Micah 6:1-8; Psalm 15; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Matthew 5:1-12
Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with your God – Micah 6:8
Lead a blameless life, do what is right, speak the truth from your heart
No guile, do not evil to your friend, do not show contempt to your neighbor
God is faithful
Fear the Lord
Do not offer bribes or accept bribes
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Proclaim Christ crucified
Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God
God chose the Foolish to shame the wise, God chose the weak to shame the strong, God chose the low and the despised, things that are not to reduce to nothing the things that are so that no one can boast in the presence of God – let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord
God is the source of your life in Jesus Christ, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption
The Sermon on the Mount – the Beatitudes
Good Morning dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ. Thank you for joining us this morning for worship and for our annual meeting. We need at least 25 members in good standing, so please plan to stay if at all possible for the meeting. A member in good standing is baptized, has partaken of communion at least three times in the past year and has given of their time, talent and/or treasure for the benefit of the community.
I want to take this time to thank you for the part you play in the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry challenged the Episcopal Church to get out of our church buildings and into the streets of our communities. This is something the people of St. James’ already do and continue to do. We are not perfect, but we know that the joys of the journey of faith are the detours we take along the way. I just reread a little book by Henry van Dyke called “The Story of the Other Wise Man”. The opening poem reads,
Who seeks for heaven alone to save his soul,
May keep the path, but will not reach the goal;
While he who walks in love may wander far,
Yet God will bring him where the blessed are.
I highly recommend this Epiphany story to you. I am proud to be your priest and spiritual leader. May the love of God be with us all today and for evermore. Amen.
Following in the example of the author of the Beatitudes:
Blessed are those who provide music for they shall hear the heavenly choir.
Blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for they will be filled.
Blessed are those who host community suppers and support the AIM Food Pantry for they will be welcomed to the banquet table of heaven.
Blessed are those who prepare and serve at the Altar of the Lord, pray, read Scripture, and clean our building for they will see the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who work with the children of St James in worship, Christian Formation and Episcopal Youth Camp; blessed are those who work with the children of the community of Albion in Albion Reading Camp, Albion Big Read, and Ecumenical Vacation Bible School for you are the Sons and Daughters of God.
Blessed are those who welcome the stranger and provide hospitality to the visitor in the name of Jesus Christ for you will be welcomed into the Kingdom of God.
Blessed are those who provide a home for the homeless for Jesus has gone to prepare a room for you in his Father’s house.
Blessed are the teachers of the Albion area children and youth, the professors of Albion College and the teachers of Adults in GED and Life Long Learning for you will learn what it means to be a disciple and a follower of the Way of Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you who are sick and suffer the slings and arrows of this world for you shall be healed.
Blessed are those who have swastikas sprayed on their walls for they will stand in unity against hate and violence.
Blessed are those who advocate for the poor, the old, the young, the lonely and the marginalized for Jesus will be your advocate in the heavenly courts.
Blessed are those who are rejected and shunned for welcoming and affirming the other in the name of Jesus Christ for the Kingdom of Heaven is yours.
Blessed are those who love for they are loved by God their father.
Isaiah 9:1-4; Psalm 27:1, 5-13; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-23
John has been arrested à Nazareth à Capernaum
Fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah
Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near
Calling of Peter, Andrew, James & John
Travelled throughout Galilee
Proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom
Curing every disease and every sickness among the people
Inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America
“Pussyhats”, Women’s march on DC, Chicago, Lansing and around the world
What is a disciple?
- Someone who learns, a student or follower of Jesus
- Someone who takes an interest in Jesus, in learning as much about Jesus as possible, in learning as much as possible from Jesus
- The acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study or by being taught
o Jesus taught them, explaining his parables
o Jesus read scripture and taught what it meant
o Studied the word of God
o Jesus sent his disciples out into the towns he planned to visit
- In the Gospel according to John, John the Baptist was a witness to Jesus telling his own disciples about Jesus and they left John and followed Jesus
- In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus calls to Peter, Andrew, James and John, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people”.
- Jesus had many followers but twelve disciples that he spent a lot of time with teaching them the Good News of the Kingdom
- If each of his disciples then taught 12 people, who then each taught 12 people, who then taught 12 people, and so on, soon everyone would know the Good News of the Kingdom
What does it mean to fish for people, to catch people?
- To draw people into the Kingdom of Heaven, to draw people to God
Jesus is a teacher, preacher and healer - Jesus is a leader
What is a teacher?
· A person who teaches especially in a school
What is a preacher?
· Someone who publicly proclaims or teaches a religious message or belief
· Earnestly advocate a belief or course of action
· Moral advice
What does it mean to proclaim?
