Biblical texts honor the power of words. Names matter. Stories transport the energy of plot and characters through the teller to the told. Whether we speak of God’s light piercing the night through Christ or of faithful people, mercy, justice, or creation, our words illuminate God’s creation. While the daily onslaught of words can numb us, God’s words can warm those who listen.
Gospel means good news, and Paul serves that gospel. At all costs, he tells far and wide that this gospel was open to the Gentiles as well as the Jews and establishes gospel-sharing communities called “churches.” Strictly speaking, the gospel refers to God’s redemptive work in Jesus. But God so charges the gospel that Paul sees it in scripture and mysterious presence, in past, present, and future, in suffering and joy, in speakers and hearers transformed. It becomes Paul’s force field, and everywhere he goes, things change: Gentiles begin to believe that the gospel is for them.
We find gospel truth in scripture. We do well to read the New Testament books called Gospels; yet, if we read them well, they point us to the gospel in the whole biblical library of history, legend, poetry, prophecy, and law. The stories of the Bible convey the unfailing gospel to those who read with the eyes of faith. “We have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us” (2 Cor. 4:7), Paul writes of people like him who become gospels themselves by their telling of it.
Words and people who use them limit the truth they tell. Our words can only point to the ineffable mystery of God. Yet they grant us access to God. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we can approach God in freedom and confidence.
Lord, may our words illuminate the paths of others as we share the gospel. Amen.
As we approach Epiphany Sunday, we think of the coming of God into the world as the coming of a brilliant light—a light that shines into dark corners, a light that shines on people who dwell in darkness. The light of God brings with it the power of restoration to a people in exile. It shines transforming power on forgotten ones who will now arise and shine. God’s presence brings light and well-being. At this time of year, we may desire God’s light to shine upon us.
Read Matthew 25:31-46. Where do you see darkness in your community? How can you shine Christ’s light?
Read Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14. Consider the differences between fairness, justice, and mercy. Who around you suffers when fairness wears the cloak of justice? How can you turn the situation toward mercy?
Read Ephesians 3:1-12. Was there a time when you thought the gospel was not for you? What has changed?
Read Matthew 2:1-12. We can decipher mystery through light, mercy, witness, and love. How is Christ revealed to you this Epiphany?
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