Our Light Has Come- Reflection on Epiphany 2019
I need to hear the Gospel. That’s right even priests need to hear the Gospel…often…daily…several times a day. It’s not that I fall into doubt or disbelief. I don’t often have theological crises on major doctrinal issues that shake the foundation of my faith. I simply forget that there is Good News for today.
Too often the business and chaos of daily life threatens to overwhelm my awareness of Jesus, Immanuel, God With Us. I can compartmentalize my day into prayer times with God and the rest of the day struggling on my own. I can get caught up in unmet expectations, incomplete tasks, and other disappointments. I need to hear the Gospel.
Isaiah speaks to a people who needed Good News. Judah had returned with great hope to Jerusalem from exile. They hoped and expected an immediate return to glory. They met a city in ruins, a temple destroyed, and a puppet government in a backwater province of the Persian empire. They desperately needed Good News.
Isaiah cries out “Arise, shine, your light has come and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.” The prophet sees and proclaims the manifestation of the eternal in the present. He sees the loving kindness of God in the bleakness of trial and the light of God in the overwhelming darkness. In much the same way, the Magi see the eternal glory of Christ manifest in a baby born to a poor couple in a backwater province of the Roman empire. The Magi heard the Gospel.
This 60th chapter of Isaiah has come into our liturgical heritage as a canticle for use in Morning Prayer between the first and second reading (See below). This is one of my favorite canticles because I hear the Gospel when I say it. I find it impossible to remain distracted by the worries of today when I proclaim “Arise, Shine.” My tasks and troubles seem much smaller as Isaiah proclaims to me the eternal glory of God becoming manifest in the world.
The Prayer Book notes that this canticle is particularly appropriate for the season of Epiphany. If, like me, you need to hear the Gospel in your life, perhaps praying this canticle each morning through Epiphany might be a way to hear Good News.
Arise! Shine! Our light has come. Let all people come to the light.
Arise, shine, for your light has come
Isaiah 60:1-3, 11a, 14c, 18-19
Arise, shine, for your light has come, *
and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.
For behold, darkness covers the land; *
deep gloom enshrouds the peoples.
But over you the Lord will rise, *
and his glory will appear upon you.
Nations will stream to your light, *
and kings to the brightness of your dawning.
Your gates will always be open; *
by day or night they will never be shut.
They will call you, The City of the Lord, *
the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
Violence will no more be heard in your land, *
ruin or destruction within your borders.
You will call your walls, Salvation, *
and all your portals, Praise.
The sun will no more be your light by day; *
by night you will not need the brightness of the moon.
The Lord will be your everlasting light, *
and your God will be your glory.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.