Hello Everyone, Grace and Peace to You,
When I got up this morning my thermometer outside on the north side of the house read –24 F or –30 C. Today turned out to be a long johns, wool socks, flannel shirt kind of day. That’s why we live in Minnesota – bone numbing cold. For those who are in Arizona, Texas, California, or Florida this week, don’t you miss this?
This Sunday is the Third Sunday after Epiphany. This week the Epiphany comes in Jesus’ own self awareness of what he has to do. That mission is the fulfillment of God’s work of salvation.
Our readings are:
Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10 – The Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah are essentially one book and they tell the story of the return of the people of Judah from Babylon. Ezra tells of the rebuilding of the Temple and Nehemiah tell of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and the reintroduction of the Law, the Holy Days, and the Government, albeit under Babylonian/Greek rule. Our reading recounts the reading of the Law to all the people, who gathered in Jerusalem, and their reaction. The two verses that are skipped, 4 and 7, are simply a list of names of those who were standing on the platform where Ezra read the scroll, much like a list of names of the dignitaries who stood on the platform when President Obama gave his inauguration speech yesterday. Imagine how you would feel if the founding documents of our country (the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution) were lost and forgotten for 70 or 80 years and then were discovered and read aloud to all people. (You may as well finish this section with verses 11 and 12 to find out what the people did.)
Psalm 19 – In the first half of this Psalm, verses 1-6, the psalmist declares that all of creation tells of the glory of God. The second half, verses 7-13, is all about how the Law of the Lord is perfect and warns and guides its followers. The final verse, verse 14, is our memory verse of the week, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and redeemer.”
1 Corinthians 12:12-31a – This is a continuation of our reading from last week and part of the larger section of the letter about the Gifts of the Spirit, chapters 12 to 14. It is also a lead up or introduction to the apex of these chapters, chapter 13. The first two-thirds of this passage, verses 12-26, Paul uses the metaphor of the human body to help his readers understand the importance of all gifts. This metaphor is then applied, in verses 27-31, to the church which Paul calls “the body of Christ.” Paul concludes by saying there is one gift (or three gifts) that is (are) available to all people and that is more important then any other gift. That is what chapter 13 is all about.
Luke 4:14-21 – After Jesus is baptized in chapter 3, Luke gives us the ancestral history of Jesus and then tells us of Jesus’ fast and temptation in the wilderness. Our reading is the opening of Jesus’ ministry which begins in the synagogues of Galilee. The Lectionary Committee, in their esteemed wisdom, had divided the story into two readings, this week and next. Verses 14 and 15 are the introduction of Jesus’ ministry. The next story is found in verses 16-30. Dividing this into two makes no sense because the declaration of Jesus’ mission (from Isaiah 6:1-2 and 58:6) is instrumental in the leaders’ and citizens’ attempt to murder him. All Jewish people of the time were looking for a Messiah to lead them to independence, self rule, and to expel the Romans. They didn’t want that Messiah to be Jesus, the mamzer (see Wikipedia) child of a poor widow named Mary who had the nerve to challenge their own reaction and rejection. How is Jesus the least likely person to be our savior and redeemer?
Have a great week serving the Lord in all that you do and stay warm.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor