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Lectionary Resources

Third Sunday After Epiphany

January 23, 2011

Psalm Reading OT Reading Epistle Reading Gospel Reading
Psalm 27:1, 4-9 Isaiah 9:1-4 1 Corinthians 1:10-18 Matthew 4:12-23

Commentary on the Texts

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

There is no Lectionary Commentary for this reading, but there is available a
Voice Bible Study on First Corinthians 1:1-2:5

Matthew 4:12-23

There is no Lectionary Commentary for this reading, but there is available a
Voice Bible Study on Matthew 3:1-4:25

Isaiah 9:1-4

Issues of Method

This section of the book of Isaiah, chapters seven through eleven, contain some of the most difficult passages with which to deal in the church. It is not that these passages are especially difficult to interpret. Rather, it is that they have such a history of interpretation and use within the Christian tradition that we often simply assume what they mean in a Christian context without much study. That assumption often prevents us from actually hearing the text itself. As a result, too often, we are really hearing a multitude of layers of meaning laid over the text by twenty centuries of tradition.

If we are going to do biblical study rather than study of doctrine or interpretation, we need to be especially diligent that we hear the message of the text itself. Then we can ask how that message might be applied within the context of the Christian faith and our understanding of the revelation of God in Jesus the Christ. This is especially true in light of the Lectionary editing of this text which pairs it with a Gospel reading both for the Third Sunday after Epiphany in Year A as well as the Christmas Reading I in all three years of the RCL cycle.

This suggests that in order to understand Isaiah 9 it needs to be examined apart from the Lectionary editing that shapes the text in ways that Scripture itself has not done, moving it far beyond the text itself into intentional Christian worship. Also, our study of the reading needs to begin somewhere much earlier than the New Testament passages and with assumptions other than seeing the text only as a prediction of the coming of Jesus 700 years before it occurred. For some, that is the only function of this and other passages in Isaiah, which essentially assumes that the text had no meaning to the people of Isaiah's time or to the community of Faith for that 700 years.

However, contrary to much popular rhetoric, to suggest that there is another dimension to the text perhaps even a more important theological dimension than prediction, does not reject anything about prophecy or the supernatural or the authority of Scripture. It simply suggests that we first hear the text in its own context and on its own terms as Scripture before we move it into our context on our terms.

If we allow a different perspective concerning the function of Scripture and specifically on prophecy than simply absolute prediction of a long distant future, then the methods we use to study this text will be different. We will not begin in the New Testament or with statements about Jesus, as important as those might eventually be in talking about this text. The perspective here will focus on the theological communication of this text in its own context and as a theological witness about God in that context. This suggests that we approach the text from the cultural and historical context of the time of Isaiah, and from the literary context of the book of Isaiah. In other words rather than assuming a reading of Isaiah from the perspective of the New Testament, we begin with Isaiah, the man and the book, and use the perspectives and theology from there as a means to hear the New Testament and the historical witness to Jesus the Christ.

In using this perspective, we will also work from a different assumption than the often used view of prophecy as both short-term and long-range prediction, or of "first" and "second" levels of meaning, or of "obvious" and "hidden" meanings. All these methods assume that the primary category of prophecy is historical prediction of the future. And yet since the passage itself will not allow a direct connection with the long range "fulfillment" on the level of history, the idea of a dual level of meaning is posited by many as a way to try to retain the idea of detailed historical prediction even though the text itself will not support such a view.

In this dual view, the connection between the past and future (or the OT and NT) is always historical and runs forward in the model of "prediction-fulfillment." Prophecy, therefore, tracks from prediction to fulfillment on a historical level. In other words, prophecy is not much concerned with theology but with future history (for a discussion of some of the logical problems with this model, see God's Foreknowledge, Predestination, and Human Freedom, especially the section on prophecy). If there is any theological connection, it must run backward to the Old Testament and the original prophecy because it is only from the future perspective, after the "second" level event has already occurred in history, that the prophecy reaches its "true" meaning (as is often asserted about the New Testament in general).

I would suggest just the opposite, for a variety of reasons. That is, it is the theology of the biblical traditions that runs forward in a trajectory, not history or prediction. The OT prophets were primarily concerned with theology, not history. They understood something about God (revelation, inspiration) that they then projected into history, their own present history since that was the only historical perspective they had. Sometimes it worked out like they thought, sometimes it did not (see Ezekiel and the Oracles Against Tyre).

