Light

Today we continue the season of Epiphany. To learn more about what Epiphany is all about, go here. We begin each week with a reflection that includes scriptures and prayers that can be used every day as meditation and devotion.

In some traditions, Epiphany is considered the Season of Light. We celebrate what it means that light has come into the world. So we focus this week on Jesus as the light by reflecting on some of the attributes of light. As you reflect on the Scriptures for the week, ask what the metaphor of light might be saying to you.

  • Light has the most effect when it shines in the darkness. If you light a flashlight outside at noon, it makes very little difference. If you shine a flashlight in a dark closet it makes all the difference.
  • Light is not the opposite of darkness. Light does not oppose darkness, it dispels it. Darkness exists because of an absence of light. (Thanks Shane Hipps!)
  • When you are in darkness, it is disorienting, scary and confusing. In darkness, your eye is drawn to even the smallest bit of light.
  • It sometimes takes some adjustment when moving from darkness to light.
  • Light has a greater impact when it is reflected.
  • You can shine the same beam of light into different lenses and it takes on different attributes.
  • Light can be a guide. It shows a path or keeps darkness from becoming overwhelming.
  • Light illuminates and clarifies. It can uncover what is hidden or ignored. It helps us see the things around us for what they really are.

Feel free to add your own attributes of light in the comments!

Scriptures

Luke 4:14-21

Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region.  He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures.  The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
    that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
     and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently.  Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”.

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10

All the people assembled with a unified purpose at the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had given for Israel to obey.

So on October 8 Ezra the priest brought the Book of the Law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand. He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law.

Ezra stood on the platform in full view of all the people. When they saw him open the book, they all rose to their feet.

Then Ezra praised the Lord, the great God, and all the people chanted, “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground

They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage.

Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

Psalm 19

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
    The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
    night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
    their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
    and their words to all the world.

God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.
    It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.
The sun rises at one end of the heavens
    and follows its course to the other end.
    Nothing can hide from its heat.

The instructions of the Lord are perfect,
    reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The commandments of the Lord are right,
    bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear,
    giving insight for living.
Reverence for the Lord is pure,
    lasting forever.
The laws of the Lord are true;
    each one is fair.
They are more desirable than gold,
    even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey,
    even honey dripping from the comb.
They are a warning to your servant,
    a great reward for those who obey them.

How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
    Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
 Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
    Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
    and innocent of great sin.

May the words of my mouth
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.  Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part.  If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body.  And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body?  If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.  How strange a body would be if it had only one part!  Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.  The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.  And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen,  while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity.  This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.  If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.

All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.  Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church:

first are apostles,
second are prophets,
third are teachers,
then those who do miracles,
those who have the gift of healing,
those who can help others,
those who have the gift of leadership,
those who speak in unknown languages.

Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles?  Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts.

 Prayer

O God, 
You are the light of the world that nourishes the earth.
Just as your light once shone the way for the magi,
may the light of your truth and grace guide my steps today.
Because Jesus is the perfect light of revelation,
help me reflect that perfect light on everyone I meet.
Please shine in and through me –
that I may become a beacon of truth and compassion
so that others can see your great deeds of justice and mercy.
Amen

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