URC Daily Devotion Thursday 18th January 2024

Thursday 18th January 2024
St Mark 1: 35 – 45

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’ And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons. A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’  Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’  Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.  After sternly warning him he sent him away at once,  saying to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’  But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.


Did you get up while it was still dark this morning, waking up long before dawn? If you live in the UK then it’s quite likely you did, as we are less than a month past the winter solstice and the days are still short. Do you enjoy the cold weather and the darkness, or do you long for the bright days of summer?
Maybe you’re reading this early in the morning when the sun hasn’t yet risen. According to the website www.timeanddate.com where I live in Merseyside dawn today is 8.17am (UTC), and there will be around 8 hours of daylight. Meanwhile in Galilee, where our reading is set, sunrise is 6.40am local time (4.40am UTC) and there will more than ten hours of daylight. In fact, as it is much closer to the equator, mornings are never so dark; the latest sunrise time in Israel through the whole year is 6.42am. Which means that, whatever the time of year, for Jesus to get up while it was still very dark, before the sun rose, he really did have to get up early. It took an effort, but he knew it was necessary. He clearly valued that time, in a quiet place, away from his devoted but demanding friends, where he was able to pray alone before facing all that the day would bring. It doesn’t last long, his friends soon find him, and he goes on to have a busy day continuing his tour of Galilee and going into towns and villages proclaiming his message.
When did you last see the sun rise? When did you last pray alone, in the dark, in the cold of a winter morning, before a busy and difficult day? Just maybe you are doing that right now, as you read this.


God of love
we give thanks for the colours of the sunrise,
for the changing seasons
and the austere beauty of the cold winter.
Help us to remember that, like you,
we sometimes need quiet times;
help us to find them,
and in finding them we will find you.


Today’s writer

The Rev’d Nick Jones, Heswall URC & Chester Road URC, Ellesmere Port


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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