Showing posts from January, 2010

The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, 31 January 2010 The Readings for the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany Jeremiah 1:4-10 Psalm 71 I Corinthians 13:1-13 Saint Luke 4:21-30 BACKGROUND We do some more studying today on what it means to be a prophet, by looking at who God chooses to be prophets, what their message might be, and what the reaction of the world is to prophets.   The more and more we delve into the Scriptures, the more and more we learn that God always operates with the ordinary.   It may be a continuing surprise to those, who like the Magi, seek God in great places, but find him well-nested with the marginalized and the ordinary.   Today we look at the call of Jeremiah, and take special interest in his objections to the call.   We listen to Paul spiritualize the ordinary life that exists between two people, and we are amazed at the reaction in Nazareth to Jesus’ prophetic words.   Jeremiah 1:4-10     The word of the LORD came to me saying, "Before

The Third Sunday after the Epiphany, 24 January 2010

The Readings for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10 Psalm 19 I Corinthians 12:12-31a Saint Luke 4:14-21 BACKGROUND In these readings there are two ideas that capture our imagination – the notion of “beginning”, and the notion of   “the word.”   Both of these ideas are tied to the theology of Genesis, where it is indeed God’s word and breath that sets things into motion.   Thus we have this idea of beginning and word tied together.   A more proper notion for the first reading is the idea of “starting over” or the idea of a “new beginning”.   In the Gospel we have a picture of Jesus beginning ministry, starting something innovative and new.   The thing about newness, and especially prophetic novelty, is that it is usually grounded in or informed by what is ancient.   Here we have to think of those acts, ideas, motions, prayers, gestures, and rites that are made sacred by their use over time.   The prophets in the past always announced God’s w

The Second Sunday after Epiphany, 17 January 2010

The Readings for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany Isaiah 62:1-5 Psalm 36:5-10 I Corinthians 12:1-11 Saint John 2:1-11 BACKGROUND For a brief period of time, five Sundays or so, we are back in what is called “Ordinary Time.”   Although we are in the festival half of the Church Year, we are in the midst of a brief pause between the Christmas Cycle and the Easter Cycle.   It is actually a beneficial period of reflection on the ministry of Jesus.   The Christmas festival is so layered over with cultural, religious, and personal stuff, that it serves us well to step back, look at the person of Jesus, and ask ourselves, “Why am I following this man?”   The Gospels during this period will help us with this task, as they reveal different aspects, not only of his teaching, but also of the reactions that people have to his ministry.   Isaiah 62:1-5   For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out li

The First Sunday after the Epiphany - The Baptism of Our Lord, 10 January 2010

The Readings for the First Sunday after the Epiphany, The Baptism of Our Lord Isaiah 43:1-7 Psalm 29 Acts 8:14-17 Saint Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 BACKGROUND It is unfortunate that the Epiphany of Our Lord (6 January) is all but forgotten in many of the churches today.  It is valuable not only because of its message of inclusion (the Magi from the East) but also its use as a theological corrective to the excesses of Christmas in the Western Church.  Christmas in our culture is all about babies, and farm animals, simple shepherds, and angels – lots of angels.  Epiphany is about something entirely different.  It is about being made manifest.  In the Eastern Church (Orthodoxy) the word “Theophany” is often used to describe the day.  A theophany is the appearance or manifestation of a god.  In the Eastern Empire, when the emperor visited a city, it was an “epiphany” because now the rule of the realm was not just a name, an inscription, or at best an image, but was an epip