But the most important dimension was not the historical events into which they projected their (revealed, inspired) understanding about God. The most important aspect was just that understanding about God no matter how history tracked, because history could take different tracks depending on the decisions human beings made in that history. History was neither directly related to nor dependent upon the truth about God; it was only the arena in which that truth worked out.

From this perspective, the theology is the important trajectory that runs forward toward the New Testament and the events to which it bears witness. The historical dimension runs backward toward the Old Testament as the people could make better sense of its flow from the perspective of the new events later in that history. They could understand the historical connection with the prophet Isaiah in 700 BC precisely because of the incarnation of Jesus the Christ after it happened. And they could, at the same time, use the theological perspective that they had inherited from the Isaiah traditions to interpret the coming of Jesus, indeed, to define Jesus in light of those 700 year old understandings about God!

For these reasons, we will try to look at the Isaiah passages from the context of the Old Testament. We will try to hear the theological witness to God in those texts. And then we will follow that theological trajectory as it continues to bear witness to God and his new actions in history in the New Testament.

The Historical Context

Isaiah of Jerusalem's ministry (742-700 BC; see the Israelites Prophets Date Chart) focused largely on interpreting the Assyrian invasions and the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. And since he was active in the Southern Kingdom, he was concerned with the threat the Assyrians posed to the South and the very existence of the Israelites as a people, using the destruction of the Northern Kingdom as an object lesson for the South (9:8-10:4; see Old Testament History: Assyrian Dominance - 745 BC-640 BC).

Religiously and culturally, Isaiah read those historical events from the perspective of God's covenantal relationship with the Israelites, their ongoing struggle with Ba'al worship, and the difficulty they had with living as God's people since entering the land some 400 years earlier. The ongoing Isaiah tradition would deal with later problems arising from the Babylonian Empire's eventual destruction of Jerusalem and the Southern Kingdom and the task of rebuilding the nation after exile (see the Unity and Authorship of Isaiah). But that tradition spanning nearly 300 years is anchored by the Jerusalem prophet's appeal to Israel's 8th century BC kings to reverse their arrogant quest for power and to return to faithfulness to God.

In the middle eighth century BC (c. 745) Tiglath-Pileser III (called Pul in biblical traditions; 2 Kings 15:19) took the throne of Assyria . He quickly organized the warring Assyrian factions into a nation bent on conquest. Soon, Assyria ruthlessly began building an empire. As Assyria expanded to the west and south, the Northern Kingdom was vulnerable. Decimated by a series of assassinations and weak kings, the leadership of the North was in no shape to deal with Assyria. Menahem tried to appease Assyria with tribute, but the nationalistic factions within the nation would not tolerate it. After another round of assassinations, the new king Pekah tried to forge an alliance with Syria and Judah to oppose the Assyrian advance, but it succeeded only in angering the Assyrians (see Pekah and the Syro-Ephraimitic coalition).

In 734, Tiglath-Pileser's armies marched around Israel and Judah along the coast to cut off any assistance from Egypt to the south, and then turned back north to deal with Israel. By 733 the Assyrians had taken most of the coastal areas, the northern territories of Israel and surrounding areas including Zebulun and Naphtali around the Sea of Galilee, and were poised to take Samaria, the northern capital (2 Kings 15:29). Later, they would strike further north and ravage the Syrian territories. The assassination of Pekah and a short-lived policy of appeasement toward Assyria postponed the destruction of the Northern Kingdom for only another decade (see Hoshea and the end).

It is against this background of the decimation of the northern territories of Israel that Isaiah 9 lies. The Southern Kingdom was having its own problems both with Assyria and with its own leaders. At just about the time that Israel lost Zebulun and Naphtali and the other northern territories, Ahaz came to power in Judah in the South. He proved to be a weak ruler who had no intention of returning the nation to the proper worship of God and was willing to do just about anything to remain in power. Much of Isaiah of Jerusalem's prophetic ministry was in interaction with the wrongheaded policies of Ahaz.

One of the main longings of the people expressed by Isaiah was for a righteous king who would be the kind of leader idealized in David the shepherd King (cf. ch. 11), the opposite of what they were experiencing with Ahaz. And there was also the very real problem of what the future held in light of the growing power of Assyria. They longed for security and rest from war and the threat of war. Much of Isaiah, both the 8th century prophet and the later Isaiah tradition that comprise the book of Isaiah, revolves around the issue of being God's people in a land decimated by war and conflict. Theologically, this addresses the issue of the nature of the people of God, as well as God's role in history with that people.

