Epiphany 3

 January 21, 2018
THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY
THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

This week leading to January 21 begins with a national observance to remember and honor The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Hard to realize that his life ended tragically at age 39, very young.  The light through him, the ripples created by his passing are profound and still continue.  He sought justice through non-violence.  That is a light, those are ripples many of us can affirm and follow.

We also observe the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, January 18 (The Confession of Peter) – January 25 (The Conversion of Paul).  Both are about growing light.

The Light of the World continues to grow in this Epiphany season, as these lessons reveal.

Jonah reminds us that God loves ‘them’ even though Jonah does not.  That leads Jonah not to rejoice but to be depressed.  Ironically – or perhaps prophetically – Jonah in Hebrew means ‘dove’.  The power of a negative peace symbol for us to consider as we look at our own behavior.

Mark’s gospel has started quickly and things evolve rapidly.  John the Baptizer is arrested.  What does that mean for those baptized by him, like Jesus?

Jesus comes out forcefully proclaiming the Kingdom of God and calling people to ‘repent’ and reorient their lives.  He goes among the tough, hardened, and hard-working fishing folks to call his first disciples.  What skill sets do they have that will enable them to transition into being able to ‘fish for people’ as part of the Kingdom?

They have two skills or practices that will serve the Kingdom well. 

First, like farmers who plant lots of seeds, fisher-people are used to casting nets: regularly, repeatedly, tirelessly – and yet, not always with good results.  Fisher-people have the ethic and the resilience that this Kingdom job requires.  In their casting about they bring a familiarity with hard work and an acquaintance with disappointment.  Welcome to the Kingdom.

Second, when Jesus encounters these fisher-people there on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee near Capernaum, they are mending their nets.  This is also a good skill to bring as a follower of Jesus and as a rep of the Kingdom.  Mending is akin to God’s gift of reconciling the world to God’s own self through this Jesus.  Without such constant and regular mending/reconciling, the good intention of the Kingdom’s gathering net will not be realized. 

These two skills call to me as a rep of the Kingdom to keep casting and to keep mending. 

PRAYER OF THE DAY

Almighty God, by grace alone you call us and accept us in your service. Strengthen us by your Spirit, and make us worthy of your call, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.   Amen.

LESSONS AND PSALM
Jonah 3: 1-5, 10
    Psalm 62: 6-14
1 Corinthians 7: 29-31
Mark 1: 14-20
CHILDREN’S SERMON:  “Second”
SERMON:  “Casting for Followers; Mending Disciples”
 
WORD OF THE WEEK  from Mark 1
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

  16As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

FIRST LESSON from Jonah 3: 1-5, 10
1The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, 2“Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” 3So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. 4Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.
  10When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
 
SECOND LESSON from 1 Corinthians 7: 29-31

9Brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, 30and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, 31and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

THE HOLY GOSPEL according to Mark 1: 14-20
14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

  16As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.