Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lectionary Notes for Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A

Readings for 3rd Sunday After Epiphany, 1/26:14:
Isaiah 9:1-4, Psalm 27:1, 4-9, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, Matthew 4:12-23

Isaiah 9:1-4:
  • "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness - on them light has shined." Great Epiphany language, and ties in with language of Christmas as well - this text just appeared in part on Christmas Eve. 
  • "the yoke . . . you have broken." Can you think/imagine that feeling when you are working with all your energy and then finally get to rest - like taking a break after a long run, or going to bed after a long, long day? This is the kind of image that pops to my mind here - the ultimate release/respite that God will give.
Psalm 27:1, 4-9:
  • "Whom shall I fear?" Here it is again, the fear theme, only now asked as a specific: 'who'. The Psalm suggests that we fear no one when God is our light, a theme echoed elsewhere in the scriptures, such as in the NT where we are encouraged to fear only those who can slay the spirit, but not the body.
  • shelter/conceal/cover/tent - this psalmist desires protection and safety. Like when a little child hides her face in her parents shoulder or legs.
  • "seek [God's] face", "you face, Lord, I seek", "do not hide your face." Maybe today we don't think as much about God's face - we imagine God in a less personified way - at least I do. But seeing God - not God in a bush or God in a messenger - this was a big thing that few experienced in the scriptures. Indeed, probably few of us can say we have seen God's face, right? But it implies a desire for intimacy with God - close relationship - face to face.
1 Corinthians 1:10-18:
  • This is a good text to come in the midst of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
  • We can certainly take Paul's chastisement of the Corinthians to heart, can't we? Today, the Christian church is perhaps more about levels than ever. I'm a United Methodist. I'm liberal. I'm conservative. I'm Catholic. I'm evangelical. I'm progressive. I'm ordained. I'm laity. Our identifications are very important to us, and I don't mean to minimize them - I'm a fervent UM through and through! But let's not let our unity get squashed under our other identifications.
  • "to proclaim the gospel, not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power." Hm - we don't think of our eloquent words as diminishing, do we? But sometimes our words get in the way of the heart of the gospel Jesus lived and taught.
Matthew 4:12-23:
  • ah, more of Matthew worrying about things being fulfilled :) He seems to take great comfort in being able to 'prove' how everything came true in Jesus. I guess we need proof too sometimes, our comfort proofs. Note, the passage Matthew quotes is the lectionary selection from Isaiah for this day.
  • Jesus takes up John's message of repentance. Don't forget, the Greek means, literally, "to have a change of mind." A whole attitude adjustment.
  • "immediately" - I love this word in the New Testament. I don't do things immediately, usually. Our society does not do things immediately, even little things. So imagine just packing up, picking up, and following a strange weird man - immediately.
  • Jesus went preaching and teaching and healing. Active work. Gospel-spreading work. Action words. Doing. We need to do as well. To act.
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