Third Sunday of Epiphany


Today’s Readings

Psalm 27:1. 4-12, Isaiah 9:1-41, Corinthians 1:10-18, Matthew 4:12-23


“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.”

The opening lines from our reading this morning from Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth; perhaps very appropriate words as we come to the end of the Churches Week of Prayer for Christian Unity?


Yet very few of us are very good at letting go of what we believe in or hold dear.

Our children are a good example, even when they have grown and ‘long gone’ from home, they are still our children and we as parents, and grandparents are often too keen to offer words of advice and warning. As if our 40 or 50 year olds, with now several children are still not yet quite capable of making their own way in the world.


And so it moves from family to communities, to parties, governments and the world, taking in all our different world religions, or beliefs, along the way. Just take global warming for example for an area of world disagreement, but there again perhaps not.

Can we learn that none of us are right all of the time, or even always know best? Can we agree to disagree with love and patient understanding, walking with God and one anther, not always hoping to be first, the one in front, not always believing that we alone know all the answers?


What was it that made those first disciples, Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John, just leave their jobs, families and homes all because a complete stranger walks by and says “ Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”

Certainly Matthew’s account is a little different from the one we heard from John’s Gospel last Sunday, but the result was the same. These fisherman gave up all they had known, with no clear promise from Jesus about what was to befall them; the true meaning of ‘blind faith’.



I am sure that if we, here this morning were honest with ourselves, then very few if any would have taken those steps into the unknown. There are still today in our world a few brave people, like David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg, who will stand up for what is right, and what I believe most of us are coming to realise is true, rather than those holding to their own uncompromising views as did the Pharisees and Sadducees in the time of Jesus.

Yet it is not just changing our everyday habits, that we as Christians must do, we must also, like Paul was telling those early Christians in Corinth, ‘be united in the same mind and the same purpose’, something that in all honesty our own Christian Churches and other Faiths have struggled to do over the last two thousand years.


Paul knows very well that the gospel of Christ is going against the grain, not just for those in Corinth, but for us also. The competitive instinct, the instinct to dominate, the instinct to define our own value by denying somebody else’s is so basic, that at times the gospel, the path of Christ, sounds like foolishness to many of us. It is often easier to turn our back on the figure crucified on the cross, God crucified on the cross for us. But it is the cross that is God’s way in our world and the true demonstration of His power. The power to accept, create, recreate, to save and to love is so stunningly different from anything we can achieve or even at times understand as power that it can be barely recognizable in our world and lives today.


Yet as Isaiah wrote all those centuries ago,’

“The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light; “

and we gathered here this morning are those people, for the light of the world, the light that is the risen Christ shines on each and everyone of us, whether we choose to see that light or not. Jesus has called us, just as he called those first disciples by the Sea of Galilee, to be witnesses to that light in our lives, even at times if the candle flickers and dims, we can all be sure of the promise that it will never go out.

For Jesus Christ is the Light of the World, may we all walk in that light and reflect it on all we see and meet this week and through out our lives.

Amen.


Michael Tonkin

Cover image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay