…ahead of them, went the star that they (Magi) had seen in the east… Matthew 2:1-12 Truth revealed is the moment at which some event or action appears in its true form or nature. Epiphany is a truth revealed. It is something that we now understand, an enlightenment or revelation, which was once hidden or unclear. The very moment that truth is revealed we have the freedom to make a choice, or to move in a direction we may have previously thought was not possible. The light of the star that the Magi followed is the same light that we follow today, the one that leads to unconditional love and hope Jesus Christ. The question we have to ask of our selves is can we submit to and live out this epiphany? Now that the manifestation of Christ is revealed in us, the freedom to choose is ours. Arise and shine, for your light has come (Isaiah 60:1-6,9).
…many are called, but few are chosen. Matthew 22:1-14 After all it was last minute! Nevertheless, to be called to a wedding feast is a privilege and a blessing, definitely something to be excited about. While it’s easy to spend time on the gentleman who was thrown out, I think the parable is more about God’s desire to be in relationship with his people and the wedding feast symbolizes his everlasting commitment to that relationship. One might say that the first group got the formal written invitation while the second group just got a phone call. It doesn’t matter. The one who has hope in such a blessing will always be prepared to go.
…let your light shine before others… Matthew 5:11-16 The only division that makes sense in this world is that between light and darkness. They can not exist in the same place. A small kindled flame may stand alone in the darkness, but the darkness will never consume it unless we choose to put it out. Our hope is like that kindled flame. If we find it dwindling, we may have to go through the darkness in order to be strengthened with other light, yet others will see and so too give glory to God. For light that is seeking light is never extinguished but endures forever.
Prayers for the Unemployed and the Underemployed
On August 28, 1963 hundreds of thousands of people gathered for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the commemoration of which was re-enacted 50 years later one week ago Saturday. As we approach the 2013 celebration of the labor force, our economy continues to struggle today for both jobs and freedom. I offer this 30 day vigil of prayer for the unemployed and underemployed. For as much as we like to see individuals “pull themselves up by their own boot straps” it simply is not possible without a fair living wage. The following prayer will be on my website and Facebook page. For the next 30 days, I invite you to find any time of the day to join me in prayer for all those who continue to seek employment, those who are underemployed and those who have within their resources to help build a fruitful nation for everyone who believe in the equality for which this nation stands. Please share with your Facebook friends and family and perhaps we can create a spiritual climate that accompanies and accomplishes our call to action.
For the laborers of this land (adapted from BCP p.824, 826)
Gracious God, we remember before you those who suffer want and anxiety from unemployment and underemployment: impress upon the leaders of this land, both public and private, to work diligently and collectively for those who have been steadfast in their pursuit of suitable and fulfilling employment, with the goal of receiving just payment for their labor. Let the true miracle be the work of your people for your people, as a nation built upon the promise of life liberty and pursuit of happiness which it dares to deliver. Help us and strengthen us to establish equal protection and equal opportunity for all, and grant that everyone of us enjoys the riches of your land, to the glory of your name.
…But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ Mark 4:35-41 It never fails! Finally a moment of rest, you lay down and let the movement of the ship lull you to sleep and suddenly the alarm goes off. Of course it’s only a drill but since you are required to participate you get up to find masses of people rushing to the predetermined deck for further instruction in case of a real emergency. I can only image what the real emergency would feel like however, I would hope that I had enough faith to be calm and allow God’s peace to guide my actions. Traveling 680 feet below sea level and surrounded by hills, some as high as 2000 feet; the Sea of Galilee is naturally subject to quickly rising storms because of the different temperature and pressure changes. Figuratively, we too can find our selves in the midst of these kinds of storms, the ones that rise without warning and which we had no contribution. Take heart and know that with Christ, we are in the eye of that storm , the center in which rest can be found and peace be still.
“Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket ?… Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. Mark 4:21-34 The light that is within is given for a reason. God expects us to show the light so that others may see also. We must not hinder the power of the flame by concerning ourselves with the size of the light. Go ahead and put it on a lamp stand and stop reacting to the fear, anger or guilt and start responding to the Promises of God!
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion…” Hebrews 3:1-11 Here Paul is speaking about the rebellion of the Israelites who when Moses went up the mountain for forty days and forty nights, had created an image of God which they began to worship. A hardened heart is a heart that doubts, a heart that fears and a heart that ultimately trades the hope and glory in what is unseen for something that gives a temporary satisfaction to meet an immediate physical need whether it be things or people. I believe Paul really wants his hearers to understand that we should not forget that our praise and worship is a very valuable gift from God. What sense does it make if I receive a gift from my sister and I in turn praise my brother for the gift? This is kind of what we do when we go astray and turn our attention towards things and people other than God. Yet because God loves his creation he is faithful to it. So why not give your faith a heartfelt chance and praise God today. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Psalm 31:5, 7-8
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God…
I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have taken heed of my adversities,
and have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.
“Scars are like tattoos but with better stories.” JR Martinez, an Army veteran who was severely burned while serving in Iraq, shared this quote used by burn survivors. Even with physical scars no one knows the full story of our lives unless we are willing to share them. Emotional scars as well, sometimes (when we are ready) need to be told. My prayer for each of us is that we discern when our own stories need to be shared. Until then, whatever we may be going through this season, remember that the everlasting story of the birth of Christ is our indelible design of hope that is promised for all who continue to believe.
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7-11
After having lunch with a friend today I realized my own selfishness. While catching up with our lives, not once had I given glory to God. As I continued to reflect, I had to ask myself where was my faith? Our physical life is not a test but rather a testimony – and our spiritual disciplines really are important. If in Christ we have hope, the expectation that things yet unseen or experienced will manifest in our lives. Then to live according to this hope, is to live with a testimony that the presence of Christ lives within us. Our living is our testimony. Sometimes however in the chaos of living we forget to speak the Word, to proclaim God’s glory with our mouths. For the believer, regardless of our situations, failures and successes, every new day is hope and every day we live is a testimony. Remember daily to Speak the Word.
2 Corinthians 4:7-11 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh.
John 12:20-26 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
It’s no mystery that there are times when something has to die in order for something different to emerge. By the same token, whether we like it or not, our birth creates change for someone or some situation. Yet throughout life we resist change for various reasons, but they all fall under one category, fear. We are afraid that we are going to lose something or that we will inherit something of which we are uncertain that we want. Of course I am not solely referring to physical death, but also things that simply need to end. This includes the things we want in our relationships. Jesus knew that his (physical) end was inevitable. He understood that with the separation of his body from the relationship he had with his disciples, was the expectation of the glorification of God and the gift of the Holy Spirit for all who believed. What might we be holding on to in our relationships that is keeping us or the other person from blossoming into the person God has called us to be or simply experiencing something greater that God has intended? How do we know when it is time to change? Perhaps when we begin to ask these questions is the beginning of knowing when change needs to take place.
Job 42:1-2 Then Job answered the Lord: ‘I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.