From the Desktop of the Pastor – Week of the 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany

Hi everyone,

The other day I was chatting with some of the parents at one of the schools and they mentioned that school seems way harder now than it did when we were going to school (I thought it was funny how he said “we” very intentionally though as he’s clearly at least 20 years my senior). I had to agree. Our two younger kids in grades 5 and 3 have more homework than I remember having when I was in grade 8. And our eldest kid (who actually is in grade 8) is learning stuff that I don’t remember learning until grade 10 or if at all.

And so I feel for them, as when I was their age I was too busy playing with my toys or chatting with my friends or sometimes I was even able to watch some TV in there. School was strictly between the bells and outside of that was nothing but free time. So I get it when they look and feel overwhelmed by the stuff they have to do. Of course we try to help as much as we can without actually doing the work for them, but it’s still not easy and there are times when we face tears and frustration.

Yet somehow, they still get their work done, with very few exceptions. They put their minds to the job at hand, and while it takes a lot longer than we anticipated, it still gets completed. Now, I’m not saying that we have the smartest kids or the hardest working, but I am saying that they have the best parents (haha just kidding).

Actually, I’m just impressed with how they’re able to find it within them to the work that is needed to be done. And I guess that is more what their homework is about, not so much learning stuff but learning how to learn, learning how to work, and learning that they are stronger than they might think.

Here are the readings for next week:
Isaiah 9:1-4
Psalm 27:1, 4-9
1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Matthew 4:12-23

While at first glace I thought that these texts would be about discipleship and answering God’s call, seeing as how we literally get the story of some of the disciples being called by Jesus, I sort of see themes of strength, motivation, and drive as well. Sure, I guess that all could be very much related, but the part where Jesus retreated to Galilee after he heard about John’s arrest is what got me. His cousin, his friend, the guy who baptized him, was just unjustly put in jail, so Jesus must have felt a bit deflated. Perhaps he felt a bit disillusioned with this world. Maybe he felt a little discouraged and just wanted to be alone.

And we don’t know how much time passed (at least I don’t think we do), but we see Jesus picking up where John left off, even preaching the same words as John. But Jesus doesn’t stop there, he pushes forward and even gets some disciples of his own. Disciples, might I add, who could be going through some things in their lives too but they found it in themselves to drop everything to follow Jesus.

But the kicker to me is at the end of this gospel lesson, where it tells us what Jesus goes and does with this new band of friends. That is, teaching and preaching, healing and making whole, essentially embodying the kingdom wherever he went. Jesus finds it in himself the strength to answer the call to be who he is. His disciples find it in themselves to answer the call to be who they are. And so can we, led by the Spirit, find it in ourselves that we are called to be God’s people in the world.

This isn’t to make it sound easy, in fact it really isn’t. We see in the second reading how difficult it can be when the rubber hits the road. But even in that, we have support from our community, we have the companionship of our peers, and the power of the Spirit in our relationships. And above all, we have the love of God and the grace of Jesus backing us up in every situation, allowing us the ability to keep going.

Whatever it is that you might be going through, you got this. You have the entire body of Christ with you.

Thanks be to God! Have a great week, everyone!

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

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