Here is Pastor Matthew’s reflections for the 3rd Sunday in Epiphany 2021:
Well, we all know the story of Jonah, don't we? This week we tune in on Jonah post whale regurgitation. In the belly of the Leviathan Jonah repented of his disobedience of God and cried out for help. The Lord delivered him, and I do mean delivered him, right to Nineveh via the whale express. Jonah did what was asked of him and prophesied to the people of Nineveh and the people repented, led by their king who we hear saying "it's uncertain whether this will work but let us demonstrate our true contrition and hopefully the Lord will have mercy...and the Lord does have mercy, Nineveh is spared because, as we read "God changed God's mind" To some of us that might seem frightening but to me it is a thing of great hope. God grows in God's love toward us and remembers God's own covenant even when God's wrath burns justifiably hot against the world.
We read in 1 Corinthians "let those who have wives (husbands/partners) be as if they had none" and this harkens to my mind those passages like Matthew 10:37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. I always preach against these sayings because I see the damage they have caused in the church and I believe they are licence to fail in one's primary relationships, what I would call my "primary ministries".
I believe that the way we act toward our spouses, children, closest and dearest friends is the attitude of our heat toward God. A husband and wife become one flesh and "ought not be rent asunder" by anyone or anything. Our primary and most intimate relationships are the place and space in which we most authentically live out our relationship with God and with Jesus. In much the same way that Jesus teaches us that when we love, and care for and uphold "the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me", in this same way when we are faithful and honouring and steadfast with our spouse, we are so the more with our Lord. Our spouses and children and friends are in many ways, sacramental gifts to us of the body of Christ, they are Christ in our midst and in our lives.
Love God with all your heart and mind and soul and love those whom God has given you to care for and to care for you as if they were the real presence of God with you, because they are!