Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A, January 15, 2017
Lessons: Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40:1-11, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, John 1:29-42
Theme: God’s faithful and generous people look for God everywhere–not just for an hour or two on Sunday mornings. We continue to cultivate mindful presence in order to be faithful stewards of the good gifts of God.
Key Scripture: The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” – John 1:35
Had any epiphanies lately? Seriously, when was the last time you recognized God at work in your life or in the world around you?
The liturgical church is smack dab in the middle of the season of Epiphany right now. Our lessons from the Revised Common Lectionary are about being on the lookout for God, about being aware and awake to the presence of the Divine all around us. Jesus, “God with us in flesh, blood, and bone,” is getting ready to kick off his season of ministry and his march to the cross. We know the story. Most of us have at least heard it before, even if we’re none too sure about what it means or what we’re supposed to do with the information.
Yet, like children who fail repeatedly to look left and right before crossing the street, we are too often oblivious to our surroundings and to the presence of the Holy. Everyday life is full of sacred moments and “God-sightings” if we can train ourselves to look and listen for them.
This is one good reason to fully celebrate the short season of Epiphany. We need to be reminded of the big picture of how God operates, of who Jesus is, and of how divine light and Spirit wind is intricately woven into the entire cosmos. We have all that we need. We are loved. We have the tools of the faith in front of us, and Jesus calls us to pick up those tools and help construct the new reality of the reign of God.
Look! Behold! See! The truth is here. It is right here made visible in the God who is invisible and yet present and active and fully with us. Look. Look right here. See God at work in the life of your congregation. See God with us in the birth of a baby.
Listen for God in the hum of the universe. With the psalmist we are called to sing a new song of praise. Come and listen to the old, old story that is new every morning. Gather round the Word. Taste and see in bread and wine that the Lord is good . Experience the peace of God as it finds expression in a particular community where relationships are forged and nourished and tended. Give thanks and sing your praises. Learn anew by hearing and living the story of God’s people across time and space.
Yes, look here. Listen up. Remember Paul’s words to those imperfect Corinthian Christians: “God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.’
But that’s not all. As Christ is revealed to you again and again, look and listen for that call to go. Yes, go from the sacred space of worship. Go from your locus of comfort and security. Be sent, renewed and strengthened, into the everyday ordinary-yet-sacred space of life. Tell everyone what God has done and is doing. Steward those amazing gifts of grace and love by prodigally giving them away.
Consider singing hymns about watching, listening, and telling today. Invite people to be on the lookout for God in the world during the week to come. Encourage them to listen to God speaking to them. Consider having people volunteer to check in with each other to remind one another that each person has the gifts and talents to be God’s people in the world. We can wait with confidence and look for opportunities to see God, hear God, and share the good news of God, living each moment in full awareness and with gratitude for our interdependence.
Consider writing your own psalm based on Psalm 40. What does it mean to listen patiently for God? How can you use contemporary images, context, and words to describe what Psalm 40 says? Alternately, find images to illustrate Psalm 40. Create a montage based on this psalm. You might even create a video presentation of the psalm for use in worship.
Show the children a Where’s Waldo book and tell them you’re going to look for a different character today. Tell them he’s a little hard to draw because we don’t know how he actually looked. Ask the children how you will find Jesus in this place? Where will you look? How will you know you’ve found him? Be prepared for different answers. Look around you. Some children might identify the cross, or pictures of Jesus. Older children might point to the bread and wine or to the paschal candle. Ask the children if we can see Jesus in each other. Invite them to think about how the rest of the world can see Jesus if we don’t show them? Challenge them to help one person see Jesus in the coming week. Tell them to have their parents or grandparents help them record the story to share next week. Be sure to remember to ask for the results and perhaps remind people in the weekly bulletin or on your congregation’s Facebook page.
Weekly Stewardship Bulletin Insert
Missing in Action! Sometimes we are like that as stewards. We know what we ought to be doing, what we ought to be looking for, caring for, and sharing, but life has this habit of getting in the way. Consider practicing mindful presence this week. Find some time to simply sit and still your mind and heart so that God has room to enter in. Remember that God created human “beings”—not human “doings.” In the church we all too often focus on the doing rather than the being. Let’s work on that this year!
Stewardship at Home
Snapshots of Jesus
Where do you see Jesus? Go ahead; think outside the box. Sure we see and encounter Jesus in worship and in our sacred spaces, but what about in the sacred ordinariness of each day? Do you see Jesus in the face of a child who smiles at you? Do you touch Jesus in the rough, age-spotted hands of an elder? Do you see Jesus in acts of kindness on the street or in the grocery store or at work? Take some time this week to look for Jesus in unexpected ways and new places. Adults and youth can use a camera or smart phone to snap some photos. Invite children to draw pictures of where they see Jesus. Being stewards of the Good News takes many forms. Beginning to see Jesus in daily life is part of being a good steward of the gospel.
Photos: Ken Teegardin, mario, and Jenny Downing, Creative Commons License. Thanks!
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