By Pastor James Clark
Isaiah 60:1-3 | Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
This Isaiah text is the First Lesson appointed for January 8, the Epiphany of Our Lord, commemorating the visit of the magi to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2.1-12). Early Christians envisioned the revelation of Jesus to these eastern sages as Jesus’ revelation to the non-Jewish (entire) world.
The following from Sundays and Seasons (a worship resource from Augsburg Fortress Publishers): Epiphany means “manifestation.” On this day we celebrate the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles – that is, to all nations. Some Christian traditions celebrate three great epiphanies on this day: the magi’s adoration of the Christ child, Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, and his first miracle, in which he changes water into wine.
The word and sacraments are for us the great epiphany of God’s grace and mercy. We go forth to witness to the light that shines brightly in our midst. Two specific thoughts come to mind on this day. Coming as it does so close to the start of the new year, both the Isaiah and Sundays and Seasons texts point us to the future of which God is already in charge. Jesus showed us who God really is and how God relates to us. For that reason we can move into that future with a sense of hope and expectation, eagerly looking to the next great thing that God will do in our lives.
Secondly, I am reminded that God seeks to come into my life daily in word and sacrament in order that I might witness to and be the light that shines brightly in the lives of others, namely Jesus Christ. Every person whom God places in my life – be it the check-out person at the grocery store or a traveler at the airport or the visitor at worship – every person is an opportunity for me with whom to share Jesus Christ, his light and grace.
I invite you to share this same vision for 2017 while we are individuals and as a congregation move forward to Glorify God, Spread the Word and Love Others. We are empowered to do this as we read the Word daily and worship every week. Arise, shine, for your light has come!
Blessings to each of you in this new year of God’s grace.