Readings and Reflections for Friday 18 January 2019: Epiphany

Part 1

Daily Office Readings

AM Psalm 16, 17; PM Psalm 22
Isa. 42:(1-9)10-17; Eph. 3:1-13; Mark 2:13-22 

Mark

“For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” (Mark 2: 14)

In Paul trying to bring us together as the Body of Christ much of his work was in vain.  Sense the Church’s beginning there has been division and fighting amongst we Christians, the Body of Christ.  It is as if Christ’s Body has cancer, fighting against itself.

I think the all-inclusive Jesus is proud of Paul devaluing circumcision for it opens the door for women to have equal presence in the church, just as they have always had in the eyes of Jesus. But there is still “hostility between us.”

Jesus was not hostile – PERIOD. So if we are following Jesus, we the Church, should not be hostile either. I know these are strange words coming from a thirty year Marine.  While I am not a pacifist, I don’t believe one has to be “hostile” to be a defender of our American way of life. Peaceful tolerance to another’s way of life, to co-exist for the mutual benefit of all is both the Way of Jesus and the multicultural way of the United States.   The dividing wall, Paul said, is hostility.  All walls are hostile acts.  Walls infer that there are humans on one side and less-than humans on the other. That’s not my Jesus.

The fighting within the Church began because of what two groups of Christians believed about the nature of Christ (Fully God or From God).  Such fighting, even to death, makes a mockery of the very foundation of what Jesus came and died for. It is especially sad when resources are used for making war while people starve in the very presence of such violence and misuse of resources.

We, today, should be able to see past this and receive all people in loving ways just as would Jesus himself do.  For as St. Paul declares, “For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.”

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people.

Part 2

 Confession of St. Peter:
Eucharistic Readings:

Psalm 23Acts 4:8-13, 1 Peter 5: 1 – 4, Matthew 16: 13 – 20

 Matthew

“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 16: 13 – 17)

There are at least two important teaching points going on here.

First, who do you say that Jesus is?  We Christians can be found proclaiming Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  And he is. We say this with the most convincing words.  What do we say about who Jesus is with our behavior, our actions, and our love?

I am sure I read a quote from Maya Angelou (who has many life-inspiring quotes) that said, and I’m paraphrasing, “I do not define my Church, my Church defines me.”  In my understanding of her words it means that she does not tell people what her church is about, but rather, as she walked her life, her church said who she was.  Who do you say Jesus is by the way you conduct yourself?

Second, Jesus points out that Peter did not “figure out” who Jesus is.  Jesus lets us know that Peter’s revelation comes from God.  All holy revelation comes from God but like Peter we have to be close to Jesus to receive it. My dear friend and one-time mentor The Rev Gene Carpenter called it a “Glimmer of Grace.”  I like that term. It fits. It’s God’s doing, not ours. Be well.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people.

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