In modern English, we use the word epiphany to connote a sudden revelation. This week, light has arrived in both the texts and liturgical seasons, illuminating that which was previously “dark” to us. During Advent, we awaited the sacred mystery of a baby, born to a virgin mother, who became the Son of God. At Epiphany, we gain full exposure to this prophecy: darkness had covered the earth—but the light has overcome it.
When my mother was a young girl, Isaiah 60:1-6 was among the first scriptures she memorized. It was her guidepost in times when she encountered darkness too dim to bear. “Arise, shine; for your light has come,” was a beacon to which she could lift her eyes and be comforted in any scary scenario.
How does it feel to know that even amid darkness God’s glory appears before us in Advent hope and Epiphany light? We only need “lift up” our eyes and look in order to “see and be radiant." But so often, we keep our heads down—enthralled with that which we think will make our heart “thrill and rejoice.” We embrace the mundane and reject the very epiphany “treasure” that God offers because we are too preoccupied with temporary things that we believe will dispel darkness. Instead, we are invited to arise, shine, and look to the infinite Light.
When we feel dark and formless, chaotic and listless, Isaiah’s prophetic voice reminds us to look up and consider the indestructible link to our Creator who has the power to create out of nothing and to incarnate as Messiah born in a stable.
God, empower us to arise and shine! Lord, have mercy on us when we keep our heads down, failing to accept the radiance that you intend for us. Amen.
This week’s readings use both water and wind (Spirit) in a variety of ways. Water and wind are present in the Genesis story of God's bringing order out of chaos. Both the epistle and Gospel bring images of water in baptism and with the Spirit present. The psalmist invokes the voice of God thundering over waves and causing trees to shake. In the account of Jesus’ baptism, that same voice breaks through to proclaim that Jesus is God’s Son, the Beloved. Also, in the middle of this week, we celebrate Epiphany with Isaiah's inspiring vision of dawn breaking and the invitation to arise and shine because Light has come to us.
Read Genesis 1:1-5. Where have you seen God bringing order out of chaos in your life? What are the situations in your life or in our world that seem formless or chaotic now? Can you see God working to bring order in those situations?
Read Psalm 29. How do you respond to the powerful images of God’s action reflected in this psalm?
Read Acts 19:1-7. How would you answer Paul’s question: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became [a believer]?” How do you see the Spirit active in your life?
Read Mark 1:4-11. Can you hear God saying to you, “You are my child, the beloved; with you I am well pleased”? How does it feel to imagine God saying those words to you?
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