Called to Witness
The Epiphany season has three festivals: The Festival of the Epiphany (January 6), The Baptism of Our Lord (Epiphany 1), and The Transfiguration of Our Lord (Last Sunday after The Epiphany). Unlike other seasons, it opens and closes with a festival. The Sundays in between (Epiphany 2-8) are called “Ordinary” Sundays.
The Old Testament lessons harmonize with the Gospel Lesson. Four of the seven Lessons are taken from Isaiah. The Epistle Lessons are given in semi “in-course” fashion from 1 Corinthians 1:1—4:5. Consequently, the Epistle is not intended to harmonize with the theme of the Gospel and the Old Testament lesson. The Epistle lends itself to a series of sermons on the church. The Gospel lesson lays the groundwork of Jesus’ public ministry, a transition from the ministry of John to the ministry of Jesus. Beginning with Epiphany 4, we will have an in-course (verse after verse) series on the fifth chapter of Matthew, the first of three chapters constituting the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-48). Because Easter falls mid April this year, the season of Epiphany will last seven weeks in 2020.
In the Gospel the story of God is manifested in Jesus as the Messiah. John the Baptist refers to Jesus as the Lamb who is baptized by the Spirit and who baptizes with the Spirit. In the Old Testament Lesson,the Epiphany can be seen in God’s servant, Israel, who is to bring the light of salvation to the nations. Epiphany deals with the light and with the spreading of the light to the whole world. God is glorified in His servant (verse 3) who witness. In the Epistle Lesson, the glory of Christ can be seen in the power of the Gospel to make believers as in Corinth.
Collects for the Epiphany Season: Lord God, on this day you revealed your Son to the nations by the leading of a star. Lead us now by faith to know your presence in our lives and bring us at last to the full vision of your glory.
Father, You revealed Your Son to the nations by the guidance of a star. Lead us to Your glory in heaven by the light of faith. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.
Father, You make known the salvation of humankind at the birth of Your Son. Make us strong in faith and bring us to the glory You promise. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Collects for Epiphany 2: Lord God, you showed your glory and led many to faith by the works of your Son. As he brought gladness and healing to his people, grant us these same gifts and lead us to perfect faith in Him.
Almighty and everlasting God, who governs all things in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the prayers of Your people and grant us Your peace through all our days; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Collect for Psalm 40: Lord Jesus Christ, You became obedient to death and Your name was exalted above all others. Teach us always to do the Father’s will, so that, made holy by Your obedience and united to Your sacrifice, we can know Your great love in time of sorrow and sing a new song to our God now and forever.
Monday, 13 January, 2020—Psalm 19:1-4; antiphon, Psalm 19:4—In the Introit for Sunday, we pray, Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer .These words are commonly prayed by the pastor before the sermon is delivered. The silent heavens speak, declaring the glory of their Maker to all who are on the earth. The heavenly lights are not divine nor do they control or disclose man’s destiny. Their glory testifies to the righteousness and faithfulness of the Lord who created them. For further reading and meditation, see Romans 1:19-20, Psalm 89:4-8, and Psalm 97:6.
Tuesday, 14 January, 2020—Psalm 40—The psalm is a prayer for help when troubles abound. While the cause of David’s distress is not specified, David acknowledges that they are occasioned by his sin. The prayer begins with praise of God for His past mercies (verses 1-5) and as testimony to the king’s own faithfulness to the Lord (verses 6-10). These form the ground for his present appeal for help (verses 11-17).
Wednesday, 15 January 2020—Isaiah 49:1-6—Witnessing to all nations. The Lord calls His servant, Israel, to bring the light of salvation to the nations. Here we have the second of the servant songs in Isaiah. The servant tells how the Lord called and chose him before he was born. For the task of restoring Israel, he was equipped with a mouth “like a sharp sword” and was made like “a polished arrow.” Yet, he feels that his labor was in vain. Then the Lord speaks to him and becomes his strength. However, the Lord has broadened his task to bring light and salvation not only to Israel but also to the whole world.
Thursday, 16 January 2020—1 Corinthians 1:1-9—Witnessing produces the church. Paul thanks God for the grace given to the Corinthian church. In these opening verses of Paul’s Corinthian correspondence, he identifies himself in terms of spiritual gifts. Paul reminds them of “the church of God.” Their church is a part of the ecumenical church “called to be saints together with all those who in every place....” Moreover, in these opening sentences, Paul puts his finger on the problem in the Corinthian church: spiritual gifts such as “all speech and knowledge” which most probably meant Gnosticism and Glossolalia. While they are waiting for the return of Christ on the last great day, Paul assures them of God’s faithfulness in sustaining and purifying them.
Friday, 17 January 2020—John 1:29-41—Witnessing to Christ as the Messiah. John the Baptist witnesses to Jesus as the Son of God. This is the closest John comes to reporting the baptism of Jesus. As Jesus comes to him, John the Baptist hails Him as the Lamb of God. He reports seeing the dove of the Spirit coming upon Jesus at the baptism. John confesses that Jesus is greater than he is because Jesus baptizes with the Spirit while he baptizes only with water. Out of this personal experience
John the Baptist declares that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. The Epiphany theme comes to the forefront in today’s Gospel. John the Baptist witnesses to Jesus as the Messiah. Here is a revelation coming forth: this simple peasant from Nazareth is understood as Son of God, the promised Deliverer, Savior. When we deal with Jesus, we are dealing with God.
Saturday, 16 January 2020—Galatians 4:4-5; 2 -Timothy 1:10; 1 John 4:9; Luke 1:30-35—Sunday’s Hymn of the Day is “The Only Son from Heaven”(LSB #402). Who is Jesus? This is the question the world must address. The answer to this question is addressed in the season of Epiphany. St. Paul reminds us that at just the right time, a time set by the Father, He sent His Son, to be born of a woman. Jesus was truly human; He was born under the law to be subject to the Jewish law. Now those who are called by the Gospel are incorporated into the family of faith. Outside the weather might be cold and gloomy. The landscape appears to be lifeless. Yet new life is granted to us as we see Jesus who entered our world to be our Savior to win us back to full favor with the Father.
Morning Prayer Readings for this coming week
January 13 Monday Jesus Presented in Temple Luke 2
January 14 Tuesday The Wise Men Matthew 2
January 15 Wednesday Chapel
January 16 Thursday Flight into Egypt Matthew 2
January 17 Friday Jesus in the Temple Luke 2
Catechism Review: What Baptism Indicates
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing Lima,OH
For All the Saints A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol. II © 1995 by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY
Luther’s Seal copyright © Higher Things