Third Sunday after the Epiphany

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Easter 2, Commemoration of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, 2018 April 8, 2018 Easter 2, Commemoration of the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Luke 6:27-36, Ephesians 6:10-20
Easter Sunday April 1, 2018 Easter, Year B John 20:1-18
Sunrise service, 2018 – “The Road to Emmaus” April 1, 2018 Easter Luke 24:13-35
Good Friday March 30, 2018 Good Friday, Year B John 18:1-19:42
Maundy Thursday, 2018 March 29, 2018 Maundy Thursday, March 29, 2018 John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Palm Sunday, Year B March 25, 2018 Palm Sunday, Year B Mark 15:1-39, [40-47]
Lent 5, Year B March 18, 2018 The Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B Psalm 51:1-13, John 12:20-33
Lent 4, Year B March 11, 2018 The Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B John 3:16
Lent 3, Year B March 4, 2018 Third Sunday in Lent, Year B Exodus 20:1-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22; Psalm 19
Lent 2, Year B February 25, 2018 Second Sunday in Lent, Year B Genesis17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:22-30, Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38
Lent 1, Year B February 18, 2018 The First Sunday in Lent, Year B Genesis 9:8-17, Ps 25:1-9, Mark 1:9-15
Ash Wednesday, Year B February 14, 2018 Ash Wednesday, Year B Isaiah 58:1-12;Psalm 103 or 103:8-14; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10;Matthew 6:1-6,16-21
Last Sunday after the Epiphany February 11, 2018 Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B Mark 9:2-9
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany February 4, 2018 The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B Isaiah 40:21-31; Mark 1:29-39
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany January 28, 2018 Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B Mark 1:21-28, Psalm 111

 

Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Sermon Date:January 21, 2018

Scripture: Jonah 3:1-5,10;Psalm 62:6-14;1 Corinthians 7:29-31;Mark 1:14-20

Liturgy Calendar: Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B


"The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew” (1308-11) – Duccio di Buoninsegna

PDF Version


What are you waiting for and hoping for?

Maybe you’re waiting for something like the delivery of a package from Amazon. 

Maybe you’re waiting for spring. 

Maybe you’re waiting for an end to injustice, an end to poverty in all its forms, and for peace to finally rest on the world. 

Here’s a Storycorps example of someone waiting—Rickey Jackson, serving time in prison for a robbery and murder that he did not commit, based on the testimony of a twelve year old boy named Eddie who didn’t even witness the crime.  Rickey was sitting in prison, waiting and hoping for justice, and we’ll hear more from Rickey a little later.   

Rickey Jackson and Eddie Vernon

Friday, as I was getting my hair cut, I asked Mr. Carter, who has after over thirty years of cutting my hair become a treasured friend, what he is hoping for in 2018. 

And his answer was immediate and simple.

“I’m waiting on the Lord, hoping to draw closer to the Lord.”

He could have been quoting today’s psalm.

The psalmist says, “For God alone my soul in silence waits; truly, my hope is in him.”

This verse brings me up short and makes me think about my own life. 

I definitely wait on God in silence, but for me, the catch to this verse is the word alone, because it’s easy for me to get busy waiting and hoping for so many other things that waiting for God gets pushed way down the list instead of being my first and only priority.

Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “I can’t sit alone and in silence all day waiting on the Lord in prayer.  I have to live my life!”

What we can learn from today’s passages is that yes, we have lives to live, but when we wait on the Lord exclusively, our lives, all we do and all we hope for, get transformed into something more amazing than we could ever hope for in our wildest dreams, just as the people in today’s scriptures get transformed.

The psalmist realizes that when he hopes on money and wealth and power to give his life meaning, these hopes are only a mirage, like a fleeting breath.  When he waits on God, he finds that God is his stronghold that cannot be shaken, no matter what. 

And Paul tells the Corinthians, busy living their lives, that even as they experience the changes and chances of this mortal life, as one of our prayer book collects says, that their calling as Christians is to wait on God alone—and then all the rest will fall into place.

Paul points out that the work of marriage and other relationships, the ways in which we grieve and celebrate, our dependence on material things, our relationships and connections with our neighbors, communities, nation and the world can all have the potential to be transformed by God. 

When we Christians put the nitty-gritty of life into the context of God’s steadfast love and our trust in that love, everything in our lives, even the smallest details, become even more important—but now important in a different way, because when we wait on God alone, all of these things in our lives get caught up in God’s loving, healing, and challenging embrace and we realize, through God’s grace, that everything is in God’s control. 

