The lectionary of scripture readings for the church year runs in a three-year cycle, which means that in 2019 we’ll be following the same texts that I wrote devotionals about three years ago, the last time Year C rolled around, for the Baptist Women in Ministry blog. As an experiment–and a way of bringing those devos into this blogspace–I’m going to do TBYCM (ThrowBack Year C Mondays) here and repost the reflections I wrote for BWIM in 2016. I’m not editing or fixing them, just posting “as is”; I’m not allowing myself to tinker no matter how cringe-worthy some of these may be. My hunch and my hope is that “there is nothing new under the sun,” and that these writings will still have glints of truth in them three years later. Or it could be that devos are like horoscopes, and you can read anything you want to into them. 😉 Later in the year this could get interesting, as 2016 was a presidential election year, and I remember vividly what a challenge it was to write during those months.
Today I finally got to watch the special Christmas episode of Call the Midwife, which I’ve had on DVR just waiting for the day when the kids and husband were back to school and work. The episode concluded, in part, with these words: “None of us have ever truly walked this way before, but if there is no map, no route, no arrowhead to follow, there is sometimes a star.” If they made Epiphany Specials, that line would fit right in. But it seemed to be the perfect nudge forward for this TBYCM series. Though I’ve written, and some of you may have read, these words before–we’ve not walked THIS way, this 2019 way, yet.
May it be a way of peace.
Isaiah 60:1-6 Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14 Ephesians 3:1-12 Matthew 2:1-12
Arise! Shine! Your light has come; the Lord’s glory has shone upon you. Nations will come to your light… Lift up your eyes and look all around: they are all gathered; they have come to you. (Isaiah 60:1, 3a, 4 CEB)
The baby Jesus has been born, and the Wise Men are on their way… but it’s still awfully dark outside. Still basking in the Christmas glow? Just turn on the news for the latest dramas and traumas, or check your Facebook feed for the most recent diatribes and tantrums. (Insert “Debbie Downer” sound effect here!)
Perhaps this is the Epiphany, the Lightbulb Moment: that though we’ve lit the Christ candle and sung the birth of the Light, the world’s darkness still looms. The good news is that this is not bad news! The good news is not only that Christ was born, but that—as the carol says—he is born in us. The good news is not only that he is the Light, but that his light has been struck in us.
And what use is a shining light, if not to cast a glow into the dark?
Many of us were raised in a church tradition that celebrated (dare I say, even venerated) those who take “the Light” into “dark places.” We grew up praying for our missionaries, learning about our missionaries, and wondering whether we were called to be missionaries. The most inspiring were those who left home and family, learned new languages, and perhaps even faced personal dangers to take the Gospel to places in the world we could not even begin to imagine. God still calls and equips missionaries. We still pray for them and learn about them and wonder whether we are called to be the hands and feet and loving voice of Jesus in poor, pained, violent lands.
Lift up your eyes and look all around: that poor, pained, violent world is coming to us.
Most likely the news updates and Facebook posts you saw this morning recognized it. (Of course, the news and Facebook may not be aware: That world isn’t just coming to us; it is us.) Are we ourselves willing to let go of home and family, are we willing to learn to speak in new ways, are we even willing to face danger so that we can be the light, wherever the nations gather? Even here?
And are we willing to rejoice in the dark? Because only in the dark is it really necessary to shine.
First published 1/4/2016 on bwim.info/blog