Lessons for Epiphany II,   January 14, 2018

First Samuel 3: 1-10. 11-20

Roughly halfway in time, between the call of Abraham, the father of Israel, and the birth of Jesus, comes this story of the rise of Samuel.  The Hebrew Bible stories of this period, of Hannah, Samuel, Saul and David reveal God and his way of bringing his word to that world.  Samuel lived at a time of moral and political chaos; Israel no longer a nomadic people had become both agrarian and urban.  There was no central authority; its judges, its leadership, were temporary; when the threat to its survival was over, they faded into the sunset. Samuel was an apprentice priest, bound to a tribal priest, Eli.  He had been born of Hannah and grew with purpose under the presence of God.  The aging priest, Eli, came slowly to understand that God had chosen Samuel to be his prophet amid the many problems at Shiloh, the seat of worship of the time, and this story today recounts Samuel’s rise in God’s favor, to change the direction of the people’s faith.

Paul’s First Letter to the church at Corinth: 6: 12-20

Douglas Campbell, of Duke Divinity School, writing in the current Christian Century, describes the Christian community at Corinth as a mess.  He counts fifteen “distinguishable problems” which Paul addresses in this letter. They included incest, prostitution, marriage without divorce, remarriage, idolatry, inequality and celibacy within a marriage among others.  Campbell maintains that Paul is urging something quite simple on the Corinthians – a basic appeal of “appropriate relating”, an appeal to the community to see their neighbors as Christ’s people, as persons who live under the gift of Jesus Christ.  He quotes a later chapter of the letter, “Love is patient, love is kind —- .”  Corinth was a rough place to exist; it was eat of the available fruit or be eaten.  Paul urges the community to reject this barren way of life and rebuild a moral society.

John 1: 43-1

Today’s Gospel is a part of John’s description of the gathering of the disciples.  The Gospel uses the phrase of recognition, “We have found the Messiah, the Anointed One.”  First there was Andrew and Simon Peter.  Next it was Philip and Nathaniel, the Gospel says, who approach this new figure from Nazareth and Jesus calls them to follow him.  It was John the Baptist who first witnessed the coming of the Savior who understood the Word of God in Jesus and led new disciples to him.  Jesus says, “Come and see”, a pattern to be repeated throughout the Gospel.  Yet people, including the disciples, will continue to struggle with understanding Jesus’ real identity.