Reader: “For those who live in a land of deep darkness,”
Response: “. . . a light will shine.”
Scripture: Isaiah 9:1-2
Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.
The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
We conclude these past forty days of devotionals and the twelve days of Christmastide with Epiphany, actually a day celebrated long before Christmas Day. The central themes of this day are the visit of the Magi, the baptism of Jesus, and the celebration of Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding in Cana. In the early church Epiphany was a primary time for baptisms. An epiphany is a revealing, a discovery, a new realization. The epiphany concerning the birth of Jesus was that he came to bring salvation not just to his chosen people, the Jews, but to all peoples of every tribe and nation on earth. The visit of the Magi was significant because non-Jews came to worship the King of kings. The mission of the Baby of Bethlehem was to the entire world. The Light of the world had come to shine on people who were in despair and darkness. There was hope of a new creation. Genesis begins with these words, “In the beginning God . . .” John’s gospel begins with these words, “In the beginning the Word . . .” In Genesis there was darkness hovering over the face of the earth . . .and God said let there be light!” In John’s gospel he picks up the same theme. The Eternal Word brings light and the darkness cannot overcome it. Both Genesis and John describe our world. The people walk in darkness, can there be any doubt? May the Light of Christ shine in our lives to all those around that their “epiphany” this year may be the discovery of the risen and returning Lord! The Lord be with you.
Music: “We Three Kings of Orient Are” Robert Shaw Chorale wonderful setting
Bonus: “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” Casting Crowns The message to our world.
Almighty and everlasting God, the Brightness of faithful souls, fill the world with Thy glory we pray Thee and show Thyself, by the radiance of Thy light, to all the nations of the world. We beseech Thee, O Lord, let our hearts be graciously enlightened by Thy holy radiance, that we may serve Thee and share Thy Light and so help to advance Thy Kingdom without fear in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life; that so we may escape the darkness of this world, and by Thy guidance attain the land of eternal brightness; through Thy mercy, O blessed Lord, Who dost live and reign over all things, world without end. Amen. ―Gregorian Sacramentary, 390 AD and Sarum Breviary, 1085 AD, adapted Daniel Sharp
I want to thank you all for sharing these past thirty-seven days and for sharing these devotionals with friends. Our prayer as always is that we are drawn closer and deeper in our relationship with the Lord and that we have established a daily pattern of meeting the Lord in his Scriptures. I trust the music and prayers have likewise encouraged and edified you. We plan to do a new Lenten Devotional again this year beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 26th, which means I better get writing tomorrow! Blessings on you all and thank you for your kind words of encouragement. As many of you know, I no longer work at the church and am in the midst of following the Lord’s leading for the next place of ministry. I’ll appreciate your prayers on our behalf. Dan
The source books for the prayers:
The Oxford Book of Prayer, ed. Appleton, OUP
Valley of Vision, ed. Bennett, Banner of Truth Pub.
Prayers Ancient and Modern, Mary Wilder Tileston, 1897
A Diary of Private Prayer, John Baillie
Eerdmans’ Book of Famous Prayers, compiled by Veronica Zindel
Celtic Daily Prayer, Andy Raine and John Skinner Northumbria Community
The Quiet Corner, ed. Shirwood Wirt, Fleming H. Revell
Book of Common Prayer, Episcopal,1979