|Image by Sathish J|
You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘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.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: “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.” ’
A MEDITATIVE VERSE
"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. When the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?
God, help me to live this day to the full,
being true to you in every way.
Jesus, help me to give myself away to others,
being kind to everyone I meet.
Spirit, help me to love the lost,
proclaiming Christ in all I do and say. Amen.
- adapted from a prayer found at the end of each day on "Lectio",
a daily devotional app provided by 24-7 Prayer
VERSE OF THE DAY
When you send forth your spirit, they are created;
and you renew the face of the ground.
|"Walking Alone" by Ted Harrison|
The arrival of the Magi at the birth place of Jesus brings us to the end of the spiritual journey of Advent and Christmas. Although theories of who the Magi were vary, they are generally believed to be Persian Zoroastrian astrologers; whether they would have been perceived as “wise” in their own day is debated. Despite the variations on the story, the one common element is the natal star, which appears over Bethlehem and acts as a guide to the place where the messiah has been born. The word for ‘rising’ in many Semitic languages is also the word for ‘east’, so the direction of travel was embedded for the Magi in the fact that the star was on its rise. The word 'epiphany' comes to us from the Greek via Middle English, and not only signifies the Christian festival but means the supernatural appearance of something divine, as well as a moment of sudden understanding or revelation. All of these meanings likely derive from the metaphor of the Christmas star. The gifts that the Magi brought were not just their gold, frankincense and myrrh, but their wisdom, prophecy and commitment. They are the continuation of the prophetic vision that they themselves quote from Micah 2. Who are they for us today? Prophetic vision is that which imagines how humankind will go forward, but prophecy can only come from being fully anchored in the present. Over the past year, we have felt ourselves more aware of our present circumstances than perhaps we have been in recent memory. At the same time, we have been pushed into a forward vision, into new ways of doing education and medicine and church. Today’s music brings together the media technological exploration and discovery of this past year, with traditions that have always been held dear. A choir of singers come alive on the walls of a basilica in Spain, singing centuries-beloved music, while people in the nave of the church and musicians gather also. It is a blending of both the old and the new in a way that also symbolically represents how the voices of singers are lifted up to God in the space we are in. While we hope that we will sing together in person again, without masks, we now know that we can also do this kind of thing, within our means, as well. One is not a “replacement” of the other. Instead, both ways of lifting voices in worship can exist at the same time, and will perhaps going forward. Both can and will bring joy and serve as exalting praise of God. The imagination of today will bring forth the wise people of a future generation. Yesterday, we reflected on the role that artists play in God’s creativity among us. Artists have never been more needed than they are right now, though artists are also suffering right now from lost opportunities to share what they do among us. How can you support the artists and creative people in your community so that we can continue to imagine our way forward building the realm of God? How can we all arrive at the threshold of new life with wonder and awe?
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Today marks the end of the LC† Longing for Renewal devotional project. Thanks to all who have joined us along the way, who have made comments faithfully on our social media pages or through emails, you all are appreciated! Very grateful thanks to those who have made donations in support of the ministry; you make a difference! For their wisdom, insightful creative thinking, suggestions of elements along the way and vetting of same, I am grateful to Pastor Steve Hoffard, Catherine Evenden and Henriette Thompson. May the joy of Christmas and the visionary wonder of Epiphany be with you in the coming days and may God’s peace rest within you always. Blessed Epiphany! See you in Lent! - Deacon Sherry Coman.
|Image by James Wheeler|
LC† Longing for Renewal is a project of Lutherans Connect, supported by the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Join us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and on Twitter. Lutherans Connect invites you to make a donation to the Ministry by going to this link on the website of the ELCIC Eastern Synod and selecting "Lutherans Connect Devotionals" under "Fund". Devotions are always freely offered, however your donations help to support extended offerings throughout the year.
Thank you and peace be with you!