by Phyllis Myung
Second Sunday After Christmas
Sunday, January 2
Mourning into Joy
As we begin our journey into this new year, many of us may still be feeling weary and tired. I know I am, and the Israelites in our passage were probably feeling that way too. Will you imagine with me what they may have been feeling while living in exile? They were far from home, unable to live as they once did. They must have struggled to feel that God was nearby. But we see in Jeremiah 31:9 that the Israelites will be returning from exile with tears of joy. Even when God felt far away, God was right by their side—God was about to turn their mourning into joy.
My prayer and hope for this new year is that whatever mourning you have, may God turn that into joy and may you feel the tangible presence of God.
God, you will turn my mourning into joy. I can rest in your grace. Amen.
Monday, January 3
I’ve been trying to start a new habit for this new year—it’s a gratitude journal. Every day, I am trying to write down at least one thing I am grateful for. When I’ve done this in the past, I realized that I noticed God a lot more and it allowed me to be present in God’s presence. This practice of gratitude can lead us to worship God in everything we do and everything around us. Like the psalmist, we can praise God for the harvest, the snow, the hail, the wind, the waters, and most of all, for choosing us and lavishing grace upon us. We can worship God in the little things and the big things.
God, I am grateful that you are my God. Help me to embody my worship to you in gratitude. Amen.
Tuesday, January 4
Grace Upon Grace
One of my favorite hymns is “Amazing Grace,” but for years, I sang that hymn without really knowing or understanding grace. Today’s passage begins with, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us” (v. 14). Isn’t that incredible? God became like us—a human being! We got a glimpse of God in Jesus Christ and through Jesus’s incarnation, we have been covered in grace and truth, or, as the author of John writes, “grace upon grace.” An undeserved gift, given freely, overflowing from the Father’s great love—that’s what makes grace so amazing. It is the grace that continues to work in our lives, giving us the strength and courage to live the life Jesus has called us to live.
God, when we’ve been there ten thousand years, we’ve no less days to sing your praise. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound! Help me to live out that grace upon grace not only for myself, but for and with all those I encounter. Amen.
Wednesday, January 5
Jesus Is Speaking to You
I have a friend who sometimes audibly hears the voice of God. I hear God through images and dreams from time to time. How do you hear God? I envied the likes of Moses, Abraham, Isaiah, as well as John, Peter, Mary, and Martha. They experienced the voice of God in intimate ways. Some of them even lived and ministered beside Jesus himself! Our passage in Hebrews today reminds us that God has spoken to us and continues to speak to us through Jesus. Whether it is reading the Bible, or in prayer, or through the community of Christ you are a part of, or the roar of the ocean waves, Jesus is speaking to you. Take a moment to be still and to listen—how is Jesus speaking to you today? What is Jesus saying to you in this moment?
God, through your perfect Son, Jesus Christ, you have spoken to me. Give me ears to hear what you are saying to me. Amen.
Thursday, January 6 (Epiphany)
The Messy Inconvenience of God’s Kingdom
Sometimes, we forget that Jesus died for the whole world—not just for ourselves. In today’s passage Paul is reminding the Ephesians that the Gentiles are indeed included in God’s kingdom. I have often found myself thinking that unity in God’s kingdom means uniformity, which has led me to be bogged down in rigid dogmas and not allowed me to make room for other perspectives. Maybe the Ephesians felt that way while reading Paul’s letter. The Gentiles didn’t know their customs and laws, and they did things differently from how the Ephesians were used to. It was inconvenient and messy. But when we say yes to Jesus, we are saying yes to the whole family—the whole kingdom of God—and the diversity in it. It helps us to see Jesus’s heart in deeper and fuller ways and to see the incomparable beauty of the kingdom of God.
God, through Jesus Christ, you have revealed the mystery of your grace and love. Give me the eyes to see it, the heart to embrace it, and hands and feet to live it out for your glory. Amen.
Friday, January 7
Nine years ago, I flew to a country in the Caribbean to meet my friend’s soon-to-be adopted daughter. From the moment that this little girl arrived at the orphanage, my friend made the decision that she would be a part of their family. All of us took turns to go be with my friend and her soon-to-be daughter until the adoption was finalized. This little girl had already become a part of the larger community that her parents were part of. She was loved, celebrated, and chosen before any legal document was signed.
Paul reminds us that God “chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world” (v. 4). Beloved, you are treasured, celebrated, chosen, and deeply loved—adopted as God’s children even before this world was created. This grace is freely and abundantly given to you. Be assured as God’s child that God’s blessing is poured out for you.
God, who has chosen me and calls me beloved, help me to receive this grace without hesitation. Amen.
Saturday, January 8
Last year, after my father-in-law unexpectedly passed away, I thought a lot about what I was leaving behind. What kind of legacy? What kind of inheritance? What will be left after I am gone? When God sent Jesus to die on the cross for all of us, God had an inheritance for us. Jesus reminded his disciples that even though he was going away, the Holy Spirit would be there for them. The Holy Spirit is our inheritance as well. The Spirit is God’s promise to us that Christ’s sacrifice was victorious—that we are redeemed as God’s people. The Holy Spirit reminds us that we belong to God forever.
God, thank you for your Holy Spirit. Help me to claim this inheritance with confidence and know without doubt that I belong to you forever. Amen.