Shalom,

 

As we enter into the season of Epiphany it is a chance once again to listen to God through Christ. Epiphany is a day and a season in the church year when we patently watch and listen as God is quietly revealed to us once again. Sometimes, even when we try hard to do so, we just don’t see God in our everyday lives or in the events of the world. Hopefully our lives have slowed down from the, Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas, get-togethers so we can absorb where God has reached to each of us. Epiphany gives us the time and the resources to watch, wait, listen, look, and anticipate the light, life, and truth of the Lord’s presence in our midst.

Contemporary observances of Epiphany include the coming of the wise men with gifts for the Christ Child and the Baptism of Jesus. The season concludes with the Transfiguration Sunday. Epiphany is the time when the church gathers to remember and reflect upon the mighty acts of God in the birth of Jesus Christ. As we watch, and wait, in the light of the Christ child becoming a prophet, healer, teacher, and savior. Much of the story is still to be told, but already we are being reminded of the direction in which this one sacred life is moving. Here was life at its very purest and very best. Life that had come from God was walking with God and was going to God (John 13:33). This life “enlightens” us as we remember that we too have come from God, and are invited to walk with God, and one day will be fully at home with God.

Our life is not a simple straight line that our will and reasons draw. Rather, life is something that is formed from two different lines, two different elements, and two different powers. Life is composed of human ideas and God’s ways, and in truth there is no human way at all, for “the human mind plans the way, (Proverbs 16: 9)—meaning that it’s only a sketch of a way, a way in theory, in illusion. But there is only one real way that we unavoidably have to go, and that is God’s way. The difference between the two lives is: humans would like to forecast the whole of their life at one time, but God’s way is to go step by step.  “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps… God would like for people to go step-by-step. We are led not by our own ideas about life but by God’s word, which comes to us at each step, whenever we ask. There is no word from God for the whole of life. God’s word is new and open today and tomorrow, and it can only be related to the moment in which we hear it. Humanity would like to be in charge of all aspects of our living and salvation, yet finds that salvation is not ours to control for it is God that so loved us that he made salvation possible. Psalm 51: 12 tells us that it is God’s Salvation, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” If we look at this gift as our salvation it becomes about us again and this is where we may lose our Joy.  My salvation means I do it myself. I earn my salvation. I have a right to my salvation. It is mine, and it’s all about me.

When we realize that salvation is about God’s gift, God’s promise, God’s sacrifice, God’s love, then we know it is God’s to give, because it’s not about you or me it is about God and God’s GRACE. This is important, related to the good news of the Gospel: If our joy about Jesus is based on what we’ve done, then we’ll always wonder if we’ve done enough. That joy is only temporary. But if our joy is based on the grace of God, it’s permanent, it is finished. (John 19:30)

If you’re struggling to sense the joy of GOD’S salvation, perhaps you’re still seeing it as yours and not God’s: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalms 51:12 NIV). For us to understand this fact we can look to how God is able to make great, glorious things from some of the most evil in the world if we but stay on course with his leadings.

God can and will produce good out of all things even out of the most evil; for this to happen God needs people who let themselves serve all things the best they can.  In every predicament God wants to give us as much power of resistance as we need.  Yet God does not give it in advance, this is so that we will rely not on ourselves, but on God alone. In such faith all anxiety about the future would have to be overcome. Even our errors and mistakes are not in vain, and it is not harder for God to deal with them than with our presumed good deeds. So through this God is not a timeless fate, no God waits for and answers sincere prayers and responsible service. May our New Year be a time of restored faith as God restores our souls with the Joy of Jesus Christ a gift from God who so loved all the world that gave his one and only Son Jesus Christ in Grace and Mercy.

In the peace, love, and grace, of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pastor Ed