On being sparkly in 2023.

This was a homily I gave at GoWC-C on Epiphany Sunday, Jan.8/23 so there are some comments that might not make sense…but pretend you were in worship that day.

Morning, When I read the order of service for the first time this morning, I saw there were songs about light, we heard a poem about glistening stars, Larry’s epiphany song that uses the words of the angel and that Owen had put the reading from Isaiah just before I’m speaking, it seemed to me to affirm in a small mystical way that what I’m about to say, my meditations and thoughts are already a bit pleasing to my rock and my redeemer. Thanks be to God.

As I used Lectio Divina to reflect on the readings – the verses that stood out for me were from Isaiah which Tabitha just read.

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

and then a few verses later that phrase…

Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice,

Ever since Paul wrote that song about being radiant I’ve liked those words for some reason.

When I used the second phase of Lectio to listen to what Spirit wanted me to hear about my life using those words as a starting place… this is sorta what I heard…

It sounded like Spirit was saying – Stephen – Arise, shine; for your light, Stephen’s light, my light has come. There was something very personal about these words … the glory of the LORD has risen upon me.

I wasn’t sure what that meant but glory sounds good… so I looked up what glory meant in the original Hebrew – not to do Bible study but if those words were important it would be good to know what they meant in the original…OK it was Bible study…but just a little. My gut sense was right – Strong’s online concordance says that glory in Hebrew means honor, abundance, dignity, splendor…

Sounds like all that good positive stuff…is come upon me from the LORD. It sounds like Yahweh, the Creator of the Universe is blessing me – whether I know it or not… and I’m supposed to get up and shine because light, honor, dignity, abundance has come upon me. I think it means when I get out of bed in the morning, glory, light is shining on me … maybe all night … that’s encouraging.

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice,

So when I arise…get up…become aware…wake up… to the glory, the blessing of the LORD – I shall also see that I’m radiant … BE RADIANT … doesn’t seem that I have an option… see the glory and be radiant… wake up, be alive… be radiant … It sorta sounds like it wasn’t really something I did…I need to get up and look, acknowledge the reality, what’s happening … AND then I shall see that I’m radiant… which according to Strong the Hebrew word – means I’ll be like the sparkles on a flowing stream – be cheerful – OK…that’s interesting…being cheerful…sparkles on water are very cool…sparkles on snow is one redeeming aspect of winter…that hoar frost or rime ice – both are lovely.

SO… I’M HEARING THAT When I take time to acknowledge that the Creator honors me, likes me…I’ll be more cheerful -…sparkly even …

Linda and my kids and grandchild will like a more cheerful me. I like being happy.

SO … According to what I heard from Spirit – I can be cheerful, happy, maybe even joyful and sparkly… When I meditated on what sparkling might be I realised that what I think is sparkly and how Spirit wants me to sparkle is sometimes different … I feel I sparkle when I’m witty, often sarcastic comments and questions. Sometimes I use substances to make me sparkle…after a couple drinks I’m very funny and witty…and after too many not so much. Next day not sparkly at all. I’ve discovered, after many attempts on my own that I sparkle the best when I’m really listening to others, to Spirit, to my body and soul … my mind’s a gift from Creator and it’s critical analyzing of everything and fear of being wrong often gets in the way of my using my gifts, my sparkling, the grace, love and wisdom of Spirit I can share with others and self with Love’s help. It can block the glory coming in and the radiance going out.

Reminds me of what Jesus said in his commentary on the beatitudes “You are the light of the world, don’t hide under a bushel O NO… Let your light shine, that others may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Our sparkling brings glory to Creator, Mother of us all…that’s good…I want to bring honor and glory to God…seems like it’s a full circle…glory shines on me and my radiance brings glory to source of glory. I like that.

Marianne WilliamsonAnd that reminded me of a Marianne Williamson line … Our deepest fear is not that we’re inadequate.  Our deepest fear is we are powerful…sparkly… powerful beyond measure. I added the sparkly bit … SHELBY could you screen share that summary, while I read what Williamson wrote.

Our deepest fear is not that we’re inadequate. Our deepest fear is we are powerful… powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves,“Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. – so it’s OK to include this in a worship service…

Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. She’s sounding like Isaiah…Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. She continues…

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.


Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice,

I can – Arise, shine; for my light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon me.  I can see that reality and be radiant;

AND that would be a great place to stop, but the next words seemed important to Spirit as well and they are – my heart shall thrill and rejoice,

For some reason Spirit also wanted me to pay attention to how my heart is thrilled and rejoices because my light has come and the glory of the LORD is risen upon me…God’s favor…sounds like the angel song to shepherds… Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth, peace among those God favors… those whom the glory of the LORD rises upon… we sang that this morning.

And when that came to my mind in my prep time I realised I was back to the Christmas story… and Epiphany Sunday theme…the mystery Creator was revealing to the world in the baby Jesus … Paul talked about in the 2nd chapter of Ephesians – the expanded version of the mystery we heard in the reading – is that how Christ is our peace – freedom from fear – and in his flesh he has made both Jew and Gentiles into a new creation. He broke down the hostility between them. A Christmas Miracle. Today we celebrate that the incarnation of Love in the baby Jesus, was revealed to folk from outside the religious / cultural / political scene of the time… Magi, sorcerer supreme or wisemen, Kings, however you name them… They were outsiders and they worshipped along with angels and shepherds and devoutly religious Jewish men and women… and us. They saw the light, got up out of the east and they have sparkled throughout history for their faithful witness.

The light of Christ, the peace of Christ … the glory of the LORD is shining on us all… no matter your age or cultural background, no matter how you name your gender and sexuality, no matter your education or economic situation … we are all sparkly – because the Light of Christ, the glory of the LORD is upon us all.

Let me close by encouraging us all… if Stephen Murphy can be sparkly…cheerful because of Love’s gracious healing abundance in my life … anyone can … at least that’s what I heard Spirit say to me. I know we’re still mourning the death of Jake and the fact we will no longer hear his voice or see his smile … and something tells me he’s pretty radiant now and would probably want us to be radiant as well. Mourning is important. Shining the peace of Christ is important. I wonder how much Jake could help us do that from where he is now but that’s another discussion.

Arise, Grain of Wheat – shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon all of us, all of humanity.

May the LORD help us see and live out of that abundant grace and love so the world can see our radiant cheerfulness and peacefulness; the world can use some peace and cheering up; let your hearts thrill and rejoice with this good news, today and all of this new year.


About gsmurphy1

Husband, father, son, brother, listener, seeker, encourager, pilgrim, stained glass artist
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