1st Sunday After Epiphany – Year C (1/13/13)

11 Jan

Isaiah 43: 1-7
Acts 8 14-17
Luke 3:15-16,21-22

Psalm 29
May the LORD give strength to his people!
May the LORD bless his people with peace!

OPENING QUESTIONS

  • Is the Holy Spirit imbedded in our souls, dormant until we engage it, or does it only become present we take steps to invite it?
  • If our action is required, what is it and how often need we take it?

APPOINTED PASSAGES

Isaiah 43:1 – 7

1 But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.
4 Because you are precious in my sight,
and honoured, and I love you,
I give people in return for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you;
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up’,
and to the south, ‘Do not withhold;
bring my sons from far away
and my daughters from the end of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.’

  • Do we need to reclaim (redeem) our souls (v.1)? If so, from whom and how often?
  • The passage suggests we are rewarded when we are “called by His name” (v.7). What actions on our part are required to deserve that label?

Acts 8:14 – 17

14Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit 16(for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). 17Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

  • What does it mean (i.e. what are the consequences) of accepting the word of God (v.14)?
  • Is there special power in human contact (touch) that conveys or shares the Holy Spirit?

Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

15As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
21Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

  • What is the connection between the Holy Spirit and fire (v.16)?
  • What responsibilities does baptism bring to both the individual and his/her community

COMMENT

Today’s lessons raise a question to me of how our souls and the Holy Spirit are connected. Free will suggests that we have the power to align ourselves with God (or not). We have the freedom to love whom and what we wish. Our souls are eligible to be shaped in ways we deem appropriate. There is also somehow an interaction in that we shape our soul yet it also somehow can shape us. My sense is at the core, our souls embody our fundamental moral values; the essence of who we are but with a uniquely human quirk. That quirk is that they also reflect what we hope to be – our aspirations. I believe God smiles when we think creatively about those aspirations then share the energy and enthusiasm with others in exchanging our dreams and visions of the future – as we would like it to be and perhaps have some ability to make happen.

It is also interesting to note that being loved can be a remarkable catalyst. I think about the people I have come to know over years of life – and believe that those who have either grown up with, or experienced being the recipient of unconditional love have something uniquely valuable. It is empowering to know that there is someone who loves you so strongly that they would do anything for you; it fundamentally changes who you are, and in some ways expands the possibilities for who you might become. It provides a sense of confidence and comfort so substantial, that over time, you are able share that love with other people.

My prayer is that we embrace the comfort of being loved by God and other people. Also that love empowers us to continue our life journey of enhancing the substance of our souls and the wisdom and guidance in shaping our aspirations the future toward a meaningful life.

QUOTES FOR TODAY:

Challenging the meaning of life is the truest expression of the state of being human.

Victor Frankl

If you aren’t good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you’ll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren’t even giving to yourself.

Barbara De Angelis

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.

Anais Nin

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