Readings: January 5, 2014, Feast of the Epiphany

All readings from the Message Bible © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • Isaiah 60:1-7

People Returning for the Reunion

“Get out of bed, Jerusalem! Wake up. Put your face in the sunlight. God’s bright glory has risen for you.

The whole earth is wrapped in darkness, all people sunk in deep darkness,

But God rises on you, his sunrise glory breaks over you.

Nations will come to your light, kings to your sunburst brightness.

Look up! Look around! Watch as they gather, watch as they approach you:

Your sons coming from great distances, your daughters carried by their nannies.

When you see them coming you’ll smile—big smiles! Your heart will swell and, yes, burst!

All those people returning by sea for the reunion, a rich harvest of exiles gathered in from the nations!

And then streams of camel caravans as far as the eye can see, young camels of nomads in Midian and Ephah,

Pouring in from the south from Sheba, loaded with gold and frankincense, preaching the praises of God.

And yes, a great roundup of flocks from the nomads in Kedar and Nebaioth,

Welcome gifts for worship at my altar as I bathe my glorious Temple in splendor.

  • Ephesians 3:2-6

The Secret Plan of God

This is why I, Paul, am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so-called. I take it that you’re familiar with the part I was given in God’s plan for including everybody. I got the inside story on this from God himself, as I just wrote you in brief.

As you read over what I have written to you, you’ll be able to see for yourselves into the mystery of Christ. None of our ancestors understood this. Only in our time has it been made clear by God’s Spirit through his holy apostles and prophets of this new order. The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I’ve been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board.

  • Matthew 2:1-12

Scholars from the East

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory— this was during Herod’s kingship—a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship him.”

When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

They told him, “Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly:

“ It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land, no longer bringing up the rear. From you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.”

Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, “Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.”

Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!

They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.

In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.

 

 

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