Epiphany: Seeing what will be

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The following is my message for January 22.
Message: Epiphany – seeing what will be

Epiphany means revealing or uncovering and we use it to mean either seeing something familiar in a new way or seeing something we have never seen before.

Many years ago, I went on a canoe trip with three friends. We left their van where we were going o exitt the Beaver River with two canoes, all our gear, and four people on and in my 1971 Plymouth Fargo ½ ton and drove to where we entered the Fir River leaving my truck. At the end of the trip, I was given a ride to my truck and the driver of the van left as soon as I unlocked the door of the truck. It would not start. I learned someone had opened the hood and taken the coil wire. I thought my problem was missing the coil wire. After doing some fishing and getting a snack, I realized my problem was that I needed something to carry electricity from the coil to the distributor. I had copper wire, aluminum foil, and electrical tape in the back of the truck so I made a new coil wire. I had just started the truck when the driver of the van came back to see what was keeping me. Understanding my real problem was an epiphany moment.

My message is seeing what will be.

Our reading from Isaiah was at one of the many low points in the history of the Jewish people. It contained a promise about what will be, a restored Jewish nation. It was a promise of an end to their oppression, an invitation to see what will be.

According to our Gospel reading, Jesus saw the time had come for him to start his mission when John the Baptizer was put in prison. The author of the Gospel claimed Jesus was the light which had dawned on the people living in darkness, and life under Roman rule was very dark. I believe Jesus was and is the light which shines on darkness which prevents us from seeing what we need to see.

The story goes on to describe Jesus preaching what John preached as he walked through Galilee starting with Capernaum.

The surprising part of this story began with him calling four fishermen to follow him and become fishers of men. With them following him, he preached in all the synagogues in Galilee, preaching the good news of the Kingdom and healing people. The Gospels of Mark and Luke told similar stories about the beginning of his ministry. The Gospel of John had a much different story. I prefer to believe the first three Gospels are more reliable than the Gospel of John regarding the beginning of his ministry.

When he called the fishermen, they saw a different purpose for their lives, and a different future than seemed probable.

While most of the first letter to the Corinthians was about conflict in the congregation, his mission was clearly about promoting a different future than what seemed probable. It was a future when it did not matter who baptized a person or which preacher a person wanted to follow. What mattered was the proclamation of the Gospel, the Good News. The good news was and is foolishness to people who are attached to the beliefs of the time. The gospel offers an opportunity for an epiphany, to see that the way things are is not the way they need to be or will be.

It was considered foolishness at one time to believe in nations not ruled by kings or queens. It was considered foolishness at one time to believe that men who were not property owners or women or people of colour should have the right to vote.

The parables Jesus told about the kingdom of heaven were full of what people might consider foolishness. Jesus was reported to have said the kingdom of heaven is like a woman who took yeast and worked with the dough until the yeast was throughout the dough. Yeast was considered unclean. To describe the kingdom of heaven as something unclean thoroughly spread though it was foolishness. Describing the kingdom of heaven like a mustard seed which sprouts and becomes a tree providing shelter to birds was foolish. Mustard again was considered unclean and farmers only planted mustard in the worst soil. It was and is like a weed growing where it is not wanted, and it does not grow into a tree.

The good news about the kingdom of heaven being at hand was foolishness. To declare the rich could not enter it was foolishness.

The good news is that life experienced in the kingdom of heaven is available here and now to anyone ready to live it. It does not matter who we are or where we are or what we have done or not done.

It is a life lived bathed in the grace of the Holy Mystery. The fully expressed kingdom of heaven will be life where all have enough, everyone is loved, belongs, and has influence. It is living with confidence in the promise that, eventually, everyone will know real peace, life without violence, without suffering inflicted by others, with opportunities to know deep joy and hope and connection.

Most of us have moments when we experience the kingdom life, when everything feels right and we happily feel where we belong.

Our calling as a faith community is to proclaim that good news with words and actions. I see this congregation doing just that with the programs you currently support helping others feel important and belonging and loved. It may include other actions in the future and it hopefully will include opportunities for people in and not in the congregation to deepen their understandings of and confidence in the faith we share.

It also includes contradicting wise people who claim we cannot provide shelter for everyone or feed every hungry child, or deny the possibility of providing for other needs of all people.

All the barriers to everyone being able to experience a kingdom of heaven life are human constructed barriers sustained by established wisdom that is foolishness to the Holy Mystery.

In this season of Epiphany, I ask you to see what can be, what I believe will be, and the barriers to that happening. Some board members and others hope this congregation will become an Affirming congregation, a congregation dedicated to removing those barriers that make it difficult for some people to belong. That process will probably begin after we finish the process of transitioning.

Along the way, I hope all of you will experience the Good News in your own lives. Amen.
Here are the hymns and scripture readings that I am using.
Songs for a Gospel People 124: God You Meet Us
Jesus Bids Us Shine
Songs for a Gospel People 91 Spirit of the Living God
Red 253 Be Thou My Vision
Will You Come and Follow Me

Isaiah 9:1-4: But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.
You have multiplied exultation;[ you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.

I Cor. 1:10-18: Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you but that you be knit together in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been made clear to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else. For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel—and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Matt 4:12-23: Now when Jesus[a] heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the gentiles— the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.”

From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishers. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Jesus went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.
I always took epi phany to be ike an apostolic revelation ... shocking process ...

Then there is the Anglo Saxon Fanny ... and her friend Thom ... the "th" may be substituted for dh, ch, or đ ... in the great code ... really kohl!

The misunderstanding continues ... get used to it ... BLTZFX? Duc*đ ... thus kan'dor; Jaerd ... a fist of awakening? Imagine waking to a virtue as a far essence! Farce ide ... all in the inking ...
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