As Christmas winds down, and we enter the Season of Light tonight with the Eve of the Epiphany, we pause to say Thank You to God. Thank you for bringing us the true Light of the World, and showing us the way.
The splendor and variety of how that light has come is shared in all our readings today. Let me briefly cover a bunch of them.
One of the most vivid images children often remember from the Old Testament comes before us today: the time of Jonah in the belly of the fish. When I read this story to children I often ask them, “Why is Jonah so happy he got swallowed by a fish?” I would be a little upset! Instead, he is thanking God, first and foremost.
“The waters closed in over me; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped around my head….But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you.”
The fish saved him from drowning! I think often we adults forget that part of the story. But the kids zoom right in on the thankfulness. They know and understand joy. As an adult I often get stuck with the plausibility of the story to begin with, or spend time trying to figure out what type of fish this would be. How bizarre of me.
Interestingly enough, if you read deeply, you see this is more than the belly of a fish, but he comes from the “belly of Sheol.” The belly of Hell. Or, the belly of shadowy darkness. As he comes back into the light, he sees God’s deliverance.
Being in this belly is simply a metaphor for being separated from God. There are a lot of ways we separate ourselves from God, or are separated because of our circumstances.
Ephesians is wrapping up. The whole armor of God comes to light. Take a belt of truth. A shield. A helmet of salvation. Flaming arrows. We find out our struggle is not against our enemies, but against the authorities and the cosmic powers.
How are you struggling? Is your struggle with outside pressures? Things beyond your control? Or are you struggling at this point in your life with something more intimate, perhaps wrestling with yourself?
The writer of Ephesians reminds us: “Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication…. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.”
My prayer for you, and for all my readers in these Morning Reflections, is that God reveals himself to you, and that you find yourself connecting to God in prayer deeper and more often. Know that you are loved. And know that God has called you into the Light where darkness cannot survive, and where peace and joy win.