Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Star of Jacob (Numbers 24, Matthew 2)

Jesus, The Coming Messiah
Jesus, The Coming Messiah: Advent Readings from Old Testament to New
December 4: The Messiah as Star of Jacob
Readings: Numbers 24:15-19; Matthew 2:1-2, 9-10 

Numbers 24:17, The Voice
Balaam: I see him, but at a later time,
I’ll recognize him, even though he is far away.
A star will come out of Jacob,
A scepter shall rise out of Israel.

Matthew 2:1-2, 9-10, The Voice
Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem, in the province of Judea, at the time when King Herod reigned. Not long after Jesus was born, magi, wise men or seers from the East, made their way from the East to Jerusalem. These wise men made inquiries.

Wise Men: Where is this newborn, who is the King of the Jews? When we were far away in the East we saw His star, and we have followed its glisten and gleam all this way to worship Him.

The wise men left Herod’s chambers and went on their way. The star they had first seen in the East reappeared—a miracle that, of course, overjoyed and enraptured the wise men. The star led them to the house where Jesus lay.

Clearly did Balaam reveal to us
The meaning of the words which were prophesied,
Saying that a Star would rise up,
A Star which would dim all prophecies and divination,
A Star to destroy the parables of the wise,
Their teachings and their enigmas,
A Star much brighter than this star which just appeared,
For He is the Maker of Stars
About whom it was written: ‘From Jacob shall rise up
A newborn babe, the God before time.’
– Romanos

O star of wonder, star of light,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light
– John H. Hopkins, Jr.

Prayer
Hallelujah to Jesus!
The Bright Morning Star
Rising in the nightfall of our creation

Hallelujah to Jesus!
The Divine Light shining in the darkness
No evil overcomes you

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Your brilliance radiates near and far
Drawing us into your presence

There we find
hope
healing
meaning
truth
life

There we find you
Everything we long for
Everything we strive for
Everything we need

Thank you for showing us the way

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Thank you for setting aside times this Holy Season to seek the One we celebrate.

Jesus, The Coming Messiah is an Advent Bible Reading Plan highlighting the Old Testament prophesies and passages which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

As you read each passage, consider how this description of Jesus the Messiah reveals his character, motivation, and purpose. How does this description inspire you to trust Jesus and his promises? How will you apply and share what you have discovered? I look forward to your comments.

If you’re in Sarasota, please drop by Trinity United Methodist Church for one of our seasonal events or services or just to say, “Hi.” You’re always welcome and wanted.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <><

The Messiah as Star of Jacob © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

You are the Light of the World (Matthew 5.14-16)

light of the world robbie quinn

You are the Light of the World by Robbie Quinn

Matthew 5:14-16 NRSV
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Reflection
You are the light of the world
Not hidden, never hidden
You let it shine
You share it with the other
With all

What do they see?
Goodness
Light overcoming the darkness

What happens?
God is glorified
The Kingdom comes

Prayer
Jesus,
Your light makes us light
What a gift to be made in your image
To reflect your grace and hope
Your power and peacemaking
Hallelujah!

Help us shine
Share your light with all
Near and far
Beyond our imagining to your imagining
And desiring
A beam worthy of the stretch of your embrace
Worthy of your glory

Jesus, help us shine
Unveiled, Bright
Shining before others and for others
So others see you in us
and are drawn to your Light

You are so very good and generous, Jesus
You bathe us in the light of your grace, that we may be grace
You fill us with the light of your truth that we may be truth
You flood us with the light of your love that we may be love

Hallelujah! Glory to You, Lord of Life and Light!
Hallelujah! Come Glorious One
Dispel the darkness
Reveal what is real so we no longer fear the night
nor the light
Dawn a new day and a new us and a new Earth
Hallelujah! Amen!

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Click here for the post Reflecting God’s Light, more resources on this scripture

You are the Light of the World  © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Worship Resource: Let in the Light (Matthew 2:1-12)

star light2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Day 24 Reading: Matthew 2:1-12
The Star

We have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him
– Matthew 2:2

Worship Resource: Let in the Light
John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him,
and without him not one thing came into being.
What has come into being in him was life,
and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overcome it.

One: Let in the Light

Luke 1:78-79
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.

One: Let in the Light

John 12:46
Jesus said, “I have come as light into the world,
so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.”

