January 6 Devotional
Come to Stillness: Take a few minutes to allow your mind and heart to be still before God.
Opening Prayer: May those without hope take heart in you, O Christ. May those with no home find shade at your right hand. May those near the end see beginnings; may those at the last become first. At the foot of your cross, O Christ, I come in prayer. O Christ, be my help, O Christ, be my hope. Amen. (Pamela Hawkins, Weavings Volume XXVI, Number 2)
Scripture Reading for the Day: Matthew 2:9-12
Reading for Reflection: Today is the Feast of the Epiphany. The word epiphany comes from the Greek word epiphancia, which can be translated both as coming and as manifestation (or appearing). While Christmas is the season that celebrates the event of Christ’s coming in the incarnation, Epiphany celebrates the manifestation(s) of that coming. Thus, Epiphany is the time in the church calendar where we celebrate, and participate in, seeing the Christ. It is a time in which we must pay special attention; when we must keep our eyes open for the ways and the places Jesus is revealed, both to us and in us. It is a season of seeing and recognizing.
The scriptural focus for the Feast of the Epiphany is the coming of the wise men to see the newborn King (Matthew 2:1-12). It is a passage about seeing - seeing a star, seeing the Child, seeing the glory of God. The wise men saw the star; it is what guided them to the house. Did they see the star because they were told about it? Did they see the star because they (most likely) were astronomers and would’ve been trained to notice such a thing? Or did they see the star simply because they were paying attention? Surely many others noticed it as well, right? Or did they? Maybe they were so preoccupied with their own lives and problems and ambitions and worries that this strange appearance in the night sky slipped by them completely. Who knows? All we do know is that these three men saw the star and it filled them with indescribable joy. I wonder why? It must have been because they knew that this great sight was indeed leading them to a great hope. So they followed the moving star to the place where they saw the Savior. Thus, during this season, it might be good for us to pay attention to the things that seem oddly out of place - to people or conversations or circumstances that might be much more than they appear on the surface. They might actually lead us to the Savior as well.
Once these wise men came to the house, they saw the Child. And when they saw the Child they were overwhelmed, so much so that they fell on their knees and worshipped him. Can you imagine, worshipping a newborn baby? But this was no ordinary babe in swaddling clothes, it was the God of the universe come to earth; to a lowly stable, to an unknown young couple, in the most humble circumstances you could imagine. What an entrance? It is almost as if God was trying to slip into his world unnoticed, except by those who were watching and waiting and longing for his arrival.
And you have to love the last line of the passage, after they worshipped him they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts. This is the response that worship usually elicits. When we are completely captured by the beauty and wonder of a person or an experience or a moment, we tend to open our treasures to them. It is woven into the very fabric of our being. It is what we were created to do. Unfortunately, I often open my treasures to people, experiences, or moments that are not truly worthy of that offering. Only God is worthy of worship. So, during this day and this season, what does that look like? How will I open my treasures to the only One who is truly worthy of them? The bottom line is: “How will I treasure to Jesus today?” How will I treasure him with my time and my energies, my affections and my efforts?
I pray that for each of us, this day and this season, will be filled to overflowing with his presence, his peace, and his joy, as we keep our eyes open for the many ways he will be revealed to us and in us in the days ahead.
Reflection and Listening: silent and written
Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself
Vitaly and Oksana Voinov live in Moscow, Russia. Vitaly is working with the Institute for Bible Translation (IBT) in Russia/CIS as IBT’s director. IBT has been serving the non-Slavic peoples of the former Soviet Union for four decades by translating the Holy Scriptures - Bibles, New Testaments, individual Bible books, and illustrated Children’s Bibles. The Voinovs ask that you pray for peace between Russia and Ukraine.
Homes of Love is an organization that cares for the long-term needs of orphaned or at-risk children in Southeast Asia. Homes of Love partners with local churches in various Southeast Asian towns to establish small, permanent, and family-structured homes for these children. Pray today for all of the children currently placed in these homes.
Closing Prayer: Father, you revealed your Son to the nations by the guidance of a star. Lead us to your glory in heaven by the light of faith. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen. (The Liturgy of the Hours)