2023 Sun Jan 15

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan 18-25, 2023

Theme for 2023:
“Do good; seek justice;”
(Isaiah 1:17

At least once a year, Christians are reminded of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (see John 17.21). Hearts are touched and Christians come together to pray for their unity. Congregations and parishes all over the world exchange preachers or arrange special ecumenical celebrations and prayer services. The event that touches off this special experience is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Traditionally the week of prayer is celebrated between 18-25 January, between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul.

The readings are here.

“Isaiah lived and prophesied in Judah during the eighth century BCE and was a contemporary of Amos, Micah and Hosea. This was towards the end of a period of great economic success and political stability for both Israel and Judah, due to the weakness of the ‘superpowers’ of the time, Egypt and Assyria. However, it was also a period when injustice, inequity and inequalities were rampant in both kingdoms.

This period also saw religion thriving as a ritual and formal expression of belief in God, concentrated on Temple offerings and sacrifices. This formal and ritual religion was presided over by the priests, who were also the beneficiaries of the largesse of the rich and powerful. Due to the physical proximity and interconnectedness of the royal palace and the Temple, power and influence were centered almost entirely on the king and the priests, neither of whom, for much of this history, stood up for those who were enduring oppression and inequity. In the worldview of this time (one which recurs throughout history), the rich and those who made many offerings were understood to be good and blessed by God, while those who were poor and could not offer sacrifices were understood to be wicked and cursed by God. The poor were often denigrated for their economic inability to fully participate in Temple worship.

Isaiah spoke into this context, attempting to awaken the consciousness of the people of Judah to the reality of their situation. Instead of honouring the contemporary religiosity as a blessing, Isaiah saw it as a festering wound and a sacrilege before the Almighty. Injustice and inequality led to fragmentation and disunity. His prophecies denounce the political, social and religious structures and the hypocrisy of offering sacrifices while oppressing the poor. He speaks out vigorously against corrupt leaders and in favour of the disadvantaged, rooting righteousness and justice in God alone.Read more about the Week of Prayer

Sermon, Second Sunday after Epiphany – “We are the People of Hope”

Sermon, Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A 2023
I Corinthians 1:1-9, John 1:29-42

“Calling of Peter and Andrew” – Caravaggio 1602

“To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

So begins Paul’s letter to the Christians in Corinth, a diverse and contentious group of people, called together by God into the fellowship of Jesus Christ our Lord:  called to be the church, to be God’s light in the world. 

Paul’s enthralling words remind us that God calls us too—you and me– to be saints, that is, to follow Jesus and to witness to God’s justice, power, mercy, healing, and love in this world. 

That is why we’ve chosen to be here today, because we have heard God calling us to be part of this fellowship of the saints that we know as the church. 

Here, God reminds us, through scripture and prayer and song that we are not alone in this calling to follow Jesus. 

Jesus is not just a prophet with tremendous healing power and a mighty heart, willing to go to death and beyond as he does God’s will in this world, someone to admire and emulate.  Jesus is more than all of that, as wonderful as all of that is. 

Jesus is God’s Son.

So when we follow Jesus, God’s Son,  we enter ever more deeply into the heart of God, even in the ordinary things that we do, which can grow into the extraordinary things that God calls us to do, the things that we never believed possible—Glory to God, whose power working in us, can do infinitely more than we could ask, or even imagine. 

God imagines our lives—magnificent, challenging lives that reveal God to those around us! 

God has already imagined the life that God is calling you and me  and this church, St Peter’s, into.

God wants our imaginations to expand, so that ultimately, God’s imagination for each of us and for this church, and for this world, can and will  become reality. 

The clue to how we even begin to live into God’s imagination is to have the desire to know God more deeply, to want to live in the heart and mind of God, which is what the two disciples in today’s gospel realized they wanted. 

They were followers of John the Baptist.  But when they saw Jesus walk by and heard John say, “Look!  Here is the Lamb of God” these two disciples of John followed Jesus. 

Read more of the sermon

Lectionary – Second Sunday after Epiphany

I.Theme –   Call and response to service

 

“Jesus and John” – Hagia Sophia, Istanbul 532

The lectionary readings are here  or individually:

1.  Isaiah 49:1-7 – Isaiah

2.  Psalm- Psalm 40:1-12

3.  Epistle – 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

4.  Gospel – John 1:29-42

Isaiah is there to call  Israel back to God. He identifies himself as chosen before he was born (like Jeremiah, Paul and John the Baptist) and even named (like Jesus). At the first level, in vv. 8-13 God invites the exiles to return from Babylon But note also “a time of favor” (v. 8) and “a day of salvation”: these terms speak of the end times. God saves both now and in the era to come. 

In the Psalm, God has snatched a human being out of the realm of death and has given life back to him. This is the origin of this thanksgiving. But this thanksgiving is not ‘a return,’ a human answer or ‘offering’…— Yahweh has put the song of thanksgiving into the mouth of the singer which begets new obedience.” The self-recognition or self-discovery in the Psalm is an experience every Christian faces.

