Stewardship Resources

Posted: Feb 3

Preaching - Epiphany 5, Year B

Preaching Resources

Refrain for Epiphany 5:
How good it is to sing praises to our God! *
how pleasant it is to honor God with praise!

The readings for the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany are Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-12, 21c; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23; and Mark 1:29-39. 

Our first two readings remind us of the awesomeness of our Creator and the care that God gives to the whole of Creation. Both of these readings set our hearts in gratitude for the gift of the heavens and earth and all that is therein. They remind us whose we are, ...and whose all other people are. We are all children of God, sisters and brothers - siblings born out of our Creator.

Our epistle and gospel readings this week wrap these ideas together and present us with the implications of our divine-sibling love. I love the NIV translation of 1 Corinthians 9:16 because of the use of the phrase, "I am compelled to preach". In the depth of Paul's theology he can't help but deliver the good news to his fellow children of God - those under the Law and those outside the Law. The law of Christ, which is to love one's neighbor as oneself, demands this of him and compels him to preach it to both Jew and Greek alike. Woe to him if he does not do it, because he would be keeping the Gospel from his divine-siblings, and therefore not be acting in love. This message has been entrusted to him, not to hoard, but to share with the world in love. It is stewardship of love.

The gospel lesson presents the Good News to us in both action and word through Jesus. Jesus seeks to deliver the message of the Gospel both by acts of whole-making through healing those in need, casting out demons, and by preaching the restoration of Creation as God intended through the coming of God's kingdom on earth. The picture of the healing of Simon's (Peter's) mother-in-law restoring her to health and loving service of her fellow children of God illustrates the work and result of God's kingdom. All is made whole in Christ and through Christ. This is good news and we are "compelled" to share it with all of Creation in both word and deed.

But the echoes of Isaiah 40 and Psalm 147 remind us that this whole-making also refers to the rest of Creation, too, the earth and all that is therein, animal, mineral and vegetable. By caring for these with whole-making and healing, we are caring for our neighbors as ourselves. Part of the stewardship of the Gospel is also stewardship of Creation; and not only humanity, but also those represented by what Francis called Brother Wolf and Sister Moon. We cannot wholly care for our sisters and brothers without caring for the rest of Creation.

So this week we are reminded whose we are; and therefore, who we are. In this we are compelled to be stewards of the Gospel preaching it to all the world with word and deed, because we also are remind whose they are. We all belong to God, the Creator of all the earth.

Don't you think God the Creator wants us to be good stewards of one another (and every "other") in all we say and do?

In Christ,

The Rev. Canon Lance Ousley
Canon for Stewardship and Development
The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia