Devotions for the Season of Epiphany B!

 

Epiphany B “The Magical Moment”; Epiphany 2B “To Dance With You”; Epiphany 3B “It’s Time To Believe” Epiphany 4B “Lonely Eyes”; Epiphany 5B “I Will Come To You”; Transfiguration B “Charity”

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The Epiphany of Our Lord
Matthew 2:1-12 
“The Magical Moment”

 

Epiphany is the season of light, a season of starbursts, a season of dreams, and a season of revelation.  According to Webster, Epiphany means “to show forth” or “manifest.”  In this week’s Epiphany Gospel a star appears in the heavens and Jesus is revealed as Christ and King in the persons of the Magi.   “In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”

This week we are reminded that we too are seekers, followers of the star that leads us to Christ.  In many ways our journey is similar to the journey that the wise men or Magi take.  It’s hard journey across rough lands, and it twists and turns on a crooked path.  We must ask questions along the way.  We’re not always sure where we are headed.  And the adventure is full of the unexpected, when we arrive at the manger we are often surprised to find that the king we are seeking is not enthroned in majesty but just a baby lying in a humble manger.  Suddenly our world is turned upside down, the paradigms shift, and things are never the same.

One of my favorite parts of the Magi story is the ending.  They do not return to Herod, to the ways of this world, to emptiness disguised as power, instead they are transformed.  And they go home a different way, and different people.  Those who seek the star that leads to Jesus are changed forever, the old things pass away and all things become new.

 

      1. The Magical Moment

 

Reach out, touch the magical moment
Touch the moon and the stars
Reach out, touch deep within
Imagine who you really are

 

You’ve been held a prisoner
Going on a thousand years
Someone else’s expectations
Your own set of fears
Going on a thousand years

 

Reach out, touch the magical moment
Touch the moon and the stars
Reach out, touch deep within
Imagine who you really are

 

Your mind has been on overtime
Creating a distorted world
lonely and preoccupied
White flag unfurled,
Creating a distorted world

 

Reach out, touch the magical moment
Touch the moon and the stars
Reach out, touch deep within
Imagine who you really are

 

Wondering if you ever gave it all
The law laughs and the heart cries
The eternal day dream
Under blue sunny skies
And the heart still cries

 

Reach out, touch the magical moment
Touch the moon and the stars
Reach out, touch deep within
Imagine who you really

 

Imagine,  Imagine,  Who you really are,
Imagine,  Imagine,  Who you really are,
Imagine who you really are
Imagine

 

Reach out, touch the magical moment
Touch the moon and the stars
Reach out, touch deep within
Imagine who you really are

 

It’s good to gaze up into the heavens, to touch the moon and the stars, to reach out and be touched deep within; it’s good to have a heavenly dream, it’s very good to let God into your imagination.

What is your dream?  What would God have you do with your one great life?  The kingdom comes into this world through people who receive a dream and go after it.  Amen.

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Epiphany 2B
John 1:43-51; 1 Samuel 3:1-10
“To Dance With You”

 

This week’s appointed lessons contain two great stories of call, the call of Samuel and the call of Nathanael.  Unlike the fishermen who hear Jesus’ call and “immediately drop their nets,” Samuel and Nathanael must first work through some confusion and doubt, some misgivings and fear, before they can arrive at that bold faithful response.  Nathanael doubts that anything good can come out of Nazareth. Pride and prejudice, and the fear that lies behind such things, must first be worked through before he can proclaim, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” And Samuel is confused, he does not recognize the voice of God, he must wake Eli time and time again with questions before he can respond, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

I like both of these stories of call because they are more like my experience.  It’s hard for me to immediately drop everything and just follow.  More often than not I need time to work through my doubts and fears.  I need to talk it over with faithful people, wrestle with things, and let the Spirit do its work. These stories remind us that God’s call comes to us in many ways, including grace filled and patient ways.

 

      2. To Dance with You

 

I was never really present
My heart and soul had disappeared
I spent an evening in your arms
But only danced with my own fears
If should get another chance,
I’d like to dance with you

 

I didn’t hear what you were saying;
Something louder filled my ears
A shout born of a whisper;
Too much time before the mirror
If I should get another chance,
I’d like to dance with you

 

Round and round the dancers go
Sometimes fast and sometimes slow
How will I ever know
The rhythm of my heart

 

I didn’t see the light in your eyes;
I only saw the doubt in mine
And seeing is believing;
My faith was so unkind
If I should get another chance;
I’d like to dance with you

 

Round and round the dancers go
Sometimes fast and sometimes slow
How will I ever know
The rhythm of my heart

 

I didn’t hear what you were saying;
Something louder filled my ears
I spent an evening in your arms;
But only dance with my own fears
If I should get another chance,
If true love really lasts,
If grace can touch the past,
I’d like to dance with you

May the God who knows the rhythm and passion of your heart; open your ears, your eyes, and your heart to the great calling of your life. And may God’s love and grace set you free to respond boldly in faith.  Amen.

