Reflections for the Week of Sunday January 10, 2016 First after Epiphany

Scriptures: Isaiah 43.1-7; Acts 8.14-17; Luke 3.15-17, 21-22; Psalm 29.

Isa 43 is about the LORD redeeming His people, “I have called you by name.” Ps 29 ascribes to the LORD the glory due His name, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. Acts 8: Peter and John went to Samaria to give them the Holy Spirit. Lk 3: John said he baptized with water but Jesus would baptize with the Spirit and fire.

The Manifestation of Christ to the World

We have experienced Advent, the twelve days of Christmas, and now we enter five weeks of Epiphany which means the manifestation of Christ to the world. The Birth of Christ, the Incarnation of God as a human being, is such a staggering fact that weeks of the liturgical year are devoted to its meaning. We prepare our hearts and minds in Advent. Then we are told of the Virgin birth during Christmastide, and then to make sure we really grasp what has happened, we see how the light of the Incarnation spreads out though the world . Isa 43 promises redemption, freedom, for God’s people. Isa 40-55 contains the great promises of the Messiah who will bear our sins so that we may be restored to a right relation with God. Ps 29 tells of the great power of the LORD who breaks the cedar trees, who sits enthroned above the flood, and who empowers His people. This power and the restoration of His people come with the Holy Spirit as described in Acts 8. The Spirit was sent into the world after the Ascension of the Lord on Pentecost fulfilling the prophecy of Joel 2.28,29 that the Spirit would be poured out on all flesh. It is the culmination of the Lord’s plan of salvation announced to Abraham in Genesis, implemented through the bondage in Egypt, released through the Passover, the Exodus, the desert, the giving of the law, and the prophecies of the prophets. Now the time was being fulfilled by John, the fore-runner, who came as a voice crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord. But John said he only baptized with water, but the One who came after him would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. The coming of the Holy Spirit, God the Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, comes to dwell in those who receive the truth about the Son that He is God who has come in the flesh to restore the broken relationship between God and man. He has done this by assuming human flesh, and then by overcoming sin, death, and Satan, and then by sending His Spirit to dwell in believers. These mind-boggling facts are sent out like light into a dark world, a Jewish world of Pharisees and Scribes, a Roman world of Caesars and crosses, and a pagan world of sin and desperation. “And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it, nor comprehended it.” The light shone in the star that guided the Wise Men from the East. It shone in the heavens as the angels rejoiced at the coming of God to be with man. It shineth still for those with eyes to see. It is not a visible light though; it is the light of faith based on the revelation of God in His Word, spoken, written, and living. It is the wisdom of the ages gathered by the prophets from Moses through John pointing toward the Messiah, the King of the universe, God and Man, sent to reconcile us to our Creator to give us Peace in a world sunk in sin.

Memory Verse: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isa 9.6).

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