Day 311 | Sunday, 24 January 2021
The assigned scripture readings for this the 3rd Sunday after Epiphany are: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 62:5-12; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 and Mark 1:14-20.
Mark 1:14-20 The Message
14 After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the Message of God: 15 "Time's up! God's kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message." 16 Passing along the beach of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew net-fishing. Fishing was their regular work. 17 Jesus said to them, "Come with me. I'll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I'll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass." 18 They didn't ask questions. They dropped their nets and followed. 19 A dozen yards or so down the beach, he saw the brothers James and John, Zebedee's sons. They were in the boat, mending their fishnets. 20 Right off, he made the same offer. Immediately, they left their father Zebedee, the boat, and the hired hands, and followed.
Jonah 3:1-5, 10 1 Next, God spoke to Jonah a second time: 2 "Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh! Preach to them. They're in a bad way and I can't ignore it any longer." 3 This time Jonah started off straight for Nineveh, obeying God's orders to the letter.
4 Jonah entered the city, went one day's walk and preached, "In forty days Nineveh will be smashed." 5 The people of Nineveh listened, and trusted God. They proclaimed a citywide fast and dressed in burlap to show their repentance. Everyone did it - rich and poor, famous and obscure, leaders and followers.
10 God saw what they had done, that they had turned away from their evil lives. He did change his mind about them. What he said he would do to them he didn't do.
First, we have Jesus calling his first disciples – come and follow me, an invitation that Jesus extends to all of us even today. Will we follow? How will we follow?
Then I share the passage from Jonah who was asked to follow God but who was reluctant to do so but God did not let go of Jonah, God persisted. Jonah finally agrees and the people of Nineveh listen and repent by changing their evil behavior. The chapter ends with God changing God’s mind – we would say that God granted grace to the people of Nineveh.
What is your understanding of God’s grace?
Let me offer food for thought from “Wesleyan Core Term Grace”.
“The term grace is a basic yet misunderstood concept. Some consider grace as a nice, gift-wrapped, unearned present from God. This mistaken idea of grace as a substance, cure-all, or prescription for our ills has a long history.”
“Grace is actually a relational concept: God’s active presence and transformative power in our lives. The name Emmanuel speaks to this reality – “God with us.” We perceive the divine presence by the results of the divine energy working within us, enlightening, convicting, forgiving, liberating, assuring, chastising, empowering, strengthening, comforting – assisting us to become what God intended humankind to be, faithful creatures whose love for God and their neighbors is manifest through works of piety and mercy.”
“Grace is a Trinitarian concept, grounded in the love and mercy of God the Father; especially manifest in the life, death, and resurrection of God the Son; and experienced through the work of God the Holy Spirit in our lives.” Wesley Study Bible, CEB, page 1151
God, thank you for your grace which is universally available and will transform our lives. Lord hear our prayers. Amen