A reflection for the 17th January 2021
2nd Sunday of Epiphany

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Offered for Sunday 17th January 2021


Stephen

Reflections Script

2nd Sunday of Epiphany

January 17th 2021


TO: Jesus, son of Joseph,
woodcrafter,
Carpenter's Shop,
Nazareth.

FROM: Jordan Management Consultants,
Jerusalem.

Dear Sir,
Thank you for submitting the
résumés of the twelve you have
picked for management positions
in your new organisation.

All of them have now taken
our battery of tests;
we have not only run the results
through our computer,
but also arranged personal
interviews for each of them
with our psychologist and
vocational aptitude consultant.

It is our opinion that most of
your nominees are lacking in background,
education and vocational aptitude
for the type of enterprise
you are undertaking.

They do not have the team concept.
We would recommend you continue
your search for persons of
experience in managerial
ability and proven capability.

Simon Peter is emotionally unstable
and given to fits of temper.
Andrew has absolutely no
qualities of leadership.
Brothers, James and John,
the sons of Zebedee,
place personal interest
above company loyalty.

Thomas demonstrates a
questioning attitude that
would tend to undermine morale.

We feel it is our duty to tell you
Matthew has been blacklisted
by the Greater Jerusalem
Better Business Bureau.

James, son of Alphaeus,
and Thaddaeus definitely
have radical leanings,
but they both registered
a high score on the
manic-depressive scale.

One of the candidates,
however, shows great potential.
He is a man of ability and
resourcefulness, meets people well,
has a keen business mind
and has contacts in high places.

He is highly motivated,
ambitious and responsible.
We recommend Judas Iscariot
as your controller
and right-hand man.

All of the other profiles
are self-explanatory.

We wish you success in
your new venture.?

A tongue in cheek look at
the disciples,
but lets be honest,
what a Rag, Tag and Bobtail outfit
Jesus surrounded himself with!

However, this Rag, Tag and Bobtail
outfit would eventually
change the world!


Let us Pray


Skills and abilities,
knowledge and artistry;
power to invent, to create,
to achieve;
all come from God,
who has made us so wonderfully
lavishing on us the
gifts we receive.
Different gifts,
but only one Giver;
talents that vary,
the Giver the same.
Different backgrounds,
accents and shortcomings,
but God loves us all equally.
Different skills we see
in each other,
but we give him the glory
and honour his name! Amen


Address


From time to time,
a British politician gets into trouble
for making misjudged remarks about
a particular part of the country.

Whether it's assuming that all
Liverpudlians are criminals
or not wanting to have to go on
holiday with people from Sheffield,
such comments are unwise,
not only because of their
electoral implications.

They perpetuate stereotypes.
They make assumptions about the
kind of people who come from a
particular place.

And that makes it more difficult
for people to be taken seriously
as who they are.

It appears this has always been the case!
In John 1:43 to 51, Nathaniel
is told by excited friends
the Messiah is finally among them,
Jesus the carpenter's son,
from Nazareth.

"Can anything good come
out of Nazareth?"
is Nathaniel's thoughtless response.

Apart from the prejudice he shows,
Nathaniel should have known better.
If he has read his scriptures carefully,
he will have realised God
has a history of choosing
for his purposes the most unsuitable
people and the least likely places.

Right at the beginning of the story
of the people of God,
Abraham seemed pretty
unpromising material.

What's more, the land God promised
to Abraham for his own turned out
to be occupied by someone else.

Then there was Jacob,
who gave his alternative name,
Israel, to God's people.

This younger son inherited
the birthright by tricking
his elder brother and his father.

Moses had to learn to be an
Israelite rather than an Egyptian
before he could lead his people.

Israel's first King, Saul,
was from the smallest Israelite tribe,
and was hiding among the baggage
when he was chosen,
setting the tone for a reluctant
and difficult reign.

David had a weakness for women
that was nearly fatal to his reign.
Also, David was a shepherd
from Bethlehem,
not the most auspicious start
to a royal career; and so it goes on.

So Nathaniel should know
if he is going to meet
God's anointed one,
the one longed for by the prophets,
the one long awaited by
God's oppressed people,
Nazareth is precisely the
kind of place he would come from.

Not quite respectable,
away from the centre of Jewish faith,
slightly foreign Nazareth.

Just the kind of place God
would choose.
And the kind of person;
one humbly born in Bethlehem.

His parentage is irregular.
His adoptive father is a
craftsman not a rabbi.

This is the heritage of the man
who is now being hailed as
the fulfilment of the law
and the prophets.

Nathaniel should smile to himself,
and acknowledge God is at it again.

But Nathaniel has his fixed view
of Nazareth and its people;
and he's not about to keep
his comments to himself;
one "in whom there is no deceit"
indeed, as Jesus rather
cuttingly points out.

Nathaniel makes matters worse
by being over- impressed by
Jesus having seen him.

But Nathanael capitulates for ever
to Jesus who read and understood
and satisfied his heart.

Nathaniel has a lot to learn
about the ways of God
before he can be the disciple
he is being called to be.

But Jesus is continuing the pattern.
He is choosing his team
from some pretty unpromising material.

They all have a long hard road
to travel before they understand
God is not interested in
the easy choice.

It will take them to the foot
of a Roman Cross.

Jesus was an unlikely Messiah.
He was not obviously of royal blood.
He was not from Jerusalem,
the centre of religious
and spiritual power,
the place of God's special choosing.

There were rumours about
his parentage.
His father was a tradesman.
He had not received the special
training as a rabbi.

There was no reason to see him
as anything other than one
of the many misguided religious
fanatics who in this restless
time set themselves up
as messiahs; and yet;
Philip, Andrew, Peter
and the others,
even eventually Nathaniel,
recognise Jesus as different.

His teaching has the ring of truth.
He has an air of authenticity
about him. People who meet him
feel they are encountering
the God they have known
through the scriptures.

We are used to the idea
of a Messiah from Nazareth.

But perhaps we need to rediscover
the shock of it.
God does not make the easy
or obvious choice.

Instead, God chooses the youngest,
the worst equipped, the foreign,
the poor, to be his
servants in the world.

There is no need for any of us
to feel unworthy of our calling.


To Summarise

Nathaniel blurts out a
prejudice about a
suitable place for the
Messiah to come from that
shows he has not understood
the ways of God.

The story the Bible tells
is one in which God
consistently chooses the least
likely people and places.

Jesus is recognised as the
Messiah because of his
own qualities,
regardless of his place of origin.

We are all qualified to be
God's servants in the world,
because God does not always
choose obvious people.


Our Blessing


We thank you, our Father,
that your love reaches
to the heavens, and your
faithfulness to the skies;
that your justice is
like the deep sea.
Your unfailing mercies
cannot be bought,
we feast on your goodness
and drink from the river
of your blessing.
You have called each and
every one of us and
none of us are beyond
redemption and being
used by you.
thank you, through Jesus,
your Son, our Lord.

And the blessing .......


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