Sunday, January 26, 2014 Epiphany III
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Call to Worship
How awesome God’s light is!
All: It pours rays of comfort and hope onto this dark world!
Come, dance and rejoice in the light!
All: Lord, let your light flood into our hearts and spirits!
Come, let us celebrate!
All: Let us bring our praise to God! AMEN.
Loving Presence you give us strength and courage to carry out your will. We know you are ever near us, keeping us in your love. Remind us that there is nothing to fear when our eyes are fixed on you. We give thanks for your love. Amen.
A reading from the Psalter
(Ps. 27.1, 4, 6)
1God is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? God is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
4One thing have I asked of God, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of God all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of God, and to inquire in the temple.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up…and I will offer in God’s tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to God.
A reading from the Wisdom of Lisa Nichols
“Every single thing you’ve been through, every single moment that you’ve come through, were to all prepare you for this moment right now. Imagine what you can do from this day forward with what you know…How much more do you get to be? How many more people do you get to bless, simply by your existence?…No one else can dance your dance, no one else can sing your song, no one else can write your story. Who you are, what you do, begins right now!”
Matthew (Mt 4.12-14, 16, NIV)
12When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. 13Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum…14to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: 16the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
Reflection by Rev. Dr. BK Hipsher, Virtual Chaplain, Sunshine Cathedral
Click on the audio bar below to hear the recording. Text follows.
Of Whom Shall I Be Afraid?
Our gospel reading today seems appropriate for the middle of winter. Where I live there is much less daylight each day than in summer. In the northern latitudes or the southern latitudes of the earth, the difference in the length of daylight hours from winter to summer is dramatic. And daylight hours often do not allow a peek at the sun. Many days are cloudy grey and sometimes gloomy. When I read our gospel lesson I think of the few wonderful bright sunny days in winter and how that bright sunlight makes me feel.
Our gospel lesson today reminds us to focus on the light, focus on the things in our lives that make us feel good, feel whole, and feel grateful. It’s a lesson to us about the blessing our lives can be to others. Our passage has Jesus returning to Capernaum in Galilee when John is put into prison. Jesus had just come through what we know as the temptation in the desert. I can only imagine that in gratitude for coming through his own trial he chooses to make himself available to the people there, people whose leader had been put into prison.
Jesus came to those people to bring hope. Just as the light of a beautiful sunny day in winter brings hope that spring will come again, Jesus brings hope to a suffering world by simply making himself available. He has come through his discernment process. He is beginning to understand his call and by going to Capernaum he begins to preach and speak out on behalf of those who are oppressed by the unjust systems of the world.
Jesus has wrestled with his own insecurity; he has entertained all the voices inside himself that questioned his worthiness. Then he hears that John, his cousin who is already speaking out and preaching, has been arrested and put into prison. But he goes to Capernaum anyway. He goes to bring hope to the people there.
Our Psalm is the kind of thing that Jesus may have held in his mind and his heart. The images here may have given him the courage to follow his calling. “God is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? God is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” When we step out of living in fear and step into living in the light of God’s love for us it gives us courage to do great things and to do the quiet things that allow us to be present to those around us who are suffering.
Our own suffering and our own challenges give us experience that we can share with others. There is nothing more powerful than being present to someone who is going through a trial in their lives and sharing our experience of having weathered a similar trial. What could be more comforting than sharing our experiences of having come through? Often the very things we think make us unworthy are the experiences that make us useful to others.
This is principle 12 step programs are based upon; someone who has come through getting sober or abstinate sharing that experience with someone who is going through it. When I share experiences like my mother’s death with someone whose parent is dying, they listen to me because they know I have experience that is similar to theirs. Every single experience in our lives has prepared us for this moment in our lives and in the lives of those with whom we are in relationship.
May we be willing to share ourselves. May we be willing to hear and discern our own calling. May we be willing to be present to those who are suffering without worrying about whether we are worthy and without being afraid that we will not be able to be there for them. May we remember the words of the Psalm, “God is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? God is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”