1In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
The Word of the Lord.
1Ascribe to the Lord, you gods,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2Ascribe to the Lord the glory due God’s name;
worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
3The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders;
the Lord is upon the mighty waters.
4The voice of the Lord is a powerful voice;
the voice of the Lord is a voice of splendor.
5The voice of the Lord breaks the cedar trees;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon;
6the Lord makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
and Mount Hermon like a young wild ox.
7The voice of the Lord
bursts forth in lightning flashes.
8The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9The voice of the Lord makes the oak trees writhe and strips the forests bare.
And in the temple of the Lord all are crying, “Glory!”
10The Lord sits enthroned above the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king forevermore.
11O Lord, give strength to your people;
give them, O Lord, the blessings of peace. Amen.
1While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. 2He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3Then he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered, “Into John’s baptism.” 4Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied—7altogether there were about twelve of them.
The Word of the Lord.
The Holy Gospel according to Saint Mark 1:4-11
4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
The Gospel of our Lord.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
All of our Christmas presents have been opened and the beautiful cards admired. The Christmas carols have been sung. Our ugly Christmas sweaters have been proudly worn. The gluttonous meals have been devoured. The cookies and candy have been eaten or left to grow stale.
By now most of our Christmas decorations have likely been tucked away for another year. Or we really – really wish they were!
The big crystal ball is Times Square dropped over a week ago now. The confetti flew. The New Year has been very – very warmly welcomed. Never have we been so happy to say good riddance to a year as we were to 2020!
Vacation is over. Alarm clocks are buzzing. Learning hopefully resumed this week. Life is getting back to normal. Or normal-ish by pandemic standards – that is!
And now we can no longer ignore the reality confronting us. It is abundantly clear. There is no denying it. It is winter. The nights are long and the days are fleetingly short. The air is cold. And the wind is biting. The land is dormant. No green grass – no colorful flowers. It is just gray skies and brown dirt with the occasional shivering squirrel.
Winter has settled in for a nice long stay. The outside world can look pretty dull and bleak this time of year.
Not only do things look rather bleak. It can feel pretty bleak too. After all – we are facing a long slog through the dark – cold days of winter. The hope of spring is still such a long way off.
Sadly – the news is as bleak as the weather is. The headlines proclaim that we are months away from getting back to life as we knew it. Covid-19 continues to spread and to make so many people so very ill. The vaccine is coming – but it will take time!
The economy is a mess. Unemployment remains high.
The people we elected to lead our government act in their own interests time and time again. What happened at the Capital this week is just plain heartbreaking.
All of these things can combine to make us feel as blah as the gray sky.
But then – we turn to our first reading for today. The opening verses of Genesis are bursting with life and hope and overflowing with amazing miracles. Our God is busy creating the world and everything in it. Where there was once nothing but darkness – there is brilliant light as God creates the sun – moon and stars.
Where there was no life – God speaks and trees, plants, and flowers burst forth. Swarms of living creatures cover the earth. Where there was nothing – there is life.
These opening verses of the Bible are a powerful reminder to us of the awesome God we worship. Our Lord created everything we know from nothing. Our God speaks and the heavens respond. Our God works amazing miracles in our world.
The opening verses of Genesis tell us about God’s first miracles – but God’s miracles did not stop with the creation of the world. Nor did God’s miracles stop when the Bible ended. God’s miracles are not the work of a bygone era. God continues to work amazing miracles in our midst – each and every day. God is at work in the world. Miracles are happening all around us.
We just need to slow down a bit and open our eyes to see them. We need to shift our focus from the headlines that proclaim bad news – to see these miracles. God is at work in our world and in our lives!
One miracle most of you never have the opportunity to witness is the way I am able to put our social ministries fund to work doing God’s work in the world. This money helps our sisters and brothers in Christ who are going through a difficult time. Think of how these folks’ lives are blessed by the gift of groceries or help with rent. That is a miracle.
Think of the groceries and toilet paper and toiletries we gathered together in the midst of this wretched pandemic to help our neighbors in need. Month after month – I filled my car to overflowing with gifts for the Fern Creek/Highview United Ministries.
Think of the school supplies we gathered together this summer and the children who have been blessed by those school supplies this year.
Think of the bags of food for Christmas dinners we collected.
Think of the Red Cross Blood drives. Many of us know someone whose life has been saved by a blood transfusion.
Think of the meals our church has continued to provide at the Ronald McDonald House each month. (Thank you Marilyn!!!)
Think of the multitude of ways God has continued to make himself known to you – in rainbows and gorgeous sunsets and special Christmas stars. In friends and family and brothers and sisters in Christ.
These are all miracles too. God is at work in our lives. God is working in and through us.
Miracles aren’t just found in the pages of our Bibles. Miracles happen in our lives too.
We worship a God who is always busy working miracles and – doing amazing things. Our God is at work in our lives. Our God is an awesome God. Truly this is Good News. AMEN.