairness, and with care for the weak and marginalized. In the Light of God’s love there will dawn a new day, and day of justice and equality for all God’s children.
In the Light that is coming we can recognize the seeds of gratitude, of patience, of justice for all, and of a way of Peace and brotherhood in the world.
Let me finish this reflection with something Barb sent me. It’s called “A Good Thought for Every Day” and I’m sorry, but I don’t know the author. Here goes:
Every morning I love to take a full glass of gratitude and a spoonful of peace. Every hour take one pill of patience, one cup of brotherhood and one drink of humility. Always enjoy taking a dose of love and two caplets of clear conscience,.
May God give you…for every storm a rainbow. For every tear a smile. For every care a promise and a blessing for each trial. For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share. For every sigh a sweet song…and an answer for each prayer.
Hymn # 87 VU “I am the Light of the World”
2nd Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3:1-12 and Matthew 2:1-12
In his letter to the Ephesians, written from prison, Paul reveals to the Gentiles the great mystery of which he has become the herald. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not just for the Jews; it is for the Gentiles too! The Light that has come into the world is not just for a few, but for the many – for all of humanity.
God’s gift to the Gentiles at that time in the biblical world, was Paul of Tarsus. He was an inspired and impassioned teacher and proclaimer of the truths which had been revealed to him. He and his followers spread the Light of Christ’s teachings throughout the ancient world. He was a superb networker and an uncompromising leader. He was not perfect, none of us is, but God uses who God chooses, and he did a remarkable job of spreading the Good News of new and abundant life in Christ. And the seeds of his work became like a tree of life, spreading throughout the land, helping to grow Christianity into the major force for good that it has become for over 2000 years.
Our reading from Matthew brings us to Epiphany – which means, by the way, a moment of enlightenment, an AHA moment of great insight, a time when there is revealed a glimpse of Divinity. The Christ child has been born, the Light of the World has come into the world, the Divine is born in human likeness and will walk among us.
Matthew wants us to know that this is a very special time, and the story is spectacular! The wise men from afar have been led by a star to find this special newborn, this “King of the Jews”, the anointed One.
They bring great gifts, Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, all again symbolic of the astounding abundance of our Creator, and they pay homage to God’s Son – as revealed to us in Jesus – an epiphany moment!
And they do not deny the existence and persistence of evil in the world – evil that will try to destroy that which is of God – that which is good. They go home by a secret way, so as not to be caught and tortured by Herod to reveal the baby’s whereabouts.
And what is the message for us in these readings from the New Testament this morning? I think the message takes us all the way back to the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Arise, shine; for your light has come.” The promised Light of the world has come into the world. We are no longer ignorant, we cannot say we do not know what is of the Light, and what is darkness or evil. And Isaiah says we have a duty to share what we know – “Arise, shine” – that we are called to shine that Light that has come to us, into the darkness that surrounds us. We have a duty to speak truth to power, and to demonstrate the Way of Jesus – the supremacy of love in all we do. We are a force for good, for sharing the abundance of God’s great love for us and for all of creation. Together we can make a difference, each in our small corner, each in our own way.
Our faith in Jesus and what he taught us gives us new life: life that is peaceful, life without doubt, life to be lived with courage, and generosity, humility and gratitude. Leaning into Jesus will give us strength for the journey, and joy in the living of it. We are a blessed and beloved people. Thanks be to God for the gift of Jesus.
Hymn # 209 MV “Go make a diff’rence”