St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church was blest to have Reverend Lloyd Johnson as pastor on the Third Sunday after Epiphany. Reverend Lloyd has been ill and we were fortunate to have him and his wife, Janie, with us. Neil Nichols served as the Lay Minister. The Readers were Arthur Clark, Jose Ramirez, and David Maitland.
The First Reading was Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10. The people gathered at the square before the Water Gate to listen to Ezra, the scribe, read from the laws of Moses. Before the reading they all bowed their heads and praised God. The people were attentive to the readings and Ezra felt that they understood the words. Nehemiah, the governor, and Ezra, the priest and scribe, told the people, “This day is holy to the Lord, your God, do not mourn or weep.--- for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
The Second Reading was 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. Paul used the analogy of the parts of the body making up the whole body as an example of how it takes everyone doing their own part to accomplish the whole mission. He said we were all baptized into one body and one Spirit. The church does not consist of one member but of many. Whether weak or strong, each member is a vital part to the whole church and what it is. “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” Everyone may have different gifts, but all are important to maintain the whole. Do your work, and you may strive for a greater gift.
Reverend Johnson read the Gospel according to Luke 4:14-21. After Jesus was baptized and dwelled in the wilderness for a time, he returned to Galilee to teach in the synagogues. When he stood and read from the prophet Isaiah, he read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.”
Reverend Johnson mentioned that when we were young we may have experienced some type of initiation to become a member of some organization. We were made to feel small and humiliated with offensive tasks. However, when it was all over we belonged and no longer had to endure the harassments. Perhaps, before we became a Christian we felt left out and endured some shortcomings. Then, after becoming a child of God we felt we belonged to his kingdom and had his love to help us through any hard times that came.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. Jesus had a time after his baptism when he was in the wilderness and he emptied himself of worldly things. Baptism and repentance are basics Christian experiences. It is a process of repentance, acceptance, and answering God’s call. Then comes the time for emptying ourselves of worldly matters and following God’s call. Christians should feel the Spirit of God in their lives leading them. Sometimes we do not feel or understand the fullness of our lives. God is always blessing those he loves. It will be in different ways and for different reasons. We need to become aware of the blessings in our lives and enjoy them while we may. Doing God’s work can reveal the glory of life that is there.
We had a special birthday blessing for Jose Ramirez and special thanks for the return of Jeanne Shepherd from her medical mission in Guatemala. Father Lloyd shared some moments with the members regarding his illness and his thanks for the many people who continually hold him and Janie up in their prayers. They expressed the importance of having so many loved ones to support them in his time of facing a terminal illness. “Every day in our lives is a blessing.”
Next Sunday St. Matthew’s will have Reverend Virginia Frnka as pastor at the 9:00 a.m. service. All are welcome to join us in worship.
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