January 24, 2021 Third Sunday after Epiphany
Alleluia. The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news. Alleluia. (Mark 1:15)
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, by grace alone you call us and accept us in your service. Strengthen us by your Spirit, and make us worthy of your call, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
Readings and Psalm
January 24 Third Sunday after Epiphany
Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 62:5-12; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20
M Psalm 46; Genesis 12:1-9; 1 Corinthians 7:17-24
Tu Psalm 46; Genesis 45:25—46:7; Acts 5:33-42
W Psalm 46; Proverbs 8:1-21; Mark 3:13-19a
Th Psalm 111; Deuteronomy 3:23-29; Romans 9:6-18
F Psalm 111; Deuteronomy 12:28-32; Revelation 2:12-17
Sa Psalm 111; Deuteronomy 13:1-5; Matthew 8:28—9:1
January 31 Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 111; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28
In the Nets of the Kingdom
Jan, wandering seat to seat on the bus, was crossing state lines from Michigan to Wisconsin. Bruce had sent her the ticket. The two met at a church youth convention; now she was going to be his high school prom date. Here’s how it happened: At the youth gathering, during each morning’s worship, the two held the same green hymn book. During the afternoon Bible studies, sitting cross-legged in a circle on the floor, she read compellingly from her red leatherette Bible. For evening reflections, the prayers she pulled from her blue plastic packet of devotions swept the room. Bruce was bedazzled. That’s why he bought the ticket. When Jan stepped off the bus, she shimmered, telling him how from seat to seat along Highway 2 she had saved souls, netting fourteen converts on a colorful missionary journey.
As delighted as Jan might have been, her proselytizing was not the kind of fishing for people Jesus was after when he passed along the Sea of Galilee, calling oily fishermen to “follow me.” What shook Simon and Andrew, James and John, and countless women and men throughout the ages to—immediately, impulsively—give up their nets, quit mending, abandon boats, and leave families and homes?
Jesus’ wild, sea-changing challenge demands courage. It dares us into a way of living, a manner of seeing, and a risk of not knowing but earnestly believing that when he asks us to step up, something more meaningful than all we have awaits us.
Jesus’ “follow me” comes amid a lifetime of rigorous monotony, in which we are constantly casting nets to catch more of what never satisfies. Jesus’ “follow me” is an epiphany. It is an invitation, not to “save souls,” but to be gathered and to gather the weak and despairing, to minister to the ruined and abandoned, scared and starving, to show compassion to the mean and unloving, and to embrace the great, greedy, proud, and demanding; all of this awaits us in the nets of God’s kingdom.
A Hymn for the Day With the Spanish hymn “Tú has venido a la orilla,” written and composed by Cesáreo Gabaráin in the 1970s and translated by Madeleine Forell Marshall as “You have come down to the lakeshore” (ELW 817), we sing as if we are the fishermen called away from our boats to follow Christ. Marshall’s translation renders “Señor” as “Sweet Lord,” a wonderfully complex way to name Jesus Christ.
Visual Art The nineteenth-century artist James Tissot traveled in the Holy Land in order to learn more accuracy for his project of illustrating many of the biblical stories. He created his own version of Jesus’ call of Peter and Andrew
Comments from the Cloud of Witnesses
Beloved, you have today put on Christ, and you march under our direction. You are raised up by the word of God, like a fish on a hook, from the ocean of the world. With us, normal life is transformed, for fish die as soon as they are taken from the seas of this life, yet we sinners, although dead, return to life. As long as we were in the world, we remained in the depths, and our life was submerged in the mire. Since we have been rescued from the waters, we have begun to see the sun; we have commenced to look on the true light. We cry to the Lord; and let us interpret the profound mysteries of the Scripture by other witnesses of the Scripture. —Jerome
[Jerome, in The Paschal Mystery: Ancient Liturgies and Patristic Texts, ed. A. Hamman, OFM (Staten Island, NY: Alba, 1969), 141]
Conversion of Paul Monday, January 25, 2021
The week of prayer begun by the remembrance of Peter's confession now comes to an end as we recall the pivotal moment in the life of the other pillar of the early church, the apostle Paul. His encounter with the risen Christ turned him from persecutor of the followers of Christ to one of their leaders.
Timothy, Titus, and Silas, missionaries Tuesday, January 26, 2021
These three early Christian men were missionary companions of the apostle Paul. Timothy became bishop of Ephesus, Titus bishop of Crete, and Silas was imprisoned with Paul at Philippi until they were delivered by an earthquake.
Lydia, Dorcas, and Phoebe, witnesses to the faith Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Women as well as men were important Christian leaders from the beginning, as demonstrated by these coworkers of the apostle Paul. Lydia, a seller of purple goods, lent her home for a church; Dorcas was known for charitable works; and Phoebe was a deacon in the church at Cenchrae.
Thomas Aquinas, teacher, died 1274 Thursday, January 28, 2021
One of the most brilliant and creative theologians in the church's history, Aquinas worked to bring together scripture and the philosophy of Aristotle. A member of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), Aquinas was also a hymnwriter.
TAKING FAITH HOME 1/24
.CARING CONVERSATION: Discuss in your household or small group:
• Have you given up something to follow Jesus? Share your story. • What did Simon, Andrew, James and John give up to follow Jesus? How do you think they felt? • What does it mean to be a “fisher of people”?
DEVOTIONS: In your home devotional times this week, pray for people who do not know Jesus. Make a list of names (perhaps in the shape of a fish!) and pray for each of the people in turn. Reproduce the list for each household member to carry with them during the week.
SERVICE: St. Francis of Assisi is credited as having said, “Preach the gospel always; if necessary, use words.” Our acts of loving service to others are part of what it means to “fish for people.” Is there a non-Christian in your circle of relationships that you could serve in some way this week? Discuss together and plan an act of service (e.g. invite them into your home for a meal; offer to help with childcare; surprise them with a gift of baked goods).
RITUALS AND TRADITIONS: For many centuries the fish has been an important Christian symbol. In times of the early church, it was dangerous to be known as a Christian in some parts of the Roman Empire; so believers developed a code language to reveal their faith to others who were Christian. A Christian would draw on the ground the upper half of a fish symbol. If the other person were a Christian, they would recognize this and add a second curved line to complete the drawing of a fish. • Place the fish symbol in different parts of your home to symbolize your faith in Jesus. • Go on a “chalk walk” in your local community. Use chalk to draw the fish symbol on footpaths in your neighborhood. When you do so, pray for the people who work or live nearby, that they may live with faith in Jesus. • Come up with your own household code language to symbolize your faith in Jesus.
SCRIPTURE VERSE FOR THIS WEEK:
Jesus said to them, “Come with me! I will teach you how to bring in people instead of fish.” Mark 1:17 (CEV)
A Prayer for the Week: Lord Jesus, we want to follow you. Make us fishers of people. Amen.
Mealtime Prayer: Come, Spirit of God, and make this food sweet. Give strength to our hands and guide our feet. Amen.
A Blessing to Give: May God be your King and help you to follow his Son. Amen.
© 2011 Vibrant Faith Ministries. All rights reserved. Written by Pr. Greg Priebbenow and edited by Vibrant Faith Ministries