Third Sunday after the Epiphany
INTRODUCTION TO THE DAY
As we continue through the time after Epiphany, stories of the call to discipleship show us the implications of our baptismal calling to show Christ to the World. Jesus begins proclaiming the good news and calling people to repentance right after John the Baptist is arrested for preaching in a similar way. Knowing that John was later executed, we see at the very outset the cost of discipleship. Still, the two sets of brothers leave everything they have known and worked for all their lives to follow Jesus and fish for people.
FIRST READING: Jonah 3: 1-5, 10
The book of Jonah is a comedy starring a reluctant prophet who is given a one-sentence message: Nineveh will be destroyed in forty days. Much to Jonah’s dismay, the people of Nineveh repent. The point of the story is to get the reader tow wrestle with the question, “On whom should God have mercy?”
PSALM: Psalm 62: 1-14
SECOND READING: 1st Corinthians 7: 29-31
Paul does not disapprove of marriage or other human social institutions. He does, however, want Christians to live in the present in fervent anticipation of God’s future, which even now has dawned through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
GOSPEL: Mark 1: 14-20
Before Jesus calls his first disciples, he proclaims a message that becomes known as “the Gospel” or Good News from God. God is ready to rule our lives. Those who realize this will respond with repentance and faith.
5TH SUNDAY, JANUARY 31ST
On Jan. 31, we will provide breakfast for First English. We will package the breakfasts for distribution on the 30th for Jon to deliver. The sign-up sheet will be out in a week or 2. If you would like to be included but do not feel comfortable coming out, let me know what you will provide and I will be happy to pick up your contribution. I will publish our wish list when it is available. Please mark your calendars for these special days.
SOUPER BOWL SUNDAY
Sunday, Feb. 7, (whether there is a game or not) we will have our Souper Bowl collection. There will be a soup pot for a free-will offering and you can also include it in your offering as long as you specify the amount so that Tim knows how much is for Lutheran Social Services. There will also be a box to collect any canned goods for Good Samaritan Food Pantry and one for LSS food donations. We will make sure that the food items get delivered. Tim will make sure that the money is sent to LSS. If you would like for us to pick up a canned goods donation, give me a call or text or email to let me know anytime between now and Feb. 7.
GOD'S WORK. OUR HANDS.
Devotional: Identification beyond binaries
by Larry Harrold
ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellow
Believer and non-believer. Educated and uneducated. Rich and poor. Democrat and Republican. Male and female. How numerous are the binaries with which we live!
In many ways, 2020 was the year of binaries. The election, the social unrest around racial injustice and a worsening pandemic revealed how deep our divisions have become.
Gridlock ensues in governments, insults fly online, and protesters clash on the streets. Our World seems to be turning in on itself. Yet we know we are inextricably connected.
Proverbs 22:1-9 – A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold…
It’s in challenging times that Scripture can provide comfort and context. Proverbs 22:1-9 shows the continuity in the binaries that we witness, particularly between rich and poor. The rich yield power and possess gold and silver, yet the author makes clear that the humble are blessed and receive honor and life. This passage seemingly depicts a binaried society yet the second verse lays out “The rich and the poor have this in common: the LORD is the maker of them all.”
The events of 2020 underscore how important it is to keep our interconnectedness in mind in more than just this moment. People lost their homes and jobs, and many went hungry. Countless have lost a loved one to COVID-19. In my own community I’ve seen churches, food banks, shelters, and people of goodwill take on the weight of supporting those in need, but the response only goes so far.
In my management of my church’s community garden, the produce we donate is nourishing, but it will not sustain the hungry indefinitely. Not only is it not enough, but people often need information and tools to prepare it to eat. Food drives face similar issues, and temporary housing is just that … temporary.
The institutions and organizations of my already-economically-depressed slice of Pennsylvania cannot alone meet needs. While some struggle and others struggle to care for them, our leaders are slow to act. Aid is minimal and mismanaged. Yet we know that while this is happening, the most powerful have expanded their own wealth and security to unprecedented levels.
Our advocacy, as Church together, needs to take place. Immediate need must be met, yes, but long-term solutions to the systemic causes of homelessness, hunger, and violence must be made. Our leaders must be held accountable and pressured to act.
Proverbs 22:6 passes along the wisdom: train children in the right way and when old they will not stray. I have fond memories of my grandmother including me in her service to the community. Her faith, which she passed on to me, led her to serve the most vulnerable. That faith compels me to do the same.
Yet I, like many before me, live in a turbulent moment. I am called to not only serve in the presence of immediate need, but to also use my voice, inspired by the active faith instilled in me at a young age, to be an advocate for systemic change that brings new and abundant life to people in my community and beyond.
The passage in Proverbs acknowledges binaries of the World and also guides us in considering our identifiers. While the rich are comfortable and powerful, they will lack blessings, honor, and life if they are not humble and “fear the Lord” (Proverbs 22:4). Calamity comes to those who perpetuate injustice, especially as it pertains to the poor.
All people deserve care, justice, and respect from one another, because we all come from the same Creator. In this new year, with new policy makers, and with the hope of an end to the pandemic, let us be strong advocates so that all know “they share their bread with the poor” (Proverbs 22:9).
Please keep these people in your prayers: Al Bausch, the family of Dortha Feddern, Michael Koch, Wesley and JoAnne Porter, and all those who are suffering from COVID-19. Please remember all of our shut ins and sick. (Also, pray for the families and caretakers of those on the prayer list.)
FUNDS FOR ZION
Please check the bulletin board behind the office door for all of the sign-up sheets for this year. Communion, birthday Sundays, and Worship Assistants/helpers. Thank you so much!
You can also remember special occasions or special people by contributing money that would normally be used for altar flowers. Instead the donation goes to our local food pantry.