We’re no longer being driven by the things of this life any more, because we know that God is at work, and so we are confident in the fact that, as one commentary I read put it, “God is leading the world to a worthy conclusion.”

In today’s gospel, Simon and his brother Andrew are fishing, casting their nets into the sea.  And Jesus walks past and says to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 

Simon and Andrew were waiting and hoping to catch fish.  Jesus tells them that what they will be waiting and hoping for and working for is in some ways the same as their current occupation of fishing—because if they follow Jesus, they are still going to fish, but in a transformed and more glorious way.  If they follow Jesus, their “catch” will be transformed people who follow God.    

Here we are today, over 2000 years after this story took place.  And we all are part of Simon Peter’s catch.  We belong to a church named after Simon Peter—St Peter’s Episcopal Church. 

Peter’s willingness to let God transform Peter’s work led to his own transformation and even though he often blew it, ultimately his life spent following Jesus became a powerful witness down through the ages. 

And like Peter, our own transformation and witness when we follow Jesus will, guaranteed, lead to positive transformation in our own lives and to positive  change in others. 

Jesus then comes to James and John, who are in their boat mending nets.  And Jesus calls them too, and they leave their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and follow Jesus.

I struggle with this part of the gospel. On the surface, it seems like an awful thing to do, to leave your father behind, with those nets of his that you were mending still not completely repaired, to go off and follow Jesus.

But the point of this story is that even family, as highly important as it is, cannot take precedence over waiting on God in our lives.

Remember, God is leading the world to a worthy conclusion, so if God calls us to leave something undone and to follow, God will care for what God has asked us to leave behind, and will care for the Zebedees in our lives as well.   

When Jesus came into Galilee, he proclaimed the good news of God.  

“The time is fulfilled,” Jesus said,  “and the kingdom of God has drawn near.”  The waiting is almost over.  

The time that Jesus speaks of is not clock time, time as we tend to think of it, divided into seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years—chronos time, ticking our lives away. 

The time Jesus speaks of is kairos, God’s time—and kairos is a divinely allotted time, and a decisive time, time that when entered into, will lead to new life, transformation and resurrection.

Our time is divinely allotted.  Every moment is decisive. 

At the beginning of this sermon, I mentioned Rickey Jackson, waiting in prison, wrongly convicted of committing robbery and murder, hoping that someday he would once more be free.

The young boy who testified against him, Eddie Vernon, grew into a man, living in chronos time.  The days and years ticked by, and Eddie described himself as depressed and suicidal, thinking that he should change places with Rickey because he knew that Rickey was innocent. And meanwhile, Rickey thought of Eddie with hatred and loathing and would have fantasies about killing Eddie

At age 52, Eddie was tired.  Tired of thinking about his false testimony, tired of thinking about all the years Rickey had lost, and so he came forward and told the truth.  In having the courage to do this, and to set the record straight, Eddie entered into kairos time—because his decision to come forward created a chance for transformation and resurrection in his own life and in the life of Rickey and two others also wrongly convicted due to Eddie’s  testimony.   

After Rickey got out of jail, he asked his lawyer to help him get in touch with Eddie. 

When they met, Rickey said to Eddie that he had gone through 39 years of incarceration because of the things that Eddie had put into action with his testimony.  He told Eddie that when he saw him in the courtroom after all those years, he could still see the twelve year old boy, but more than that, he could see the strength of a man who had come forward to do something and the next thing Rickey knew he was a free man.  And when they finally met face to face,  Rickey said he could barely remember the animosity he had felt for all those years.  He hugged Eddie and said that he felt Eddie get lighter in his arms. 

Eddie said that the hug took a whole lot of weight off his shoulders, the weight he had been carrying all those years.  

Rickey also told Eddie that many people didn’t understand how he could forgive Eddie.  Rickey said he wouldn’t forget what had happened, but forgiveness was his way out and that he gladly took it.  And Eddie said to Rickey, “I thank God for that, man, I really do.” 

And Rickey said, “Ain’t nothing phony about it; ain’t nothing corny.  You know, after all we been through, to finally be sitting here talking face to face about what happened, I’m saying one man to another, I wish you nothing but the best always.”   

Two men, through the grace of God, sharing kairos time, God’s time, God’s transformation and God’s resurrection.     

God is waiting on us to enter that time as well.  

And so, let us pray.  

 “God, give us the grace and courage to wait on you and you alone, to trust in you, and to do the things that you call us to do, for our good and for the good of the world that you have made and love so abundantly.” 

Amen. 

Resources: 

The Book of Common Prayer

Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament

Storycorps https://storycorps.org/listen/rickey-jackson-and-eddie-vernon-180105/

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