Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Psalm 62: Jonah 3:1-5, 10: 1st Cor 7:29-31: Mark 1:14-20.

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation.” (vs#1)

Our confidence is true when we look to the Lord God. Please read the 62nd psalm knowing the truth.

Children’s chat. Telling the truth.

Grace, mercy and peace in Jesus name. Children have you ever been afraid to tell the truth? I know I have. I don’t lie, but I often wonder if I should tell the whole truth? I’ll give you an example: When I am asked if a person looks fat- I do not always tell the truth. I am say the person looks beautiful and healthy— but I do not tell people they look fat! The opinion I may have about body size has nothing to do with truth. It is an opinion!!!

Do you know how is the One who is the truth? The truth is Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth and the light -life to the world. Jesus always tells truth… never opinion. His questions always are focused upon truth- not opinion. Opinion is always about our knowledge- truth is always about the wisdom of God. Do you want opinion or truth?  I know I want the truth of the Lord God.

Let us pray: Dear Jesus Thank-you for being the truth that has come into the world. Amen.

Adult Sermon: “Leaving and Receiving”

“And Jesus said, ‘follow Me and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mk 1:17)

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Dearly beloved in Christ, as you read your Sunday readings you will see that the themes for today’s readings are “call, reluctance and repentance.”  All the readings from Jonah, St Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians and St Mark’s Gospel have elements of these themes.  However, I think that there is an overarching theme and that is God’s overwhelming spirit of mercy and love that draws all people to repent and seek forgiveness.

 

Jonah is a prime illustration of God’s mercy because he experienced it himself.  Jonah was called by God to go to Nineveh and preach.  But he didn’t want to go and headed in the opposite direction.  We all know the story about how Jonah ended up in the belly of a whale who spit him out on the shore.  After this experience when God called Jonah again he followed directions.  He went to Nineveh and preached a hell, fire and brimstone message, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed.”  Much to Jonah’s shock and dismay, the people of Nineveh believed God’s message.  They repented and God responded to their repentance with mercy.  Jonah wanted hell, fire and brimstone but he didn’t get it.  Which leads to another story about God giving Jonah a lesson about mercy. Law and Gospel all in one story from the Old Testament.

 

St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthian has a similar theme.  Exasperated with the Corinthian’s shocking behavior, St Paul sends them a letter warning them that “time is running out.”  The difference between St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians and Jonah’s message is that St Paul wrote his letter in a spirit of mercy and love.  Once again Law and Gospel stuff here. St Paul founded the Christian community of Corinth and his reproach was delivered as a caring founder.  He ended the Letter with an exhortation, “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong.  Your every act should be done with love” (1 COR 16: 13 – 14).

 

Today’s gospel from Mark 1: 14 – 20 recounts the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  His message was, “This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”  For the people who lived in Galilee at that time the word gospel meant “good news.”  Jesus came to proclaim the good news of God’s love.  Our job is to turn our lives around and believe the good news that God loves each and every one of us.  Believing in the gospel message is not just an intellectual exercise it is an exercise of the heart.

Saints, Jesus’ call to repentance is a call for a radical change of heart (metanoia).   Jesus invites us to repent so that we can experience a “time of fulfillment” and enter into the Kingdom of God.  Simon, Andrew, James and John did not need to be coerced to follow Jesus.  They heard his message and followed willingly.  The message of mercy and love was compelling enough for them.  It may have taken some time for them to understand what Jesus message meant but ultimately, they did.  We are here today to hear this message that invites us to leave behind our reluctance to receive the Gospel message. In receiving the Gospel message of the abundance of grace we are given through Christ Jesus, we worship together as His faithful disciples. Remember, because they heard, followed and believed they knew the love of God in their lives no matter what was happening to them in their worldly reality. And so it is for all of us-

Let us pray in faith: Almighty and ever-present Father,

Your watchful care reaches from end to end and orders all things in such power that even the tensions and tragedies of sin cannot frustrate your loving plans. Help us to embrace your will, give us the strength to follow your call, so that your truth may live in our hearts and reflect peace to those who believe in your love. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen

 

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Second Sunday after the Epiphany

 

“O Lord, you searched me and know me!” (psalm 139:1).

Every human ability or power- how we live, what we do, speak, think wherever and whenever, from where we come and to here we should go- it is all clearly God’s work and creation. Let us give thanks to the Lord.

Children’s chat: Tell about Jesus.

Grace, mercy and peace in Jesus name. Children, what is your favorite story about Jesus? Who would you share that story with? Do you know that as you share Jesus story you are one of His disciples? YES, even though you are children, you too can be His disciples. Let us pray: Thank you Jesus for call us to serve You. Amen.

Adult Sermon: The Son of God.

“Rabbi, You are the Son of God, You are the King of Israel!”

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

There are at least two ways we might understand Nathanael’s question to Jesus: “Where did you know me?” – “Where did you get your information about me?” It may be a question because Nathanael agrees with Jesus’ assessment about him. “Yes, I try to be a good and honest Israelite. How did you find out about me?” Or, if we consider Nathanael’s life under the fig tree as being a lazy bum rather than a reflective thinker, then Nathanael may not agree with Jesus: “You call me a true Israelite without any deceit. Ha! You couldn’t be more wrong. Who gave that nonsense about me?” Positive or negative, the Gospel focuses upon Jesus and His seeking out of Nathaniel- not Nathaniel’s seeking Jesus.

 

I find that there are many people with such a negative self-image that they have great difficult in accepting God’s positive regard toward them. The focus of the story is on the fact of Jesus’ superhuman knowledge and its effect on Nathanael. That seems to be John’s point, which leads Nathanael to make his good confession. That leads us into our faith question: How does the Lord seeking us translate into our own lives?

Nathanael makes a good, orthodox confession: “You are the son of God. You are the King of Israel.” However, Jesus questions why he believes. It is not enough just to say the right words or experience something miraculous – (Jesus’ supernatural knowledge). These things are just the beginning of following Jesus. Nathanael and we will see even greater things.

 

Saints, during this time of revitalization, we certainly consider today’s faith question. How does the Lord seeking us translate into our own lives?

Part of Discerning of our Congregation’s Future involves recalling God’s faithfulness in the past. Not just to reminisce or wallow in past glories; but as a step in trusting God for even greater things in the future. We are a “mission church” looking ahead to the greater things God is going to do with His St. James congregation. The “established churches” tended to look to the past at the good things God had done for the congregation. It was hard to move into the future when we are always looking backwards. You all know, you can’t invite someone to be part of the past. You can invite them to be part of the future. Bringing new members into old committees works best when all are working on a future project rather than reminiscing about what they used to do. New membership is all about Jesus invitation to experience and know Him!

The Christological focus of John 1:19-51 reveals much about the Fourth Evangelist’s understanding of discipleship. The decision to be a disciple is inseparable from the decision one makes about Jesus’ identity.… Unlike the synoptic call narratives, where Jesus promises the disciples a change in their own lives (Mt 4:19; Mk 1:17; Lk 5:10), the focus of the call narratives in John is unwaveringly Christological. Even for those who talk about “finding” Jesus, the initiative remains with Jesus, who was never lost. He was/is always present. When he breaks into our minds and life, it can be an “ah ha!” moment of discovering something that is right before our eyes that we were unable to see. The call narratives begin with the identity of Jesus, and any change for the disciples begins with recognizing and claiming Jesus. Nathaniel’s involved conversation with Jesus transformed him from skepticism to confession and the possibility of even greater experiences.  How does the Lord seeking us translate into our own lives?

Let us pray: “Lord, help us to be open to all the ways you seek us. We ask this in Jesus name, Amen.”

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