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Epiphany 3B
Mark 1:14-20
“It’s Time to Believe”

 

The word “immediately” appears in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (by my calculations) 72 times.  And of those 72 occurrences 28 of them occur in the gospel of Mark. In my bible Mark is only 22 pages long, and the rest of the bible is contains over 1100 pages. Mark really likes to use the word “immediately.”

Everyone is in a hurry in Mark, especially Jesus.  Mark’s gospel is filled with a sense of urgency, movement, and action.  In the Gospel of John Jesus is more poetic, immediately only occurs two times, but in Mark Jesus is on a mission.  And in this week’s Gospel the first followers of Jesus, a few fishermen, “Immediately” leave their nets and follow him.

For me “immediately” has a sense of urgency about it.  If some one asks me to do something, I’ll put it on my to do list.  If they ask me to do it as soon as I can, I’ll put it on the top of my to do list, but if they ask me to do it “immediately,” I will drop everything and do it.

In this week’s Gospel Jesus declares that the Kingdom of God is near.  Jesus reminds us that God’s kingdom is not far away, that it’s not just a place where we go after we die, that it’s not a fairy tale kingdom that exists only in a “make believe land” “once upon a time.”  The Kingdom is immediate; it is about right here, right now; it is about the all encompassing peace of God, both challenging and comforting us, this very day; it’s all about living out the Lord’s prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

And that means I need to revise my to do list.  Immediately!

 

      3. It's Time To Believe

 

Yesterday is gone tomorrow’s yet to come
I think today I’ll find myself in love
It’s been so long, waiting on this song
I think today I’ll stop believing in things to come
The road’s before me I can’t go back to sleep
It’s time to leave

 

The road’s before me yet no angel draws near
Just a haunting voice that whispers in my ear
I take my step, the right foot then the left
I walk away from this world not knowing what comes next
The road’s before me I can’t go back to sleep
It’s time to leave

 

Memories fill my mind, I look back at life and times
Though life was cast in stone tears still fill my eyes
Today I’m free, wide open scared as can be
This is the life of love I was meant to be
The road’s before me I can’t go back to sleep
It’s time to leave
It’s time to believe

 

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Epiphany 4B
Mark 1:21-28
“Lonely Eyes”

 

In this week’s Gospel a man with an unclean spirit appears in the synagogue and confronts Jesus.  Jesus’ response amazes everyone, a new teaching with authority throws this man into convulsions and suddenly the man once possessed with a demon is healed and set free.

Now that’s something you don’t see very often on Sunday morning.  But maybe it’s not because we no longer see the world as filled with demons; but instead, perhaps it’s because we still don’t reach out and invite and include the marginalized in our faith communities.

In many ways that poor man with an unclean spirit is still out there he’s just not in our midst because he does not feel welcome.  How many men and women do not enter our church doors because they are suffering from diseases that set them unfairly apart, personality quirks that make them hard to understand or endure, or just some “thing” that makes them a little different?  And how many of us do not fully enter into the church, into our faith community, because we are unable or unwilling to reveal all our quirks, disorders, brokenness, and unique needs?

The sad truth is that many people, inside and outside the church, are all alone, separated, and cut off from the Body of Christ, that faithful community that strengthen and heals, renews and inspires, gives peace and sets people free.

 

      4. Lonely Eyes

 

Lonely eyes,
Even when you smile you’ve got those lonely eyes
Oh, deep inside no one understands
And sometimes late at night you cry
When all the world’s a lullaby
All you hear is a lonely cry

 

Lonely eyes
Frightened by the life of love that’s passed you by
Life is a day dream world
Of paper clowns and painted smiles
And sometimes late at night you cry
Awakened from another lie
Another dream that can never fly

 

Lonely eyes
Looking for a dream come true that will let you fly
Fly far away beyond the scars of the soul
And then at night you won’t have to cry
You can spread your wings and touch the sky
And awake to find, It wasn’t a lie

 

Lonely eyes
It’s time to wake up and finally realize
The wings are right by your side
They’ve been there all the time
Surrendered for you with a lonely cry
Alone in the night someone died
At the cross roads of your lonely life
And now at night you don’t have to cry,
You can spread your wings and touch the sky,
And awake to find it wasn’t a lie.