Paul is called to be an “apostle”, one sent out by Christ to perform a special mission to the Corinthians.  God has strengthened them through their telling of the good news.  He has called them into “fellowship”, union with other believers which is union with Christ. It will be Christ who will really put them on a firm footing when he comes and God is the one we need to rely on ultimately. God is the one who really constitutes the community as a community of Christ, a Christian community. It began with God through Paul and it ends with God.

Jesus was baptized last week and now he is ready to get started in his ministry. He needs some helpers.

In the Gospel, those who are called gradually accept the identity of the one who calls them. With that goes whatever service the Lord calls us to.

There are three themes in the passage: John’s witness to Jesus, Jesus’ epiphany and identification, the call to discipleship. In this passage, Andrew and Peter are called to be disciples.

Read the rest of the commentary

Remembering Martin Luther King on his birthday, Jan 15

It was 55 years ago. Just after 6 p.m. on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. is fatally shot while standing on the balcony outside his second-story room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. The civil rights leader was in Memphis to support a sanitation workers’ strike and was on his way to dinner when a bullet struck him in the jaw and severed his spinal cord. King was pronounced dead after his arrival at a Memphis hospital. He was 39 years old.

In the months before his assassination, Martin Luther King became increasingly concerned with the problem of economic inequality in America. He organized a Poor People’s Campaign to focus on the issue, including an interracial poor people’s march on Washington, and in March 1968 traveled to Memphis in support of poorly treated African-American sanitation workers. On March 28, a workers’ protest march led by King ended in violence and the death of an African-American teenager. King left the city but vowed to return in early April to lead another demonstration.

On April 3, back in Memphis, King gave his last sermon, saying, “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop…And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”

King was no stranger to controversy. Though he had little experience in activism, King with a doctorate in theology was known for his speaches.  In 1955, community leaders recruited him to be the spokesperson for the Montgomery bus boycott, one of the first major protests of the civil rights era. The boycott lasted for more than a year and resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court declaring racial segregation on public buses unconstitutional.

King’s role in that boycott transformed him into a national figure. In 1957, he co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to help encourage other communities to take up the crusade for civil rights.

5 years before his asssassination, he was focusing on desegregation before the landmark 1964 Civil Rights act. He was in Birmingham on a campaign of coordinated marches and sit-ins against racism and racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama.

At the time, in parts of the country—especially in the South—blacks couldn’t eat at certain restaurants, continued to attend segregated schools (though the practice had been outlawed years earlier), and were unemployed at a rate nearly twice that of whites.

The non-violent campaign was coordinated by Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights and King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. On April 10, a blanket injunction was issued against “parading, demonstrating, boycotting, trespassing and picketing”. Leaders of the campaign announced they would disobey the ruling. On Good Friday, April 12, King was roughly arrested with others.

King was not always popular with clergy due to his tactics. The day of his arrest, eight Birmingham clergy members wrote a criticism of the campaign that was published in the Birmingham News, calling its direct action strategy “unwise and untimely.”

LINKS

1 King wrote “Letter from a Birmingham Jail in response. King’s Letter has been called one of the most significant works of the Civil Right movement. The Letter

Audio from Dr. King

Forum in Feb., 1964 on the letter 

King and the Book of Amos as reflected in the letter. King used the book of Amos throughout his career.

King’s Philosophy of Non-Violence

King Sermon – Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution

Multimedia production of the “I have a Dream” speech

Confession of St. Peter’s, Jan 18

Confession of St. Peter – January 18 – "Who do you say I am " 

This is not a confession of the church but relates to Peter, the Apostler ! It relates to an event in Matthew 16:13-20, Mark 8:27-30 and Luke 9:18-20. Jesus went to the predominately pagan region of Caesarea Philippi to question and deepen his disciples’ understanding of his role and theirs. “Who do you say that I am?”

Here is the Mark reading " Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him."

We discover reading the selection on Peter in Holy Women, Holy Men that we are much like him – both godly and strong, sometimes weak and sinful.

“Peter figures prominently in the Gospels, often stumbling, impetuous, intense and uncouth. ““It was Peter who attempted to walk on the sea, and began to sink; it was Peter who impulsively wished to build three tabernacles on the mountain of the Transfiguration; it was Peter who just before the crucifixion, three times denied knowing his Lord.”

“But it was also Peter who, after Pentecost, risked his life to do the Lord’s work, speaking boldly of his belief in Jesus. It was also Peter, the Rock, whose strength and courage helped the young Church in its questions about the mission beyond the Jewish community. Opposed at first to the baptism of Gentiles, Peter had the humility to admit a change of heart, and to baptize the Roman centurion Cornelius and his household.”

Sunday links, Jan 15, Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Renewal of Baptism vows, Jan. 8

Jan.15, 11:00am – Holy Eucharist

  • Second Sunday after the Epiphany YouTube link Jan. 15, 2023

  • Lectionary for Jan. 15, 2023,
    Second Sunday after the Epiphany
  • Bulletin for Jan 15, 2023, Second Sunday after the Epiphany,
    Bulletin
  • Morning Meditation , Jan 16, 6:30am Zoom link Meeting ID: 879 8071 6417 Passcode: 790929
  • Ecumenical Bible Study, Wed., Jan 18, 10am-12pm.
  • Village Harvest, Wed., Jan 18, 3:00-5pm.
  • January, 2023
    Newsletter
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