Daily Archives: January 3, 2021

Evening Prayer: January 3rd

Loving God, I thank you for every sign of your presence today: chance encounters, meaningful work, your created world, family and friends who know me and love me still. The night is a gift, just like the day. Stay with me now as darkness comes, bringing with it new promises of your faithfulness. Let the night bring rest and renewal, that I may greet tomorrow with energy and thanksgiving. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Daily Scripture Passage: Isaiah 60:1-6

Isaiah 60:1-6 (ESV)

The Future Glory of Israel

60 Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
    and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
    and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
    they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
    and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
    your heart shall thrill and exult,
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
    the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
    the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
    all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
    and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.

Thoughts to Ponder from Matthew 2:1-12

Matthew 2:1-12 (ESV)

The Visit of the Wise Men

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared.And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

“In the day of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived” (Matthew 2:1)

Experience tells us that if you wake up expecting that you’re going to have a bad day, then you’ll most likely have a bad day. But if you wake up looking forward to the day, there’s a good chance your day will turn out well. It’s a simple illustration of how our attitudes can affect our behaviors, which then affect the way we deal with all kinds of situations.

Today’s Gospel gives us a striking example of how powerful our predispositions can be. First, we meet King Herod, who is “greatly troubled” by news of Jesus’ birth (Matthew 2:3). Then, we meet the magi, who are “overjoyed” by the exact same event (2:10). Both grasp that a new king has been born, and both are eager to see him – but for different reasons. Herod, insecure about his grasp on power, sees Jesus as a threat and uses deception to try to destroy him. The magi, seekers of wisdom, are excited by the news and hurry to offer royal gifts to the child.

We all can point to ways that fear, envy, or some other negative emotion has colored the way we approach a situation. Instead of remembering that Jesus is always seeking to do us good, we think that he has forgotten us, or words, that he is punishing us. But if we can face each situation with an open heart, ready to find God’s presence, fear and doubts will begin to melt away. We’ll find Jesus in unexpected, unlikely places – just as the magi found almighty God in the modest home of Mary and Joseph.

So when you are in a moment of fear or doubt, pause, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you find God’s presence. Ask him to help you take on a more open, trusting attitude, as you do, you’ll discover the kind of joy and even awe that the magi felt.

Holy Spirit, direct my attitude today. Help me to sense your guidance, and fill my heart with your joy. Amen.