The Literary Context

While the book of Isaiah is not closely organized chronologically, and only loosely organized thematically, it is helpful to note the context of chapter nine within the book. Beginning in chapter seven, the immediate historical setting is the alliance between Syria and Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and its aftermath. The time period is identified as the invasion of the Southern Kingdom by Pekah of Israel (7:1-2, 2 Kng 16:1-20). This places the setting for this section around 734/33 BC, although the actual writing may have been later. Isaiah responded to the dual crises of the Syro-Ephraimitic war and the threat from Assyria with warnings to Ahaz of the consequences of his actions using, among other means, the naming of his three sign children (8:18; see Matthew and Immanuel). These crises remain the focal point throughout chapter 8 (vv. 5-8).

However, Ahaz had not heeded Isaiah's warnings, and Isaiah's response was simply to record his words for future reference (8:16-17). The chapter concludes with warnings of the futility of seeking answers anywhere but from God (vv. 19-20). Because Ahaz had refused to respond to God's word, the prophet described the bleak future awaiting Judah in metaphors of darkness (20, 22). The contrast of darkness, symbolizing both sin and physical disaster as the consequences of sin, and light, symbolizing God's grace and a new historical beginning, is a common theme throughout the book of Isaiah (e.g., 5:20-30, 29:15-18, 42:1-18, 60:1-5, etc.).

Chapter nine continues in the same setting, picking up the metaphor of darkness from chapter eight but quickly moving into the opposite metaphor of light. The first verse of chapter nine (9:1 in the English text, 8:23 in Hebrew) is a transitional verse that clearly links the two chapters rhetorically, effectively placing chapter nine as a continuation of the preceding section (7:1-8:22).

However, while the two are clearly intended to be heard together, it is obvious by the shift in metaphors that chapter nine also moves beyond the dire consequences for Judah with which Isaiah had been dealing in the previous two chapters. This shift is further highlighted by the stark contrast between "the former time" marked by "contempt" (dishonor, shame) and "the latter time" that will be "glorious" (honored). In the context of the following verse (9:2) in which "darkness" and "light" are contrasted, the expectation is that the darkness and contempt of the former time will give way to the light and glory of the latter time. The people who "see only . . . gloom of anguish" (8:22) can expect "no gloom for those who were in anguish" (9:1).

Even though the historical setting moves ahead 30 years in the following chapters to the Assyrian invasions of Judah in 701 (10:27a-32), this shift back and forth between disaster and expectation continues through chapter eleven. The devastation precipitated by the folly and sinfulness of Ahaz and the failure of the people contrasts starkly with the expectation of a future in which righteous leaders will bring peace and security to the land (e.g., 9:7, 11:6-9). In fact, it is this contrast that lies at the heart of this entire section of the book (7:1-11:16; chapter 12 is a liturgical response to the future restoration, probably originally connected with ch. 36; ch. 13 begins a new section of the book). The canonical shaping of these texts will not allow chapter nine to be abstracted from the darkness of the "former times" no more than it allows the negative oracles of judgement to be abstracted from the light of the "latter times."

Analysis of the Text

As noted, 9:1 is a transitional verse that connects this chapter with the previous one. There is no clear subject for the third person masculine verbs "brought contempt" and "make glorious" (v.1). Some suggest that "he" understood as God is the subject since that appears to the referent in the conclusion of 9:8. God as subject of the chapter in general is supported by the reference to the "day of Midian," a reference to the rout of the Midianites by God through the actions of Gideon (v. 4; Jud. 6-7). However, those are second person verb forms ("you"), and there is no clear indication that the third person ("he") forms refer to God. Some have suggested that "the former time" and "the latter time" are the proper subjects of the verbs "brought contempt" and "make glorious" in 9:1. This is possible grammatically and would emphasize even further the contrast between the gloom of the past and the expected brightness of the future.

Since "the former time" obviously refers to the past, it is generally accepted that "the latter time" refers to the future, perhaps the far distant future. This is reflected in an English future verb used for the second verb in many translations ("will make glorious," NRSV), even though the Hebrew does not change tenses between the two verbs (both are perfects, completed action, which are normally past tense in English). In many passages phrases like "days are coming," "latter days," "then," or "the day of the Lord" are metaphors for an expected future that God will bring (see Day of the Lord). However, it is largely the imposition of a long range eschatological or apocalyptic framework from later Christian perspectives that allows us to assume that this is a far distant future or even must be the future.

