January – Thinking about the year ahead
How might we, in our ordinary lives, announce that God is among us? It starts with loving and giving thanks for the ordinary and simple around us.
5 JANUARY, Christmas 2, JOHN 1:(1-9), 10-18
John’s Gospel sets the tone of mystery from its genesis, introducing the good news as the Word which became flesh in Jesus and lived among us.
As we, celebrate a new year, our resolutions and our goals laid out, not yet forgotten, maybe we could consider how we might develop a fleshier, or fuller faith with the Word through both word and flesh. We might consider the Jesus who is with us in the sacrament of bread and wine, water and each other. We might ask how we can see all things that came into being through him, we might look to creation, each other and the worlds that we have constructed around us, with the same eyes of John, inviting mystery into our vernacular.
Mystery for me means that I don’t have to have all the answers, but I still have to think about it.
12 JANUARY, Baptism of Jesus, MATTHEW 3:13-17
We remember the baptism of Jesus and contemplate our own. Maybe we remember the promises that we made, or the scripture that was spoken. You might pull out the Apostle’s or Nicene creeds. We as community might ponder on what it means to be a part of the people that we gather with each week, and what we mean to each other, and what we could mean to those in our local neighbourhood and beyond it. We might also ask why Jesus was baptised. What does it mean for God to have become a human? As we enter into Epiphany, we might ask what is revealed in Christ’s coming, in the stories of baptism, and healing and living and teaching, and how are we being asked to respond?
19 JANUARY, Epiphany 2, JOHN 1:29-42
I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry. (Psalm 40:1) Here we find ourselves within the season of Epiphany asking the questions; what is revealed in Christ’s coming and how are we being asked to respond? Our multi layered, symbolic and theologically dense reading from John, reads practically but also provides for deep discussion. Whilst I have little doubt that John’s Gospel is chosen here, because it is this gospel where the display of both the incarnation and the epiphany is made so resolutely. You might remember from 1:14 “and the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory”. There is also a very practical edge to this reading, when we take note of the importance of John the Baptists role here, understanding that he provides a testimony as to who Jesus is and then points the way so that others come to recognise Jesus. We understand our role a little clearer, and wonder what does it mean for us today to point the way to Jesus, what might we cry out so that we ourselves and those who witness take note?
26 JANUARY, Epiphany 3, MATTHEW 4:12-23
Follow me. As we enter back into our ordinary lives, stepping back into work, or starting to think more seriously about the year that is to come, we might find it easy to forget the majesty and wonder of the celebrations we have just committed, the wonder and waiting we journeyed, and the walk to the cross that is before us. It is in the ordinary though, that we can get some real work done! And this season of Ordinary time, layered with the season of Epiphany calls us to work on how Jesus is revealed today. We might ask how we like Peter and Andrew might follow Jesus. How might we listen to him and his commands? Where this is no magi, no great starts, not as much wonder and celebration, how might we in our very ordinary lives announce that God is among us? That answer starts with the simple “follow me”… and like Mary and Joseph we might commit to follow him, and worry about what is next, when that unfolds.
These reflections were prepared by Rev. James Aaron, Minister at North Ryde Community Uniting Church