1st Scripture Reading: Isaiah 9:1-4 & Psalm 27
This reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah is very prophetic indeed! “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.” In verse 6 he goes on: “For a child has been born for us…and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Acknowledging that we are reading with a large amount of hindsight, these are the attributes we assign to Jesus the Christ. Jesus… the Light of the world, is foretold to us by the prophet Isaiah, who is relaying the word of God to the Israelites many hundreds of years before the birth of this holy child.
Isaiah said, “On them light has shined…” And the psalmist says: “God is my light and my salvation”. We might notice that “light” is equated with the presence of God both in our OT readings this morning, and in the identity of Jesus, who is called “the light of the world”.
Light. Light is energy for sure. It is electric, it illuminates, it makes irrefutably clear – when we say “the light has dawned” we mean that we have come to understand the truth – God’s truth.
Before everything that humans have made, thought, or believed, there was Truth, there was Light, there was God. Behind everything we think we know, there is God’s truth.
God is my light and my salvation, whom then shall I fear?
Hymn # 296 VU “This is God’s Wondrous World”
2nd Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10- 18 & Matthew 4:12-23
“Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you….”
Paul is upset by the petty quarrelling he hears among the members of the early church at Corinth. It doesn’t matter, he says, who baptized you – what matters is that you work together to proclaim the good news of the gospel. Working together for a common purpose – to do the work as Christians they have been called to do.
We’ve been talking a lot about what it means to be called to do God’s work in the world. This morning I would like to talk a little about the “how” of that calling – how do we most effectively accomplish that work. Paul says we must work together, to be of one mind or purpose, to help each other not fight with each other.
At the beginning of his ministry, Matthew tells us, Jesus called his disciples. He knew he could not accomplish his mission from God without lots of help. He was one man, one teacher, in a small rural part of the world. His gospel had to be carried to every corner of the world, to all the people of the world, and that task would be the work of many. Those many had to be taught and prepared for that great work.
I told you last week a bit about my journey back to Christ. About how I had heard the call back to Jesus. I was happily immersing myself in my own spiritual life of prayer and reading and meditation, but was then gently pushed to find a community of faith to align myself with.
Paul didn’t work alone. Jesus didn’t work alone. We can more effectively do God’s work when we work together. When we work together we share what we know and so we all learn and grow. Each of us is an important part of the Body of Christ, and if any part is missing, the whole body cannot function properly.
Sounds like it should be easy, right? Nothing could be farther from the truth! Working cooperatively, even collaboratively with others is never easy. We have different personalities, we have different skill sets, we have different values and belief systems. Working together requires patience, tolerance, willingness to listen and to compromise. It requires willingness to learn, to teach, to share, to change and to forgive.
Squabbling over trivial things is relatively easy – something we do all too frequently even since Paul’s time! But the gift in working with others is the richness of experiencing another’s reality, learning that there is more to the world than we can see from our own limited perspective, and growing into the whole persons we are meant to be. Growing in Christ!
Hymn # 567 VU “Will you come and follow me”