The Epiphany Worship Series - "Welcome Light"
This time of year, a lack of sunlight can affect our moods. Our six-week sermon series through the season of Epiphany, by Worship Design Studio, highlights daily spiritual practices. By deepening our experience of a meaningful life, these practices shine a light on the winter blues.
January 15: Isaiah 60:1-6
“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. . . . Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice…” — Isaiah 60: 1-6
Millions of people suffer from some sort of anxiety or depression disorder. If you do not, chances are you are close to someone who does. As we begin our series, we begin to look at spiritual practices to get us out of the mid-winter blues and into the light of our lives. While not a replacement for medical resources to alleviate depression, we will see how experiencing the everyday activities of our lives as filled with God’s radiance can offer us a chance to be filled with the Light in whom we believe. This first week we affirm that the very act of “arising” each day is a gift from God.
January 22: Psalm 40
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. — Psalm 40: 1-11
The 17th-century poet and playwright, William Congreve, originated the saying, “Music hath the charms to soothe a savage breast” (often misquoted as “beast”). The play goes on to say “...to soften rocks or bend a knotted oak.” Indeed, music is known to have a powerful effect on our moods with its ability to literally “move” us. The Psalmist proclaims that God can give us a new song, bringing us out of a “miry bog.” Today we affirm that attention to our music “playlists” can offer a transformative daily spiritual practice.
January 29: Isaiah 9: 1-4
But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined. . . .
— Isaiah 9: 1-4
Life can be serious business. Certainly watching the daily news can give the impression that there is little good to find in the world. This week we choose to lighten up–to “spin” life in a little different way as we look for the delight and especially, humor, in life. A lot of people cite the ability to make us laugh as a number one thing they look for in friends and spouses. Many comedians have the knack for seeing everyday life in ways that make us laugh. Perhaps laughter is the best medicine.
February 5: Micah 6
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? — Micah 6: 1-8
The prophet Micah offered up a vision for life lived from a different perspective. Rather than see doing good as “obligatory sacrifice,” he said that when we live our lives with a love for kindness for all God’s people, we are fulfilling God’s desire to spread justice and love throughout the land. This week, what if we lived each day on the lookout for ways to make someone’s day through a kind and unexpected gesture? It might just make our day as well!
February 12: Deuteronomy 30: 15-20
If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in God’s ways, and observing God’s commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. — Deuteronomy 30: 15-20
Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. Happy are those who keep his decrees, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways. — Psalm 119: 1-8
Research shows that one of the most effective mood-boosters is moving our bodies. Stretching, walking, and dancing can send feel-good endorphins coursing through us and the change can feel like a light coming on. The Hebrew authors of our scriptures used the metaphor of “walking” in God’s ways to help us see the benefits to our spiritual lives of moving toward the goodness of God. This week our spiritual practice will help us see our walking (or any kind of movement) as a blessed gift of God’s love in action in the world!
February 19: Transfiguration - Matthew 17: 1-9
While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” — Matthew 17: 1-9
The last Sunday of this series is a time when we remember a mystical moment some of the disciples had with Jesus when he was joined by spiritual ancestors Moses and Elijah on the mountain and God’s voice affirming Jesus’ work as pleasing. For weeks we have considered the everyday activities of our lives as a way to be nurtured spiritually. Finally, we see the opportunities to encourage each other in the efforts of each day of our lives — “get up and don’t be afraid!”