Reflection for Monday 3rd January 2022

The Rev’d Penny Body

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Reflection 2nd January 2022
Gospel – John 1. 29-34
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” 31I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ 32And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” 34And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’

Epiphany is a time when Jesus is revealed to us in all his glory, purpose and destiny.
In the gifts of the three Kings the gift off gold reveals him as king, the frankincense reveals his holiness and the myrrh his ultimate death for us. In the Baptism of Christ and we see the Spirit descend upon Jesus after his baptism in the Jordan and hear in the voice of the Father the immortal words – “you are my son – the beloved – in you I am well pleased”.
At the wedding in Cana we see the first if his miraculous signs – revealing his glory. And finally, in the Presentation of Christ in the temple – we see the infant Jesus recognised by Simeon , not only as the Lord’s Messiah – the consolation of Israel, salvation and the light for the gentiles, but also as the son whose death would pierce his mother’s soul.
To see Jesus revealed, we have to be looking at him. It is by definition that all our readings in Epiphany point towards Jesus. In our gospel for today John specifically and with great humility points away from himself – the one who came to prepare the way and baptise with water so that Jesus might be revealed to Israel – as he testifies that Jesus is the Son of God. Yet imagine John had been distracted – looking the other way when the Spirit descended and rested upon God – how then could he have testified to what he had seen?
Sometimes, with the best of intentions, we can get caught up in our own work and ministry or find ourselves with sometimes life changing dilemmas and decisions to be made – and sometimes we find ourselves in situations where it is difficult even to know what to pray for – and just when we need to be turning with every sinew towards Jesus we can find ourselves distracted.
It is my prayer this Epiphany, that all of us may be able to spend some time simply gazing upon Jesus – turning towards him with our full attention and allowing him to reveal himself to us, whether that be through the scriptures, in prayer, in nature or through the love and kindness we see in each other. And who knows – perhaps those dilemmas and distractions will be resolved in his light. And, like John the Baptist, our lives might point others towards Jesus – simply and directly – sharing his light and love.
There is a song I love called “Gaze upon the Lord”. It is a song inspired by Clare of Assisi, composed by Briege O’Hare and sung by Marie Cox and is taken from the CD “Woman’s Song of God”.

It begins …

Gaze upon the Lord
Gaze upon his face
Gaze upon the love that holds you in his embrace

Gaze upon his life
Gaze upon his love
Gaze upon his coming through from heaven above

The sleeve note reads “The ultimate focus of all Christian contemplation is always Jesus. Clare shows us that we can only know the meaning of our own lives as human beings when we look at the life of Jesus”.

I’ve included the full words of the song at the end of the written version of today’s reflection if you would like to read it.

The Collect for Epiphany Sunday

Almighty God,
in the birth of your Son
you have poured on us the new light of your incarnate Word,
and shown us the fullness of your love:
help us to walk in his light and dwell in his love
that we may know the fullness of his joy;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Gaze upon the Lord
Gaze upon his face
Gaze upon the love that holds you in his embrace

Gaze upon his life
Gaze upon his love
Gaze upon his coming through from heaven above

Look upon the Lord
Look upon his way
Look upon his heart that opens to each day

Though he was despised
the lowest of all men
look upon his sacred cross which brings life again

If you open to life’s pain
then with him you shall reign
and allow your heart to weep then living you’ll rejoice

Open to his cross
the wounds of each day’s love
then you’ll know the splendour of his kingdom above

Gaze upon his life
Gaze upon his love
Gaze upon his coming through from heaven above
From heaven above.