Readings for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Nehemiah 8:1-3,5-6,8-10; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a; Luke 4:16-30

There’s an old saying that “Familiarity breeds contempt.” It means that sometimes our close association with a person -through no fault of theirs- can cause us to lose respect for them. To American Christians living in 2019 Jesus is familiar name. The Bible is a familiar book. Worship is a familiar activity. Do we ever treat them as commonplace, ho-hum, nothing to get excited about? LORD, help us to “hold your Word sacred, and gladly hear and learn it!” (LC)

Jesus returns to his hometown synagogue where he proclaims himself to be Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. But all the people want are miracles. And when Jesus accuses them of lacking faith they fly into a rage. How dare the son of Joseph (not his real father, you know) talk to them that way! Familiarity had bred contempt. (Lk 4)

What a contrast we see in the Old Testament lesson! There, God’s people had been starving for His Word after years living in exile. They told (or maybe begged?) Ezra the priest to bring out the scrolls and read them aloud for all to hear. The people wept, brokenhearted before God, until Ezra called them to dry their tears and celebrate God’s goodness instead. (Nh 8)

In the epistle lesson, Paul urges there to be no divisions within the Christian community. In Christ we have been made cooperative members of one body – no one any more or less important than another. (1Cor 12)