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The Feast of the Epiphany, January 6
To avoid the pitfall of depression, prayer should precede exposure to the news. Time should be given to biblical words and narrative and poetry and long silences. Keep the dictionary close, pick up a pen, and throw prayers at heaven. Most importantly, give thanks. Eventually, however, the business of the day must begin and the onslaught of distress. “For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples” (Isa. 60:2). One might think the prophet Isaiah is describing yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is not, however, describing forever.
In the midst of travail and sorrow, God has set a great light over an elect people to which all the nations of the earth are drawn. “Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried in your nurses’ arms” (60:4). This messianic vision of migrations is also one of astounding joy. “Then you will see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you” (60:5). No bad news should be allowed to extinguish hope from hearts of those who have heard the good news of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, the center of all things.
The vision of Gentile nations moving toward Jerusalem anticipates salvation realized in Christ Jesus. They “have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promises in Christ Jesus. … Although I am the least of all the saints, this grace has been given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:6-8). The epistle further describes the good news of Christ as “the wisdom of God in its rich variety” (Eph. 3:10). There is no limit to the outpouring of grace given in Christ, for he is an outpouring of love from the Father’s heart (John 1:18). Flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone, Jesus Christ gave himself in love to the end, accepting and absorbing every bitter blow, every insult, and every torment until death. In his living and dying and rising again, he gave and still gives the boundless riches of new life. Death does not defeat him. His is life forevermore.
Meditating on the wealth of Christ, the author of Ephesians erupts in praise and supplication: “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (3:14-19).
Receiving the boundless grace of Christ, we might ask, “How will I repay the Lord for all the good he has done for me?” (Ps. 116:10). Repayment is itself an act of grace, a free opening of one’s heart to God. Like the wise men of old, we bend the knee, pay him homage, and open the treasure box that God has filled.
Look It Up
Read Ephesians 3:8-10.
Think About It
Always new, boundless, and varied.