Good morning! Today is Thursday, the sixth of January, 2022, in the second week of Christmas. Today is the day of Epiphany.
May the peace of Christ be with you!
Seventeen days until Hamilton!
As noticed above, today is “Epiphany,” the day when the church celebrates the arrival of the “wise men” to visit Jesus. The season of Epiphany lasts until the beginning of Lent, which occurs on Wednesday (always Wednesday), March 2, known as “Ash Wednesday,” which comes immediately “Fat Tuesday,” or “Mardi Gras.”
It was a nice day at the library, yesterday (when is it not). It was relatively quiet, but there was a flurry of activity during the last ten minutes that we were open. I got to register a new patron, and fielded a phone call from one who thought that a book she had turned in was still showing up on her account. This call happened at 5:57, and I was not looking forward to having to initiate a “claims returned” process with only three minutes left in the day. I’m not very familiar with that process, as I don’t believe I have ever had to do one on my own, yet. Fortunately, when I looked up her account, the book in question did not show as being checked out.
As noted, yesterday, I have agreed to work an extra shift today, from 10-2. That won’t be bad, even though it is supposed to be a day off for me. I don’t have to go in early, and I’ll get home in plenty of time to get a couple things accomplished.
It’s a cold day in DFW, today. currently 30 degrees (or 32, depending on who I listen to), and only getting up to just below 40 today. Tomorrow’s low is predicted to be in the low twenties. Egad. Fortunately, there is no precipitation predicted until Saturday when temps are supposed to remain well above freezing.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
"O God, by the leading of a star You manifested Your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know You now by faith, to Your presence, where we may see Your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen." (The Collect for Epiphany)
After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:9-11 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
1. that I am alive and breathing 2. that, because of Jesus, God holds me in His arms today 3. for the "star of wonder" that led the Magi to Jesus 4. for the admonition to love our enemies 5. for strength and courage that God gives us 6. for the awe I feel when I consider His holiness
In today’s final examination of Thomas More’s meditation (the text can be found at this link), I will include thought written by Richard J. Foster, in Spiritual Classics.
“This selection by Thomas More simply does me in. The breadth of it exhausts me. One line maybe I can enter into a little, but even then some single sentences contain a lifetime: ‘To think my most enemies my best friends.’ However, the prayer is not just one sentence, but sentence piled upon sentence, covering, as it seems, all thought, word, and deed. It is too much to take in, too much to expect, too much to hope for–in myself or anyone else.
“But then I realize that More is not telling me many things but only one thing. And what is that one thing? Simply to love God. When I see this it all becomes clear. Then I can read each line as another aspect of the call to love. And so, once again, I am struck by the unity of all these writers on contemplative prayer. They all keep calling us back to our first love. Their message, it seems, keeps tune to the beat of our heart . . . love God . . . love God . . . love God . . . love God.”
The main thing I want to present from Eugene H. Peterson’s Symphony of Salvation, today, from the book of Joshua, is that everything presented in that book is grounded in the reality of real people and places. Grand ideas have no life of their own apart from the people and places in which they occurred. Says Peterson, “People who want God as an escape from reality, from the often hard conditions of this life, don’t find this to their liking. But to the man or woman wanting more reality, not less–this continuation of the salvation story–Joshua’s fierce and devout determination to win land for his people and his extraordinary attention to getting all the tribes and their families, name by name, assigned to their own place, is good news indeed. Joshua lays a firm foundation for a life that is grounded.”
Just as GOD commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and Joshua did it. He didn’t leave incomplete one thing that GOD had commanded Moses.
(Joshua 11:15 MSG)
A favorite verse in Joshua is 1:9. Oddly enough, when I was in school, I memorized verse 8, but never verse 9.
“Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. GOD, your God, is with you every step you take.”
(Joshua 1:9 MSG)
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,
(Revelation 4:8 NIV)
Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him.
(Psalms 33:8 NIV)
Today’s prayer word in Pray a Word a Day is “persistence.” That’s a good word.
He may not get up and give you the bread, just because you are his friend. But he will get up and give you as much as you need, simply because you are not ashamed to keep on asking.
(Luke 11:8 CEV)
I’ve often wondered at this teaching of Jesus. He seems to be saying that we should “pester” God with our requests. For some reason, I’ve never felt comfortable doing that. But here Jesus seems to be telling us exactly that. There is another story that He tells, in another place, about a widow seeking justice from an ungodly ruler.
Persistence is a good trait to have. We don’t give up, or we should not give up. The book tells a story of a pianist who lost his right arm during WWI. He refused to stop playing, and began commissioning pieces written for just the left hand. That is definitely persistence.
But our persistence should be in doing good things, having good desires. As we remember that “nothing is impossible” with God, we persist, we persevere. I am persisting in my quest to have a “love revolution” in our culture. And I persist in my prayers to have that come about.
Father, I thank You for the record of the “wise men” visiting Jesus and giving Him gifts that seemed to point toward His burial preparation. I thank You for that “star of wonder.” I am also grateful for this persistent command to love each other, and more specifically, to love our enemies. Help me to do that today and every day. I pray for a Love Revolution to take hold in our country, in our world. That is only possible when people hold Jesus dear to their hearts and allow You to hold them in Your might arms.
Give us strength from the message of the book of Joshua, helping us to be grounded in its reality. I have no desire to “escape” reality. When I want to do that, I play games or watch movies. But then I return to the true reality, knowing that You exist there and that You give us mundane tasks to complete, which help us get down in the dirt with people.
Thank You for the sense of awe I have when I consider Your holiness. And thank You for Jesus’s stories, encouraging us to be persistent and never give up on praying.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 115:14-15 NLT)
Grace and peace, friends.