One: Let in the Light

John 8:12
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”

One: Let in the Light

Psalm 84:11-12
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts, blessed is everyone who trusts in you.

One: Let in the Light

Silent reflection and/or words of invitation

Closing: The following prayer by Dimitri of Rostov or the song I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (United Methodist Hymnal #206)

Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord.
Amen.

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Be sure to check out a wonderful prayer based on this passage by Steve Garnaas Holmes entitled The Star.

This post is part of the 2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas. Click here for more information, including a list of all the readings.

Compilation: Let in the Light © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Advent Photo-A-Day: Day 25, Light

Path of Light. Photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Path of Light. Photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

The thought behind the photo:
Instead of doing an Advent Wreath in our home this year, we did an Advent Path. Today the journey of Advent is over and Christmas has come again. I’m so very grateful Christ came so long ago to make a way to God. Because of Him, anyone, including me, can walk as a child of the Light.

I want to walk as a child of the light;
I want to follow Jesus.
God set the stars to give light to the world;
the star of my life is Jesus.
In him there is no darkness at all;
the night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God:
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

I want to see the brightness of God;
I want to look at Jesus.
Clear Sun of righteousness, shine on my path,
and show me the way to the Father.
In him there is no darkness at all;
the night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God:
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

I’m looking for the coming of Christ;
I want to be with Jesus.
When we have run with patience the race,
we shall know the joy of Jesus.
In him there is no darkness at all;
the night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God:
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.
– Kathleen Thomerson

SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:78-79 NRSV
By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

The December 25, 2013 devotion from http://umrethinkchurch.tumblr.com 
SCRIPTURE: John 1:1-14, CEB
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. A man named John was sent from God. He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light. The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light, but the world didn’t recognize the light. The light came to his own people, and his own people didn’t welcome him. But those who did welcome him, those who believed in his name, he authorized to become God’s children, born not from blood nor from human desire or passion, but born from God. The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Light is an important fixture at Christmas. We find lights on beautifully decorated tress, storefronts, churches and homes. Have you ever stopped to enjoy how just one candle—one string of lights can light up a dark room?

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.

Light is disruptive. It breaks up the darkness. It illuminates. God’s light is like that, shining a spotlight on things we sometimes choose not to see.

What parts of our lives—of our world need a bit of that light to shine? How might we be ambassadors of that light?

Like John the Baptist, how can our light point to God’s love and light in the world?

This Christmas day, embrace the light that came to us in the form of a baby born in less than perfect conditions.

Immanuel. God with us. May we go forth from this day as people who have seen and experienced that Light.

Thanks for journeying with us this Advent. A merry Christmas to you and yours.

– Your friends at Rethink Church

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Thank you Rethink Church for a great way to make preparing for Christmas more meaningful. Join me and thousands more in setting aside time to reflect, focus, and literally picture the deep themes of Jesus’ birth.

Click here for more information on Advent Photo-A-Day from Rethink Church.

Click here for a master list of links to my submissions. Lisa <><

Blessing: New Life Out of Chaos

Deep Breath by Melanie Weidner

Deep Breath by Melanie Weidner

Transforming Our Pain by Richard Rohr
All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain. Great religion shows you what to do with the absurd, the tragic, the nonsensical, the unjust. If only we could see these “wounds” as the way through, as Jesus did, then they would become “sacred wounds” and not something to deny, disguise, or export to others.

If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become negative or bitter. Indeed, there are bitter people everywhere. As they go through life, the hurts, disappointments, betrayals, abandonments, the burden of their own sinfulness and brokenness all pile up, and they do not know where to put it. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.

Exporting our unresolved hurt is almost the underlying storyline of human history. Biblical revelation is about transforming history and individuals, so that we don’t just keep handing the pain on to the next generation. Unless we can find a meaning for human suffering, that God is somehow in it, and can even use it for good, humanity is in major trouble.

Genesis 1:1-3 NRSV
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

Isaiah 45:17-18 NIV
Israel is saved by the Lord with everlasting salvation; you shall not be put to shame or confounded to all eternity. For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it a chaos, he formed it to be inhabited!): I am the Lord, and there is no other.

