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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

312: “There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see be it!”

Day 312 Friday, January 22nd 2021

“There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see be it!”

Notes for Sunday's Celebration by Victoria MacDonald and Peter and Cathy Schneider

What an historic time we live in! In the length of just a few weeks we have experienced an insurrection, an impeachment (a second one!), and an inauguration (where an incredible 22 year old poet laureate said: “[T]here is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see be it!” ) How do we, as a living faith community, make sense, and more importantly, glean God’s message to us through it all?

When I first know that I am presiding for an Emmaus liturgy, I look to the lectionary readings for that Sunday. Some of this Sunday’s readings are seldom heard, like Jonah, chapter 3. Usually we hear about Jonah and the whale. But this portion, where Jonah is asked to warn people in an enemy city, Ninevah, to repent and change their ways or their city will be destroyed, is heard only once every three years! That seems important!

But the Gospel reading of Mark, Jesus’ calling his disciples, is better known. We hear about Jesus, traveling to Galilee, who spots Andrew, Simon, James and John “casting their nets” and we all know those famous words by heart: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” My first insight: Joe Biden, is carefully selecting, not only his cabinet, but also calling all of us, to work together to unify this nation...that seems fitting!

And, so Peter and Cathy Schneider and I, as co-presiders, began to talk...would our theme focus on prophetic warnings or prophetic calls to discipleship? Or are these two not so very different?

(Jonah flees)

Jonah was quite a reluctant prophet and actually ran away from God’s first call to him to go to Ninevah (that’s when he got caught up in that whale-of-a-tale!). In chapter 3 we catch up with Jonah, when God gives him a “second chance” to go to Ninevah. And actually, God is giving the Ninevites a second chance to turn their lives around and save their city...and quite quickly, and miraculously, they do! But is Jonah happy with their repentance? No! He wanted them to pay and be accountable for their “evil ways”! So, in this Old Testament story, the Ninevite’s repent and change, but it’s the prophet Jonah, who is unrepentant!

In Mark’s gospel, Jesus is fresh after his baptism and just returning from his time in the desert, as he travels to Galilee. There, walking near the shore, Jesus sees men tending their nets, and calls out to them. And just as quickly they “drop their nets” and follow him!

What are we to make of these recent events and these readings? Are they calling out to you in some way? Is it that God’s mercy and forgiveness is unbounded, certainly more than our own? Or, is it that we expect God’s mercy for us, but God’s justice for our perceived enemies? Or, is it that Jesus’ message of “metanoia,” “turn your life around,” is a message that change, real change, is possible? Is it the hope that all of us, not just some of us, can really change our lives?

As we prepare for our liturgy, I invite you to “chew” on these readings and see what surfaces for you...and maybe these invitations will spark insights for all of us to share.

Victoria MacDonald

Peter and Cathy Schneider


The Cure at Troy

Human beings suffer,

They torture one another,

They get hurt and get hard.

No poem or play or song

Can fully right a wrong

Inflicted and endured

History says, don’t hope

On this side of the grave.

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up,

And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change

On the far side of revenge.

Believe that further shore

Is reachable from here.

Believe in miracle

And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing:

The utter, self-revealing

Double-take of feeling.

If there’s fire on the mountain

Or lightning and storm

And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing

The outcry and the birth-cry

of new life at its term.

It means once in a lifetime

That justice can rise up

And hope and history rhyme.

by Seamus Heaney

by Seamus Heaney


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