Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Readings for January 23, 2011

Our readings this week make one connection, Isaiah and Matthew. The epistle reading is the 2nd in a series of 7. Matthew quotes Isaiah, hence the reading in Isaiah. I'm not sure how the Psalm connects with Isaiah, which is a usual connection.

Now, on to the lessons:

Isaiah 9:1-4 - This lesson is part of a slightly larger passage that is read at Christmas. The Christmas reading is 9:2-7. You may particularly remember verse 6, "For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." For the larger passage, Isaiah envisions when everyone will have an epiphany of what God is doing and will do for them. This will bring joy and exaltation. This will also bring freedom from oppressors.

Psalm 27:1, 4-9 - I suggest that you read the entire Psalm, 14 verses. I am not sure why the Lectionary Committee decided to leave out verses 2, 3, 10-14. The reason for the Psalm lies in those passages. Evildoers, enemies, armies, and adversaries has come against the Psalmist (verses 2, 3, 10-12) and he is seeking refuge with God (verse 5). The Psalmist is assured of God's protection and he shouts for joy (verse 6). He looks forward to a time when the goodness of the Lord will rule the land (verse 13).

1 Corinthians 1:10-18 - When it comes time to report to the denomination all of the statistics of our churches, many pastors would love to quote Paul in 1:14, "I thank God that I baptized none of you . . ." and then report 0 baptisms. Now, in all seriousness, Paul is beginning his examination of the divisions in the church he founded in Corinth. He pleads with them to be united in the same mind and purpose. The first, maybe the biggest, division is the person that is claimed as the authority of the church: Paul, Peter (Cephas), or Apollos. Paul even throws in Christ into this list, which is a bit odd. We should all follow Christ, right? Perhaps some in the Corinthian Church claimed that Christ was just the leader of their small group and no other. Paul says that the only thing that counts is the gospel and the cross which is the true power of God.

Matthew 4:12-23 - We are back to Matthew and we have skipped the story of Jesus' temptation. We will read that at the beginning of Lent. After his temptation, Jesus returns to Judea around the Jordan River. When he hears that John the Baptizer is dead (a later story in Matthew), he headed to Nazareth in Galilee and then moves to Capernaum. Matthew quotes Isaiah 9:1-2 in conjunction with Capernaum. Jesus starts his message with the same words as John the Baptizer, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." With that message many assume that Jesus will be another John but we will soon find out differently. We then get the very familiar story of Jesus calling Simon, Andrew, James and John to become "fishers of people". I like the old King James Version where fishermen are called to become "fishers of men". I think that Matthew intended that word play in the Greek.

Have a great week reading God's good Word.
Peace in Christ

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