May the God of the heavens
and of the earth
enter into the place within you
that holds the keenest chaos,
the deepest mystery,
the most intense darkness

and there
may the God of
sun and moon
stars and seasons
breathe the words
that will bring forth
a new world.
-Jan L. Richardson, In the Sanctuary of Women

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It is with great joy that I recommend the art, writing, and speaking ministry of Jan Richardson. It’s a blessing to know Jan and to live near her, so I’ve sat in her circle many times as God used her to break open a new place in my heart that was in need of light and love. You’ll find the door to her many blogs and offerings here.

Prayer: All Will be Brought to Light

If you know the name of this work or its creator, please let me know so I may give proper credit.

If you know the name of this work or its creator, please let me know so I may give proper credit.

1 Corinthians 4:5 CEB
Don’t judge anything before the right time- wait until the Lord comes. He will bring things that are hidden in the dark to light, and he will make people’s motivations public. Then there will be recognition for each person from God.

Praying is no easy matter. It demands a relationship in which you allow someone other than yourself to enter into the very center of your person, to see there what you would rather leave in darkness, and to touch there what you would rather leave untouched.
– Henri Nouwen

Everything belongs, and no one needs to be scapegoated or excluded. Evil or Untruth cannot be directly fought or separated from as much as exposed to the Light.
– Richard Rohr

Timeless One, give us wisdom
to know when to wait and when to act
to know what to pick up and what to leave behind

Holy One, give us faith
to stand, trusting all will be revealed
to bow, knowing all will be revealed

The hidden will be brought to light
hidden actions of our hands
hidden motives of our hearts
hidden words, hidden thoughts

Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy
on me
on us
Redeem and heal us all

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Prayer: All Will be Brought to Light © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

God’s Presence and Our Presence in Darkness

1 Kings 8:6, 10-12
Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. … And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord. Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness.”

Psalm 139:11-12 (NIV)
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

The bright darkness by Steve Garnaas-Holmes
When darkness descends on you,
the unknown enfolds you,
the unseen holds you close,

when you look about for light
and see only shadow,
a way that can’t be found:

know that you have entered
the holy of holies,
the presence of God.

In the darkest regions,
the shady neighborhoods,
places under a pall of gloom

where mercy and justice are hidden:
God is not absent, but cloaked,
and holds her beloved even closer.

Bright mystery, holy darkness,
strip us of knowing too much.

Glory so thick you absorb all light,
bless us, who cannot see.

Isaiah 45:3 NRSV
I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.

Mystery is rarely comfortable. We want to understand what we are doing here, to see more clearly how God is at work, to know how the future will unfold. This Gospel passage confounds us, reminds us that God works in the darkness as well as in the daylight. (Mark 13:24-37) – Jan L. Richardson, Through the Advent Door

Job 23:8-12 NRSV
If I go forward, he is not there; or backward, I cannot perceive him; on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him; I turn to the right, but I cannot see him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I shall come out like gold. My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured in my bosom the words of his mouth.

Extended quote by Idelette McVicker from She rises while it is yet night 
I embrace Proverbs 31:15: ”She rises while it is yet night …”

Not necessarily in the 4:30am wake up call kind of way, but in the way of rising into the Night that I see all around me and so often struggle with, even within.

  • The Night that looks like gender inequality, violence, oppression, poverty and suffering.
  • The Night that looks like not having all my ducks in a row and all my themes clearly abstracted.
  • The Night that looks like admitting struggle and anguish, but also joy.

I am encouraged because into this very Night –our own and our world’s– women of valor rise.

Eshet chayil, says beautiful Rachel Held Evans.

So– that blessing, that ode to womanhood in Proverbs 31, for me, speaks to our valor and our ability to rise, in spite of.

  • When we don’t have all the answers yet, to rise …
  • When we don’t know exactly what we are doing, to rise …
  • When we are criticized and ridiculed, to rise …
  • When it seems like Night is winning in the world, to rise …
  • When the darkness wants to overwhelm, we will rise …
  • When we don’t have it all figured out yet, to rise …
  • When we make mistakes and fall down, to rise …

I don’t want to be scared of entering into the process any more. I don’t want to be scared of making mistakes and saying the wrong thing or of being overbearing, because I’d like to imagine that we are listening for each other’s hearts –with ears of Love– and not just for the words.

While it is yet Night –in my own struggle and in our world– I want to rise …
I hope you’ll join me.

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If you know the artist of today’s featured work, please let me know so I may give him/her credit.

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.