First Thoughts From The Rev. Canon David Smith: 

Most weeks Fr. David sends out an e-mail with his first thoughts on the upcoming Sunday readings. These reflections are designed to encourage people to consider the readings before they come to worship which we hope will enrich Sunday worship. People are invited to respond to David with their own thoughts and sometimes interesting ideas and conversations occur that end up in the sermon. If you would like to receive these weekly e-mails e-mail David at dsmith@ontario.anglican.ca  . 

Reflections on Jonah 3:1-5, 10, Psalm 62: 5-12, 1 Corinthians 7: 29-31, Mark 1: 14-20

Posted by Emily Sanderson on Sunday, January 25, 2015
Hi everyone,

These thoughts are very last minute this week and I am going to keep them  really brief.

Readings: Jonah3:1-5, 10, Psalm 62: 5-12, 1 Corinthians 7: 29-31, Mark 1:
14-20  link to http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=62;

Thanks to Feasting on the Word year B Volume 1 pgs 266-289

Of course each reading has its own nuance , context and themes  but to me I think it is fair to say that there is a common theme of trusting in God alone and giving our all in response to God's Good News and  Kingdom.  Unlike the disciples who immediately stopped fishing, left everything and followed Jesus, Jonah was a reluctant prophet who did not always trust in God and certainly did not see eye to eye with God. There was some serious rebelling and complaining going on. Perhaps I am a bit more like Jonah than the disciples. But in our text for Sunday he does obey God preaches one sentence sermon without even mentioning God, and  wouldn't you know there is a radical response by the people of Nineveh. They repented and changed their ways, and put their trust in God completely.  Even the cows repented. The
story is probably trying to compare and contrast Jonah with Nineveh and as Donna Schaper points out it  reflects  a common theme in Scripture. The insiders are often the ones who disobey or fail to live into God's calling and the outsiders such as the Good Samaritan respond brilliantly.

Our Psalm invites us to put our trust completely into God's hands. God is our refuge. We cannot put our confidence in people or in material possessions as they are fleeting but that  everlasting power and steadfast love belong to God. God alone is our rock and salvation.

St. Paul speaks about focusing on God alone in very concrete and  frankly disturbing terms. He seems to be saying that we should not be concerned with our marriages and other close relationships and the happiness and sadness that these relationships bring. He also says not to be concerned about possessions. Like Jonah, I kind of want to get on a boat and head another direction. Even Paul makes a disclaimer that this is his opinion and not the word of the Lord. But rather than simply dismiss Paul's teaching it is good to remember his context which is an expectant hope for Christ's return. I don't think our faith demands that we ignore our spouses and those things that are important to us. In fact  I think quite the opposite but putting our most cherished things into the context of the things of eternity as our Psalm does can help us realize where our ultimate hope and trust lies. God's ultimate purposes for us and all of creation is what we seek to live into. This includes an expectant hope for God's final redemption.

Our Gospel reading has Jesus proclaiming Good News, the Good News about the Kingdom of God. This Good News is indeed God's purpose for creation and it is such good news that we orient our lives around it. We proclaim, celebrate
and live into the promise of this good news just as the disciples did when they became fishers of people. Two of my favourite authors have both said that far too often Christianity is viewed as advice for living and they both say this is not Christianity. Christianity is news not advice. Imagine when you  have received great news. How did it change you and  what were your responses? As helpful as good advice can be I imagine your response is different to good news than good advice. In a nutshell the Good News of Christianity is that God in Christ Jesus has inaugurated the Kingdom of God
through Christ's ministry, death and resurrection. This has changed everything and we live now as St. Paul in the expectant hope of the fullness of this Kingdom .

Tomorrow is St. Philip's  Vestry Meeting  and soon St. John's will be held.  With this in mind and as we plan for 2015, I think our readings invite us to be excitingly responsive to the Good News and as we proclaim this Good News in our words and deeds let us, like the disciples, put our whole trust in God. God who is our refuge and strength.

Blessings,

David