The Reverend Elizabeth Bowyer

Introduction to the readings for the fourth Sunday after Epiphany

This morning we pick up again with the story of Jesus’ proclamation of the good news in his hometown of Nazareth.  Here, in this reading, Jesus clarifies his self understanding as well as the depth and all-encompassing nature of his vocation.  As you listen, imagine your own response(s) to new leaders whose words and actions challenge all you have understood to be sacred and true.

Reading from The gospel according to Luke, Chapter 4, verses 21-30 “Jesus is driven out of Nazareth”

“He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 

All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips.  “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: Physician, heal yourself!” And you will tell me, “Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.”

“Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.  I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land.  Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.  And there were many in Israel with leprosy.  In the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed-only Naaman the Syrian.”

All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.  They got up, drove him out of town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff.  But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

Here ends the good news according to the author of Luke.

 

Anticipating our second reading this morning, let us turn to VU#372 and sing together “The Gift of Love”.

As with the gospel reading for this morning, we resume reading from where we left off last week from Paul’s letter to the people at Corinth, the Corinthians: 

Reading from Chapter 13, verses 1-13, “Love is patient, love is kind.”

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophecy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

And now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Church.

Thanks be to God.

(Copyright for both readings: Holy Bible, New International Version, Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved worldwide.)