Israel, long acquainted with darkness, still awaited daybreak. Remembering invasion, dispersion, and exile, a recently returned remnant felt homesick in their homeland where they faced much rebuilding amid suspicious neighbors. As a weak political player, God’s chosen nation dwelt in darkness. But through the prophet, God offers a new vision of power: The weak nation rises, not through intrigue or violence but through attracting others to divine blessing.

In that vision, powerful nations realize that they too dwell in darkness. Weary of paranoia, wall-building, and war-mongering, they find that darkness surrounds them even in victory. For winning the day means defending it tomorrow until finally another wins and jumps on the same defensive treadmill.

Then the nations see the light. God’s glory shines through the chosen people. Their simple being, without sharpening a sword or seeking any advantage, pierces the night.

Finally, the nations realize the incompatibility of domination with peace, and they want peace. So they turn to the nation whose God is love. The priestly nation becomes the great power not by locking gates but by opening them, not by intimidating but by welcoming, not by hoarding but by sharing. God’s love not only fills them but forms them into a nation that loves as God loves. A world that realizes that only God can bring daybreak gladly pays homage to the people who rise in morning light.

As God’s beloved, we let God’s love fill and form us. By nonviolent love that mirrors God’s mercy, we light the night and beckon the world. “You are the light of the world,” Jesus said (Matt. 5:14). In God’s time, we become the daybreak that first awakened us and that will invite the world.

Lord, as your love in Christ illuminates us, may we share your light that draws the world out of darkness. Amen.

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Lectionary Week
January 1–6, 2019
Scripture Overview

As we approach Epiphany Sunday, we think of the coming of God into the world as the coming of a brilliant light—a light that shines into dark corners, a light that shines on people who dwell in darkness. The light of God brings with it the power of restoration to a people in exile. It shines transforming power on forgotten ones who will now arise and shine. God’s presence brings light and well-being. At this time of year, we may desire God’s light to shine upon us.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Matthew 25:31-46. Where do you see darkness in your community? How can you shine Christ’s light?
Read Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14. Consider the differences between fairness, justice, and mercy. Who around you suffers when fairness wears the cloak of justice? How can you turn the situation toward mercy?
Read Ephesians 3:1-12. Was there a time when you thought the gospel was not for you? What has changed?
Read Matthew 2:1-12. We can decipher mystery through light, mercy, witness, and love. How is Christ revealed to you this Epiphany?

Respond by posting a prayer.

This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”

Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.