Homily by The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bainbridge, GA
31 Jan. 2016, Epiphany 4 Year C: Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71:1-6; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Luke 4:21-30
Remember Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz repeating
“There's no place like home”?
How likely is Jesus thinking of home from Dorothy's perspective in today's Gospel?1
We are told: “Home is where the heart is.”2 Home is a place to teach us love. Love teaches us why we have each other. The letters of LOVE tell us to Live Our Values Enthusiastically.
“Enthusastically is from Greek words that mean “inspired of God”.3
Notice how the people in our Gospel sense that Jesus' words are “inspired of God”. Notice the rapid change as the congregation starts over thinking & quickly turns into a murderous mob. How quickly do our emotions change?
Our emotions can change quickly when we are too close to a situation & our perspective is challenged. When facts get in our way, anger lurks. Think of the resistance people gave these facts: Explorers started saying the world is round not flat. People claimed Christopher Columbus discovered America & then learned Leif Erickson discovered it more than 4 centuries earlier. Truth can challenge us. Challenge can anger us. Anger can block the gift of Love, the gift that lives on when we will no longer need the other gifts from the Holy Spirit, which Paul discusses in his letter to the Corinthians.
We see the gift of Love blocked in our Gospel after Jesus reads the portion of Isaiah we read last Sunday & proclaims the prophecy is fulfilled. Jesus identifies himself as a prophet like Jeremiah, who speaks to people outside the chosen people4. This angers Jesus' hearers.
Notice how bravely Jesus handles the situation. Notice Jeremiah's reluctance to handle the work God gives him. God assures young Jeremiah that God will be with him. How reluctant are we, how reluctant are you, to take on the work God gives us/you to do?
God calls each of us to speak the Good News as only each of us can. The Holy Spirit will be with you in this work. You can depend on this. Although we may resist being dependent, we are wise to remember the Godly quality of dependence, which we hear in Celtic Praise5: As a baby, Jesus depended on human love. As he taught & ministered, he depended on human love. Each of us depends on human love. “To depend on others is to imitate Christ”.
Jesus is with us as we face challenges. Think of the challenges Jeremiah faced serving God in his time & place:
the destruction of Jerusalem & its Temple,
the beginning of the Babylonian exile6 [a refugee crisis].
In a crisis, it is hard to see clearly. In our reading from Corinthians, Paul speaks of the difficulty of seeing clearly. His mirror imagery spoke clearly to the Corinthians: their looking glass industry produced polished metal mirrors that reflected dim, distorted images.7
How clearly do we see in a mirror? Do we see the beloved child of God that God sees? Do we see a ghost of ourselves like the cat sees in the book, The Autobiography of Foundini M. Cat8?
After watching the cat in the mirror, she goes to animal friend, flops down &, licking her paws, complains: “What a boring cat is that ghost cat [in the mirror]...She spends hours licking her stupid paws...”
How hard it can be to see ourselves as God sees us: Beloved.
How hard it can be to see each other as God sees us: Beloved & of value.
Like a mirror with a candle in front of it, each of you reflects the Light of Christ. You carry the Light inside you. Your Vestry shines this inner Light & lets Love lead our work.
Your Vestry practices love by sharing ideas. Once an idea is offered, it is OUR idea instead of So-And-So's idea. We explore it together, which reduces irritability. This enhances our oneness as this happening community where we live God's love.
We hear the test of oneness in Celtic Praise's “Test of Brotherhood”9:
“People have always argued & disagreed.
On every matter there have been two sides.
Christ urged us to love & be united.
On every matter he wanted perfect harmony.
Christians have continued to argue & disagree.
On matters of doctrine there have been two sides.
Can we argue & remain united?
Can we disagree & remain in harmony?
That is the true test of brotherhood.”
Bates, The Rev. Dr. J. Barrington. “Living Eucharistically, Epiphany 4(C) – 2016”. Accessed: 28 Jan. 2016. http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/2016/01/20/living-eucharistically-epiphany-4c-2016/.
“Behind the Name”. http://www.behindthename.com/name/jeremiah Accessed: 29 Jan. 2016.
Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1988.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004.
The New American Bible for Catholics. South Bend: Greenlawn Press. 1986.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leif_Erikson Accessed: 30 Jan. 2016.
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary Accessed: 29 Jan. 2016.
“Only a Carpenter's Son”. http://www.sermons4kids.com/only_a_carpenters_son.htm. Accessed: 29 Jan. 2016.
Schaeffer, Susan Fromberg. The Autobiography of Foundini M. Cat. New York: Alfred A. Knofp. 1987.
“There's No Place Like Home”. http://www.sermons4kids.com/ Accessed:29 Jan. 2016.
Van de Weyer, Robert. Celtic Praise: A Book of Celtic Devotion, Daily Prayers and Blessings. Nashville: Abingdon Press. 1998.
1 Idea of home inspired by: “There's No Place Like Home”. http://www.sermons4kids.com/ Accessed:29 Jan. 2016.
2 Ibid. Quotation attributed to Pliny the Elder.
4 Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. P. 609.
5 Van de Weyer, Robert. Celtic Praise: A Book of Celtic Devotion, Daily Prayers and Blessings. P. 29.
6 Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. P. 917.
7 Ibid. Harper's. P. 1185.
8 Schaeffer, Susan Fromberg. The Autobiography of Foundini M. Cat. New York: Alfred A. Knofp. 1987. Pp. 104-107.
9 Ibid. Van de Weyer. P. 23