First Sunday after Epiphany (January 10, 2010)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Is. 43:1-7; Ps. 29; Acts 8:14-17; Lk. 3:15-17, 21-22
This week we returned to the MCC office in Amman. We welcomed visitors from California, New York, Jordan and Iraq. Next week we plan to host the directors of MCC’s three advocacy offices (Ottawa, U.N. and Washington).
In the region this week, a humanitarian aid convey Viva Palestina, led by George Galloway, British member of parliament, reached the Gaza Strip nearly a month after it left the United Kingdom. Egyptian authorities finally granted permission for more than 100 vehicles carrying food and medical supplies to enter at the Rafah Crossing. A year after the January 2009 war, Gaza remains under economic siege, with its borders tightly controlled by Israel and Egypt.
In response to mortars fired from Gaza into Israel, the Israeli military launched air strikes against Gaza, Friday, killing three persons and wounding several others.
The Common Lectionary readings for this first Sunday after Epiphany focus on God’s love for the whole human family.
In the Old Testament reading, Isaiah writes that the God who created us, formed us, redeemed us and called us by name, promises to be with us when we pass through deep waters and fiery trials because we are precious in God’s sight (Is. 43:1-2, 4).
The psalmist stands in awe of God’s voice that thunders over the waters (Ps. 29:3); is powerful and majestic (v.4); breaks the cedars (v.5a); flashes forth flames of fire (v.7); shakes the wilderness (v.8); and causes oaks to whirl and strips the forest bare (v.9). And yet this powerful God is not distant, gives strength to his people and blesses them with peace (v.11).
The reading from Acts reminds us that God’s love is not limited to one group, but extends to both Jews and Gentiles (8:14-17).
The Gospel reading describes the baptism of Jesus, where a voice from heaven proclaims, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22).
In our own lives and in the world around us, we see compelling evidence that humans have failed to love others as God has loved us. In his book, Home Tonight, Henri Nouwen writes that “the opposite of love is not hate but fear.” These fears cause us to build walls to protect ourselves and to lash out at those who threaten our sense of well-being.
In our personal relationships, as well as in the affairs of nations, God calls us to love the whole human family. We pray that God will grant courage to overcome our fears so we are free to treat even our enemies with compassion, dignity and justice.