Post date: Jan 29, 2019 7:23:18 PM
God’s beloved people,
We have more Sundays in the season of Epiphany this year, since Lent and Easter are later than usual. Here’s a little preview of the Gospel lessons for the month of February.
On February 3rd, the Gospel reading is Luke 4:21-30. Jesus is in his hometown of Nazareth. In the immediately preceding verses, Jesus has read from Isaiah in the synagogue: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And then Jesus said, “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” At first everyone speaks well of him. But when Jesus says that God’s grace is for all people, including foreigners, his hometown folks try (unsuccessfully) to hurl him off a cliff! Jesus reminds us that God’s love and mercy are for ALL people, even folks we think of as our enemies.
On February 10th, the Gospel reading is Luke 5:1-11. Jesus teaches the crowd from Simon Peter’s boat and then tells Simon to “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon is reluctant, since they worked all night and caught nothing. But he obeys Jesus and soon the nets are bursting and the boats are almost sinking with the miraculous catch of fish. Simon says, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” Jesus says, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” Then the disciples leave everything and follow him. What might we be given when we obey Jesus? What might we be asked to leave behind in order to follow him?
On February 17th, the Gospel reading is Luke 6:17-26. In Luke, this begins Jesus Sermon on the Plane. Jesus’ popularity, at least among the poor and needy, is approaching rock-star status. He says to a great crowd. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” To all who are in difficult circumstances and might feel they are somehow being punished by God, Jesus says you are actually first in the kingdom of God and God cares for you very much. Jesus is voicing what some have called, “God’s preferential option for the poor.” Jesus is beginning to form a community that is very different from the “haves and the have-nots.” Jesus voices God’s vision of a community where everyone has plenty, because people share.
On February 24, the Gospel reading is Luke 6:27-38. Jesus continues his Sermon on the Plain. These are perhaps some of Jesus’ most challenging words ever. “Love your enemies, do good to those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also…Be merciful as your Heavenly Father is merciful…give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” Jesus invites us to live the generous life. He also pushes us beyond our comfort zones to be merciful to all people.
Epiphany is the season of light in the church year. By February, the days are getting a little longer and we see more daylight. Lord help us to be little epiphanies of your love and mercy, by following the teachings of our Savior Jesus.
Peace in Christ, Pastor Dennis