Epiphany (January 2, 2011)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Is. 60:1-6; Ps. 72:1-7, 10-14; Eph. 3:1-12; Matt. 2:1-12
We spent the early part of the week in Ohio with Cindy’s family – enjoying games, food and conversation. Cindy’s brother Phil recently married and it was especially nice to meet his wife Jennifer and her three children. On Thursday evening we flew to Denver to be with our daughter Jessica and her newly adopted dog Kojak. We arrived to blowing snow and frigid temperatures but are staying warm in Jessica’s cozy apartment.
Our home leave is fast drawing to a close. It has been a rich time of rest, renewal and reflection. We have a number of speaking engagements in the next two weeks before we return to Amman, January 17.
The Common Lectionary readings for this Epiphany Sunday are about coming to God’s light.
In the Old Testament reading, while darkness covers the earth, God’s light is reflected in Zion – God’s temple in Jerusalem (Is. 60:1-2). The nations and kings are drawn to God’s light and come, bringing their wealth, riches and praises as tribute (vv. 3-6).
The psalmist describes a just and enduring king who defends the afflicted, saves the vulnerable and crushes the oppressor (Ps. 72:1-7, 12-14). This king’s example is so compelling that all other authorities will bring him tribute (v.10). According to the psalmist, “All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.”(v.11)
According to the Epistle reading, God’s light is now to be reflected in the church, which incorporates all peoples – Jew and Gentile — in one fellowship. “God’s intent was that, now through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,” Paul writes (Eph. 3:10).
In the Gospel reading, when Jesus is born in Bethlehem, Magi from the east are drawn by the light of his star and come to worship him (Matt. 2:1-2). While King Herod is threatened by the thought of a new king (vv. 3-8), the Magi bow down and worship Jesus and bring him gifts of gold, incense and myrrh (vv. 9-11).
The darkness of violence, oppression, hunger, poverty, greed, selfishness and exploitation of God’s creation is a present reality in the world in which we live. But God’s light – reflected in Christ and those who follow him – is overcoming this darkness. What an encouraging reminder as we begin 2011!