This Sunday at BLC
Sunday, January 21, 2018 – Third Sunday after Epiphany
Return to the Lord your God,
For he is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love
And abounding in steadfast love.
(ELW, setting 3, page 142)
We often hear these words from Exodus 34:6-7 in our liturgy during Lent, but they are echoing in my mind as I reflect on the theme of repentance that is woven in our readings for this Third Sunday of Epiphany.
First, we hear the familiar story of Jonah. He’s famous for being swallowed up by a whale, but his journey is actually about repentance. He’s sent to the town of Ninevah to give the people there one last chance to turn towards God; one last chance to repent. He’s so reluctant to do so that he tries to run from God (which leads to finding himself in the belly of a whale). Then, Jonah is sent to Nineveh (a second time) by God to tell the Ninevites to repent. This time, he does as he’s told and they don’t hesitate to do so.
In our gospel, Jesus walks the shores of Galilee to announce the kingdom of God has arrived. He tells people to repent and believe the good news. And Simon and Andrew, James and John just drop their fishing nets immediately to follow him.
What strikes me in both texts is how immediately people responded. They didn’t ask questions. They didn’t question God’s motivation. They didn’t wonder whether God’s messengers could be trusted. They just responded.
The immediacy of their response reminds me that hearing the call for repentance is good news to those who are hungry for the steadfast love of God. It’s good news for those who yearn to experience grace and mercy. It’s good news for those who know they need God.
Where – and through whom – have you heard this good news lately? May you respond to God’s grace and mercy with the immediacy of the Ninevites and the fisherman and invite others to do the same!
~ Pastor Hoffman