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Sermon Sunday January 22, 2023 Third Sunday after
the Epiphany
Lessons: Isaiah 9:1-4
Psalm 27:1,4-9
1Corinthians 1:10-18
Matthew 4:12-23
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Spirit. Amen.
‘Your search is over!” proclaimed the bill board along the
highway. What search? What glorious discovery have we
happened upon at last? Underneath the large letters, we
could read the words, “Perfect yogurt at reasonable prices”
our search really has been scaled down considerably hasn’t
it?’ This is an anecdote from Methodist Bishop Wil
So, what are we searching for? Is it that perfect home? Is it
that perfect wedding venue? Is it that perfect wine to go with
the perfect dinner? It seems that all of us these days are
searching, searching, searching, but what are we searching
for? What are we hoping will be revealed to us in this season
of Epiphany?

We may have really good lives. We have a nice roof over
our heads. We have enough food to eat and a variety of
things to drink. We have a job or have retired from a job that
still helps to support us. Yet, there are times, perhaps more
often than we care to admit, that we wake up with a sigh,
and think to ourselves, “ho hum, it’s just another day with
the same old routine.” Or we might think, “do I really have
to get up and go to school, or work, or volunteer at the food
We may have a life that is really hard. We struggle to pay
the bills. We worry that we’ll have enough food to feed our
children. We wonder how we can afford to pay for the
repairs for our car so we can look for a job. Or we might
have an illness. “If only, if only, if only we had…”
What are we searching for? In the back of our minds and
hearts we are searching for we know not what to take us out
of the mundane, our daily lives. So, we go stumbling about,
looking for something, something we may not be sure about,
but when we think we’ve found it we shout, “I’ve found it!
My search is over!” Then we binge on this something.
We’re totally dedicated to it, until we’re not, until we find
that it doesn’t give us what we’re searching for. Maybe it’s

that diet to help us lose those last 10 or…20 pounds. Maybe
it’s playing the lottery every week to help us get over that
financial hump we find ourselves in. Or maybe it’s the latest
exercise routine that everyone is doing. Not that these things
are bad, they can be very good, but are they “it”?
Today’s Gospel from Matthew hits us up the side of the
head with a spiritual 2X4 so to speak. In this Gospel we see
Jesus in Galilee, having withdrawn there after he hears of
John the Baptist’s arrest. We know that John is later
beheaded, and we might think that Jesus withdraws to
Galilee in fear, but just a couple of lines later, we see that
Jesus has withdrawn there, not out of fear, but to call his
first disciples, four of the apostles.
But there is a curious line in that lesson we read today in
Matthew’s Gospel. “He left Nazareth and made his home in
Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and
Naphtali.” There is a connection between today’s Gospel
and our O.T. lesson from Isaiah.
Zebulun was one of the 12 tribes of Israel. The land where
this tribe settled was on the very edges of Israel, near where
Gentiles or non-Jewish people lived, just as it is in the time
of Jesus. It was what we would call “the edges of

civilization” or “no man’s land.” Perhaps we have heard our
Big Bend towns referred to in this way by those who don’t
live here??? The name Zebulun means, dwelling, habitation,
or home.
Naphtali was the child of Rachel’s servant Bilah to Jacob,
and is also one of the 12 tribes of Israel. This tribe of Israel
has a somewhat checkered past. Naphtali is associated with
Galilee in the Bible. Remember that Galilee was the place
that was on the edges of Judaism and was pretty much
despised because of that. Nazareth, where Jesus was raised
is in Galilee as well as is Capernaum, his base of operations.
Naphtali means my struggle, and John’s Gospel says no
good could come from Nazareth.
So, Jesus is basically in no man’s land, a despised area of
Israel. It is his home. And we see Jesus wasn’t running away
when John was arrested. He was there for an entirely
different reason. “the people who sat in darkness have seen a
great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow
of death light has dawned.” Jesus was there looking for his
disciples, in a land that was on the fringes, struggling,
despised, out of which nothing good could come. But we
know differently.

And, no one was really looking for Jesus. No one was
searching for him. It was Jesus who was out searching,
searching, searching for those disciples, perhaps those we
hear the most about in the Gospels—Simon Peter and his
brother Andrew, and James and his brother John. They
weren’t looking, they weren’t searching for Jesus, but it was
Jesus who found them, as they were living their ordinary
lives, going about their daily business.
And that is what we call God’s grace—his searching for and
finding us. It is God entering into our lives as we go about
our everyday business. We can feel hollowness in our lives,
we can be searching we know not for what, but through
God’s grace, God finds us and knocks on our door. All we
have to do is answer like Peter and Andrew, James and John.
Maybe they didn’t even know they were lost, but Jesus
found them.

And Jesus finds us too. We are searching, and he finds us
because he loves us. Jesus finds us in so many different
ways on a daily basis to fill our lives with his love. We have
but to pay attention. Jesus finds us in this beautiful
countryside. Jesus finds us in a kind word or action from a

friend or neighbor. Jesus finds us when we gather together to
worship God in this community. And he finds us in so many
other small ways every day. Pay attention, and we open our
hearts to him. We are in the seasons of Epiphany whose
meaning is God revealing himself to us.
However, Jesus calls us to change when he finds us. We see
this as four humble fishermen, and a bit later, eight others
are found by him. Their lives were changed completely
when Jesus found them, and so are ours. That might be more
than a bit scary to us. We change, yes, but remember that
Jesus tells us elsewhere in Scripture that he is with us until
the end of time (and beyond!) So, we are never alone when
he finds us. And if we pay attention, he fills us with his love.

Oh, and while we may be found as individuals, this finding
is not just an individual relationship with him. He called
twelve to live in community, and he calls us to live in
community so that those of us with good lives who are
found work in unison with those of us who have hard lives
to build the Kingdom of God in the here and now as we wait
for its fulfillment in the future! So that enough is found for

all. So that God’s grace is found. So that God’s community
is found.
What are we searching for to fill that space in our lives?
Perhaps a better question is Who has found us? Let it be
Jesus that finds us to show the world that something good
can come from his finding us. Jesus knows it can. Jesus
looks for and finds us, even though we are not perfect. Jesus
calls us. Will we answer that call? Amen.