Week 1: Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany – February 10: The Pressing Crowd
“Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2 he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ 5 Simon answered, ‘Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.’ 6 When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ 9 For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’ 11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.”
Our verse for today is from the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 5 verses 9 through11: “For [Jesus] and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’ 11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.”
Let’s think about what this means.
- So many people wanted to hear Jesus teach that he asked Simon to take him in his boat.
- Jesus finished talking to the crowd about God and how God wants us to live.
- Jesus showed his thanks to Simon for letting him sit in his boat: a huge catch of fish!
- After trying unsuccessfully to catch fish all night, Simon realized that this was a miracle.
- He was afraid he was not good enough to be in the presence of the One who does miracles.
- Jesus reassured him and told him not to be afraid. Jesus knew he could help Simon catch people.
- Because of Jesus, Simon and his fishing business partners, James and John, caught many fish.
- At the height of their worldly success, they left everything behind in order to follow Jesus.
Dear God, you work miracles through Jesus, your Son. With your help, we can do anything that you ask us to do. Help us to trust you enough to do what you say, even if we have doubts or are afraid. Thank you for inspiring us with faith. Fill our hearts with your Spirit, so we will let go of things and follow you. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Week 2: Sixth Sunday After the Epiphany – February 17, 2019: The Expectant Crowd
“[Jesus] came down [from the hill] with [the apostles] and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. 18 They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.
20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
25 “Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”
Our verse for today is from the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 6, verse 26: “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”
- Let’s think about what this means.
- Woe means “look out, uh-oh, or oh no!” Jesus is giving a serious warning.
- He wants us to watch out for how we behave.
- Are we trying to be popular in the way of the world?
- Do we want everyone to like us and think that we’re cool?
- If we do the right things, that is good. But if we go against what Jesus teaches, that’s bad.
- The false prophets were people who said everything was just fine, when it was really wrong.
- Jesus calls us to be wise and truthful. Genuine goodness makes us a good, loyal friend.
- In everything we say and do, the person we should be trying to please is God.
Dear God, you light the way of true life. We look up to Jesus for his courage and kindness. He shows us how to be brave and follow you. Empower us by your Holy Spirit to turn away from temptations and live as disciples who love and trust you. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Week 3: Seventh Sunday After the Epiphany – February 24, 2019: The Questioning Crowd
“[Jesus said:] ‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for [God] is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’”
Our verses for today are from the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 6, verses 35b and 36: “[God] is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Let’s think about what this means.
- God shows kindness to people who are ungrateful; they don’t thank God for what they have.
- God still loves people even though they choose to act wickedly or do wrong things.
- Our heavenly Father wants us to be merciful the way God is. To be merciful is to forgive.
- To show mercy is to choose not to punish someone even though they deserve it.
- Instead of punishing us for the things we do wrong, God is kind and forgives us.
- Jesus says that when we show kindness and mercy, we are behaving like children of God.
Dear God, thank you for being kind to us. You forgive us and show us how it feels to receive mercy. Sometimes we forget to be thankful. Send your Holy Spirit to help us remember your kindness to us. May we live more faithfully as your children who share your kindness with others. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Week 4: Transfiguration Sunday – March 3, 2019: The Astounded Crowd
“Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35 Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him!’ 36 When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 Just then a man from the crowd shouted, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 39 Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 40 I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.’ 41 Jesus answered, ‘You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.’ 42 While he was coming, the demon dashed [the boy] to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astounded at the greatness of God.”
Our verse for today is from the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 9, verses 42b and 43: “But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astounded at the greatness of God.”
Let’s think about what this means.
- Large crowds of people and disciples were gathering around Jesus.
- He talked to them about God and the kingdom of God.
- God’s wonderful power to heal people was going out from Jesus.
- As Jesus looked at the people and spoke to them, his presence was healing the whole crowd.
- People’s bodies and spirits were being healed in amazing ways.
- A man’s only child needed to be rescued. Jesus completely healed the son and returned him.
- The whole crowd of people were astounded! They were amazed and happy at God’s greatness.
Dear God, you are awesome! You give Jesus wonderful power to heal people who are suffering in any way. Thank you for sending Jesus to draw near to us and meet us where we are. His presence in our lives heals us and sustains us with your wisdom and love. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.