Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40:1-11, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, John 1:29-42
- "The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother's womb [God] named me." Such conviction in Isaiah's words! Do you have this conviction about your own identity and calling? I think I'm there most of the time. I'm not perfect, but I know I'm called - that has been one thing I've been able to trust in my life. You are called. Named. Believe it!
- "[God] made my mouth like a sharp sword." Isaiah also identifies here some of his skills. He's not boastful, just direct, and not ashamed of what he can do. Why are we so embarrassed to claim our gifts? If we believe they are gifts from God, we should not hesitate to name our talents.
- See, though, even as Isaiah knows that he is called, trusts in his role for God, God asks of him more, gives him more to do. That's the trouble with God! :) We have to be prepared for a life of service. We don't get to sign off once we've completed some individual aspect of what God has planned for us.
- "He put a new song in my mouth." Another good phrase near the beginning of a new year. What new song do you want God to give to you? What bog do you need to be rescued from right now?
- "Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required." Verse like these, similar to sentiments expressed, for example, in Psalm 51, show that even the people who still followed laws of ritual/animal sacrifice could see that it was not the offerings themselves that God wanted - but the hearts of the worshippers that were important to God. We all have our rituals and religious customs that are meaningful for our worship - but let us never let them get in the way of what is really under it: our relationship with God.
- "called to be saints" - believe it! That's you and me, called to be saints. Of course, Paul was talking about the Corinthians, but we can take it for ourselves too. We probably all have a short list of folks we think of as "saints" or at least "saintly". What makes you think of them that way? How can you be more like them?
- "you have been enriched in him" - I like this phrasing. Enriched by knowing Jesus.
- These are the opening words to the Corinthians - you can see how much Paul is trying to build them up, affirm their faith, get them to stay committed. I think we all need someone who can and will do that for us. And we can do that for someone else too - build them up.
- This first section of our reading is John's sort of 'introduction' of Jesus - almost like his endorsement speech.
- "Here is the Lamb of God." Notice how different this description John gives of Jesus is from his other gospel descriptions of Jesus as one wielding the ax. Did John come to change his mind about Jesus' character? Or is this just a different gospel writer's viewpoint?
- "And I myself have seen and testified that he is the Son of God." Such a direct statement, when there are so many times that Jesus and others are very cryptic and round about in naming Jesus' identity as God's Son.
- "The two disciples heard [John] says this, and they followed Jesus." That's it. That's all it took for Andrew to claim, "we have found the Messiah." That's all it took for them to drop everything and follow Jesus. I am so amazed by this, so moved by this. If we believe Jesus to be who and what we say that he is, preach that he is, why is it so hard for us to commit and follow? Who else would because of a few words? It seems to me that we'd be more likely these days to stalk a celebrity than follow Christ around town.