Return and follow

Epiphany III (January 22, 2012)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Jer. 3:21-4:2; Ps. 130; I Cor. 7:17-23; Mark 1:14-20

This was a routine week in Amman – hosting visitors in the office, working on reports, working with government ministries to get our residency renewals, and preparing for upcoming travel to Iraq. On the family front: Jeremy and Lyndsay have set a June 9 wedding date; and Sydney is almost three months old already!

Sydney wears a crown made by her cousin -- one of the Wise Women for Epiphany?

In the region this week:

  • With international tension growing over Iran’s nuclear program, Turkey offered to host talks between Iran and six nations — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. All but Germany possess nuclear weapons.

The Common Lectionary readings this week focus on God’s call for wayward humanity to return and follow.

In the Old Testament reading, Jeremiah writes that the people have “perverted their way . . . forgotten the Lord their God . . . (and) have sinned against . . . and not obeyed the Lord.” (Jer. 3:21, 25). Still, if the people will heed God’s call to return, God promises, “I will heal your faithlessness.” (v.22)

“Out of the depths” the psalmist cries to God: “Hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to my pleas for mercy!” (Ps. 130:2). The psalmist realizes that if God would count our sin against us, none of us could stand (v.3). But the psalmist also affirms that, with God, “there is forgiveness” and “with the Lord there is steadfast love . . . (and) plentiful redemption.” (vv.4, 7)

In the Epistle reading, Paul urges each person to “lead the life that the Lord has assigned . . . and to which God has called” him or her. (I Cor. 7:17)

In the Gospel reading, Jesus calls four fishermen – Simon, Andrew, James and John — to leave their jobs and families and to follow him (Mark. 1:14-20). Jesus promises to make them become “fishers of men.” (v.17) All four immediately follow Jesus.

Sydney models relaxation techniques

As tensions rise in this region and in many parts of the world, governments consistently resort to the threat or use of force. Two thousand years after Jesus showed us a different way, the human family still finds it difficult to move beyond self-interest, to show mutual respect and to act justly. We are grateful that God continues to offer forgiveness, steadfast love and plentiful redemption for all who will return and follow.

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