Sunday, January 31, 2016

Called to Proclaim God's Love

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany (Year C)
Jeremiah 1.4-10; Psalm 71.1-6; 1 Corinthians 13.1-13; Luke 4.21-30
Sunday, January 31, 2016 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

During this season of Epiphany, we have been considering the various ways in which Jesus Christ is revealed as the Son of God. This is often done through specific acts performed on or by Jesus, such as his baptism, where God specifically declared that Jesus is his Son, the Beloved; or the changing of water into wine at the wedding in Cana. And in Jesus’ interactions with other people. Such as last week when we saw Jesus preaching in his hometown of Nazareth, when he implied in no uncertain terms that he is the Messiah, come to fulfill the prophecies of Isaiah. Now you would think the revelation of the Son of God in the midst of the people would be cause for great celebration. But that did not always prove to be the case. Sometimes what was revealed about Jesus was not particularly popular among those present. Such is the case in our Gospel reading for today, which is a continuation of Jesus’ experience in Nazareth.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Today This Scripture Has Been Fulfilled In Your Hearing . . . And In Your Doing

Third Sunday after Epiphany (Year C)
Nehemiah 8.1-3, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12.12-31a; Luke 4.14-21
Sunday, January 24, 2016 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4.21). We are not told if there was any more to Jesus’ sermon on what he read from Isaiah. For immediately after these words, we are told (although not part of today’s designated reading), “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth” (Lk 4.22a). For all we know, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” may have been the extent of his sermon. Even if this was all he said, that is enough.

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Quantity and Quality

Second Sunday after Epiphany (Year C)
Isaiah 62.1-5; Psalm 36.5-10; 1 Corinthians 12.1-11; John 2.1-11
Sunday, January 17, 2016 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

Benjamin Franklin’s 1779 letter to AndrĂ© Morellet, a French economist and cleric, contained a brief commentary on today’s Gospel reading. He concluded this commentary by stating, wine “is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy” (source).

What Franklin calls “proof,” John in his Gospel, calls a “sign.” We are told, at the end of today’s reading, that this changing of water into wine was the first of Jesus’ signs. John records a total of seven signs performed by Jesus. Each of these signs are meant to convey something significant about who Jesus is. In John’s Gospel, such signs are revelations of God’s glory. More specifically, to reveal God’s visible manifestation to humans in the form of Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

"You Are My Child, My Beloved; With You I Am Well Pleased"

First Sunday after Epiphany – Baptism of Our Lord (Year C)
(Baptism of Joseph Kehoe)
Isaiah 43.1-7; Psalm 29; Acts 8.14-17; Luke 3.15-17, 21-22
Sunday, January 10, 2016 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

So, as of this past week Christmas is over. If you’re like me, the ending of the Christmas Season always seems to be a bit anti-climactic. That is, if you even recognize that there is a Christmas Season. According to the church calendar, Christmas is the twelve days beginning at sundown on December 24th, Christmas Eve, and extending to sundown on January 5th. Therefore, the church recognizes the following Sunday or two (depending on how the calendar falls) as being within the Christmas Season, with additional Gospel readings related to the birth and early life of our Messiah. Yet, we place so much emphasis on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that the following eleven days seem to be somewhat of a downhill slide.

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Sunday, January 03, 2016

The Other Christmas Story

Second Sunday after Christmas (Year C)
Jeremiah 31.7-14; Psalm 147.12-20; Ephesians 1.3-14; John 1.1-18
Sunday, January 3, 2016 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” (Jn 1:1-3a).

These words are the beginning of what is known as the Prologue to the Gospel According to John, and is one of the traditional readings during the Christmas season. In fact, it is so important that it is designated for reading twice during the Christmas season – on Christmas Day and on one of the following Sundays. While beautifully poetic, at first glance we may wonder how this could possibly be a Christmas story. It hardly compares with the dramatic, even romantic, imagery of the birth story recorded in Luke that we heard on Christmas Eve. There is no decree for an imperial census, resulting in Mary and Joseph leaving their home in Nazareth to make the long journey to Bethlehem. There is no mention of the town being so crowded that there was no room available in any inn, so that Mary and Joseph had to seek refuge for the night in a stable. There is certainly no description of the birth of the baby Jesus, who was wrapped in bands of cloth and laid in a manger. There are no shepherds in the field, keeping watch over their sheep. There is no angelic visitor telling the shepherds “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Lk 2.10-11). There is no accompanying multitude of the heavenly host “praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’” (Lk 2.13-14). So where is Christmas in John’s words of “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”?

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