· Announce/declare publicly or officially
· Declare something one considers important with due emphasis
· Demonstrate or indicate clearly
What is a healer?
· A person who claims to be able to cure a disease or injury with special powers
· A person or thing that mends or repairs something
· Something that alleviates a person’s distress or anguish
· (of a person or treatment) cause (a wound, injury or person) to become sound or healthy again
· Correct or put right (an undesirable situation)
What is a leader?
· To show the way, to provide an example for others to follow, to take the initiative in an action
· To cause a person or animal to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc, while moving forward
What do we expect from a leader?
· To show a clear vision for the future
· To lead the way, providing an example
· To provide an example or vision that people want to follow
· To be passionate
· Specificity, empowerment, vulnerability showing understanding, compassion and empathy, honesty (transparency, trustworthy, open up their hearts and lead with kindness)
· To feel valued
· Someone who focuses more on the needs of the organization and the people they serve than their own personal agendas
· A leader makes people feel safe, providing an environment where they can thrive, giving them the right tools and resources to be successful
· Best leaders build trust by never letting people down when they are needed most
· Humble, vulnerable leaders never forget where they started and can relate to others
· Compassionate, empathic, they know how unfair the world is especially without the right leadership
· Welcome outsiders, diversity, different ideas
· Build trust and unify people
· Sheep expect a shepherd to be concerned for their safety, to know them by name, to be gentle and kind, to rescue them, to be unselfish, to be sincere, to care deeply for them
Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 40:1-12; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42
God’s Self-Revelation to the World in His Son Jesus Christ
John the Baptist, Witness to Jesus Christ
The Lamb of God
If you had to describe Jesus to someone, how would you describe him?
What color is his hair? How tall is he? Does he have a beard or a mustache? How long is his hair? Is he thin or robust? Is he muscular? What color are his eyes? What color is his skin? Does Jesus have dimples? What is his laugh like? What does his voice sound like?
If you had to pick an actor to play Jesus in a movie, who would you pick?
What politician reminds you of Jesus?
What sport do you think Jesus would play?
Do you like Jesus? Why or why not?
What kind of a car would Jesus drive?
If you had to pick an animal to represent Jesus, what would you pick?
John the Baptist is a witness to Jesus. John says he did not know that Jesus was the Messiah until he saw the spirit of God descend on Jesus and remain on Jesus. The Gospel of John does not tell us that John the Baptist baptized Jesus. We know that from Matthew’s Gospel story that we read last week. When Jesus came up out of the waters of the River Jordan, the heavens split open and the spirit of God descended like a dove and a voice from heaven said this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. In today’s reading from John, John the Baptist says that God had told him that whoever the Spirit came upon and remained would be the Messiah. John the Baptist now sees his job as to point Jesus out to people as the Messiah. John the Baptist even tells his own disciples that Jesus is the Messiah so that they turn from following John to following Jesus.
Twice in today’s reading John calls Jesus the Lamb of God. Already from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry we have the foreshadowing of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. John even has Jesus killed on the day before the Passover when the Passover lambs would have been slaughtered. You remember the story from the Old Testament when Moses was trying to get Pharaoh to let the Hebrew people leave Egypt, the Hebrew people were told to put the blood of a lamb on their door frame so that the angel of death would pass over their home without killing the first born of that house. They were to eat the flesh of this lamb so that they would be strengthened for their journey out of Egypt into the desert. This image of a lamb also reminds us of the Suffering Servant from Isaiah who is like a lamb being taken to be slaughtered without bleating or struggling.
We know that Jesus’ ministry will end with his crucifixion in Jerusalem, but we don’t necessarily like the image of Jesus as the suffering servant or the innocent lamb being lead to be slaughtered. Jesus’ own disciples struggled with this image of Jesus. They wanted a strong warrior who would stand up to the Romans and free the Jewish people from their rule. This is certainly a frequent image of God in the Old Testament. Peter rebuked Jesus for talking about being arrested and executed. Judas tried to force Jesus hand by betraying him to the religious leaders. Many people today continue to want the image of a buff, beefcake Jesus, you know, an attractive male with well-developed muscles, a Vin Diesel or an Arnold Schwarzenegger. Over the centuries people have struggled with the idea of the Son of God hanging dead from a cross, the image of a tortured emaciated savior. This year we are going to continue to struggle with who Jesus is and why he is important to us. The images we have of Jesus help us define who Jesus is for us. I encourage you to continue to think about the image or symbol you hold to represent Jesus, to struggle with who Jesus is for you. Amen.