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The second Sunday after Epiphany: 19 January 2020

21

The season of Christmas has ended, and we are supposed to be in summer: we are wearing sweaters most mornings and evenings, for the days have been cooler than usual in Southern New Zealand. Australia could do with our showers, and we’d like a bit of their heat. The school holidays are reaching the point where stressed parents are taking their kids to McDonalds to sit in the quiet even though the air conditioning there is set so you are warmer inside a fridge.

I’m referring to the prayers of this day, written by Anglican Priests hundreds of years ago. We will worship the Lord with the tools of this generation later, but it is worthy to recall and pray that which the English have done for generations, even though I’m more presbyterian in governance, reformed, and low church.

Almighty God, who revealed in the incarnation of your Son, the eternal Word, the way of truth: Grant that we may entrust our lives to him, on whom is built the whole salvation of humankind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Some will say I’m stubborn, cross grained, and worship old idols: Scripture, liturgy, music, art. I would say that I am stubborn, cross grained, and this age loves tolerance more than beauty, truth, honour or faithfulness. I’d add that liturgy, music and art come from the same truth: on the death of the last Inkling I remember that sub-creation was (and is) an act of worship.

But I know that God incarnate was rejected by the zealots and intellectuals of his age. Who are now footnotes in history, while I’m writing a blog in a coastal city as far from Israel as one can get and be on dry land.

Isaiah 49:1-7

49 Listen to me, O coastlands,
and give attention, you peoples from afar.
The Lord called me from the womb,
from the body of my mother he named my name.
2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword;
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow;
in his quiver he hid me away.
3 And he said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
4 But I said, “I have laboured in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my right is with the Lord,
and my recompense with my God.”
5 And now the Lord says,
he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him;
and that Israel might be gathered to him—
for I am honoured in the eyes of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—
6 he says:
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
7 Thus says the Lord,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,
to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation,
the servant of rulers:
“Kings shall see and arise;
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves;
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

1 Corinthians 1:1-9

1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,

2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.