In todayâ€™s gospel, Jesus has returned to his hometown, a community eager to welcome him back into their midst. Perhaps they assumed Jesus would meet their familiar welcome with some special favor. But instead, Jesus shakes things up by pointing to Godâ€™s presence in the lives of outsiders. This is not exactly the message the hometown folks were expecting to hear! This reminds us that God shows up in the lives of those we least expect. Thereby nudging us to expand our horizons to notice the Holy at work in other communities, too. May Godâ€™s Spirit work to open our hearts to notice Christ in the places we least expect him to be.
We begin with recognizing that Nehemiah provides a review of why we do the things we do in our weekly service. Why do we stand for the reading of the Gospel? Why is there a reflection, a sermon shared? In the Gospel reading, Jesus participates in this ancient pattern. However, Jesus will not fulfill the expectations of the people. Instead, with his coming into the world, Jesus brings with him the salvation that will proclaim liberty to all of who are captive to something, whether we deserve that liberty in the eyes of society or not. Jesus is sending a signal that his coming into the world is an invitation to look at everything we think we know from a different perspective. He invites us to follow God’s will. What is God calling us to do in faith with great love?
For 2000 years, Christians have been marveling at Jesus’ miracle of changing water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana. Water, both as a symbol and as a physical reality, flows through all of the Bible. In the Gospel of John, water is a potent symbol of Godâ€™s power. As Jesus quietly demonstrates his power over life itself at Cana, we see that in God, life is unlimitedly abundant. After Jesusâ€™ intervention there was no lack of wine; the wedding party continued with joy. â€œDo whatever He tells you,â€ is Maryâ€™s direction to the servants. Might we also do what he tells us? In so doing, we will experience the miracle of transformation in our lives.
Many of us were baptized as infants, so our only â€œmemoriesâ€ of that day consist of photos and stories told to us by those who love us. Regardless of when we were baptized, we are to live each day in the joy and gratitude of the newly baptized. In baptism we are claimed, forever promised inclusion and welcome as a child of God. To emphasize the eternal strength of this claim, God makes the same claim for the Son, Jesus: ‘You are mine forever, and I am proud of you.’ – What more do we need to hear? May we know assuredly that we are loved.
“Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we…have come to pay him homage.”Â Matthew 2:2
Today, January 6th, is Epiphany.Â EpiphanyÂ comes from a Greek word meaning “appearance.” This day is called Epiphany because we celebrate that God was revealed in Jesus to the world – not only to the Jewish nation but to all the nations of the world. We celebrate today that God reached out to the magi in lands far east of Jerusalem. From the beginning Jesus was God’s revelation and God’s gift for the world. In his ministry Jesus reached out to Gentiles multiple times, including a Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28) and a Samaritan woman (John 4:4-26). But in this reading and on this day we are told that even as a child Christ Jesus was revealed to peoples from all nations as God’s promise for the world. Epiphany reminds us that we who have beheld God’s glory in Christ are sent to share Christ with the world (Matthew 28:19-20). Shared by The Word In Season devotional reading Matthew 2:1-12.
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In todayâ€™s luminous reading from the Gospel of John, we encounter Godâ€™s ultimate promise kept: â€œAnd the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a fatherâ€™s only son, full of grace and truth.â€ The psalmist invites us to praise God as one who keeps promises to heal and make whole. God in Christ invites us to become the bearers of light as we engage with our communities and world. Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we can see God in the neighbor and join in praising Godâ€™s gift of love.
In the gospel reading from Luke, the boy Jesus can also be found in the temple, after a frantic search by his parents. Mary and Joseph do not understand why he would be in the temple, and Jesus does not understand why his parents did not think to look there first: he is, after all, in his Fatherâ€™s house because of obedience to his lifeâ€™s work. Far from being the fun-spoiler, obedience leads us to praise. When we let our words and actions point toward God, we find reasons for praise on every side. May the peace of Christ dwell in you richly.
In winterâ€™s deepest night, we welcome the light of the Christ Child. Isaiah declares that the light of the long-promised king will illuminate the world and bring endless peace and justice. Paul reminds us that the grace of God through Jesus Christ brings salvation to all people. The angels declare that Jesusâ€™ birth is good and joyful news for everyone, including lowly shepherds. Filled with the light that shines in our lives, we go forth to share the light of Christ with the whole world. Merry Christmas!