SECOND SUNDAY OF CHRISTMAS
JEREMIAH 31:7-14; PSALM 147:12-20; EPHESIANS 1:3-14; JOHN 1[1-9]10-18
Within the gospel reading’s profound words lies the simple message that God is revealed in a human person. Though we may try to understand how the Word existed with God from the beginning of time, the wonder we celebrate at Christmas is that the Word continues to dwell among us. Christ comes among us in the gathered assembly, the scriptures, the waters of new birth, and the brad and the wine. Through these ordinary gifts we receive the fullness of God’s grace and truth.
BAPTISM OF OUR LORD
GENESIS 1:1-5, PSALM 29, ACTS 19:1-7, MARK 1:4-11
Our re-creation in baptism is an image of the Genesis creation, where the Spirit of God moved over the waters. Both Mark’s gospel and the story in Acts make it clear that it is the Spirit’s movement that distinguishes Jesus’ baptism from John’s. The Spirit has come upon us as Jesus and the Ephesians, calling us God’s beloved children and setting us on Jesus’ mission to re-create the world in the image of God’s vision of justice and peace.
SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY
1 SAMUEL 3:1-10[11-20]; PSALM 130:1-6, 13-18, 1 CORINTHIANS 6:12-20; JOHN 1:43-51
All the baptized have a calling in God’s world. God calls not just pastors and deacons; but also the youngest child, like Samuel. The story of the calling of Nathanael plays with the idea of place. Nathanael initially dismisses Jesus because he comes from Nazareth. But where we come from isn’t important; its where-or rather whom- we come to. Jesus refers to Jacob, who had a vision in a place he called “the house of God, and …the gate of heaven” (Gen 28:17). Jesus says he himself is the place where Nathanael will meet God.
THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EPHIPHANY
JONAH 3:1-5,10; PSLAM 62:5-12; 1 CORINTHIANS 7:29-31; MARTH 1:14-20
As we continue through the time after Epiphany, stories of the call to discipleship show up the implications of our baptismal calling to show Christ to the world. Jesus begins proclaiming the good news and calling people to repentance right after John the Baptist is arrested for preaching in a similar way. Knowing that John was later executed, we see at the very outset the cost of discipleship. Still, the two sets of brothers leave everything they have known and worked for all their lives to follow Jesus and fish for people.
FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER EPHIPHANY
DEUTERONOMY 18:15-20; PSALM 111; 1 CORINTHIANS 8:1-13; MARK 1:21-28
In Deuteronomy, God promises to raise up a prophet like Moses, who will speak for God; in Psalm 111, God shows the people the power of God’s works. For the church these are ways of pointing to the unique authority people sensed in Jesus’ actions and words. We counter that authority in God’s word, around which we gather, the word that prevails over any lesser spirit that would claim power over us, freeing us to follow Jesus.