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Lectionary Notes for 5th Sunday after Epiphany, Year B (Ordinary 5)

Readings for 5th Sunday after the Epiphany, 2/8:15:
Isaiah 40:21-31, Psalm 147:1-11, 20c, 1 Corinthians 9:16-23, Mark 1:29-39

Isaiah 40:21-31:
  • "have you not known? have you not heard? has it not been told you from the beginning? have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?" - Isaiah seems to be saying, "Don't you get it yet?" How many times do we need to hear about God's love and grace before we finally believe it?
  • "like grasshoppers" When I was in junior high, I used to have a "map" of the universe with a little arrow pointing to earth, which said, "you are here." It reminded me of how very very small we are in the scheme of things. I found it quite overwhelming - took it down eventually. But we can remember - we are so small - and yet - God knows us by name.
  • "calling them all by name" - I'm always nervous, as a pastor, that I will forget names of people I'm supposed to remember. Names are important, and express a sense of relationship. Godknows your name - all of our names.
  • "[God] does not grow faint or weary" - In such a busy exhausting world, such knowledge is very comforting.
  • "[God's] understanding is unsearchable" - I suddenly have images of trying to "google" God's mind. :)
Psalm 147:1-11, 20c:
  • "how good it is to sing praises to our God" - Do you find worship a joyful experience? Or are you going through the motions? How can you find the goodness of worship?
  • "he heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds" - These images are of a God who cares for those who are weak - those who feel useless, without strength.
  • "the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him" - I've mentioned many time my dilemma about "fearing God" language in the scriptures. Do you fear God? We're instructed over and over again in the scriptures not to be afraid. What does it mean, then, to fear God? I interpret it to mean we're to have an awe of God that is an awe we give only to God. Should/do we fear God anymore, or have we gotten too cozy? It's great to feel close to God, but have we lost our reverence in the process, the believe that God is actually above and beyond us in many respects? Where is a good line between fear/love/respect? 
1 Corinthians 9:16-23:
  • "obligation" - "woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel" - Paul feels he can do nothing but proclaim the gospel. Do you feel that way?
  • "the gospel free of charge" - nice!
  • "to the _______ I became ______" - Paul tries to meet people where they are at, to become one of them, so he can share the good news with them. It is a good strategy - the same God uses with us, right? God becomes one of us, to share love with us.
  • "I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some." - What a burden! Paul is dedicated, but it sounds exhausting. He wants "to save" as many as he can. But can we be all things to all people? How can we draw lines? On the other hand, what are you so passionate about you'd to whatever it takes to make sure others know about it?
Mark 1:29-39:
  • "and she began to serve them." Poor women - healed only to immediately return to work of serving the men! But I think this is meant to illustrate her complete healing - she is physically able to get right back to work.
  • "and the whole city was gathered around the door." Claustrophobic, anyone? Even for Jesus, the pressure of so many must have been huge.
  • "because [the demons] knew him." How is it that the most evil know Jesus? Perhaps because we all know who are biggest enemies are?
  • "out to a deserted place" - take note of the many times Jesus seeks rest and renewal with God. Do we give ourselves as much of a break?
  • "[they] hunted for him." - from the Greek katadio^ko^, meaning literally "follow hard upon, pursue closely" - that word - hunted - really struck me.
  • "everyone is searching for you." Indeed.
  • "that is what I came out to do." - proclaim the good news that the time is fulfilled and God's kingdom has and is arriving. 

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