5 Epiphany

Isa. 40:21-31
Ps. 147:1-12, 21c
I Cor. 9:16-23
Mark 1:29-39

Reviewing and testing our knowledge of God, the psalmist asks, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?” (Isa. 40:21)

God is the transcendent ruler from on high. God calls forth and tends the creation. God deigns to serve and save humankind and the natural order.

We may imagine transcendence in this way: “It is [God] who sits above the circle of the earth… [God] stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in… The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of heaven and earth” (Isa. 40:22, 28). High above all creation, God reigns.  Addressing God, we say, “Our Father who art in heaven,” and thus we raise our attention above all created things, for the God who is in heaven sits enthroned on high and stoops to behold the heavens and the earth (Ps. 113:5). To the Most High God, lift up your hearts!

High and lifted up, God calls the creation into being and attends it with loving care. “Lift up your eyes and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name” (Isa. 40:26). God is the creator and preserver of all things. “He covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain for the earth; He makes grass to grow upon the mountains and green plants to serve humankind. He provides food for flocks and herds and for the young ravens when they cry” (Ps. 147:8-19). The God who is above creation is the very fount of all creation and its sustenance from moment to moment. “Ever since the creation of the world,” says St. Paul, “his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made” (Rom. 1:20).  Have we understood this, and do we feel and know that the creation is alive with the presence and power of God?

We humans are a portion of creation. God has created us in the divine image and endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.  God’s care for us and nature is not only the care of what was created, but the restoration of what had fallen. So, God is the one who rescues and saves. “He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isa. 40:29-31). “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up wounds . . . He lifts up the lowly, but casts the wicked to the ground” (Ps. 147:3,6).

Here is a story about being lifted up. Jesus enters the house of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law is in bed with a fever. Jesus is very active in this story. Jesus entered, came, took her by the hand, lifted her up. He also cured, cast out demons, and went throughout Galilee proclaiming the gospel.  Simon’s mother-in-law, however, is on her sickbed, motionless. She is faint, powerless, weary, exhausted, cast down. All she can do is wait. We are all in her condition.  “We have no power within ourselves to help ourselves” (Collect for Lent 3).  By the word and hand of Jesus, we rise.

To review, God is above all creation, in creation, restoring creation.

Look It Up:  The General Thanksgiving (BCP, p. 101)

Think About It:  A statement of what Almighty God has done and the gratitude we owe.