I have friends who religiously get up before dawn and make their way to the beach to watch the sunrise. I deeply admire their commitment to this. You have been the beneficiary of one particular friend, Michelle, who allows me to use her beautiful pictures in my devotionals. If we were dependent on just me for pictures, all you would get is sunset pictures. I am NOT a morning person! Just ask my family.
Epiphany is celebrated on January 6 every year. It is a day that recalls the arrival of the Wise Men in Bethlehem. They followed the glorious Epiphany star that had arisen over the town on the night of Jesus’ birth, and remained there as a guide in the darkness. It became symbolic of the light that beckoned people to step out of their own darkness into the glory of Christ.
When we say we have “had an epiphany,” we are letting others know that a lightbulb has gone off in our brain and we’ve had an enlightenment.
Today’s lectionary passage takes us back to Isaiah’s words, which foreshadow the Messiah’s arrival as a light that would come upon the darkness of the earth:
Isaiah 60 (Common English Bible)
Arise! Shine! Your light has come;
the Lord’s glory has shone upon you.
2 Though darkness covers the earth
and gloom the nations,
the Lord will shine upon you;
God’s glory will appear over you.
3 Nations will come to your light
and kings to your dawning radiance.
Verse 3 places us squarely at the scene in Bethlehem, where we kneel in wonder with the kings. Isaiah describes the glory of Christ as a “dawning radiance”. Let’s pause there for just a moment. It is the daily dawning radiance that dispels the darkness of night. Imagine our world without the sun! We would not survive. We need its warmth, its brilliance, and its constant presence in our days to light up our pathways. That is exactly what Christ does. He is the constant presence in the darkness of today’s reality that lights our pathway … straight back to him.
4 Lift up your eyes and look all around:
they are all gathered; they have come to you.
Your sons will come from far away,
and your daughters on caregivers’ hips.
5 Then you will see and be radiant;
your heart will tremble and open wide,
because the sea’s abundance will be turned over to you;
the nations’ wealth will come to you.
Isaiah reminds us that we can be radiant, too. God’s glory shines through us when we lift up one another in “care, prayer, and share.”
We are invited to care for the things God cares about … the marginalized, the hungry, the animals, the poor, the addicted, the imprisoned, the planet … these are the things God cares about.
We are invited to pray for the hurts and concerns of those around us, and pray for forgiveness of our sins. We can lift up our nation and pray for our future. We can pray for our leaders, our children, and those in far away places.
And God is counting on us to share our abundance with people who don’t have anything. Food banks, homeless shelters, nursing homes filled with lonely people … these are places where we can share ourselves and be a light in someone’s darkness.
6 Countless camels will cover your land,
young camels from Midian and Ephah.
They will all come from Sheba,
carrying gold and incense,
proclaiming the Lord’s praises.
How will you respond to this call to be a dawning radiance today? Arise and shine! Your light has come.