For the most part the prophets were concerned with addressing immediate needs within the community. For a prophet of Israel, the answer to the Assyrian crisis did not lie 700 years in the future; it lay in God's ability to enter history at any present moment and work his purposes for his people! Even when they idealized the future, it was not far distant apocalyptic dreaming but the expression of what they understood as a present possible reality by the hand of God.

As in the Isaiah tradition's own treatment of the restoration passages in the second half of the book (chs. 40-55), the language of expectation and the future could easily be used when the anticipated event was in process of unfolding or was expected immanently. The language, then, simply emphasized that the long expected action of God was, in fact, unfolding as a reality, as the return from exile was unfolding in Isaiah 40 following. There is no question that there is a strong contrast in this reading between what has gone before and what will unfold. But "the latter time" could as easily be the present time of the writer as it is a reference to a long distant future. This is an important clue for the contextual meaning of the passage.

The geographical locations in v. 1 all refer to the far northern sections of Israel. The "way of the sea" refers to a trading route that ran from Egypt along the coast from the south, turned westward into the Plain of Esdraelon at Megiddo, and continued to Damascus. It became a general designation for the coastal areas between Philistia and Mount Carmel, and probably refers to the territory Assyria incorporated into the province of Dor. The "land beyond the Jordan" or the Transjordan area was a general reference to the area around and to the southwest of the sea of Galilee on the western side of the Jordan. It likely referred to the Assyrian province of Megiddo. "Galilee of the Nations" was a semi-pejorative reference to the area to the west and south of the Sea of Galilee, a territory that the Assyrians included in the province of Gilead. The "nations" (or later "Gentiles," Matt 4:15-16) refers to the mixed groups of non-Israelites that were settled in the area following Assryian subjugation of this territory (2 Kng 17:24).

Zebulun and Naphtali were tribal allocations in the northern territory of Israel around the Sea of Galilee, although they diminished in importance and all but disappeared during the early monarchy. Solomon absorbed the territory of Zebulun into the tribe of Asher (1 Kng 4:16). Naphtali "lived among the Canaanites" (Jud 1:33) and appears in the biblical traditions most often only as the name of an area. The use of these two diminished tribes to designate the territory conquered and decimated by the Assyrians (2 Kng 15:29) serves to further contrast the splendor of the "light" that was coming with the loss and dishonor of the past.

The following verses (vv. 2-4) are a near hymnic celebration of an event that is cause for rejoicing, and event that is not revealed until verse 6. Two central features of these verses are crucial for understanding the message of this passage. Along with the contrast of the gloom of the past with the breaking light of the present and future (v. 2), there is also a near euphoric sense of well being and joy. This is expressed in the dual metaphors of harvest and taking of spoils.

It is difficult for us in the modern Western world to understand the sense of instability and foreboding that could come by even such a simple thing as crop failure. Without the modern systems of welfare and diversified economies, not to mention the technology of food preservation and systems of distribution, it is hard to imagine the threat posed to the very survival of a people by the failure of a single harvest. That is why drought and famine become such major issues in the biblical world, especially since the Middle East lies in such an arid climate.

The metaphor of harvest, then, is a means of expressing the security of knowing that there is at hand the means of survival, the means of normal human existence. The metaphor of taking spoils or plunder is a reference to capturing the supplies of an enemy in a battle. Not only would this likewise provide for the stability of life, it is an ironic reversal for a people who have themselves been plunder at the hands of the Assyrians. To contemplate themselves being able to take plunder, the reversal of always being subjected to defeat at the hands of empires to being able to come out as victors, is a further emphasis on a renewed sense of a security and stability as a people.

The second feature of these verses is the emphasis on peace and cessation of warfare (v. 5). For a people so long burdened by war, having struggled since their entry into the land for their very existence, the prospect of living in peace was no doubt appealing. Especially now, in the face of the dreadful threat posed by the Assyrians, renowned for their cruelty and ruthlessness, the dream of peace took on even more urgency. The graphic picture of blood stained clothes from a battle being burned is a powerful metaphor for the end of fighting and killing, of the reality of peace against the horror of war.

Isaiah's reference to a great deliverance of the past in which God enabled the Israelites to defeat a superior Midianite force (v. 4; Jud. 7-8) is a tacit admission that Judah alone, or even with the help of Egypt or other allies, could not withstand the Assyrian onslaught. That is likely why Isaiah had been advising Ahaz to trust God rather than his armies and alliances with other nations (cf. 28:14-22). But there is also the assumption that the God who had helped Israel in the past against great odds could again break the yoke of oppression.

