The Floodlight of Epiphany

Scripture Focus: Genesis 6.11-13
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.

Matthew 6.22-23
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 

Reflection: The Floodlight of Epiphany
By John Tillman

Today is Epiphany. Epiphany follows the twelfth day of Christmas and is the end of the Christmastide season. 

Epiphany means manifestation and is a day of revealing. It is a day of light. It is a day in which the prophecy of Isaiah 9.1-2 begins to see its fulfillment. All peoples of the Earth, represented by the Magi who visited Jesus, are blessed by the appearance of the Christ. Epiphany is celebrated on a day but is also a process. Matthew refers back to this prophecy (Matthew 4.12-17) to describe the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

On the people living in the land of deep darkness…a light has dawned.

Today is an Epiphany—one of many celebrated over the centuries. The light of Epiphany continues to reveal the evil of humanity and the goodness of God’s mercy and justice toward them.

Jesus addressed inner darkness directly when he taught the parable of the eye and the lamp of the body. Noah experienced how dark the world can be when people give themselves over to violence. Light becomes darkness. Good becomes evil.

Today, we will pray that the light of Christ would dawn, exposing darkness.

Let Light Dawn
Oh, Christ, let your light dawn on us!
Heal our darkened eyes that light may enter our bodies.
Light our lamps with the oil of your Spirit, warming our hearts and driving out our darkness.

Reveal yourself to the nations through us as a dawning light.

Lord, at dawn the day is only beginning.
At dawn, the light glows softly. May it grow brighter.
At dawn, we have a choice to make:
To work and walk in the light or hide in the shadows of selfishness.

Let us leave the shadows.
Let us work the fields while there is light.
Let us walk in the light and call to those in darkness to join us.

May evil be exposed.
May hatred be bleached from our souls by the burning light of the sun.
May lies and liars be exposed.
May truth shine, expelling every dark, deceitful shadow.
May the darkness of violence have no shelter in our hearts.
May peace and mercy be made known by our words and actions.
May our love be a warming light that draws people to you.

Flood the earth again, Lord—this time with light.
Healing, cleansing, warming, revealing light.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Let all flesh bless his holy Name forever and ever. — Psalm 145.22

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Genesis 6 (Listen – 2:48) 
Matthew 6 (Listen – 4:35)

Read more about Into His Light — Hope of Advent
The corruption of this world deepens the darkness we live in each day and, in sinfulness, we prefer darkness to light.

Read more about Becoming Light — Hope of Advent
May the fruit of the light shine from us.
May goodness, righteousness, and truth beam from us.

A Restoring Sabbath

Matthew 4.1-2
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Reflection: A Restoring Sabbath
By Dena Dyer

I’m sick of the constant “ding” of Facebook messages, tweets, and emails. My shoulders ache from the tension of trying to fit too much into an already-packed schedule. And my head hurts from trying to remember all the people who need something from me.

What about you? Are you tired of 24/7 restaurants, instant messaging, and the strain of trying to pack one more thing into a week full of obligations? If so, you’re not alone…and our numbers are growing.

Peter Smith of the Courier-Journal reports that Dr. Matthew Sleeth, a former emergency room physician, is encouraging stressed-out folks to consider an ancient principle: keeping the Sabbath. Sleeth is the founder of the Christian ministry “Blessed Earth” and the author of several books, including the new release, 24/6: The Prescription for a Happier, Healthier Life.

The biblical Sabbath God commanded his children to take in the Ten Commandments included “not just work-free days, but also allowing pastures to rest and not harvesting a field completely, leaving gleanings for the poor and hedgerows as a sanctuary for wildlife,” says Sleeth.

He notes that a day of rest doesn’t necessarily mean “a day of just kicking back. It can involve such deliberate activities as walking and light gardening. What it does mean is powering down the laptop and smartphone. And slowing down enough to listen.”

*This devotional was originally posted as a part of The High Calling devotional series.

From John:
Many key leaders in technology have been public about taking strong measures to reduce technology use by their families and especially their children.

As you begin this year, think and pray about ways in which you can abstain from technology’s addictive elements, while still using its powerful tools to spur your spiritual growth.

Weekly sabbaths teach us that the sabbath doesn’t condemn the week of work, but it blesses it and redeems it. Sabbath is not a punishment to be endured but a blessing. Use a fast or sabbatical this month to reset your ideas about technology and how you will use it in 2019.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me out of all my terror. — Psalm 34:4

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Genesis 4 (Listen – 3:54)
Matthew 4 (Listen – 3:09)

This Weekend’s Readings
Genesis 5 (Listen – 3:18) Matthew 5 (Listen – 6:03)
Genesis 6 (Listen – 2:48) Matthew 6 (Listen – 4:35)

Additional Reading
Read More about The Value of Words
Words and writers are undervalued in the marketplace. But encouraging words? They are remarkably undervalued. Our purpose at The Park Forum is to produce words that are filled with life, not death.

Read More about Supporting Our Work
When you donate to The Park Forum, you are investing in sharing God’s word, primarily. But you are also investing in words of life, words of encouragement, and words to build up our readers across the world in love.

How far will you travel in God’s Word this year?
On January 1st we restarted our two year Bible reading plan in Genesis and the Gospel of Matthew. Join us on the journey. We read the Old Testament over two years and the New Testament and Psalms each year.

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Where will a journey through the Bible take your faith in the coming year? Jesus calls each of us, saying, “Follow me.”