Epiphany 3

22nd February 2023

Reflection (readings follow on below)

The word epiphany comes from the Greek and means to show or shine on. From this comes the idea of revealing, displaying or making manifest. A light shines onto something and what is in view is made clear. 

At the beginning of this season we heard the story of the magi. They had, it seems, devoted their life to looking at the stars (which are in themselves lights) in order to discover new truths about the world. They see a star and see it as pointing to the birth of a new and important king. The star itself doesn’t in fact reveal all they need to know, and they head to Jerusalem to consult Herod and his wise men to hone their understanding. Finally they do find the child and in worshipping the child, gain a new revelation. The child’s life is threatened by Herod and they depart by a different route. I am sure that throughout the remainder of their lives they continued to seek further enlightenment the child they had worshipped.  

The prophet Isaiah has been called to call the people back to God, for on’y then will they escape the danger that threaten them and their world. In today’s passage light comes not from a star but from God. The light is a gift from God to the people that brings them joy and release from the burdens of oppression – the physical oppression from their enemies and the spiritual oppression of sin. It is a light that shows them the way out of their troubles. It is a means of enlightenment.

As we look around our world today with war and conflict, oppression and injustice, climate and biodiversity crises, we know we need enlightenment. It seem that we can seek enlightenment in two ways – both of which are not in opposition to each other. Through seeking God’s light and renewing our spiritual well-being. And through seeking enlightenment about the natural world in which we live and about which we are not as well versed as we might be. In seeking to understand the world around us, we learn truths about God, about the amazing connectivity and interdependency and life enriching wonder of creation. In seeking to know God, we learn of God’s ongoing love for creation.

Isaiah 9:1-4

There will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;

those who lived in a land of deep darkness–
on them light has shined.

You have multiplied the nation,
you have increased its joy;

they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.

For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.

Psalm 27:1, 4-9

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom then shall I fear? *
the Lord is the strength of my life;
of whom then shall I be afraid?

4 One thing have I asked of the Lord;
one thing I seek; *
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life

To behold the fair beauty of the Lord *
and to seek him in his temple.

5 For in the day of trouble he shall keep me safe in his shelter; *
he shall hide me in the secrecy of his dwelling
and set me high upon a rock.

6 Even now he lifts up my head *
above my enemies round about me.

Therefore I will offer in his dwelling an oblation
with sounds of great gladness; *
I will sing and make music to the Lord.

7 Hearken to my voice, O Lord, when I call; *
have mercy on me and answer me.

8 You speak in my heart and say, “Seek my face.” *
Your face, Lord, will I seek.

9  Hide not your face from me, *
nor turn away your servant in displeasure.

You have been my helper;
cast me not away; *
do not forsake me, O God of my salvation.

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptised in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptised none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptised in my name. (I did baptise also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptised anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptise but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Matthew 4:12-23

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—

the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,

and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.”

From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

Author: Judith Russenberger

Environmentalist and theologian, with husband and three grown up children plus one cat, living in London SW14. I enjoy running and drinking coffee - ideally with a friend or a book.

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