January 9, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Genesis 1:1-5 (NRSV)
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
We must be shown God’s glory again: we must encounter it anew and afresh in the face of Jesus Christ; we must repent of our sin and turn and follow him. This season after Epiphany is about helping us see that glory anew.
Christmas Day is over. The Christmas season, all twelve days of it, has passed. On Wednesday, January 6, the church celebrated Epiphany—a day now mainly associated with singing “We Three Kings of Orient Are,” but historically the occasion on which Christmas gifts were exchanged (because of the obvious connection with the Magi’s gifts) and great Christmas celebrations and festivities occurred. (You can read more about that here.) At any rate, however you consider it, Christmas is finally over.
In my tradition, we celebrate the Sundays after Epiphany and before Lent as a liturgical season of their own. The readings from the Scriptures that are directed for us to read in church between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday focus on the theme that Epiphany began: Christ’s coming is for everybody, God’s glory is now made manifest, and the Good News includes not only Jews but Gentiles.
And so, in this first weekend after Epiphany, the Old Testament lesson from Genesis directs us to the beginning of God’s grace being extended to all. When did that begin to happen? Genesis 1 answers that question: at the very beginning of creation. We are led to consider the Triune God’s almighty power in bringing the world into being and creating everything that lives within it—from bugs and trees, to lions and camels, to human beings made in God’s image. Tomorrow we’ll begin to look at how the life of Jesus manifests the glory of his Father and spreads the gospel of grace, as we focus on Jesus’s baptism in Mark 1. But it’s important to remember that Jesus’s earthly life plays out on a stage set all the way back here in Genesis—a world created by a loving Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for God’s creatures to live in and flourish.
Of course, there’s something rather large that happens between Genesis 1 and Mark 1 that I have not yet mentioned. That rather large thing is human sin, introduced in Genesis 3. Because of it, God’s creation ceases to flourish at its fullest and God’s glory becomes, for us humans, shadowed and difficult to discern. Because of Genesis 3, Mark 1 is necessary. We must be shown the glory again: we must encounter it anew and afresh in the face of Jesus Christ; we must repent of our sin and turn and follow him. This season after Epiphany is about helping us see that glory anew.
There is much on our individual and collective hearts right now that obscures that glory. We are weary and confused as we struggle with the continuing impact of COVID-19 and with political and social turmoil. The way to peace—the way back to that good creation in Genesis 1, and onward to the coming Kingdom that Jesus brings in Mark—lies through repentance and trust. Let us seek for the Light of Christ.
Where are you weary?
Where do you need to repent?
How do you want to see God’s glory manifest over these next few weeks?
The song that kept coming back to me as I wrote this devotional was David Wilcox’s “Show the Way.” Listen to it, and think and pray about how you can shine the light of Christ in the darkness. Then do one thing you have discerned.
Lord Jesus, thank you for being light in the darkness, glory in the shadows, grace for our sin. Be with us now as we strive in your name to make our dark days lighter. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: God Brings the Material World into Being (Genesis 1:2)
Jennifer Woodruff Tait (PhD, Duke University) is the editor of and frequent contributor to Life for Leaders. She is also the managing editor of Christian History magazine and web editor for the Theology of Work Project, and a priest in the Episcopal Church. She has written a book of poetry, Histories of Us. Jennifer lives in Berea, Kentucky, with her husband, Edwin, and their two daughters.
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