Friday, January 6, 2023

The Daily Lectionary and Prayers for Friday, January 6, 2023 — Epiphany of the Lord


The Daily Bible Readings and Prayers
Friday, January 6, 2023 — Epiphany of the Lord
Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

The Light Shines
In the beginning was the word, the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Introduction & Theme
In the Northern Hemisphere, we are experiencing the darkness of midwinter. Days are short and nights long. But there are other forms of darkness—poverty, war, injustice, oppression, hatred, prejudice, fear—forms that also affect us just as they did the people of biblical times. But in these passages, light breaks through the darkness: a prophet calls us to arise and see the light of liberation and peace, reconciliation and joy; the psalmist prays for a ruler who will light the way of his people with righteousness, prosperity, and an end to oppression and injustice. The writer of Ephesians lights the way through mystery, with a message of the good news of Christ Jesus; and the Magi follow the light of a star, finding more than they were looking for to return home transformed.

Opening Prayer
(Matthew 2)
God of light and love, shine upon our lives, as we welcome the mystery of your love. Guide us toward your true gift, for our hearts long to encounter with the holy. Quiet our expectations, that we might be surprised by the unexpected. Open our eyes, that we might find you in unanticipated places. Shine your light upon us, that we might see you clearly, and recognize your face in all people. Amen.

Call to Confession
(Psalm 72, Matthew 2)
The presents have been opened. The cookies have been eaten. The celebrations have left us exhausted. Yet your Spirit comes again, guiding us toward true joy. In all of our busy celebrations, remind us that you desire righteousness and justice for a world in need of generous hearts. May the light of Jesus Christ, the world’s true light, live among us and turn our lives from oppressive power toward liberation and hope. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon
(Psalm 72)
Like rain that falls upon the grass, like showers that water the earth, may righteousness and peace abound in our lives and in our world.

Today’s Verse-of-the-Day:
1 Peter 1:13

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.
Where will we set our hope today, in this life, on this side of eternity? That's what Peter is addressing in verse 13. We must take control of where our thoughts go, and what our minds dwell on. If we do not fully engage in intentional hope-setting, we will be easily distracted by the false hope of satisfaction the world continually offers us.

Today’s Lectionary Readings:
From the Prophetic Books of Major Prophets

Isaiah 60:1-6
Nations Come to the Light

1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come,
     and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth
     and thick darkness is over the peoples,
  but the Lord rises upon you
     and his glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light,
     and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

4 “Lift up your eyes and look about you:
     All assemble and come to you;
  your sons come from afar,
     and your daughters are carried on the hip.
5 Then you will look and be radiant,
     your heart will throb and swell with joy;
  the wealth on the seas will be brought to you,
     to you the riches of the nations will come.
6 Herds of camels will cover your land,
     young camels of Midian and Ephah.
  And all from Sheba will come,
     bearing gold and incense
     and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.

The glorious light of God’s Kingdom (vv. 1-3). Great treasures come to Israel in the Kingdom (vv. 4-6).

As far as we have the knowledge of God in us, and the favor of God towards us, our light is come. And if God's glory is seen upon us to our honor, we ought, not only with our lips, but in our lives, to return its praise. We meet with nothing in the history of the Jews which can be deemed a fulfilment of the prophecy in this chapter; we must conclude it relates principally to future events. It predicts the purity and enlargement of the church.

A Psalm and A Prayer
Responsive Readings from the Psalms and Prayers
for Public Worship and Private Devotions

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
Deus, judicium

Leader: Give the King your justice, O God,
People: and your righteousness to the King’s son;

Leader: That he may rule your people righteously
People: and the poor with justice.

Leader: That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people,
People: and the little hills bring righteousness.

Leader: He shall defend the needy among the people;
People: he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.

Leader: He shall live as long as the sun and moon endure,
People: from one generation to another.

Leader: He shall come down like rain upon the mown field,
People: like showers that water the earth.

Leader: In his time shall the righteous flourish;
People: there shall be abundance of peace till the moon shall be no more.

Leader: The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall pay tribute,
People: and the kings of Arabia and Saba offer gifts.

Leader: All kings shall bow down before him,
People: and all the nations do him service.

Leader: For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress,
People: and the oppressed who has no helper.

Leader: He shall have pity on the lowly and poor;
People: he shall preserve the lives of the needy.

Leader: He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence,
People: and dear shall their blood be in his sight.

Heavenly Father, we praise You for the many blessings You bestow upon us. We honor You for the faithfulness You show to Your children from generation to generation. We pray that You will cleanse us from all unrighteousness so we can live and work with pure hearts. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit, so we can tell others of Your saving grace and mighty works, even as we pray in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ:
“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”
From the Epistles
Ephesians 3:1-12

The Gospel’s Promise for All

3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—

2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Preface to the revelation of the mystery (vv. 1-5). The mystery described (vv. 6-7). Paul’s presentation of the mystery (vv. 8-9). The purpose of the mystery (vv. 10-12).

