Psalm 27 & Isa 9 – Lovely?

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Look below for your reflections on Isa 9 and your liturgy resources based on the hauntingly beautiful Psalm 27.
Blessings, peeps!

Lovely? Reflection on Isa 9:1-4

Isaiah 9:1-4, Psalm 27:1, 4-9, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, Matthew 4:12-23

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light – lovely. Makes a great poster, doesn’t it? Those lovely light beams shining down on lovely people who walk in the lovely light. Lovely.

Except that life doesn’t always feel like that. It’s mid-January. The time that people give up on their New Year’s resolutions and feel like failures. The time that credit card bills from Christmas start rolling in. The time when all those posh Christmas biscuits get used up and we’re down to half a packet of stale digestives. The time when the warm-and-fuzzies are well and truly gone and all we have to look forward to is a cold January, trying to use the heating as little as possible and worrying about what’s going to happen when the bills go up again in April.

Add to that the cost-of-living crisis, Covid that’s not gone away, inflation eating at our savings, and climate change, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel very much like I’m dancing in sunbeams right now.

Life can be tough.

Now, I can’t wave a magic wand and make it all go away. That’d be nice, but real life is not like that, and if Christianity is anything, it’s rooted in reality. The Bible is full of real people with real lives and real problems. The readings set for this week sound just like things you’d hear at the supermarket checkout or down the pub.

King David, in his psalm, asks God to shelter him in the day of trouble. David knew plenty about trouble, fighting off invaders, being a political refugee fleeing persecution. Sounds like the news today, doesn’t it?

Paul writes to the church in Corinth, where the Christian ‘brothers and sisters’ were squabbling and fighting like any troublesome kids. Honestly. Some people just need putting on the naughty step for a couple of minutes (hours, weeks, decades). Trouble with family or colleagues – sound familiar much?

And our gospel reading. You’d think this would be up beat, wouldn’t you? Jesus at the start of his ministry, assembling his team and striding out in the power of the Spirit. But look how it starts: “When Jesus heard that John had been arrested…” John – Jesus’ cousin. They’d grown up together. Probably play football and hung around at family festivals comparing Pokémon cards. Maybe Jesus’ best friend in childhood. Arrested. And no-one was under any illusion what being arrested by the Romans meant. That was quite a cloud hanging over Jesus’ head as he left his home, his job, his everything and stepped into a new ministry as a homeless preacher.

Life can be tough.

And that’s where Isaiah come in. He was no stranger to life’s sandpapery bits, but the job of a prophet is to look beyond the here-and-now, to see the bigger picture, to get God’s perspective. It can be hard, when we’re in the middle of something big, to lift our heads and see beyond what is hurting right now. That problem, that pain, that debilitating worry, it fills our minds and our minutes and we can’t see beyond. And it’s into that drowning whirlpool that Isaiah speaks:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
A light for those who were in deep darkness.
God has broken the yoke of their burden,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.

I think we could all do with a bit of that. Don’t you?

Liturgy Resources for the Third Sunday after Epiphany

Psalm 27:1, 4-9

Confession and Absolution

O Lord, we seek your face,
and our sins we confess before you.
Hear, O Lord, when we cry aloud.
Be gracious to us and answer us.

Do not hide your face from us.
Do not turn your servant away in anger.
Hear, O Lord, when we cry aloud.
Be gracious to us and answer us.

Do not cast us off, do not forsake us,
O God of our salvation.
Hear, O Lord, when we cry aloud.
Be gracious to us and answer us.

May God, the compassionate and gracious,
look upon us with mercy,
restore us and revive us,
and assure us of his unfailing love.

As forgiven people, with the psalmist we say:
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

Blessing and Dismissal

May God keep you safe in his dwelling in the day of trouble,
may he shelter you in his tent, may he set you high upon a rock.
May God bring you to live in his house all the days of your life
and may you behold his beauty.
And the blessing of God: Father, Son, Spirit
be upon you and those you love
this day, this week and for ever.

Go in God’s light and salvation.

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