An Identity Not My Own

Second Sunday after the Epiphany

 

1 Samuel 3:1-20

Psalm 139: 1-6, 13-18

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

John 1:43-51

Not having grown up with the practice of following the Lectionary readings means I am constantly intrigued by the groupings of Scripture texts that get packaged together. Sometimes I must admit that a particular combination is at first baffling, leading me to wonder what sorts of substances the team was sipping on while they made their decisions. Other times a theme seems to rise slowly to the surface the way your answer used to in the Magic 8 Ball (ask an older person what this is!). I have tried several times and failed to talk myself out of a problematic theme that seems to emerge from the murkiness for this week, but here it is: Identity. And yes, I know just how problematic that is. Read more

Where Else?

 

Baptism of the Lord/First Sunday after Epiphany

Genesis 1:1-5

Psalm 29

Mark 1:4-11

 So many moments fold into this one.

Here the One before all time who sweeps over the face of the waters, dividing light from dark and making days, now stands within them.

Here the Lord of glory, holy splendor, majesty, power, and strength in the psalms stands ankle deep in the mud of the Jordan River, yielding power to the hands of the baptizer. The breath of life which spoke a world and animated living beings will now stop in the chest, held in the cheeks, as body is pressed under the current and pulled back to the surface.

He will open his mouth and take a breath, blinking into the sun.

Like the moment after the press of labor stops and slippery child has emerged, now held in hands and gathering breath to announce himself in the world, the heavens like lips will part with joy. Here come the pronouncements: “It’s a son! My son – He is beloved! I am well pleased!”

Here in the Jordan River, Jesus held in the hands of John the baptizer, the Word of God is once again placed in the hands of the prophets as it has always been since the beginning – the God who entrusts self to human tellings. Read more

Something New

Second Sunday After Christmas

Ephesians 1:3-14

John 1:1-18   

  During this season, it’s somewhat natural to be immersed in thoughts of the new. As I write this, I’m looking out the window at a new blanket of white snow covering my front yard. My kids are shuffling around the house in new pajamas, reading new books and assembling new Lego sets, the excitement of exchanging and unwrapping packages still lingering in the house. And of course, we’re just a few short days away from New Year’s Eve, the date when people around the world will gather to count down the moments when we move into a new calendar year. It’s an event that, even in normal times, brings with it heightened expectations of change, a hope that, whatever has transpired in recent days and months, there is some magic in turning the calendar over that casts a vision of better possibilities ahead. We map out the new and different ways that we plan on approaching our personal lives, our physical well-being, our workplace goals, the changes in our routines and habits that will make us new people. Read more

Christmas Praise in a Mutilated World

First Sunday after Christmas

 

Isaiah 61:10-62:3

Psalm 148

Galatians 4:4-7

Luke 2:22-40

You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,

You’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.

You should praise the mutilated world.

                             –Adam Zagajewski, “Try to Praise the Mutilated World”

Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.

                             –Wendell Berry, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”

The appointed texts for this week are filled with such unqualified praise as befits Christmastide. Isaiah, whose language has been oft borrowed by the Church, rejoices at the prospect of Jerusalem’s restoration as a light to the nations; he eagerly anticipates the time when “her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch,” when God’s people “shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.” Read more