The Reverend Elizabeth Bowyer
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Introduction to the Readings

For the second Sunday after the Epiphany

January 22, 2017

This morning, our Hebrew Scriptures text from the book of Isaiah reminds that ‘without a vision the people will perish’. 

May it's reading here this morning be a reminder for us all that darkness is but a prelude to the dawning of a new day. 

May it also remind us of God’s promise of presence through Jesus as call and as light to our paths in times of fear, hopelessness, and anguish.

A reading from the ninth chapter of the book of Isaiah verses 1 through 4 

“The people have seen a great light”

But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. 

In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness-on them light has shined. 

You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. 

For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.”

Here ends the first of our readings from scriptures this day.

 

Our responsive psalm this morning comes to us from VU 27 found at p 754.

We begin with the refrain.

 

Our second reading this morning comes from the gospel according to Matthew.

Picking up the threads of the story soon after Jesus is baptised and then sent out into the wilderness, we learn that Jesus’ cousin John has lost his life and that Jesus is now called into leadership.   

Listen again to how the story reinforces the fulfillment of the ancient texts as Jesus is intentionally relocated from Nazareth to the very land of his tribal ancestors, the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali. 

These regions, once thought to have been given by God to his and our faith ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joshua, these regions are now occupied by the imperial powers of the Roman empire. 

And so it is, we meet Jesus, who takes up John’s call to turn the world upside down as he invites others into the shared building of a different kind of kingdom, one that will come into direct confrontation with the oppressive regime that was the Holy Roman Empire.

Listen to how God’s word might shine through this reading for you as an invitation to being called into the co-creation of God’s kingdom here and now.

Reading from the 4th Chapter of the gospel according to Matthew, verses 12-23

“Jesus Begins His Ministry”

“Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 

He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles-the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.”

From that time Jesus began to proclaim,

“Repent for the kingdom of God has come near.”

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter,  and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea-for they were fishermen.  And he said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”

Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 

As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 

Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Jesus went throughout Galilee teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.”  Here ends our reading from the gospel according to Matthew.

 

Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church.  Thanks be to God, amen.