The Last Sunday after the Epiphany: Year A

The Transfiguration of our Lord

  • Exodus 24:12-18
  • Psalm 2 or Psalm 99
  • 2 Peter 1:16-21
  • Matthew 17:1-9

Like Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, it is in those mountaintop, seeing-the-light experiences that we begin to understand what the Lord is calling us to do in our covenant relationship. Each of our readings today speak of light and the sign of God’s presence.

In Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John see Jesus, shining with brilliant light, talking with Moses and Elijah. They hear the affirmation of the voice from the cloud, and are cautioned after the experience to tell no one what they have seen until the Son of Man is raised from the dead. Continue reading

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The Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany: Year A

Living a life of justice and compassion

  • Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
  • Psalm 119:33-40
  • 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23
  • Matthew 5:38-48

Today’s Gospel continues the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus teaches that it is not enough for us to love our neighbors who love us. He calls us to a way of life that reaches far beyond worldly standards of goodness. Our covenant with God calls us to live a life of justice and compassion that surpasses expected behavior.

Legalistic religion has traditionally been used to define the ways in which people can limit the extent of their care for others and still regard themselves as good. Jesus presents a standard that ends all standards. When tempted to revenge and to circumscribe love, we must seek to be like the Father who cares equally for all. We must love our enemies so that we may be children of our Father in heaven. Continue reading

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The Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany: Year A

A call to commitment

  • Deuteronomy 30:15-20 OR Sirach 15:15-20
  • Psalm 119:1-8
  • 1 Corinthians 3:1-9
  • Matthew 5:21-37

This is the third week in which our gospel focuses on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (and it continues for the next two weeks). In this portion of Matthew, Jesus calls for a profound commitment, leading his followers to witness to a distinctive way of life. There are various ways we live out this commitment in congregational worship:

  • The offertory at the Eucharist continues the ancient practice of offering gifts at the altar as an act of commitment to and reconciliation with God.
  • The passing of the peace at the Eucharist expresses the command of Jesus to leave one’s gift at the altar and be reconciled with one’s brother and sister and then offer the gift. Since it follows the confession and absolution, the peace is an acting-out of the need to forgive as we have been forgiven.
  • The church must take seriously the call for unity and peace within the Body of Christ. Harsh judgments and enmity have no place in the congregation.

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The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany: Year A

Salt and Light

  • Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)
  • Psalm 112:1-9 (10)
  • 1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16)
  • Matthew 5:13-20

Jesus tells his disciples that they are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He has come to fulfill the purpose of the law and prophecies. Only those who give their lives to God’s will can enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

God’s people can give witness to God’s grace and power by leading righteous lives. The disciples are to live even more righteously that the pious scribes and Pharisees. Like a city set on a hill or a lamp on a stand, Jesus’ followers must show forth their good works to the glory of God.

The “salt and light” teaching of Jesus wasn’t flattery – it was a warning to his disciples that they could go bland and tasteless, dim and dark – like flat salt or a lamp that has run out of oil. Staying connected with the Source of “salt and light” is the key to effective discipleship. You cannot have the Kingdom of God without God. Continue reading

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The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany: Year A

God’s word is proclaimed. God’s way is proclaimed.

  • Micah 6:1-8
  • Psalm 15
  • 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
  • Matthew 5:1-12

The powerful words of Micah are reflected in our call to justice as well as pattern of liturgy. Worship is an act in which the Christian assembly envisions the reign of God in word and sacrament. The values of God’s reign are enacted in the ancient pattern of the worship service, and then we are sent out into the world to embody God’s dream of “striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being.” (Baptismal Covenant, BCP 305)

  • We gather in God’s name.
  • We hear God’s radical Word.
  • We respond in prayer and thanksgiving.
  • We offer ourselves to God (the offertory).
  • We share a foretaste of the heavenly banquet (communion).
  • We go forth to love and serve.

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The Third Sunday after the Epiphany: Year A

The calling of the disciples, yesterday and today

  • Isaiah 9:1-4
  • Psalm 27:1, 5-13
  • 1 Corinthians 1:10-18
  • Matthew 4:12-23

We begin to focus on mission, ministry, and discipleship in our readings during this season of Epiphany. Just as Jesus called his disciples (followers) who became apostles (ambassadors) after the resurrection, he calls men and women to be his followers. In our baptism we too are called by the Lord to point beyond ourselves to God’s eternal presence in creation. By our baptism we are called into discipleship.

Today’s Gospel is broken into three parts: the beginning of the ministry of Jesus (Matthew 4:12-17); the call of the first disciples (vv. 18-22); and a summary passage on the mission of Jesus (v. 23). Following his baptism and time of temptation in the wilderness, Jesus is filled with God’s Spirit and ready to begin his public ministry. He leaves his home in Nazareth and moves to Capernaum on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. In the synoptic gospels, all of Jesus’ ministry takes place in Galilee until he travels to Jerusalem for his final days, but Matthew mentions the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, fulfilling the prophecy we hear in today’s Old Testament lesson from Isaiah 9:1-2. Continue reading

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The Second Sunday after the Epiphany: Year A

Responding to God’s call to be a “light to the nations”

  • Isaiah 49:1-7
  • Psalm 40:1-12
  • I Corinthians 1:1-9
  • John 1:29-42

Christians see their baptism as a calling into discipleship. Christ calls people into servanthood today as the first disciples were called on the lakeshore and in the counting house. Isaiah speaks of his call and his mission to restore Israel, with God’s promise to become his strength in doing so. God will make his servant a light to the nations.

John the Baptist tells of Jesus’ coming to him as he was baptizing; and John bears witness that Jesus is God’s Chosen One. The next day Andrew and another follower of John the Baptist go home with Jesus, and Andrew tells his brother Simon Peter, “We have found the Messiah!” The baptismal rite includes elements of being called that reflect Jesus’ call to the first disciples: “I present N. to receive the sacrament of baptism . . . Do you renounce Satan . . . Do you turn to Jesus?”

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