January 10, 2010
The Rev. Brad Rundlett
January 10, 2010
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
On Wednesday we entered the six week season of Epiphany. During these forty-two days we hear Scriptural accounts of God's power and presence. The authors of the Biblical books assert that God has always been with us, that God will always be with us, in both subtle and profound ways.
This morning we heard from a man named Isaiah who lived in the sixth century before the Common Era. Despite the upheaval of his times he clearly believed in God, and was certain of God's involvement in the world. Writing during the Persian conquest he proclaimed that God created us, God redeemed us, and God calls us all by name. When we're threatened by floods or fires - literal and metaphorical - God will save us, because we are precious to God.
We also heard from a gentile physician named Luke who wrote a Gospel - a good news book - sometime in the last half of the first century in the Common Era. In this time of strife and uncertainty Luke clearly believed that God is real and manifest. He wrote that a Palestinian Jew named Jesus read a passage from Isaiah in the synagogue of Capernaum, and told everyone present that the ancient prophet's words had come true, that they were fulfilled by him. Furthermore, Luke declared, God was present and evident when Jesus was Baptized because "Heaven opened, the Spirit of God settled on Jesus like a dove, and God said to Jesus right out loud for everyone to hear "You are my Son, my Beloved; the delight of my heart." Through Jesus, Luke claimed, these words apply to all of us who are now the adopted children of God.
The group of disciples who followed Jesus - to his grave, and to the empty tomb - believed in God, believed that God was fully manifest in Jesus, and that God is present as the Holy Spirit. Their faith was validated in their own miraculous transformation. When two of them, Peter and John, laid their hands on the heads of some Samarians, God's Holy Spirit entered these new believers. The disciples, witnesses say, performed many amazing signs and wonders in the name of Jesus, because the Spirit of God was with them. And they proclaimed the Good News of God's love to their last breath.
In this season of Epiphany, we are reminded by our forebears in faith, who insisted again and again, and against all evidence otherwise, that God is present - in this world, in our lives - and that God is responsive to human need.
The books of the Bible are personal records of faith, testimonies of belief by young and old, male and female, the powerful and powerless; in most cases presented and passed on at considerable risk. These people believed in God. And this faith overflowed in their lives, filling them with meaning and purpose; filling them with hope. We are God's people, they declare; God has never, will never forsake us; we are never beyond God's love and grace.
In a New Year already scared by threats to our livelihoods and safety, we will hear proclamations of Good News throughout this season of Epiphany. Through the whole of this year, no matter what headlines portend, no matter how foreboding the news, we hang onto the testaments of divine grace and blessings from Prophets, Apostles, and Gospel authors. We will hear their witness, their testimony, every Sunday and holy day, every season and special occasion, as far into the future as God chooses to count, as has been done in St. Timothy's now for more than 142 years.
In these uncertain and worrisome times, with our forebears in faith we proclaim that God is real, God is present, God loves us; that God saves us from sin and death.
And with faithful people throughout the world we pray "Grant that all of us who have been Baptized into your name Blessed Jesus, may keep the covenant we have made, and boldly confess you as our Lord and Savior. Amen."