Thursday 2nd February
Reading: Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.’
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Matthew 4: 12-17
Reflection: Today’s reading is also an Advent, sometimes at midnight communion, and again, in this particular lectionary year, as we dodge about the time-frames between Christmas and last Sunday’s Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Candlemas).
Matthew quotes the prophet Isaiah: ‘The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light; on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death a light has dawned’.
While that reading fits Christmas, telling us that with the birth of Jesus God’s light was coming into our world. When we read it during Epiphany, Matthew is referring to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry - as he started to preach and heal, his light was now shining for the world to see.
Today God’s light continues to shine through Jesus and on illuminating through our own lives today wherever we allow him to! As John Henry Newman, wrote we ask Jesus to lead us every step if the way: ‘Lead kindly light’. The closer we are drawn to Jesus’ light, the more we can pass on that light and be light bearers to others.
Patrick van der Vorst writes: “The painting by Korean artist Yongsung Kim conveys a burst of light emanating from Christ and his invitation to follow in his footsteps. We see a hand coming in from the right not just wanting to touch his cloak, but trying to keep up with Jesus’ fast-paced mission of bring light to everyone.”
Worship through music: Lead Kindly Light words (1833) John Henry Newman, melody "Lux Benigna" by John Bacchus Dykes recorded live (2009), sung by a 300 voice Mass Choir at Andrew's Kirk Lawn, Chennai, India for album with same title " Lead Kindly Light ", conducted by Arul Siromoney. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYbs0Vi1W_Y
Thursday 26th January
Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you”, and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I am has sent me to you.”’ God also said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “The Lord (Yahweh), the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you”:
This is my name for ever,
and this my title for all generations.
Go and assemble the elders of Israel, and say to them, “The Lord (Yahweh), the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying: I have given heed to you and to what has been done to you in Egypt. Exodus 3:13-16 (NRSV)
Let them know that you alone,
whose name is the Lord (Yahweh),
are the Most High over all the earth. Psalm 83:13
Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid,
for the Lord God (Yahweh) is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation. Isaiah 12:2 (NRSV)
Trust in the Lord for ever,
for in the Lord God(Yahweh)
you have an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:4 (NRSV)
Reflection: I wanted to share a reflection on something I read recently…
There was a moment when Moses had the nerve to ask God what God’s name is. God was gracious enough to answer, and the name given is recorded in the original Hebrew as YHWH. Over time, as Hebrew has no vowels, to make it pronounceable for us, we’ve added an “a” and an “e” in there to get YaHWeH. However, scholars and Rabbis have noted that the letters YHWH represent breathing sounds, or aspirated consonants. When pronounced without intervening vowels, it actually sounds like breathing. YH (inhale): WH (exhale). So a baby’s first cry, their first breath, speaks the name of God. A deep sigh calls God’s name – or a groan or gasp that is too heavy for mere words. All of us will speak God’s name, unaware that our very breath is giving constant acknowledgment to God. Likewise, a person leaves this earth with their last breath when God’s name is no longer filing their lungs. So, when I can’t utter anything else, is my cry calling out God’s name? Being alive means I speak God’s name constantly. So, is it heard the loudest when I’m the quietest? In sadness, we breathe heavy sighs. In joy, our lungs feel almost like they will burst. In fear we hold our breath and have to be told to breathe slowly to help us calm down. When we’re about to do something hard, we take a deep breath to find our courage. Does this mean that our very breathing is giving God praise? Even in the hardest moments! What an amazing thought! God chose to give God’s self a name that we can’t help but speak every moment we’re alive. All of us, always, everywhere. Waking, sleeping, breathing, with the name of God on our lips.
Worship through music: This is the Air I breathe music and lyrics (1995) by Marie Barnett recorded by Michael W. Smith (2010) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEDcKZB7r2A
Thursday 19th January
Reading: The Lord says to my lord,
‘Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies your footstool.’
The Lord sends out from Zion
your mighty sceptre.
Rule in the midst of your foes…
The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind,
‘You are a priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek.’
Psalm 110:1-2,4 (NRSV)
Reflection: In Psalm 110, written by David, we recognised Jesus.
No king of Israel or Judah was allowed to serve as a priest. David and his royal descendants were from the tribe of Judah. The priestly families were exclusively from the tribe of Levi, but this Psalm looks forward to the coming of one who would be both priest and king – the Messiah, Jesus, the ‘son of David’. Melchizedek isn’t a name you hear every day. He was the ‘king of righteousness’ and ‘king of peace’ (Heb. 7:2) who appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, in the book of Genesis. Some commentators have even suggested that this might have been Christ himself appearing ‘out of time’, but whoever he was, Melchizedek points me to Jesus – ‘the Son who has been made perfect forever’ (Heb. 7:28).
Prayer: Lord Jesus, king of righteousness – the one who makes us right with God – and as king of peace – the one who restores my soul and brings me shalom. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess… Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:14,16 (NIVUK)
Worship through music: Yet not I but through Christ in me written (2018) by Michael Farren, Rich Thompson & Jonny Robinson of CityAlight, recorded (2019) by CityAlighthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwc2d1Xt8gM
This song was poignantly relevant to last Sunday’s theme, but also to the peace and righteousness of Melchizedek.
Worship through art:
Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High, blessed Abram. He brought bread and wine, presumably to offer as a sacrifice