Excerpted from 2023 Advent Guide: A Season of Renewal, an Advent Guide for Lectionary Year B from the North Carolina Council of Churches.
Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth
and thick darkness the peoples,
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Lift up your eyes and look around;
they all gather together; they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
and your daughters shall be carried in their nurses’ arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you;
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
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 proclaim the praise of the Lord
May the peace and blessings of the New Year shine brightly upon you! Epiphany is time to feast and celebrate, for the magi have visited Jesus bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, giving honor and recognition that Christ is born!
Isaiah tells us that we have the light of pure love within our heart and that we should share this light with everyone, trusting that our faith will forever protect us. As we listen to the Gospel of this momentous occasion, we are reminded that we are entering into a dialogue with God, and we are called to understand what God is saying to us here and now, as we practice our responses in 2024.
The ongoing challenges of women and members of the LGBTQ+ communities come from living in a world where many in power lead with the twisted values of patriarchy and hate. At the same time, the arch of time bends towards justice as we continue to work for and seek places of acceptance and just relationships that shine with God’s glory.
Epiphany shines the light into the darkest of places, and our faithful, loud, inclusive, and proud response must be LOVE WINS! Now, and forevermore. Blessed Be!