Friday, January 18, 2008

Second Sunday after Epiphany

The readings for 2 Epiphany are here.

Isaiah tells the community that they are to be a light to the world – switching back and forth, in the style of prophetic writing, between a representative individual and the community – he tells them that even though they feel week and outcast – they are chosen by God to be that light.

Paul assures the church as Corinth that they have all the gifts needed to do the work God calls them to do. As we read later in Paul’s letter – they have the gifts but need to look at how they are using them – to build up or to tear down?

The gospel tells us of the call of Andrew – how he had been following John but now is turned toward Jesus by John. Jesus asks them what are you seeking? The 2 ask Jesus where he is staying – but Jesus only says, – come and see – Andrew then leads Peter to follow.

Come and see – that is the invitation we have been offered and that we can offer to others. Jesus wants us to walk with him and see how to find the life God wants for us. He does not tell them what they will find – he allows them to live into it. By the end of the story they have found what it is they are seeking and they have learned to abide (stay) in that presence – the presence of God who is Love

We are called to point the way for others – to invite them to come and see – to find rest for their souls, to find abundant life that is not dependent on material goods, to find that they are the beloved of God.

Tomorrow we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. – he did not start out to be the hero of the civil rights era – he was just being a pastor like his father before him, he started giving sermons on how all are created in the image of God and that all deserved a chance to become the person was calling her or him to be. Then one night he found out he was deep into the scary part of being a Christian. Here is the article from the Montgomery newspaper:

28 January 1957
Montgomery, Ala.

After another weekend of violence in Montgomery, including a failed attempt to bomb King's home with twelve sticks of dynamite, King declares to his Dexter congregation on 27 January that their city is "dangerous to live in--it's no longer safe." For the first time he talks about his experience of a "divine" presence a year before, when God gave him the courage he needed to face escalating threats of violence. A Montgomery Advertiser article the next day included these quotations from King's sermon.

After describing the vision to his almost-filled church a few hours after a dynamite bundle failed to explode on his porch when his family was not at home, King said in prayer:

"I realize that there were moments when I wanted to give up (leadership of the pro-integration movement) and I was afraid but You gave me a vision in the kitchen of my house and I am thankful for it."

The 28-year-old Baptist minister said in his sermon that after Montgomery Negroes began a 381-day bus boycott on Dec. 5, 1955, "I went to bed many nights scared to death" by threats against himself and his family.

"Early on a sleepless morning in January, 1956," King said, "rationality left me." Then, "almost out of nowhere I heard a voice
that morning saying to me:

"Preach the Gospel, stand up for the truth, stand up for righteousness."

King went on, "Since that morning I can stand up without fear. So I'm not afraid of anybody this morning.

"Tell Montgomery they can keep shooting and I'm going to stand up to them; tell Montgomery they can keep bombing and I'm going to stand up to them.

"If I had to die tomorrow morning I would die happy, because I've been to the mountain top and I've seen the promised land and it's going to be here in Montgomery. The old Montgomery is passing away and segregation is dying," King declared.

PD. Montgomery Advertiser, 28 January 1957.

He had his moment of seeing where this journey was taking him – he experienced fear but then he knew that God was with him all the way – and he gained the courage to continue.

We are not all called to be Martin Luther King, Jr. or a Mother Teresa – we are called to ourselves and to take the path that is our to take in the company of Christ. Some days just making it through another day is all that is required. Other days we are asked to speak out for those who have no voice or who are afraid to speak. Some days it is caring for our immediate families and friends - other days it may be seeing to the needs of the world. As Oscar Wilde said “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” The readings today speak to each of us as individuals and to us as a community. The church, hopefully, offers a place where we can "come and see" - a place to have our questions and share them with one another, to learn more about the One we follow. It is interesting that Jesus says "follow me" and never "worship me." We do worship him but not in a static - this is all there is - way --- but to find rest for our souls and as a way to gain strength and courage for becoming followers of Christ. The second part is to invite others to "come and see." Like John and Andrew - once they glimpse the reality of Jesus - they immediately share that experience with others. They do not say others must have the same experience - they say "come and see."

The psalmist says ---

9 In the roll of the book it is written concerning me: *
I love to do your will, O my God;
your law is deep in my heart.

What will be written in the roll of the book about your life? Come and see.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Baptism of Jesus - more

We used this image in our EFM online class last night - it seems to capture that sense of being brought into new life. Painting by Laura James