However, as earlier encounters with Ahaz had shown, he was not willing to exercise faith in God. Those earlier interchanges and Ahaz' recalcitrance had led Isaiah to a very pessimistic view of the future of the nation (8:17-25). Against that background, the shift to a more positive view suggests that something has happened in the life of the nation that has brought hope of a different future than the dismal one laid out earlier and experienced in the "former time."

This emphasis on these two dimensions of security and peace is highlighted by a sequence of clauses beginning with the particle ki (usually translated "for") yet with different meanings. The sequence extends beyond the reading for this Sunday, but the entire sequence is important to see in order to understand this passage.

Verse 1 begins the sequence where the initial ki is emphatically disjunctive, a strong "but" to contrast with the preceding verses. Verse two continues this contrast with the announcement of "no gloom," which leads into verse three with the theme of rejoicing.

Verse 4 begins with a ki clause, here meaning "because." The people rejoice in their security because the rod of oppression has been broken and there is the prospect of peace. Verse 5 also begins with a ki clause, depicting the result of the previous sequence; the result of the power of the oppressor being broken is the ending of warfare and the reality of peace.

Verse 6 climaxes the sequence of ki clauses, again returning to a causal meaning and focusing the entire sequence on the coming to power of a new king (the birth language of vv. 6-7 reflects the enthronement of a new king; cf. 2 Sam 7:14, Psa 2:6-9, etc.). Here we are finally told about the new historical event that has precipitated the entire sequence that envisions a new light breaking into the darkness: a new king has come to power and offers hope for a different future. The sequence of the unit then runs like this:

But, no gloom, darkness into light, joy (vv. 1-3)
       Because, the rod of the oppressor is broken (v. 4)
               Resulting in cessation of warfare (v. 5)
       Because, a son is born (vv. 6-8)

Of course, at this point we need to continue the exegesis of the rest of the unit and deal with the significance of this new king who is to take the throne. In context, it is likely Hezekiah who came to power in 715 BC and totally reversed the policies of Ahaz. The biblical tradition remembers his reforms and his acceptance of Isaiah's message from God as a contributing factor in Judah's escape from annihilation by the Assyrians. And yet, the very nature of this passage and the way it has been preserved in the tradition suggests a larger understanding of the text than just Hezekiah, without simply assuming that it is a dual prediction of the birth of Jesus. We will have to deal with those issues in the commentary for the second half of this reading during the Christmas season.

Yet, as important as those remaining verses are for a complete understanding of this passage, this Sunday's reading ends with verse 4. There are both exegetical and canonical problems with ending the reading there, as well as how the Lectionary has edited the readings to correspond to the church year. But as a reading for the Sundays after Epiphany, the truncated text focuses attention away from the messianic implications of the new king and our preoccupation with this text as a birth narrative of Jesus to a deeper theological implication of this passage. It is the underlying theology of this passage that will prove the most profitable for preaching in this season of the year.

Isaiah's vision for the people was to live in a world in which the light of God would outshine the darkness of the consequences brought by sin, even when those consequences were the marching boots of enemy soldiers bent on conquest. This was not a vision of some future spiritual reality, nor was it of times far off. And neither did it attempt to deny the horrible reality of the darkness. There is no glib "don't worry, be happy" cliché of a prosperity Gospel here. The graphic metaphor of blood stained garments and the echoing sounds of trampling warriors' boots will not allow cheap answers here.

Yet, Isaiah saw in history the possibility of newness, the possibility of peace and security for his people beyond the darkness and out of the darkness. He understood that the darkness of the world was so strong and so powerful, that human beings could not overcome it by their own efforts. But he also understood that God's people were not without resources if they were only insightful enough and faithful enough to realize it.

Isaiah's message was that God is the God who can bring the peace and security for which we so long, even on a physical level. What we cannot accomplish from within the darkness, God can as he brings the light. And so we can trust in the God who heard the cries of oppressed slaves, who entered history to break the tyranny of oppressors and to ease the burdens of living in a world that often prefers darkness to light (cf. John 3:19).

Preaching Paths

The passage is about more than longing and dreaming for better days ahead, although that is certainly a part of the passage. It is really about living under threat in a world that is beyond our control, a world that lies in the hands of leaders who make stupid and selfish and even cowardly decisions, who refuse to trust God. There is a darkness in the world that we dare not deny, a darkness that comes because some, even many, perhaps even most, do not believe that there is any other way in the world than brute force. And so they live in a world, even create a world, in which struggles for power and control are the norm. And so they bring the darkness, not only to themselves, but to everyone around them.

