Church Sunday Worship

Epiphany 3 - 23rd January

Readings Nehemiah 8:1-3,5-6,8-10, Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a, Luke 4:14-21

There are many aspects of homecoming in today’s readings. Nehemiah portrays the homecoming of the Hebrew people after 50 years of captivity in Babylon. In the Corinthians reading we have the second half of Paul’s teaching on spiritual gifts which follows on from last week. Having declared that all spiritual gifts in their diversity are animated by the one Spirit, Paul further develops his understanding of how they work together in the image of the body of Christ. Because it is into the one Spirit that all of Christ’s followers are baptised all are members of the one body. That is the basis of unity and nothing else can supersede that primary identification with one another.

All members of Christ’s body are needed in order for the whole to be complete. The body is an interdependent organism in which no-one is superfluous. In the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this passage serves as a reminder of our underlying unity and a warning against considering ourselves as separate entities.

Luke shows Jesus’ ministry beginning in his home territory of Galilee. There he goes from village to village teaching in the synagogue and he finally comes to his home town of Nazareth. Synagogue worship at the time involved the reading of scripture (in Hebrew then interpreted in Aramaic) followed by an exposition on what was read. When Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah, therefore, the assembly would have been anticipating his interpretation. They may not have been anticipating his assertion that the words just read had been fulfilled in him.

The Isaiah passage quoted by Luke is a compilation of different verses from the book of Isaiah. Together they refer to God’s Servant initiating a time of Jubilee when God’s favour would be experienced by those in captivity. Traditionally all debts were cancelled, slaves freed, and capital redistributed. By placing this story at the beginning of his good news [gospel] , Luke lets the reader know that in Jesus God’s favour will be extended to all. Jubilee is happening! Right relations with God, with one another, and with the creation, will be restored.


A hymn for the week – I come with joy to meet my Lord, [R&S 447]