2014Jan26 – Third Sunday after Epiphany
1The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
2When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh
— my adversaries and foes
— they shall stumble and fall.
3Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident.
4One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.
5For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will set me high on a rock.
6Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
7Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,
be gracious to me and answer me!
8“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, do I seek.
9Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger,
you who have been my help. Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation!
10If my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up.
11Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.
12Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,
for false witnesses have risen against me, and they are breathing out violence.
13I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
14Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
2The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.
3You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
4For the yoke of their burden, and the
bar across their shoulders, the
rod of their oppressor,
you have broken
as on the day of Midian.
1 Corinthians 1:10-18
10Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. 11For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. 12What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” 13Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
14I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,15so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16(I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)
17For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. 18For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
12Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” 17From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
18As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 19And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.
I wonder if it was a big deal for these fisherman – Simon, Peter, James, John – to suddenly leave their fishing occupation and follow Jesus? The daily routine of packing a lunch, gathering the nets, pushing out into the water, tossing and gathering the nets, and taking the catch to market must have been a familiar ritual. What caused them to suddenly leave their traditional work and activities and follow Jesus? Something must have compelled them to choose that journey.
What compels us? What is the revelation that causes us to leave our boats of tradition, habit and comfort and embark on a journey into a new way of being?
The Psalmist declares “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” This assertion of faith and trust is a stepping stone to a way of life that is lived in confidence of ultimate security and well-being. No matter what comes along, I can trust God’s steadfast love. This bedrock faith will not crumble and collapse.
The prophet Isaiah encouraged Israel to trust God, even as neighboring kingdoms and empires threatened the borders. The mention of Midian revives the story memory of Gideon and a handful of soldiers overcoming the mighty Midian army. It is like the David and Goliath story.
The gospel account describes Jesus announcing the arrival of God’s kingdom. A conventional understanding of earthly kingdoms would have the kingdom announced with a lot more fanfare and force. Not so God’s kingdom. It conquers and reigns with different means. Proclamation and deeds of healing and mercy are the signs of the arrival and presence of God’s kingdom and the messianic king Jesus.
The Apostle Paul, ever practical, reminds the church to keep its focus on the good news of God’s kingdom as proclaimed and lived in the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. Giving one’s loyalty or allegiance to another Christ-follower, even though it be Chloe, Paul, Apollo, or Cephas, misses the mark.