February 2022

Dear People of God,

We stay in the season of Epiphany throughout February this year. The Epiphany season is longer this year, because Easter and therefore Lent is later. Ash Wednesday does not happen this year until March 2nd. Recall that “epiphany” means an unveiling, a revelation, a manifestation. Let’s look at the gospel readings for the four Sundays in February and see what is revealed about Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. Luke is sometimes called, “The Gospel to the Poor” and “The Gospel to the Gentiles.” Also in Luke, “disciples” is a big group; much larger than the 12 apostles and includes a number of women.

On Feb 6th the reading is Luke 5:1-11. Jesus gets into Simon’s boat and asks him to put out into the deep water and let down the nets for a catch. Simon is tired after working all night and catching nothing. He doesn’t really want to do this but he obeys Jesus and is rewarded with a catch of fish so huge that the nets are breaking. Simon says, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” But Jesus says, “Do not be afraid: from now on you will be catching people.” When Simon trusts Jesus he finds forgiveness, abundance to share with others, and a new purpose in life.

On Feb 13th the reading is Luke 6:17-26. Jesus gives his “Sermon on the Plain”. This is Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew. A great crowd of disciples and a great multitude of people from as far as the coast of Tyre and Sidon (Gentile territory), come to hear Jesus and to be healed of their diseases. Also, “those who were troubled with unclean spirits (mental illnesses perhaps?), are cured. Jesus helps folks with mental illnesses. There is a lot of mental illness in our pandemic world right now. And Jesus teaches, “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.” Jesus begins the upside down, in actuality the right side up reign of God, in which the poor and hungry are not neglected and everyone has plenty to live on.

On Feb 20th the reading is Luke 6:27-38. Jesus challenges us to love beyond our comfort zones. He says, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” This is definitely one of Jesus’ most challenging sayings. He also says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Did you know that every major religion has some form of the golden rule? Jesus says, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” and “…give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.” The secular world operates on scarcity thinking, limited pie thinking. But our Savior Jesus leads us into generosity and abundance thinking.

On Feb 27th the reading is Luke 9:28-36. The Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus is always the last Sunday in Epiphany. Jesus’ divine glory shines through his earthly humanity as he is transfigured on the mountain top. Moses and Elijah appear and speak to Jesus about his “departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” The cross is coming soon and Jesus will fulfill his earthly mission. Peter wants to make 3 dwellings, camp out and prolong the moment as long as possible. But a cloud overshadows the disciples and the voice says, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” Coming down the mountain, Jesus is met by a crowd and he heals an epileptic boy. Mountaintops are great, but Jesus calls us to follow him into the valleys of service to our neighbors in need.

Blessed Epiphany season to all, Pastor Dennis