The Second Sunday after Epiphany

1 Samuel 3.1-10—With humor as the life skill of the month, this lesson from the First Book of Samuel in the Old Testament counts as a paradoxically humorous story.  Samuel is the son of Hannah and Elkanah.  Otherwise barren, Hannah visits the Temple at Shiloh to pray for a child.  God hears her prayers and grants her petition.  However, Hannah must offer her son, who she names Samuel, to be a servant of the Temple.  When he is a very young child, she takes him to the Temple and dedicates him to the service of God.  Today’s story picks up when Samuel is a young boy living at the Temple and serving Eli, the Temple priest.  One night Samuel hears his name called out.  Thinking it is old and blind Eli calling him, he replies, “Here I am,” and he gets up and goes to find out what Eli needs.  Eli has not called him and sends him back to bed.  Three times this happens before Eli realizes it is God calling Samuel.  Eli tells Samuel to go back to bed and if he is called again he should reply, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”   Of course, he is called again.  So begins Samuel’s call to relationship and purpose with God.

Psalm 139.1-5, 12-17  God, you know me, every part of me.

1 Corinthians 6.12-20–Paul is dealing with the conundrum of law, faith, and sin.  In an exaggerated expression of the question,  Paul states, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are beneficial.  All things are lawful for me, but not I will not be dominated by anything.”  Paul continues the argument by suggesting that just because you can does not mean you should.  Moreover, the damage done by making bad choices can be severe.  Paul asserts that faith empowers one to choose faithfully.  His argument is based upon his theology of the resurrection that affirms that just as God raised Jesus from the destruction of death, so too, God will raise the Body of Christ–us–to faithfulness.

John 1.43-51–It is hard to ignore the irony of Nathanael’s comment this week, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  Apparently Nazareth is thought to be a backwater, backward place having a reputation for uselessness.  How could anything desirable come from such a place.  Of course, Nathanael has his “head turned around” (in a good way, not an Exorcist way) and he realizes even the “Son of God” can come from Nazareth.  Perhaps we might consider this a lesson in prejudice and bias.  To be sure, it is in the quick shorthand of a Gospel narrative, without any supporting justification for such a dramatic change.  Still, the underlying point is God acts where and how God chooses to act.  Sometimes in Nazareth.  Sometimes in Haiti.  Sometimes El Salvadore.  Sometimes Africa.

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