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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, January 6, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 60:1–6

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
   and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
   and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
   and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
   and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Lift up your eyes and look around;
   they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
   and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
   your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
   the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
   the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
   all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
   and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord. (NRSV)

Epiphany. In modern parlance, it means an “ah ha” moment—a moment of enlightenment. In this passage, it is an ancient version of this. Indeed, the first line, “Arise, shine; for your light has come,” reflects this.

Epiphany marks the end of the Christmas season, with the Día de los Santos Reyes—the arrival of the magi with their gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh—the latter two incenses derived from trees native to the Holy Land (though myrrh, noted in Matthew, is left out of this scripture). The twelfth day of Christmas (cue the music) is one of gifts from the wise men.

This passage presages that arrival and uses light as a literal and figurative device. I love the references to light, which prophesy Jesus’ birth. In the midst of the darkness of winter and of dark events the world over, they remind me that there is hope and that Jesus is that hope.

O God, in the words of Anne Lamott, we pray in the morning “help me, help me, help me” to remember the light Jesus’ coming brought to the world, and we pray in the evening “thank you, thank you, thank you” for that light. May we always be aware of it and be vessels of it for the world. Amen.

Written by Molly Baskin, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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