Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Easter 2, year A April 27, 2014 Second Sunday of Easter, Year A John 20:19-31, Psalm 16
Easter April 20, 2014 Easter Day, Year A Jeremiah 31:1-6, Matthew 28:1-10
Good Friday April 18, 2014 Good Friday, Year A The Passion according to John
Palm Sunday 2014 reflections April 13, 2014 Palm Sunday, year A Matthew 26:14- 27:66
Fifth Sunday in Lent April 6, 2014 Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A 2014 Ezekiel 37:1-14, Romans 8:6-11, John 11:1-45, Psalm 130
Fourth Sunday in Lent March 30, 2014 The Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A Ephesians 5:8-14
Third Sunday in Lent March 23, 2014 Third Sunday in Lent, Year A Exodus 17:1-7, Psalm 95, John 4:5-42
First Sunday in Lent March 9, 2014 First Sunday in Lent, Year A Matthew 4:1-11
Ash Wednesday, Year A March 5, 2014 Ash Wednesday, Year A 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Last Sunday after Epiphany, Year A March 2, 2014 Last Sunday after Epiphany Exodus 24:12-18, 2 Peter 1:16-21. Matthew 17:1-9
Seventh Sunday after Epiphany, Year A February 23, 2014 Seventh Sunday after Epiphany Leviticus 19:1-2. 9-18; Matthew 5:38-48
Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A February 16, 2014 Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A Matthew 5:21-37
John Hines sermon February 11, 2014 Daily Office I Kings 8:22-23, 27-30, Ps 84, Mark 7:1-13
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A February 9, 2014 Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A Isaiah 58:1-12, 1 Corinthians 2:1-16, Matthew 5:13-20
The Presentation, Year A February 2, 2014 Presentation in the Temple, Year A Luke 2:22-40


Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A

Sermon Date:January 26, 2014

Scripture: Matthew 4:12-23

Liturgy Calendar: Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A

He Qui – "Calling Disciples"

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From that time, Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 

In their commentary, The Gospel of Matthew,  scholars Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri point out that this kingdom of heaven that Jesus is proclaiming at the beginning of his ministry demands a human response. 

In today’s gospel reading, we see the response of four fishermen who respond to the call of Jesus.  Mitch and Sri say that the response of these four men, who instantly decide to leave their livelihoods and their families behind when Jesus calls them, is nothing short of the first miracle that Jesus performs.

Because would anyone in their right mind instantly follow a man who walks past, calls out, and says, “Follow me?”

Would you instantly put down life as you know it to chase after the kingdom of heaven, a kingdom that we see only through the eyes of faith?  

Here’s the good news and challenging news in today’s gospel. 

Jesus calls us all, and Jesus calls us over and over and over.  Jesus is always walking past us as we go about our lives and hoping to perform a miracle in our lives.

Sometimes his call seems to us to be barely a whisper, like the slightest rustle of a gentle breeze through the rich green foliage of trees in the summer.

Sometimes his call sounds distant, like the lonesome whistle of the train late at night passing along the tracks miles from home, but the sound seeps through our sleep and we’re aware of it, distant though it is.

Sometimes the call is loud and clear, like a clap of thunder so close that the house vibrates. 

My point is, and the good news is, that Jesus is always calling us, wanting to perform a miracle in our lives. 

Whether or not we respond, and to what degree we respond, is up to us. 

This year’s Annual Council had many examples of churches around the diocese answering this call of Jesus to follow him in some new ways. 

From St Paul’s in Richmond and its mission to the downtown area,  and Christ Church in Millwood launching a food ministry that feeds the hungry in Clarke County, to Church of the Resurrection in Alexandria, which is literally going to be torn down and be resurrected as a new church and new affordable housing, churches all over the diocese are answering the call of Jesus to follow him in new and surprising ways. 

Eunice Key, Ben and I spent the day on Friday at Annual Council hearing about many of how churches are being called to follow, and answering those calls. 

Eunice will have more to share with you during announcements about our time at Council.

But today, I also want to share with the story of one man answering the call of Jesus, and that man is Martin Luther King. 

On Martin Luther King Day, which was the past Monday, I read an interesting story in The Washington Post entitled “A preacher’s road map for a president” by Joshua DuBois.

This article contained great illustration of Martin Luther King’s response to Jesus walking by and calling, “Follow me.”

And by choosing to follow him, King let Jesus perform  miracles in and through his life that ultimately brought positive changes to the people of this nation. 

I had never heard this part of King’s story that the article describes in detail. 

I never knew that in January of 1956, King nearly gave up his leadership in the civil rights movement. 

King was leading the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott, and the boycott was dragging on and on.  King was receiving hate calls at home, he was arrested on trumped up traffic charges, and was being accused of mismanaging money—his family had had enough and begged King “to give up his activism and find a less hazardous occupation.” 

David Garrow, who wrote a biography of King called Bearing the Cross, says that  King “had a terrible sense of guilt about his leadership of the boycott and almost broke down under the continual battering of the argument that he was doing more harm than good to the cause of civil rights.”

That’s the background for what comes next—a great example of Jesus walking by and calling out and changing a man’s life forever.

“Come on, Martin, repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.  Follow me.” 

Here’s what happened.

On the night of Friday, January 27th, King received a hate call that went like this.

The caller whispered, “N—-, we’re tired of your mess now.  And if you are not out of this town in three days, we are going to blow your brains out and blow up your house.”

King said of this low point, “I was ready to give up.  With my cup of coffee sitting untouched before me, I tried to think of a way to move out of the picture without appearing to be a coward.”

In the article, DuBois says King realized as the night wore on and as he sat in despair that “even though he was a pastor, his faith was brittle.”

King said, “It was kind of inherited religion and I had never felt an experience with God in the way that you must…if you are going to walk the lonely paths of this life.”

King got on his knees.  And then King heard the voice, calling him.

King described the call he heard this way.

“At that moment, I could hear an inner voice saying to me, ‘Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness.  Stand up for justice.  Stand up for truth.  And lo, I will be with you, even until the end of the world.’”

The article goes on to say, “Even though King was a preacher, it was the first time he had his own personal, intimate encounter with God.  It was an encounter that endowed him with a deep sense of peace and purpose for the journey ahead.”

John Henry Newman, an important theologian of the 19th century, has this to say about God’s call on our lives.

God’s calls require instant obedience.  God calls us into mystery.  We don’t know where the call will lead us. 

And we can only respond to these calls in faith, because we can’t see where the call will lead us.    

Newman goes on to say that “all through our life Christ is calling us; not once only, but many times. “

“He called us first in Baptism; but afterwards also; whether we obey His voice or not, He graciously calls us still.  If we fall from our Baptism, He calls us to repent; if we are striving to fulfill our calling, He calls us on from grace to grace, and from holiness to holiness, while life is given us…we are all in course of calling, on and on, from one thing to another, having no resting place, but mounting towards our eternal rest, and obeying only one command only to have another put upon us.”

Jesus is always walking by us as we go about the business of our lives, always calling to us, always hoping that we will choose a personal and intimate encounter with him. 

May God give us the grace to long for that personal, intimate and life-changing encounter with God,

to listen for that voice,

to hear God’s voice,

to expect a miracle,

to let go of those things that distract us, and weigh us down and hold us back,

and to respond to God’s call,

and to follow,

to chase after the kingdom of heaven

 and to help to bring it near. 



 The Washington Post, Monday, January 20, 2014

“A preacher’s road map for a president,” by Joshua DuBois.

 Mitch, Curtis, and Sri, Edward.  The Gospel of Matthew.  Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.  2010.





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