Introductions to the Gospel readings for
January 7 - Mark 1:4-11
Our re-creation in baptism is an image of the Genesis creation, where the Spirit/wind moved over the waters. Both Mark's gospel and the story in Acts make clear that it is the Spirit's movement that distinguishes Jesus' baptism from John's. The Spirit has come upon us as upon Jesus and the Ephesians, calling us God's beloved children and setting us on Jesus' mission to re-create the world in the image of God's vision of justice and peace.
January 14 – John 1:43-51
All the baptized have a calling in God's world. God calls not just the clergy but also the youngest child, like Samuel. The story of the calling of Nathanael plays with the idea of place. Nathanael initially dismisses Jesus because he comes from Nazareth. But where we come from isn't important; it's where-or rather whom-we come to. Jesus refers to the story of the vision of Jacob, who called the place of his vision "the house of God, and...the gate of heaven" (Gen. 28:17). Jesus says he himself is the place where Nathanael will meet God.
January 21 – Mark 1:14-20
Stories of the call to discipleship continue as the time after Epiphany plays out the implications of our baptismal calling to show Christ to the world. Jesus begins proclaiming the good news and calling people to repentance right after John the Baptist is arrested for preaching in a similar way. Knowing that John was later executed, we see at the very outset the cost of discipleship. Still, the two sets of fisherman brothers leave everything they have known and worked for all their lives to follow Jesus and fish for people.
January 28 - Mark 1:21-28
In Deuteronomy God promises to raise up a prophet like Moses, who will speak for God; in Psalm 111 God shows the people the power of God's works. For the church these are ways of pointing to the unique authority people sensed in Jesus' actions and words. We encounter that authority in God's word, around which we gather, the word that trumps any lesser spirit that would claim power over us, freeing us to follow Jesus.