Second Sunday after the Epiphany January 16, 2011

Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 40:1-11; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42

Isaiah 49:1-7: Listen to me, O coastlands,
pay attention, you peoples from far away!
The Lord called me before I was born,
while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.
2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me away.
3 And he said to me, ‘You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’
4 But I said, ‘I have laboured in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my cause is with the Lord,
and my reward with my God.’

5 And now the Lord says,
who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
and that Israel might be gathered to him,
for I am honoured in the sight of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—
6 he says,‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the survivors of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’

7 Thus says the Lord,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,
to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations,
the slave of rulers,‘Kings shall see and stand up,
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves,
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.

John 1: 29-42: “The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ 32 And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” 34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’

35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ 39 He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated Anointed). 42 He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter).

Second Sunday after the Epiphany Comment: “The term epiphany means "to show" or "to make known" or "to reveal." I thought while reading the N.T. text, “Why was it that only John the Baptizer saw the Spirit descending on Jesus? What did the two disciples see in Jesus that made them so willing ultimately to leave home and livelihood to follow Jesus? I propose that all three led lives seeking Epiphanies from God and God was faithful to answer.

Jesus, his cousin John and the first two disciples were raised at a time when the focus on God was central in daily life and infused into their culture. The synagogue was to hub of social interaction. It molded the community by its religious teachings to look for and find God in the everyday workings of life. Times of daily prayer were expected from everyone. Every male made pilgrimage to Jerusalem for certain holidays. Because of this lifestyle, there was an expectation of God revealing, showing up in wonderful ways.

Epiphany also celebrates the revelation of God to the gentiles in the persons of the three Wise Kings. Isaiah 49:1-7 is one of the Scriptures readings listed for today. It reads, “Thus says the LORD, ‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” This text certifies and celebrates the verse often called the gospel in miniature, “God so love the world that he gave is only begotten Son that whoever, (you and I who are not of Jewish heritage), whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Eternal life promises that every day can be a day of Epiphany in the life of a Christian!

We can begin by taking notice of the colors of a sunrise or the gray of a cloudy day, to praise God for one more day of life. Epiphanies often come through meetings with Spirit-filled Christians in our daily walks. Showings can be ‘wonder-filled’ even when they come in times we call “bad.” We can embrace those times as God redirecting our steps into places and spaces of greater revelation. Jesus says of himself, I close doors that no one can open and open doors no one can shut.” Then at the end of a day, at sunset, we can experience the ‘sweet showing’ of the Holy Spirit that summons us to restful sleep from a day well spent.

I have a good friend who often says, “The present moment is as good as it gets.” God stands ready to fill our moments from sunrise with showings and Epiphanies. Through, the age old practice of a daily devotional life of prayer and Scripture reading our spiritual eyes are opened to the limitless ways of noticing God.

We will sing the words of the psalm listed for this Sunday.

“He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 41:3

You need to know that there are no shortcuts. Remember on this Second Sunday in the season of Epiphany, the price for every ‘showing’, was paid for through the death, of the one declared by John the Baptizer, even Jesus, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. Remember the same power that produces a new ‘revelation’ in our personal days and nights also produced the resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead. Never forget every epiphany God gives us is a sign, sure and certain proof that resurrection life was, is and always will be more powerful than death and as close as the air we breathe.

May the God of the Epiphany strengthen you, “so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Corinthians 1:7

Rev. Julia
©January 15, 2011

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