Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Lent 3, Year A at the Cathedral March 15, 2020 Third Sunday in Lent, Year A John 4:5-42
Lent 2, Year A – March 8, 2020 – the Rev. Deacon Carey Connors March 8, 2020 Lent 2, Year A John 3:1-17
Lent 1, Year A March 1, 2020 First Sunday in Lent, Year A Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Matthew 4:1-11
Ash Wednesday, February 26, 2020 February 25, 2020 Ash Wednesday, Year A Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A February 23, 2020 Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A Matthew 17:1-9
Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A February 16, 2020 Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A Sirach 15:15-20; I Corinthians 3:1-9, I Corinthians 13: 11-12; Matthew 5:21-37; Psalm 119:1-8
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A February 9, 2020 Epiphany 5, Year A Isaiah 58:1-9a, [9b-12];Matthew 5:13-20
The Presentation February 2, 2020 Presentation of Jesus in the Temple Luke 2:22-40
Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A January 26, 2020 Third Sunday after the Epiphany Matthew 4: 12-23, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Congregational Meeting January 19, 2020 Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A, Congregational Meeting Isaiah 49:1-7; John 1:29-42
First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A January 12, 2020 First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A Matthew 3:13-17
Epiphany, Year A January 6, 2020 The Epiphany, Year A Matthew 2:1-12
Christmas 2, Year A January 5, 2020 Christmas II, Year A Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23; Ephesians 1:3-6,15-19a; Psalm 84
Christmas Eve, Year A December 24, 2019 The Eve of the Nativity Luke 2:14
Advent 3, Year A December 15, 2019 Advent 3, Year A Isaiah 35:1-10


Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A

Sermon Date:January 26, 2020

Scripture: Matthew 4: 12-23, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Liturgy Calendar: Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Bloom where you are planted! 

This saying is a reminder that we can thrive no matter where we find ourselves. Jesus and his early followers in today’s readings can help us to bloom where we are planted. 

First, Jesus. 

Jesus grew up in Nazareth. 

Matthew tells us that Jesus left Nazareth and went to the River Jordan to be baptized by John, and then was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 

Today’s gospel tells us what Jesus did when the forty days in the wilderness came to an end. 

When Jesus heard that John, the one who baptized him, had been arrested, Jesus withdrew to Galilee. 

Even today, quiet Galilee is a sort of backwater, far from the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem, the center of power.    Think this part of Caroline County and Port Royal, our own little backwater, versus the hustle and bustle of the Washington, DC area. 

Jesus made his home in Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee.

From this backwater kind of place, Jesus began his ministry by proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 

Jesus didn’t wait for an optimal time and an optimal place, which you might think would have been Jerusalem, to launch his ministry.  He simply began, right in place, where he was, in Galilee. 

So that’s the first lesson.  Don’t wait around for the right time and the right place to get started blooming. 

Start, no matter the time and the place!

Second, Jesus asked for help.  As he walked about, proclaiming his message, he saw Simon and Andrew, and James and John, who were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee.  And he called them to follow him. 

Jesus knew that any sort of successful ministry would require more than one person!  So right at the beginning, he gets help.  And what I love about this passage is that Jesus doesn’t worry over choosing people with the right credentials, the right education, the right connections, or the right resources.  He simply sees four ordinary fishermen fishing, and he calls them, then and there.    

I’m sure you’ve heard that term, “to vet someone,” that is, to check their background before asking them to come work for you or with you.  In John’s gospel, Andrew is a follower of John the Baptist and Simon is his brother, so you might say that these two have credentials.  But Matthew’s gospel only tells us that these four are simple fishermen, with nothing more to recommend them than that they were at work!  Matthew only says that Jesus was walking by the sea, saw these four men and called them to follow him. 

So that’s the second lesson.  Be bold about asking for help from the people who are right there to join in—the people God puts in front of you. 

Remember these two lessons from Jesus about growing and blooming. 

Start!  And get help!

Now for the lessons we can learn from the early followers of Jesus—

The four fishermen that Jesus called were at work when Jesus came by and called them.  He said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 

The lesson here is that is we follow Jesus as we go about our work, Jesus will help us grow anything we are doing into work that attracts people to God because we will be showing God’s light, life and love to the world through our work. 

