Second Sunday after Epiphany 20 January 2019 A.D.

Second Sunday after Epiphany         20 January 2019 A.D.  Morning Prayer

 Psalm 99            The Epistle:  Romans 12: 6 - 16    The Gospel:  Mark 1:1 - 11

                                       Almighty and everlasting God, who dost govern all
                                        things in heaven and earth; Mercifully hear the
                                       supplications of thy people, and grant us thy peace
                                       all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I would like for us to reflect on some interesting contrast found in our readings for this day.
Notice, what to us, seems like contradictions, is posed with such simplicity. 

Humility and glory; quiet dignity and greatness; being a servant and being the God of the Universe.         In our scripture readings today we see all of these concepts juxtaposition in so many ways.   How can the God of Creation also be a servant of man?  How can one so exalted be so humble and meek?

 To answer some of these paradox and seemingly conflicting ideas, we need to understand the plan, the grand plan of God, the creator.   Why did he send his only Son, in utmost humility, born in a lowly place, and yet born to fulfil all prophesy about his coming?  Down through the ages the prophets foretold his coming, where, and even how, but only those who believed seemed to understand what it all meant.  

 What are we to understand?   If you read over the “inventory” of talents that believers are ‘gifted’ with, you can begin to understand what we are to do and how to express out Christian faith.   

 A. Prophesy ; now that the canon of Scripture is closed, prophesy could be interpreted as a person who can see what may happen if certain actions are taken OR not taken.  True Biblical prophets were 100% correct.  They were not partly right, somewhat right, they were dead on right.  That which they prophesied came true.  We have that evidence in the whole Advent season.  We see it as read in the Old Testament and see it fulfilled in the New, time and again.  But a person who has foresight and the logic to see what happens when something is done or not done could be considered prophetic, not in the sense of divine, but by experience. One must always avoid “word of faith” prophecies and the like, mainly due to a non-canonical basis. If the “word of faith” cannot be squared with the Word of God, then there is an opening for creative heresy. History being our guide, you can look at Gnosticism, the flaggelantes, the whole slew of “word of faith” movements that have counterfeited the Word of God.  Starting with the Society of Friends {Quakers}, to Millerites, Joseph Smith’s Mormons, Jehovah’s Witness, Oness Pentecostalist, Ellen G. White’s Seventh Day Adventist, can all be numbered among the groups in existence that use “word of faith” or false prophesy to make their claim on holding the truth. 
Essentially, be wise, check all prophetic claims with the Bible, be like the Berean believers, who when hearing St. Paul preach, went home and looked up what he preached on to see if it was true.  

B. Serving; service is in all things Christian, whether you are a nursery worker, cook funeral lunches, a door greeter, a vestryman, or just volunteer at any worthy cause.   Service is everywhere.  The apostles were called upon so much to serve, that they finally had to set aside a group of young men to do that work, the deacon became a vital member of the church body, he was able to help with taking care of the physical needs of the church body, while the apostles would take care of the spiritual. Remember, Christ was both a servant and a rabbi, a teacher who was given respect.  

C. Teaching; very much like service, teaching can be time consuming, but very fulfilling.  To teach you must have a certain amount of patience, an ability to share ideas, information, directions, and concepts.  In the realm of Sunday School, or preparing for Confirmation, one must be able to convey the Word of God to the student in a way that is both loving and yet firm. The importance of our belief and the importance of being able to give reason for why and what we believe is the best defense against heresy.  Heresy that is sweeping the Church today, taking with it many “soft” believer, people who don’t understand their faith or are unable to defend against the wiles of the Evil One as presented by every day life.   Good teachers can be found, a good teacher can also be cultivated. Such as a talent the teacher possesses that many times lies dormant, simply because no one asks that person to help in the teaching process.

D.  Encouraging; a really daunting task.  To be able to get a person or people encouraged about their lot, to help them see that there is a way out of what seems a hopeless mess, this is a talent. I have known people in my life who have stepped in and given me a boost, shown me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, there is a way to see this crisis through, and even survive, not only to the next day but for the rest of my life.   These encouragers are so important, especially today, they not only help us on the way, but they pray for us, they hold us up to the Throne of God, seeking His help in our journey.   One of the strongest talents of an encourager is the ability to guide kindly and yet firmly, to pray without ceasing, and to always seek God in the endeavor they are encouraging. 

E. Contributing; one who has can help those who don’t.  Notice that St. Paul writes to give generously, but not all.  One who has the talent to make and multiply wealth is to share, but not bankrupt themselves, otherwise they will be of no use to anyone.    Wealth in the Bible is not condemned, it is the worship of wealth, the love of money, they hoarding of coins that is condemned, not wealth.   Christ reminded us that the poor will be with you always.  He also reminds us to help them, not condemn them.   Again, a tension but not an impossible task, one can be wealthy and be a Christ follower.  Christ Jesus never preached communism or socialism, contrary to what is taught in colleges and universities today.  Read your Bible, you will see he did not teach either worldly system. He taught about his Kingdom, which was, is, and is to come. Amen.

 F. Leadership; very short and sweet.  Govern diligently.  To be on guard for corruption, evil doings, to follow the civil laws as they prevent chaos, but most especially to be diligent, which sounds more like following the law of the land, without corruption.   Lead the people.

G. Mercy; showing mercy as St. Paul writes.  Being able to forgive, being able to see the positive in a person, especially if they have fouled up once or twice.  It is so hard to be merciful, if we are quick to condemn and hold people accountable for something, that in most cases is not that important.   Remember the parable of the talents, and the debts one fellow has with his boss, his boss forgives him of his debts, then the forgiven turns on one below him and is without mercy on the debt the fellow below him owes the forgiven.   And remember the boss then comes and rectifies the situation, he without mercy is cast out.

Let us think upon our talents, think about those things we are gifted with from our Creator, then pray that God gives us an opportunity to act upon these gifts and to use them to the Glory of God.

Let us pray.
 Father, we ask that you illume us with your Holy Spirit, help us to see what work we have been set aside for, the work that you have for us to do, for the advancement of your Kingdom, give us the sense of urgency, the need is great, the workers are few.  These things we ask in the Name of God the Father Almighty, Christ Jesus his Only Son, and the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, now and forever, Amen

“ As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith”