Father, today your Church celebrates Epiphany, the coming of the Wise Men to worship the baby Jesus (Matthew 2). Yet, to be honest Father, the current day events tend to overshadow those events of long ago.
- The murder rate in our Milwaukee area has skyrocketed and violence abounds.
- The headlines remind us of the storming of the Capitol one year ago today and political divisions in our nation.
- The number of people hospitalized with COVID in Wisconsin has reached an all-time high.
On this Festival of Epiphany, fill our hearts with peace,
- because you, Father, hear our cries of pain like you heard the cries of the mothers of Bethlehem;
- because you, Father, overrule the powerful of this world like you overruled King Herod;
- because you, Father, watch over your children in love as you watched over the Holy Child.
There are many questions about the events of Matthew 2. Why, Father, did you allow the events to unfold as they did? We don’t have the answers; we do have confidence in you, Father.
Trusting in your compassion, your power and your promises, we ask that you would bring peace and calm to us and to our nation.
- Bring an end to this pandemic and the stress it brings to those who are sick and those who care for the sick.
- Create a spirit of unity within our political leaders that decisions are made for the good of all.
- Hear the cries of those who mourn, the moms and dads and parents and children who have lost loved ones to violence and sickness and addictions.
Let your saving plan be accomplished today even as it was in the midst of the fear and unrest of Bethlehem 2000 years ago. We pray simply: Your name be hallowed. Your kingdom come. Your will be done. Amen.
In Matthew 5:21-42 Jesus convicts us all as he applies the Ten Commandments to our thoughts. I've linked to the Evangelical Heritage Version today because of its better translation of the passages regarding divorce.
In Genesis 16-18 we see more of the spiritual ups and downs in believers' lives.
- In Genesis 16, Abraham and Sarah don't think that God can fulfill his promise about a son. They take matters into their own hands. Not surprisingly, it turns out poorly.
- In Genesis 17, Abraham trusts the LORD and circumcises his family as a sign of the Old Testament covenant, yet laughs at the idea that God can give him a son in his old age.
- In Genesis 18, Sarah joins in the laughter. She too doubts God's ability to keep his promise. Yet Abraham shows remarkable strength of faith as he prays for Sodom.
Do you find yourself frustrated because of the inconsistency of your faith life? You are not alone! In fact, as we study the Ten Commandments as Jesus teaches us, we see that we fail in our walk as Christians all the time!
Thanks be to God. Our salvation does not depend on us. The more clearly we see our failings, the more we appreciate God's forgiving love. Jesus offered God the perfect obedience we could not. Jesus was the sin offering that suffered the death we deserved. "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20).
God bless you with peace and joy as you hope in Christ on this Festival of Epiphany.