From the womb God calls and delivers us

4th Sunday after Epiphany (February 3, 2013)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Jer. 1:4-10; Ps. 71:1-6; I Cor. 13:1-13; Luke 4:21-30

Cindy, along with our MCC Amman office colleague Suzi Khoury, successfully navigated the annual process of renewing our Jordanian residency – no small feat when working with multiple government ministries!

A Palestinian woman walks with her grandchildren in Jerusalem's Old City

A Palestinian woman walks with her grandchildren in Jerusalem’s Old City

Daryl accompanied incoming MCC Europe-Middle East area director Amela Puljek-Shank to Jerusalem for three days, where she learned about MCC’s Palestine-Israel program.

On Monday, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem distributed MCC blankets, relief kits and school kits in Husun, a community in northern Jordan.  Two other MCC partners in Jordan submitted large proposals to the Canadian government, seeking funds for their work with Syrian refugees in Jordan.

A young girl carries MCC blankets at a distribution for Syrian refugees in Husun (photo provided by Greek Orthodox Patriarchate)

A young girl carries MCC school kits at a distribution for Syrian refugees in Husun (photo provided by Greek Orthodox Patriarchate)

In the region this week:

 

Bassem Thabet, MCC Palestine staff, serves coffee at his home in Jerusalem

Bassem Thabet, MCC Palestine staff, serves coffee at his home in Jerusalem

The Common Lectionary readings this week describe how God calls and delivers us — from the womb to adulthood.

In the Old Testament reading, God reassures Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer. 1:5)  Jeremiah protests that he is too young and not a good public speaker, but God persists: “You shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you.” (v.7)  God reassures, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you.” (v.8)

In a time of trouble, the psalmist appeals to God for deliverance from the unjust and cruel, taking comfort in God’s faithfulness in the past. “Upon you I have leaned from my birth,” the psalmist reflects, “it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.” (Ps. 71:6)

In the Epistle reading, Paul acknowledges: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.” (I Cor. 13:11).  In a familiar and powerful text, Paul describes what mature love looks like:

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (vv.4-8a)

In the Gospel reading, Jesus encounters resistance in his hometown of Nazareth after announcing the ministry to which God has called him. “Is this not Joseph’s son?” they ask (Luke 4:22), not convinced that the young man they knew as a child was capable of carrying out such a mission. “No prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown,” Jesus responds (v.24). The angry crowd drives him out of town and seeks to hurl him off a cliff, but Jesus escapes.

Daryl visited the cross-shaped pathways of the Garden of Gethsemane while in Jerusalem

Daryl visited the cross-shaped pathways of the Garden of Gethsemane while in Jerusalem

From the womb God calls and delivers us. Sometimes we feel ill-equipped to carry out that calling. Or we experience resistance from others along the journey. The readings this week assure us that the God who calls us also delivers us from our enemies. Our job is to put away childish resistance, to trust God and to walk faithfully in our calling.

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