The Psalm of the day begins by calling for all of you to give praise to the Great I AM, YHWH, the Living God. It stands in Scripture as the first of three Psalms that open with the word we transliterate – Hallelujah! The “Praise the Lord,” Hallelujah, Psalms are given to provide the believer with words that God accepts as a sweet-smelling offering.
Today, as congregations like this one do most every year, we remember and give thanks for the gifts of God that come to us through Baptism. These are imparted to us by God. They are brought to our memories through the action of the Holy Spirit working in us through our hearing God’s Word. God’s baptismal blessings remain in us as the Spirit strives to keep us united in the good confession of the Faith with those who also bear God’s Family Name.
Epiphany means to reveal or shine. When we Celebrate the feast of Epiphany, we celebrate Jesus being revealed as our God and King. In order to appreciate the clear revealing of Jesus, many myths about Epiphany should be removed. After those are removed, we will focus on Jesus and four reactions to Him being revealed as king.
As you continue to hear God’s Word, to confess your sins and receive His blood-bought absolution, take heart that He will work them in you… to a greater or lesser extent depending upon how much attention you give to your old nature, the world and the forces led by the evil one. The more you are attentive to God’s Word, the more the Holy Spirit will have in you to work against those forces. So, today’s encouragement is to go back to the words of the Psalm: "I will meditate on all Your work, and on all Your mighty deeds I will muse.”
This day helps us recall that the Second Person of the Godhead, the Son enfleshed in a human body, began to shed first blood in order to redeem His people. This blood-price He began to pay, to fulfill God’s Word and revealed Plan, when He was only eight days old. Then, He Who was without sin, Who was perfect, was placed under God’s Perfect Law. He was circumcised to fulfill the Law, perfectly.
Especially during this Christmas Season, at the end of our calendar year, or just in general, deep pondering is what many of us need more of in our lives. We need to sit down, stop whatever is trying to grab our attention, and take a minute and ask ourselves meditative questions. We are going to begin our deep questions in the Old Testament from Psalm 8, and then we will move into the questions from Romans.
The Feast of Stephen. The day the Church remembers the first Christian martyr. The first Christian killed for his faith. Now that’s not very Christmas-y, is it? Or is it? Perhaps we have a wrong idea about Christmas! Perhaps, just maybe, our sentimentalized picture of Christmas is a little blurred.
Our text is from the Gospel of John. John does not have a normal Christmas narrative like Matthew or Luke. John doesn’t include shepherds or angels or many other things. He says it all on the banner right there. “The Word became flesh.” John’s unique Christmas account shouldn’t surprise us because the whole Gospel of John is distinct. John is a thematic Gospel, and John lays out most of the themes of His Gospel in the 18 verses we just heard.
We sing as we do because the fast-approaching Christmas Season heralds for us the Lord’s beginning to complete, in human time, the promises which He had given to the faithful of old. Those we echoed in hymns that have resounded, and will sound forth again, throughout this beautiful night.