Devotional Message: The 5th Sunday after The Epiphany (2/10/2019)
Isaiah 6:1-8 [9-13]
1st Corinthians 15:1-11
St. Luke 5:1-11
Stewardship Theme Gospel: St. Mark 12:28-34
Prayer of the Day
Most holy God, the earth is filled with your glory, and before you angels and saints stand in awe. Enlarge our vision to see your power at work in the world, and by your grace make us heralds of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
Text for This Sunday
12:28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that [Jesus] answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; 33 and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.
St. Mark 12:28-34, New Revised Standard Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
The Liturgical Church is currently in the midst of the Epiphany season. Epiphany comes from the Greek word ἐπιφάνεια (epiphaneia) which means “to shed light upon.” During this season we turn our attention to Bible passages that shed light upon who God is, what God is doing in our lives, and how we are to respond.
This week, Saint Peter Lutheran Church will hold its Annual Congregation Meeting — a time to reflect on the year past, and make plans for the year ahead. This makes it a fitting time to reconsider the Bible passage that served as our Stewardship theme last fall. In St. Mark’s 12th chapter, Jesus is caught up in a battle of wits with Pharisees, Herodians, Sadducees and scribes. They are trying to provoke him into saying something that will get him in trouble; something they can use to discredit him with the crowds in Jerusalem. One of them, a scribe, sees that Jesus “answered them well.” Perhaps genuinely wanting to learn about what it means to live faithfully, he asks Jesus what the most important of all the commandments is. Taking his questioner as seriously as he seems to be taking Jesus, the Lord responds with a portion of the Shema; an ancient Jewish prayer that is recited by the faithful twice each day (see Deuteronomy 6:4-8). At the core of the faithful life is a heartfelt love of God, and a deep commitment to the needs of the neighbor.
For generations these two aspects of faithfulness have guided God’s people. As we think together about the year past and the year to come at Saint Peter, we will be asking what the signs are that we are living into this vision for the faithful life. If you participate in the life of this congregation, I want to invite you to respond to this post and let me know what you think. If you are reading this from some distance, I’d love to hear from you what you look for in a faithful congregation. Loving God and loving neighbor — the core of the faithful life. How do we live into this as a people of God? Let me know what you think.