The Ministry Of Light
Epiphany season continues its revelation of the glory of God in Jesus. We saw his glory at his baptism (Epiphany 1). John the Baptist witnessed to His glory as Messiah (Epiphany 2). Through His ministry, His glory was revealed as the light in a dark world. Now, we see the glory of God in Jesus by His attitude and grace toward the outcasts of society: the spiritually poor, the humble, and the despised. His glory is seen in His love and concern for sinners. Though He is the Son of God, He does not cater to the religious elite, the highly educated and the economically rich. What a glorious God we see in Christ who humbles Himself to serve the unfortunate and the spiritually impoverished!
Collects for Epiphany: Lord God, on this day you revealed your Son to the nations by the leading of a star. Lead us now by faith to know your presence in our lives and bring us at last to the full vision of your glory.
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, forever and ever.
Father, You make known the salvation of humankind at the birth of Your Son. Make us strong in faith and bring us to the glory You promise. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Collects for Epiphany 4: Almighty God, You know we live in the midst of so many dangers that in our frailty we cannot stand upright. Grant strength and protection to support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations through Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.
O God, you know that we cannot withstand the dangers, which surround us. Strengthen us in body and spirit so that with your help, we may be able to overcome the weakness that our sins has brought upon us.
Collect for Psalm 15: Lord Jesus, You first chose to live among us, and in returning to Your Father You made an eternal home for us. Help us walk blamelessly in You ways and bring us at last to Your holy mountain, where You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Monday, 27 January, 2014—Psalm 1:1-5; antiphon, Psalm 1:6—In the Introit for Sunday, we pray, For the Lord knows the way of the righteous but the way of the wicked will perish. This Psalm speaks of the blessedness of those who derive their ideas of life from God’s Word rather than from their worldly neighbors. Happiness and prosperity is theirs. Not so with the wicked. Repeatedly the godly and the wicked are contrasted.
Thus the book of Psalms opens with an exaltation of God’s Word. If David so loved the brief writings that then constituted God’s Word, how much more should we love that same Word, which has not been brought to completion, headed up around the beautiful story of Christ. Other Psalms of the Word are Psalm 19 and Psalm 119. Note also the Psalm’s first word is “blessed.” Blessed is Beatitude: like the Sermon of the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel.
Tuesday, 28 January, 2014—Psalm 15 — This psalm gives instruction to those who wish to have access to God at His temple. Thomas Jefferson called this psalm the picture of “a true gentleman.” This is a testimonial of the man of God. What does God require of the individual who seeks his company? He expects right conduct, right speaking (verses 2-3a), right relationships with others (verses 3b-4), and a right use of wealth (verse 5) See also Psalm 24. Who swears… (verse 4) i.e. who keeps his word whatever the cost; Verse 5, one of the Jewish laws, see Leviticus 25:36-37. It was not a total ban on lending at interest, but applied to fellow Israelites.
Wednesday, 29 January 2014—Micah 6:1-8—Blessed are they who walk with God. Micah pictures God as suing his people. He takes Israel to court. The people are the defendants. The prophet is God’s defense attorney. The cosmos consists of the witness. God has something against His people: they have been unfaithful to the covenant, played the harlot with pagan gods, and broke His commandments. They have been a disobedient, faithless, and rebellious people. God has a right to a controversy with His people.
Thursday, 30 January 2014—1 Corinthians 1:18-31—Blessed are the lowly and despised. Paul reminds the church at Corinth that God chose them when they were of no account in the sight of the world: slaves, women, and children.
They had no education (wisdom), no political power, and no blue blood. This harmonizes with Jesus’ example as friend of publicans and sinners. He did not choose wealthy, high class or scholarly men for disciples, but peasants and publicans. Why is God interested only in “down-and-outers” and not in the “up-and-outers?” How can this truth be applied to today’s church members who are generally from the middle to top class, have comfortable incomes, are college graduates and among the socially elite? It may be because the educated are educated out of their need for God. The wealthy need nothing that money cannot buy. The powerful are too self-sufficient and sophisticated to humble themselves before God as suppliants and miserable sinners.
Friday, 31 January 2014—Matthew 5:1-12—Blessed are those with spiritual qualities. The Beatitudes. They describe the condition of a person in a right relationship with God through faith in Christ. “Blessed” is often translated as “happy.” It is more than what the world considers happiness — possessions, satisfaction, and peace. The blessed one is in favor with God and man. However, the Beatitudes are applicable to the present, their promises look to the future for fulfillment.
The Beatitudes are God-oriented: kingdom of heaven, see God, on my account. The blessed estate does not depend upon secular well-being for its fulfillment. It is conceivable a Christian can be perfectly miserable on earth and yet blessed. Poor in spirit. Luke omits “in spirit.” Certainly Matthew is not neglecting the physically poor. There is no blessing in poverty. Poor people are not necessarily blessed. The economically poor can be godly or godless. “Poor in spirit,” moreover, does not mean a lack of spirit. Rather, the phrase describes a state of being which we might call humility, unworthiness, a dependence on God for the fulfillment of needs. The New English Bible helpfully translates 5:3: “How blest are those who know their need of God.”
Saturday, 1 February 2014—1John 3:16-19; Hebrews 13:16; Matthew 25:40—Sunday’s Hymn of the Day is Lord of Glory, You Have Bought Us (LSB #851). This wonderful hymn tells the story of salvation and places Christ at the center of everything the Christian does. We are still in a new year. In everything that is begun, continued and ended, may Christ be the focus of all that we do.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing
For All the Saints A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol. II © 1995 by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau,