Fifth Sunday in Epiphany, Jan. 31, 2016

Title:Fifth Sunday in Epiphany, Jan. 31, 2016

  January 31, 2016  (full size gallery)

After last week’s snow, warmer temperatures helped those digging out this week from last weekend’s large snow. We have a slideshow of the church from Wed. Jan 27 with significant amount of snow remaining.  Since then warmer temperatures have created  substantial melting. Today was mild for winter with mixed sun and clouds. The sun was apparent at the 11am service.

This is the last Sunday of the month and two services – Holy Eucharist Rite I at 9am and Morning Prayer at 11am. This week is the 4th of 5 Sundays in the Epiphany. 

We recognized Helmut’s 82nd birthday. He said he was most thankful to be alive. The flowers on the altar were placed by Marion Mahoney for husband Tom. We continued with St. Peter’s music, the 4th part on the notes on the lines of the staff during the announcements. 

Bill Wick announced that Lady’s Night Out was going to be a afternoon out at the Riverside Theatre in Fredericksburg to see "My Fair Lady" in early April. Please call him to make a reservation by Feb. 29

Eunice reminded people that the kitchen renovation was starting Feb. 8. The Village Dinner this Wed., Feb. 3 will feature chicken.

Today’s readings reveal the power given us through God’s love and presence. Jeremiah protests his call to prophesy, but God commands him to speak boldly. Paul teaches a quarreling community that, while all the spiritual gifts have value, respect and love for each other deeply empower us. Jesus proclaims that the power of his ministry will not be confined to his hometown or even to his faith community.

The Gospel has the first real hints of opposition to Jesus. As with Jesus’ near execution in Luke, those who choose to follow Christ in his liberating work, must expect that they will find themselves in confrontation with injustice and those who propagate it. This will inevitably lead to great sacrifice and suffering. The work of grace is not all acceptance and healing. Sometimes it is a wounding battle – not least because we are called to love even those we challenge.  

The sermon concentrated on the Corinthians reading the famous "love" reading from Paul and narrowed it down to  "Love Endures."

It cited Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand. Zamperini had the endurance he needed to survive – including floating  in the Pacific Ocean for forty-six days on a raft after surviving a plane crash. The Japanese then captured him and enslaved him as a prisoner of war"

While he survived physically when he returned home, he was spiritually dead.At a Billy Graham rally his wife dragged him to, "he remembered lying on the raft, “dying of thirst. He felt words whisper from his swollen lips. It was a promise thrown at heaven, a promise he had not kept, a promise he had allowed himself to forget until just this instant: If you save me, I will serve you forever.”

"He realized that endurance means more than just “the courageous endurance….which includes active and energetic resistance to hostile power.”Endurance also means to wait on God with hope—the Old Testament sense of the word. “Unbreakable and patient endurance in the face of the evil and injustice of the world is the true attitude of the Christian.”

The Gospel featured a crowd grown angry read to throw Jesus off a clift. "Through patient endurance, Jesus was able to pass through the midst of them and to go on his way and carry out his ministry.

The second illustration of the sermon was the example of Bishop Oscar Romero. "In 1980, Bishop Oscar Romero was murdered as he celebrated Mass in San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador, because he dared to speak out against the government’s injustice to the poor and its policies of torture. Romero and the other martyrs hoped that God would eventually establish justice, and so they chose to stay and endure in El Salvador and to speak up for the poor and to stand against injustice, even in the face of death."[

The takeaway according to the sermon – "..When we come face to face with evil, we hope to face that evil with the sort of endurance that waits on God in hope, with the sort of endurance that is unbreakable. This sort of loving endurance in the face of evil is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude, or insisting on its own way. This sort of endurance is love itself—patient, kind, truthful, able to carry heavy burdens lightly. This loving endurance is faithful, and hopeful." We first must have an enduring love to one another.

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