Epiphany – Yr C (1/6/2013)

29 Dec

Isaiah 60:1-6

Ephesians 3:1-12

Matthew 2:1-12

 

Psalm 72: 1-7, 10-14

“Give the King your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the King’s son”

Opening Questions

  1. When you think of the word light, what emotions come to mind?
  2. Do you have the power to create and share light?  Does that include a power to reduce it?
  3. What does it produce in the people who are illuminated by it?

Appointed Passages[1]

Isaiah 60:1 – 6

1Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
2 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.
3 Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

4 Lift up your eyes and look around;
they all gather together, they come to you;

your sons shall come from far away,

and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.

5 Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice,*
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
6 A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.

  • What does the idea of “your light” (v.3) mean?
  • Who is the “you” described in this passage?
  • How is the light of the Lord related to the light of your personal life?

Ephesians 3:1-12

3This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—2for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given to me for you,3and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words,4a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ.5In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:6that is, the Gentiles have become fellow-heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of his power.8Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ,9and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things;10so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.11This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,12in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

  • How would you define grace?  Is it related to faith?  If so, how?  Can either be measured?
  • Is it something that can be passed from one person to another, or only infused by divine action?
  • What is the meaning of the phrase that we are all “members of the same body” (v.6)?
  • What responsibilities come to you as a member of the same body for other members?
  • How does faith impact your relationships with other people?

Matthew 2:1-12

1In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,2asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him;4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.5They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

6 “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’

7Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared.8Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’9When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.10When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

  • What impact does faith (in the power of Christ) have on your personal “light”?
  • Is there value in comparing your personal faith to that of others; and how would you do so?
  • Why is it important to pay homage; and what impact does doing so have on our faith?

Comment

The season of Christmas transitions from one of welcoming the savior to one of what do we do with his ideas – certainly a more challenging task.  I read a great sermon for today (and recommend you take a peek by clicking on the link attached) from the Rev. Ken Kesselus entitled “Us and Them”.  One of the timeless observations it makes is that human beings have a tribal nature.  We instinctively form our groups based on ideology and, at least attempt, to impose our beliefs on others.

In a sense, that is a good thing.  However, the risk is that we overreach in the grey zone by imposing our ideology on others.  Specifically, instead of helping them grasp the value of our perspective, we undermine their identity by “surgical replacement” rather than a more healthy ”mental digestion”.  This “surgical replacement” or perhaps brainwashing has historically not worked and perhaps is the source of major conflict and even war.  It seems to describe the political process these days as well.

There is value in diversity of opinion.  Growth emerges from trying ideas that ultimately don’t work.  The process by which we remain open to ideas from others and give them an honest chance to work themselves through our mental machinery is fundamental to our ability to grow as human beings[2].

My prayer for today is that we spend more time thinking about our we share our faith (and light) more collaboratively by looking for the inherent light in others as a way to build more effective community.

Quotes for Today:

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

 

Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active.

Edith Hamilton


Grace must find expression in life, otherwise it is not grace.

Karl Barth


[1] New Revised Standard Version of biblical passages

[2] I am just starting a book by Bruce Hood entitled The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity that is an interesting read.

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