 

The old teaching of the world defines us by our imperfections and separates us from each other.  The new teaching of Jesus gathers us all together in the power of unconditional love.  Amen.

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Epiphany 5B
1 Corinthians 9:16-23
 “I Will Come To You”

 

It is widely accepted wisdom that, “You can’t be all things to all people.”  Yet in this week’s appointed epistle St. Paul writes, “I have become all things to all people.” (1 Corinthians 9:22)  In a world obsessed with unhealthy selfish individualism, in a world increasingly unwilling to compromise, in a world eager to consume, in a world hell bent on domination and victory; Paul reminds us that the Gospel runs counter culture, against accepted common sense, on a collision course into our world.

In a world that loves to ascend above it all we are reminded that the Gospel deeply and unconditionally descends.  In the second chapter of Philippians Paul encourages us, Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave”  (Philippians 2:5-6)  

We become “all things to all people” not by ascending into some kind of a super multi-talented person but rather by letting go and becoming essentially human, daring to enter fully into the brokenness of life.  As Paul proclaims,  “to the weak I became weak.”

Just as Christ descended from the heavens to meet us, we are called to enter into that same descent for the sake of the Gospel, to be all things to all people, in order that others might know the saving grace and love of God.

 

      5. I Will Come To You - Greg Ronning

 

I will come to you
I will seek you out when you are lost and alone
I will lead you home
I will come to you
When the clouds grow dark and you have gone astray
My love will show you the way

 

In the valley dark
On mountain high
Somewhere in between
I will hear your cry

 

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Transfiguration B
Mark 9:2-9
“Charity”

 

This week (February 15, 2015)  was filled with sad news as the world learned of the death of Kayla Mueller, a humanitarian aid worker being held captive by ISIS.  In confirming her death Tuesday, the Mueller family quoted a letter she wrote to her father on his birthday in 2011.  It is a powerful witness to her faith and her great calling in life.  Kayla wrote, “I will always seek God. Some people find God in church. Some people find God in nature. Some people find God in love; I find God in suffering. I’ve known for some time what my life’s work is, using my hands as tools to relieve suffering.”

This Sunday we celebrate Transfiguration Sunday, a mountain top story where Jesus is fully revealed in all his glory to Peter, James, and John.  The disciples first reaction is to build booths, to create shrines, to find a way to make the mountain top moment last forever. But in that instant the experience is over and suddenly Jesus is leading the disciples back down the mountain and into the world.  Jesus is now on the road that leads to Jerusalem and the cross.

We are reminded that “mountain tops” don’t exist to be occupied but rather they serve as moments of inspiration empowering us to continue the work of the gospel.  Jesus does not stay on top of the mountain, Jesus comes down and into those places where people are hurting, those places where people are hungry, those places where people are suffering, those places where the kingdom has yet to come.

Kayla must have had a powerful mountain top experience, one that called her deeply into the life of faith, one that revealed her great calling in life, one that led her down the mountain seeking out God in the suffering of this world.

In great sadness we remember Kayla; her life, her passion, and her witness to the great love of God.  And even as the clouds cast a shadow over us we can also hear a voice proclaiming, “This is my child, Beloved; listen to her words.”

 

      6. Charity

 

So reckless, out of control
That’s Charity, She scares me so
And Charity’s in love with me
And when she speaks my name
All her crazy hopes and dreams
Like stars light my way,
Charity

 

So wild and free
She’s got nothing to lose
That’s Charity, as the spirit moves
And Charity’s in love with me
And when she speaks my name
All her crazy hopes and dreams
Like stars light my way,
And I think that I’m in love with her
When all is said and done
But if I give my life away
What will I become?
 Charity.

 

And Charity’s in love with me
And when she speaks my name
All her crazy hopes and dreams
Like stars light my way,
And I think that I’m in love with her
When all is said and done
But if I give my life away
What will I become?
 Charity.

 

So reckless, out of control
That’s Charity, She scares me so
And Charity’s in love with me
And when she speaks my name
All her crazy hopes and dreams
Like stars light my way,
And I think that I’m in love with her
When all is said and done
But if I give my life away
What will I become?
Charity.

 

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