Too Easy for You

Monday, January 6, 2014 – Feast of the Epiphany

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 46, 97 (morning) // 96, 100 (evening)

Isaiah 49:1-7

Revelation 21:22-27

Matthew 12:14-21

The start of a new calendar year is a natural time to examine our lives. I have an annual habit of setting goals for the year, and last year I set fifteen of them. In the end, I achieved eight goals and made progress on a few more. Not bad?

No matter how we conduct our self-examinations and measure our progress, it can be difficult to tell whether we’re being too hard on ourselves or not challenging ourselves enough. We might be setting expectations that are too lofty, pushing ourselves beyond our healthy limits. Or, we might be underestimating what dreams we can fulfill with God’s help.

What better day than the Feast of the Epiphany to shoot for the stars? Our first reading today has some challenging words for the servants of the Lord. Fortunately, the challenge from God comes in the context of God’s abiding presence in our lives. The voice of this passage is filled with reassurance of God’s calling, God’s constancy, and God’s providence: “The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me . . . my God has become my strength.”

But the God who knows us and names us in the womb also calls us well beyond our comfort zones. While the servant in this passage thinks that his calling is to bring his community back to God, God has much bigger plans. In fact, serving only one community would be way too easy.

God says to the servant, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” These words burst open the purpose of God’s people.

As our lives progress, sometimes our missions narrow in focus. At other times, they broaden in scope. Today, as we contemplate the star that led wise people from around the world to leave their homelands, travel in discomfort, and honor a new way of ruling the world, we can consider how God is summoning us beyond the spheres that are too limited, too easy, too light.

The beckoning star may lead us beyond our families, beyond the places we call home, beyond the habits that are too comfortable, beyond the labors that serve too few. Our usual rotation of tasks may be too light for those who are given as lights to the whole world. May this new year find us deeply loved and boldly challenged by our God.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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