Following Stars & Keeping Resolutions

It’s Monday Morning, the first of a new year. Your first few steps in 2013 could determine your course for the next twelve months. Are you making them carefully and prayerfully?

PRAYER: (From the Lectionary)
Almighty 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. AMEN.

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 43: 1-7 (From the Lectionary)
1 “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

QUOTE: (From Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland)
Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.

PRAYER FOCUS THIS WEEK: Following Stars and Keeping Resolutions

Happy New Year! The twelve days of Christmas ended on January 5th, as they always do. Today, January 6th, marks the first day of Epiphany, and the beginning of the church’s annual calendar.

What is Epiphany?

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, Epiphany is:
1. (if capitalized) The sixth day of January, observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles (or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ).
2. An appearance or manifestation, especially of a divine being.
3. a) A sudden manifestation of, or perception of, the essential nature or meaning of something, b) an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking, and c) an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure.

Any way you perceive it, epiphany is a powerful word with a transcendent meaning. The authors of The Monday Prayer very much like the message of Epiphany, as well as its symbolism.

Epiphany is a season of light. Perhaps its most prominent symbols in the Western Church are the star of Bethlehem and the Magi who followed it. We emphasize that the wise men weren’t following any random point of light. They had been waiting for—looking for—that one. When they saw it, they recognized it. They pursued it, and it led them to the Christ child. Their epiphany was the revelation of His deity. They offered gifts, then fell down and worshiped the Source of all Light.

If we, like the Magi, are called to follow His star, then the path we choose matters. So does our resolve to stay the course. As with all undertakings, we begin by seeking God in prayer. Why?

Consider this week’s lectionary Scripture from Isaiah 43:
• A God who has redeemed you, who has summoned you by name and Who calls you His own is a God Who very much loves you (v. 1).
• A God who promises to be with you when you pass through the waters, when you pass through the rivers, when you walk through the fire, and who promises you will not be overcome by either water or flame, is a God who is both profoundly concerned about which way you go and deeply invested in your success on that path (v. 2).
• A God who loves you and will ransom whole nations for you is a God who will walk with you and help you–if you ask. You are precious and honored in His sight (v. 4). You are not alone (v. 5). He has called you for a reason, and He will not waste your time.

Therefore, as we begin a new year, let this be your epiphany: The path you’re on is not an accident. Which way you go from here matters. Your Heavenly Father cares—a lot. So should you.

It’s Monday morning—the first one of 2013. Which way ought you to go from here? The road you’re on? Pray about it…

Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light
.

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