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"After Sunday worship I feel refreshed and ready to start a new week. Worship calms me and makes me want to be a more giving and forgiving person."

 

 "I am here to share my soul, body, and mind with our bigger family who shares our worship to God and the entire universe.  This is my worship experience at church."

 

Worship at FCC Essex follows a traditional liturgy, but God still speaks to the world today from these ancient words and rituals as if they were new.  Music and spirit and art and words and silence center us and inform us.  Our style of worship brings comfort, soothes the spirit, challenges the mind, strengthens our love of each other, and empowers us for doing good in the world.

We share our church home with Ivoryton Congregational Church. They worship at 8:45 am on Sunday, and we worship at 10:30 am.

Other special services of worship are celebrated throughout the year during Advent (Christmas) and Lent, as well as ecumenical events with other churches in Essex and within the UCC.

 

 

January 27, 2019

Third Sunday after Epiphany

 

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

Reflection on Luke 4:14-21
by Kathryn Matthews

Jesus has come home to Nazareth, to his own congregation, the one that watched him grow up, the place where "everyone knows his name." So far, in Luke's Gospel, we haven't heard about Jesus healing sick people, multiplying loaves and fishes, casting out demons, or bringing anyone back from the dead.

However, according to N.T. Wright, Jesus has been preparing for this for a long time, like a brilliant musician practicing or an athlete in training: he's been praying, studying, and passing a grueling test out there in the wilderness (Luke for Everyone).

A time of preparation

About that test, Matt Fitzgerald observes: "One might imagine that his encounter with the devil would leave him empty, but in verse 14 Luke echoes the claim of 4:1 and affirms that Christ's tank remains full" (Luke, Feasting on the Gospels, Vol. 1). And Ruth C. Duck reminds us that we, too, need that time in training, that time apart: "What wilderness," she asks, "must we engage to emerge filled with the Spirit?" (Luke, Feasting on the Gospels, Vol. 1).

Praised by all

While our reading begins by describing Jesus as "filled with the power of the Spirit" (v.14), all we've been told so far is that he's been teaching in some out-of-town synagogues, and, according to Luke, "a report about him spread through all the surrounding country" so that he "was praised by everyone" (4:14-15). But it turns out, as we will learn in verse 23, that Jesus has been performing some works of wonder out there, in places like Capernaum.

Maybe it was stories about those deeds that drew the crowd and built up their anticipation, more than the power of his preaching: Jesus, it seems, was a sensation, and people were eager to see what he would do, not just to hear what he would say.

Staying with the tradition

"Small town" hardly begins to describe Nazareth, since the entire village consisted of only a few hundred folks, about the size of a medium-sized United Church of Christ congregation, and the setting in this scene may not have been an actual building but just a gathering of faithful Jewish people. Kim Beckmann turns to the work of John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed (in Excavating Jesus) to draw this picture of Nazareth and the Judaism in which Jesus was raised to be both faithful and observant.

In fact, Jesus' inaugural address to his hometown, in which he lays down the main themes of his entire ministry, is in elegant and powerful continuity with his Jewish prophetic ancestors: "Jesus," Beckmann writes, "sings Isaiah's song of good news for the poor, in the key of his mother Mary of Nazareth" (Feasting on the Word Year C, Vol. 1).

A few chapters on, Mary's song in the Magnificat, from the Gospel's very first chapter, still rings in our ears, and in our hearts.


Read the scriptures and this entire reflection here.