The Third Sunday after the Epiphany: Year B

Fish Stories

  • Jonah 3:1-5, 10
  • Psalm 62:6-12
  • 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
  • Mark 1:14-20

Words that connect today’s readings do not seem connected at all: fish, risk and urgency. We hear the familiar story of Jesus calling his disciples to make them “fishers of men.” Paul has faced a reversal in his life, sharing with the church in Corinth that “The appointed time has grown short” (1 Corinthians 7:29). The urgency is to follow the bidding of the Lord, because “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near . . .” (Mark 1:15).

Jonah has been given a message of great urgency. Ninevah had become the worlds’ greatest obstacle to the establishment of justice. Conquest and greed from the Assyrian Empire had made it a great city through aggression, cruelty and exploitation. Jonah was not quite willing to take up his task when called upon by God, but eventually he was compelled to deliver God’s message. Continue reading

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The Second Sunday after the Epiphany: Year B

Here I Am!

  • 1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20)
  • Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17
  • 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
  • John 1:43-51

One of the themes of today’s readings is responding to God’s call. We have the story of the prophet Eli, who recognizes that it is the Lord who is calling Samuel; and he tells Samuel to answer, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” In the Gospel, we hear John’s telling of Jesus calling Philip (and others) to be his disciple. Philip goes to Nathaniel and tells him that Jesus of Nazareth is the person who was spoken of my Moses in the Law. Continue reading

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The First Sunday after the Epiphany: Year B

The Baptism of our Lord

  • Genesis 1:1-5
  • Psalm 29
  • Acts 10:34-38
  • Mark 1:7-11

This year we read the Baptism text from Mark. While Matthew and Luke report what they have been told of Jesus’ birth, Mark’s shorter Gospel simply assumes such information.

Mark’s proclamation begins with a statement of God’s authorization of John’s preparatory ministry. That authorization is set out in two prophetic oracles, Malachi 3:1 (“I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me”) and Isaiah 40:3 (“A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord'”). Continue reading

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The Feast of the Holy Name – January 1

The Naming of Jesus

  • Numbers 6:22-27
  • Psalm 8
  • Galatians 4:4-17 OR
  • Philippians 2:5-11
  • Luke 2:15-21

God’s identity is revealed as “merciful” and “gracious” (Exodus 34:6). Jesus’ name has significance: it is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, meaning “God saves.”

The observance of the octave (eighth day) of Christmas has roots in the sixth century. The Christian calendar once called this day “The Circumcision and Name of Jesus.” The emphasis on circumcision is from the Jewish tradition, in which every Jewish boy was circumcised and formally named on the eighth day of his life (Leviticus 12:3). Other requirements of Mosaic Law included a dedication of the firstborn (Exodus 13:12-13; Numbers 18:15) and purification of the mother (Leviticus 12:2, 4, 6).  And we are reminded of Genesis 17:12, where a sign of the covenant between God and the nation of Israel: “Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old.”

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The First Sunday After Christmas

God came in Jesus fully to reveal God’s love and forgiveness to all

  • Isaiah 61:10 – 62:3
  • Psalm 147
  • Galatians 3:23-25, 4:4-7
  • John 1:1-18

John’s Prologue poetically tells us that Jesus existed in the beginning with God the Father and was active in creation. He became incarnate and dwelt among us in human flesh. As the source of light and life in the world, he is the one who makes God the Father known to us.

Logos (Greek = “The Word”) gives us the expression of God’s creativity. Jesus as the Logos existed in the beginning with God the Father and was active in creation. Jesus was with God, and all things came into being through him. We profess this as core to our faith each week as we recite the Nicene Creed together during worship. Continue reading

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Christmas Day

His Only-begotten Son and the Word of God 1885...

His Only-begotten Son and the Word of God (Vsnetsov,1885)

In the beginning there was the Word.

  • Isaiah 52:7-10
  • Psalm 98
  • Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12)
  • John 1:1-14

The above readings are for Christmas III, most appropriate for Christmas Day, while readings for Christmas I and II are often used on Christmas Eve services. There is a shift with this set of readings – we have moved from the birth of Jesus as told by Luke to the coming of Christ, who, in a hymn from John, is described as the Word who was with God from the beginning, and through whom all things come to be.

That Word is forever being engendered and forever being present with God because, as the expression of Divine nature, the Word is and always has been God. The Word which expresses the Divine nature has been the agent of all creation. Nothing whatever has come into being apart from that Word. In particular, the Word of God is Life for all that has life. And for those beings who can reflect upon the life they have, God’s Word is the Light that gives them understanding. Continue reading

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Advent 4, Year B

A mystery is revealed.

  • 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
  • Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26
  • Romans 16:25-27
  • Luke 1:26-38

Today’s readings invite us to respond to the wonder and mystery of God with a clear and joyful “yes.” In 2 Samuel, God surprises David with the promise of an eternal kingdom to David’s heir. In his letter to the Romans, Paul proclaims that in Jesus Christ the mystery of the ages is revealed. In today’s gospel, Mary opens her spirit, soul and body to the mystery and word of God.

Some commentators point to a pattern in Mary’s encounter with Gabriel that parallels the process many people have when God enters their lives. The first response is fear or awe. Mary “was much perplexed by his words” (Luke 1:29), just as any of us would be, finding it incomprehensible that we have found favor with God. Surely the all-powerful God doesn’t need one who’s as scatter-brained, selfish, disorganized or downright shifty as we think ourselves? Continue reading

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