For having preached the doctrine of truth, the apostle was a prisoner, but a prisoner of Jesus Christ; the object of special protection and care, while thus suffering for him. All the gracious offers of the gospel, and the joyful tidings it contains, come from the rich grace of God; it is the great means by which the Spirit works grace in the souls of men. The mystery, is that secret, hidden purpose of salvation through Christ. This was not so fully and clearly shown in the ages before Christ, as unto the prophets of the New Testament. This was the great truth made known to the apostle, that God would call the Gentiles to salvation by faith in Christ. An effectual working of Divine power attends the gifts of Divine grace. As God appointed Paul to the office, so he qualified him for it.

Those whom God advances to honourable employments, he makes low in their own eyes; and where God gives grace to be humble, there he gives all other needful grace. How highly he speaks of Jesus Christ; the unsearchable riches of Christ! Though many are not enriched with these riches; yet how great a favour to have them preached among us, and to have an offer of them! And if we are not enriched with them it is our own fault. The first creation, when God made all things out of nothing, and the new creation, whereby sinners are made new creatures by converting grace, are of God by Jesus Christ. His riches are as unsearchable and as sure as ever, yet while angels adore the wisdom of God in the redemption of his church, the ignorance of self-wise and carnal men deems the whole to be foolishness.

Today’s Gospel Reading
Matthew 2:1-12

Christ Revealed to the Nations

2:1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
     are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
  for out of you will come a ruler
     who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The wise men arrive in Jerusalem (vv. 1-2). Herod is troubled at the news brought by the wise men (v. 3). Herod is instructed regarding the Messiah’s coming by the chief priests and scribes (vv. 4-6). True to character, Herod attempts to use wise men to find the child that he may kill Him (vv. 7-8). The wise men present gifts to Jesus and leave without informing Herod (vv. 9-12).

Those who live at the greatest distance from the means of grace often use most diligence, and learn to know the most of Christ and his salvation. But no curious arts, or mere human learning, can direct men unto him. We must learn of Christ by attending to the word of God, as a light that shineth in a dark place, and by seeking the teaching of the Holy Spirit. And those in whose hearts the day-star is risen, to give them any thing of the knowledge of Christ, make it their business to worship him. Though Herod was very old, and never had shown affection for his family, and was not himself likely to live till a new-born infant had grown up to manhood, he began to be troubled with the dread of a rival. He understood not the spiritual nature of the Messiah's kingdom. Let us beware of a dead faith. A man may be persuaded of many truths, and yet may hate them, because they interfere with his ambition, or sinful indulgences. Such a belief will make him uneasy, and the more resolved to oppose the truth and the cause of God; and he may be foolish enough to hope for success therein.

What joy these wise men felt upon this sight of the star, none know so well as those who, after a long and melancholy night of temptation and desertion, under the power of a spirit of bondage, at length receive the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with their spirits that they are the children of God. We may well think what a disappointment it was to them, when they found a cottage was his palace, and his own poor mother the only attendant he had. However, these wise men did not think themselves baffled; but having found the King they sought, they presented their gifts to him. The humble inquirer after Christ will not be stumbled at finding him and his disciples in obscure cottages, after having in vain sought them in palaces and populous cities. Is a soul busy, seeking after Christ? Would it worship him, and does it say, Alas! I am a foolish and poor creature, and have nothing to offer? Nothing! Hast thou not a heart, though unworthy of him, dark, hard, and foul? Give it to him as it is, and be willing that he use and dispose of it as it pleases him; he will take it, and will make it better, and thou shalt never repent having given it to him. He shall frame it to his own likeness, and will give thee himself, and be thine for ever. The gifts the wise men presented were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Providence sent these as a seasonable relief to Joseph and Mary in their present poor condition. Thus our heavenly Father, who knows what his children need, uses some as stewards to supply the wants of others, and can provide for them, even from the ends of the earth.

Here end the Readings

Click HERE to read today’s Holy Gospel Lesson message

The Nicene Creed
  • We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
  • And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made; of the same essence as the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and was made human. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried. The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom will never end.
  • And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. He proceeds from the Father and the Son, and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified. He spoke through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church. We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and to life in the world to come. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Holy Communion
A nondenominational serving of bread and wine
Though no video can truly replace the experience of celebrating together in our places of worship, we know that where two or more are gathered, the Lord is present. This table is open to all who recognize Jesus Christ as healer and redeemer. This table is open to all who work to bring God’s Kingdom here on earth. No one is turned away because of life circumstances. No one is barred from this table. No one seeking God’s abundant grace and mercy is turned aside. We see before us the abundance that a life of faith offers as we respond to God’s everlasting mercy in prayer and deed.

(Matthew 2)
As you follow the star on your journey, don’t look for the holy in places of power and prestige. Instead, pay attention to the ordinary, the quiet places. There, may you be overcome with joy, and share your gifts with creation.

Optional parts of the readings are set off in [square brackets].

The Daily Lectionary is a three year cyclical lectionary. We are currently in Year A. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent in 2023, we will be in Year B. The year which ended at Advent 2022 was Year A. These readings complement the Sunday and festival readings: Thursday through Saturday readings help prepare the reader for the Sunday ahead; Monday through Wednesday readings help the reader reflect and digest on what they heard in worship. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts.

The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel lessons are from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible.
The Daily Lectionary and Prayers for Friday, January 6, 2023
Epiphany of the Lord
Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

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