SEVERAL CHRISTIAN TRADITIONS celebrate the season of Epiphany from the feast of the Epiphany (Jan. 6), which celebrates the arrival of the Magi (Matthew 2), through Transfiguration Sunday, which falls before Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the season of Lent. “Epiphany” is from a Greek word meaning “to reveal.” Jesus was revealed to the non-Jewish world through the Magi and continued to show himself in multiple ways throughout his ministry, culminating (before the resurrection) in the glorious appearance on the mountain (Matthew 17). There, Jesus’ disciples saw the fullness of his glory. Their response was one of awe and reverence, but even that missed the importance of the moment. God spoke from heaven saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” (17:5). What were they to hear from Jesus? What are we?
Is it possible that we have experienced something special and then want to praise the Lord, but still misunderstand what is required for acceptable worship? From what kind of people does God receive praise? Who qualifies to come into God’s presence and worship? Do attitudes and actions toward others matter? These are the questions that drive our devotional reflections this month.
It is often said that true worship must come from the heart. That is true as far as it goes—but these passages teach us that worship is very much a matter of our hands and feet too. The arena that molds us into a people fit for worship is the public square.
Sued By God?
Micah 6:1-8; Psalm 15; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Matthew 5:1-12
WHO CAN ENTER before God to worship? asks the psalmist. Psalm 15 lists the virtues that are expected in order to enter for worship: truth-telling, care and respect of neighbor, and open-handed generosity. These qualities are to be practiced in everyday life, especially with the disadvantaged.
Micah 6:8 is well-known in justice circles—“to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” But it is easy to miss the full thrust and context of this message. In Micah 6, the Lord brings a lawsuit against the people for forgetting what (notice how many times this word appears in verses 1-8) had been done on their behalf. In the ancient world, when the gods were angry, they had to be appeased with gifts. This idea drives the question in Micah 6:6: What will the Lord demand to turn from judgment?