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The Feast of Epiphany – January 6, 2023

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The Feast of Epiphany – January 6, 2023

One of the names used for the “church” in the New Testament is the Greek word “ekklesia.” It means “the called-out ones,” the ones called out of the world’s milieu. These are the ones gathered together to receive faith and the Holy Spirit in the heart. Today’s passage from the prophet Isaiah tells us that there will be a great in-gathering. When our light rises… when the glory of the Lord rises… nations will come… kings will come to that light (vs. 3). They all gather together and come (vs. 4) … even the abundance of the sea… and the wealth of the nations (vs. 5). All of these… ALL of these are the called-out ones… called by the light and the glory of the Lord. Every worship service of the church is a calling out and a gathering-in anticipating this great calling out and gathering-in.

There is one necessary distinction, though. The calling out and the gathering of the nations, of the kings, of the sea’s abundance, of the nation’s wealth, will all be visible and obvious in the light and glory of the Lord. The worship services held in anticipation of that day do not have a visible and obvious gathering of those with faith and the Holy Spirit in their heart. For this time—the time while the old creation has yet to pass away… for this time—the time while you live out the days of your baptism… for this time, the heart keeps its secrets. The presence of faith… the presence of the Holy Spirit… both hide in the depths of your heart which you cannot plumb. Only God knows the human heart (Acts 15:8; Ro. 8:27). Though we see any number of people called out from the world and gathering for worship, those who receive faith and the Holy Spirit in the heart are but a fraction of that visible number. For now, during the days of our baptism, we cannot trust our sight; we can only trust faith… faith in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:7).

For this time, the time between your sacramental death of going down beneath the water and the Word and your physical death of going down beneath the dust from which you came… for this time, faith is the only certainty you receive. Faith, not sight… faith that comes as the Holy Spirit uses God’s Word and God’s Sacraments as instruments, making faith where there had only been the dark cloud of unbelief.

Table Talk: Discuss the dangers of turning our worship services into occasions for sight rather than for faith.
Pray: Heavenly Father, grant me the comfort of a holy and certain faith. Amen

Isaiah 60:1-6 English Standard Version

Arise, shine, for your light has come,

    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

2 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.

3 And nations shall come to your light,

    and kings to the brightness of your rising.

4 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.

5 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.

6 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.


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