Here’s a sort of somber example of what I’m talking about, but most of us have probably read obituaries in which family members of the deceased are listed, and then a list of caregivers are included, with deep gratitude for all they did for the person who has died. 

Caregiving is a low paid job without any prestige. 

But when a caregiver does the work of caregiving lovingly and caringly, a person’s family expands—God’s love draws nearer, people find light and life and love in the help of someone who started out as a stranger but ultimately became a trusted companion. 

So the first lesson is that in any work we are called to do, if we follow Jesus as we do that job and expect Jesus to transform our work, we’ll find that the work we’re doing, no matter how insignificant it seems,  grows into something great, with more impact than we could ever imagine.  As Jesus says, you’ll catch not only fish, but also people! 

The second lesson is to trust Jesus to lead us to the work that Jesus wants us to do.  The four fishermen who followed Jesus in today’s gospel left their fishing behind—and Jesus does call us to follow wherever Jesus leads, so as we do our work expecting transformation, we should also include an openness to follow Jesus into something else if Jesus asks us to do that.  Jesus equips us for ministry as we go through our lives.  All the work we do will inform the work that we then do in the future.  

Third, in anything we do, we learn from Jesus.  Matthew tells us that Peter, Andrew, James and John follow Jesus and then “Jesus goes throughout Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.”  The disciples observed what he did.  They were learning about how to do what they would eventually do themselves.  They were interns! 

As disciples, we get prepared for growing and blooming where we are planted by paying attention to the life and ministry of Jesus by studying scripture, worshiping together and remembering all that Jesus has done for us.  We get prepared by being thankful and expecting his return to us—as one of our Eucharistic prayers says in shorthand, “And so, remembering all that was done for us: the cross, the tomb, the resurrection and ascension, longing for Christ’s coming in glory….”

In addition to learning from Jesus, we must stay focused on Jesus.  Paul’s letter to the Christians in the house church in Corinth reminds them not to get caught up in distractions and quarrels. They are apparently arguing over which one of the leaders that has been through Corinth and has taught them is the one that they should pay the most attention to—and Paul says, “Wait a minute, Jesus is the leader and Jesus is the one you are following.   

This reminder is good for all times and all people and in all situations.  Even good things can be a distraction that keeps us from doing the work God has called us to do. Even good people can distract us from putting our main focus on Jesus. 

But staying focused on Jesus and rooted in him will help us to learn from him and then to stay focused on the work that Jesus wants us to do. 

As his followers, we should always seek him first, in every moment of our lives. 

So here are the lessons to remember from Jesus and his followers to help us bloom, no matter where we find ourselves planted. 

Situations beyond our control, and the actions of others may result in us ending up in some sort of backwater place that seems less than optimal for ministry. 

But Jesus reminds us!

Start!  Be bold about asking for help!

And the disciples of Jesus remind us!

When we bring Jesus into the work we are doing, our work will be transformed into something greater than we could ever imagine. 

When we follow Jesus, trust that Jesus will lead us where God wants us to be in our work.  Be willing to follow Jesus into the unknown. 

Study Jesus all the time, learn from him, and pray for Jesus to be with us, both now as we study and remember, and in the future, when Jesus comes in glory.

Stay focused on Jesus. 

We can apply these lessons to this church in which we find ourselves—St Peter’s Episcopal Church in Port Royal, Virginia.  We are in a backwater— a static population with little indication of growth.  We are trying our best to do God’s will. 

But some of us may feel that we are past blooming and thriving—the glass half empty, and getting emptier all the time, the downhill slide as we all age and our membership declines.

But I’m here to say that our job as St Peter’s is start again, to ask for help by inviting those around us in, to  follow Jesus in what we are doing while trusting that Jesus will lead us into the work that Jesus would have us do—the work that we cannot yet see or define. 

I’m here to say that our job as disciples is to study Jesus together, to learn from his example, to remember all that he has done for us, and to stay focused on him and not get distracted by disagreements or by discouragement. 

Jesus launched a ministry from Galilee that made God’s love and light and life present in the world in a way that has never been surpassed. 

And with his help, our ministry here in Port Royal can show God’s love and light and life to the world in new ways we can’t yet imagine. 

So, Church, stay tuned and stay focused.  Get up and follow where he calls. 

And we will bloom right here, where we are planted.