Meditations for the Third Sunday after The Epiphany

Our weekly meditation is expanding! 
Starting this week our Director of Music, Dr. Tom Lee, is providing an anthem appropriate to the Sunday readings. 
I will also be adding the visio divina artwork from the weekly E-News so that
our meditation offerings are all in one place for your contemplation on this coming week’s Eucharistic readings.

A Musical Meditation

by Tom Lee

There Shall a Star Come Out of Jacob – Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

This piece pairs a prophetic verse from Numbers with a 16th-century Lutheran chorale.  It is particularly appropriate for Epiphany with its rich use of metaphors of stars and light. The musical style is reminiscent of the great choral works of Bach, whom Mendelssohn greatly admired.  Although originally scored for mixed voices, this fine men’s choir performance is both beautiful and compelling. 

 Christus: There Shall a Star Come Out of Jacob (Mendelssohn) – Indianapolis Men’s Choir

As bright the star of morning gleams,
So, Jesus sheddeth glorious beams 
Of light and consolation.


Thy word, O Lord,
Radiance darting, truth imparting, gives salvation;
Thine be praise and adoration!

Phillip Nicolai (1556-1508)

A Meditation on The Collect for the Third Sunday after The Epiphany

Give us grace, O Lord,
to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ
and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation,
that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(BCP 215)

Marion Hatchett states that this Collect, drafted by the Rev. Dr. Massey H. Shepherd for the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, echoes phrases from the Collect for the feast day of Saint Andrew (November 30, see BCP 237).  This choice is appropriate for this Sunday because the Gospel lessons in Years A and B are about Jesus’ calling of the first four disciples, including Andrew (Matthew 4:12-23, Mark 1:14-20). The Year C reading, while not about the calling of the disciples (Luke 4:14-21), contains the narrative about Jesus’ sermon in the synagogue at Nazareth and the Collect echoes an important element of this moment in Jesus’ ministry (Hatchett, 171). 

The Preamble, “O Lord,” invites us to consider how we are calling upon God in this Collect.  The choice, as we have seen in other Collect meditations, is to ask whether this Collect addresses God as our sovereign or to address God as approachable and relational—that is, the God who has revealed God’s own divine name to us. 

Theoptional Acknowledgement is not present in this Collect.  

The Petition, “Give us grace … to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation,” is a request for grace to follow in the footsteps of the first disciples in their response to Jesus’ invitation to proclaim the Gospel with him.  This Petition continues to develop the Petition from last week’s Collect:  that we, who are “illumined by [God’s] Word and Sacraments” might, through our lives, be means of reflecting Christ’s glory.  In this Collect, we pray for grace to live into the Baptismal Covenant by proclaiming “by word and example the Good News of God in Christ” (Holy Baptism:  The Baptismal Covenant, BCP 305).

This Good News of God in Christ that we are called to proclaim is described in the Year C reading of Luke 4:14-21:  captives being released, the blind having their sight restored, and the oppressed going free—this is good news to those who are poor because of the power of sin.   Through sin we “we lose our liberty” that God desires for us.  Through sin, our relationship with God, each other, and all of creation is distorted (Catechism:  Sin and Redemption, BCP 848-9).  It might seem that one of the things in this list (poor, captives, blind, oppressed) is not like the others, except one can read “the blind” in this passage as those whose ability to perceive God with their spiritual eyes has been obscured. 

The salvation that is in view in Luke 4:14-21 is health that begins in this life.  Salvation is freedom from the power of sin.  Salvation is experienced as living in harmony with God, each other, and all of creation. (Catechism:  Sin and Redemption, BCP 848-9).  Since the mission of the Church is to “restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ” through “the ministry of all of its members,” (Catechism:  The Church, BCP 855) this petition is asking God to give us grace to be active members of the Church.    

The Aspiration, “that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works,” gives us another way of stating the purpose of the Aspiration of last week’s Collect (that we, who have been illumined by God’s Word and Sacraments, may reflect Christ’s glory into the world so that Christ “may be known, worshiped, and obeyed”).  As we are illumined and empowered through our worship, we are better able to recognize the marvelous works of salvation in our lives and in the lives of those around us.  Through this increasing perception of Christ’s glorious work, we are better able to proclaim how God is at work in the world today.

The Pleading, “who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen,” makes this a petition to all three persons of the Trinity—our Savior Jesus Christ, the one who offers healing to the fabric of our society; the Holy Spirit who illuminates us through Word and Sacrament; and God our Lord.

Note:  Suffrages A of Morning and Evening Prayer (BCP 55, 67-8, 97-8, 121-2) provide a similar description of the Good News of salvation in Christ.

Answering the call to proclaim the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ is both the same and yet different in these ongoing days of pandemic.  What new ways are we being invited to share the Good News? 

How have you experienced release from captivity, recovery of sight, and freedom from oppression through the work of Jesus Christ? 

What new sights of God’s glory revealed through Jesus Christ have we as a parish received during this time of pandemic?  With whom are we sharing this Good News?

Give us grace, O Lord,
to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ
and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation,
that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

© 2022 Donna R. Hawk-Reinhard, edited by Kate McCormick
The citations from Marion Hatchett are from his Commentary on the American Prayer Book, HarperOne, 1995
Quotations and page references to The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) are from the 1979 standard edition. 
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

A Visual Meditation

The Isaiah Scroll from Qumran

from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. 
https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54196 [retrieved January 13, 2022]
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