The question, then, for God's people is how should we live in such a world? Do we live under the control of the forces around us complaining about how bad everything is and hoping against hope that it may get better someday? Or do we live in the light of God's revelation of himself in the world, and trust that he will work his purposes in history, even when we have no idea what those purposes might be or how he will work?

Do we succumb to the despair of the circumstances in which we find ourselves, or do we live as if the God we read about and talk about and sing about is really God? Do we cower in the darkness only dreaming of a better future? Or do we live as if the light of that future is as much a reality as the darkness around us?

The passage in Isaiah calls us, not to passive acceptance of the present realities around us, even if those realities are political and physical endings. He calls us to embrace the God of new possibilities, who can bring light into the darkness, who can bring peace into warfare, who can bring security into instability, who can bring freedom into oppression and slavery. It is not that it must be so according to our expectations of how it should be. It is really whether we will live as God's people in the reality of the expectation, not as a fantasy, but as a reality.

As a reading after epiphany, this text calls us to live in the light of the reality of that historical event of the coming of Jesus. There is no denying that not all of the darkness has been dispelled even by his coming. But the real question is whether we will choose to walk in the light that he has brought or continue to sit in the darkness. Will we live as his people and live for the future that he is working to completion, and which we have a part in shaping. Or will we simply sit in the darkness longing for something better? Such a choice to live in the reality of God's future is not fantasy. It is simply how we choose to live as God's people. Will we sit in the darkness, or will walk in the light?

There are many ways that such a Preaching Path might be developed in terms of specific application. One example can be both timely and timeless. As we enter further into the third millennium after the coming of Jesus, we will increasingly hear the voices of doom, the voices of those who see nothing but endings in the world. Some will even take great delight in seeing all the negative aspects of human existence and the exigencies of history as proof that their own negative view of the world is accurate.

Many Christians will even be swept up in the fervor, emotion, and psychology of the modern doomsday sayers. There are many signs even in the Christian community of a totally pessimistic view of the world. Many are concerned with the folly of government run amuck. Some are preoccupied with the explosion of immorality in entertainment, the media, even in churches. Some think the church is a failure and so start their own churches. Still others are convinced that the world is under the control of evil forces, of Satan and demons, even to the point that God's people are controlled by evil influence. So they spend all their spiritual energies in a totally negative battle against "this present darkness" rather than focusing on the Good News of the Gospel. Many Christians just seem to have a negative opinion about almost everything.

Complicating this are various crises around the world that intensify the anxiety levels of people today. Economic crises in many world areas threaten the global economy. Internal political tensions in many areas threaten the stability of nations and governments. The news brings daily reports of yet another atrocity or massacre somewhere. It is not hard to collapse into a totally negative attitude and retreat into dreaming of the Second Coming in which God will just come and make it all right.

We should not abandon that dream. But we also have to go on living in the world. Isaiah's message, heard again in the context of our own version of the darkness, is that God is still God! And even our present history for all its darkness may be pregnant with possibility! God has not abandoned the world to wait for some future time next year or next century or next millennium in which to come and fix it all. God is not just the God of far off times, but is the God of present history! And we are his people in the present. And so he has called us to live as his people in the present. He has called us to embrace the light of his coming, with the expectation that his coming into the world was to reveal that light so that people might not have to walk in darkness.

We do not have to wait for that far off future. We are called in the midst of our own present existence to embrace the coming of the light. This is nothing less than a call to live positively as his people, as people who have seen the light, who have experienced the light, and who have allowed that light to transform who they are. God's people cannot live in a world of negativity, because we understand that God is still God. And God is not a God of darkness but of light. We will not deny the reality of the darkness. But neither will we deny the reality of the light. And we will affirm with both Isaiah and the Gospel writers that there is no gloom for those who walk in His light.

-Dennis Bratcher, Copyright © 2011, Dennis Bratcher, All Rights Reserved
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This Sunday in the Church Year

Year A

Epiphany 3

January 21 to 27

Season:

Ordinary Time,
Sundays after Epiphany, or
Epiphany Season

Color this Sunday:

Green or Church Colors

Reading also used:

Isaiah 9:2-7, Years ABC, Christmas Day I

Related Pages: