Epiphany 2B’24
14 January 2024
I Sam 3.1-10; Ps. 139; Jn.1.43-51
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
North Little Rock, Arkansas
The Rev. Carey Stone <+>

Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. 

 Amen.  – from Ephesians 3.20-21


“Country Bumpkins, Hillbillies, and White Trash,” – Can anything good come out of Arkansas? Well, let me see, there’s the musical greats like the man in black, Johnny Cash, the Rhinestone Cowboy, Glenn Campbell, Conway Twitty, Gospel greats, Al Green, and Albert Brumley who wrote “I’ll Fly Away”, the drummer and vocalist with The Band, Levon Helm, or the one who put Ragtime on the map, Scott Joplin. KT Oslin was the first women to win “Songwriter of the year”, the prolific composer, Florence Price, and let’s not forget that Rock n Roll trailblazer and influencer Sister Rosetta Tharpe. What about the Supreme Allied Commander of the Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur? Then there’s Tyson Chicken, a little storefront now known as Wal-mart, the poet, Maya Angelou, gardening guru, P. Allen Smith, and someone you might not have heard of Edward Durrell Stone but you might be familiar with his architecture, like Museum of Modern Art, Radio City Music Hall, and Busch Stadium. Oh, and finally, have you ever soaked in a hot tub, you can thank Italian immigrant who settled in Arkansas, Remo Jacuzzi! I’ve yet to mention politicians, authors and journalists, athletes, you would recognize.

All of these and so many more from a place called Arkansas, so often overlooked, or remembered for the wrong things and stereotyped.

It seems to be hardwired into our human dna to judge and label others so that we can feel better about ourselves, keep others in their places and make sense of a crazy world.

The Savior of the world had to be from somewhere, born in Bethlehem but grew up in a sleepy backwater town in one of the smallest countries in the middle east, a place called – Nazareth.

As Jesus began choosing his disciples there was one fella that almost missed the boat, when Nathaniel was told by Phillip about Jesus of Nazareth, he replied, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” 

By judging and labelling Jesus, Nathaniel almost missed the chance, not only of a lifetime but of his eternal destiny!

After being in seminary for about a year, a person in the class ahead of me whom we had come to mutually admire each other said, “Carey, you just don’t seem like you’re from Arkansas.” I didn’t quite know how to take it, although they meant it as a compliment, what began to dawn on me was that this person had a very narrow and stereotypical view of Arkansas and its people.  I’d like to think I had never judged and labelled another person but I would have to add “liar” to my list of sins.


I love Phillip’s response to Nathaniel, he didn’t retort, or try to pick a fight, he simply said, “Come and see.” In an effect, come and have a direct experience, come and see for yourself. In the meeting of Jesus all of his stereotypes fell away and he answered, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God!”

  • Hymn # 604 When Christ was lifted from the earth.

In this New Year in this election year, may we lay down our judgment and labelling of others, let us truly see the face of our neighbors and find in them the face of Jesus. Amen.