Readings for Sunday, Jan 16, 2022

 

Introduction:

The 1st reading is from Isaiah 43:1-7.  The prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, began preaching in the 730s BCE.  He was still preaching when King Hezekiah, in 701 BCE, sent the leading priests of his day to ask Isaiah to pray to God that the remnant of Israel still alive, be able to survive, (2 Kings 19:2-4).  The Book of Isaiah is a collection of many prophesies by many prophets, the most important prophet is Isaiah, son of Amoz .  Scholars believe that the chapters after chapter 39 do not contain any prophesies by Isaiah.  If these scholars are correct our reading is not a prophesy of Isaiah, it is by some other unnamed prophet.   Our reading is about the return of the exiles from Babylon, about 160 years after Isaiah, son of Amoz was preaching.  The reading starts with “But now” which implies a reaction to the negative news in the preceding chapter, 42:17-25.   Verse 2 reassures the exiled Israelites that they will face extreme dangers on the trek back to Jerusalem but that He their God will protect them.  The speaker identifies himself as “the Lord”, Creator of Genesis 1-2:3 and “the Former or Fashioner of Genesis 2:7.  This captures the two forms of creation used in Genesis, i.e. creation from nothing and fashioning as by a potter from clay.  Despite all of our sins the Lord declares that He is “the Lord your God” and has redeemed us because we are His.  Whatever dangers confront us, He will be with us.   The great danger at the time the unnamed prophet is writing is the captivity of the people of Israel in Babylon.  In verse 3 this prophet is saying that God will have Cyrus liberate the people of Israel and replace them with captives from Egypt, Ethiopia and Seba.  In verse 5 God tells the exiled people in Babylon that not only will the people of Israel return from Babylon but from wherever they are, from the North, the East, the South and the West.  God will bring His people home.

 

The Reading:

  

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch.  The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give.  You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.  You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married.  For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry  you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.


 

Introduction:

The 2nd reading is from 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.  The context for our 2nd message is not about addressing a specific problem among the Corinthians but instead is about deepening their understanding of Spiritual gifts.  Paul stresses that love is the only proper context for the exchange of spiritual gifts with other committed Christians.  Paul’s audience in Corinth was composed both by those who had been Jews and those who had been pagans.  In today’s reading the contrast is with what they were taught as former pagans.  Pagan idols are mute and being without life can teach nothing.  Pagan priests, who are mere humans do not have a relationship with the one true God and since their gods are lifeless can receive no guidance from their gods.   Therefore, when they were pagans they could learn nothing about their proper relationship to God.  As Christians we are taught by the Holy Spirit of God who is all knowing.  The Holy Spirit gives us the knowledge we need to form a relationship of righteousness with God.  As individuals it is difficult to comprehend all the knowledge needed for a righteous relationship with God but in a Christian community the knowledge imparted by the Holy Spirit can be divided over many and in sum be greater than that understood by any single individual.   In a Christian community there are many spiritual gifts but they are all taught to us by the same Holy Spirit.  There are many varieties of services and many varieties of activities, all of which are of value to the Christian community.

The Reading:

 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.  You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak.  Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

            Now there are varieties of gifts but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.