Second Sunday after Christmas; 3 January 2021; Christmas 2 (RCL); Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 84:1-8; Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-19a; Matthew 2:1-12.
Jeremiah is writing at the end of the southern kingdom, watching as Jerusalem’s hierarchy consumes itself and Babylon approaches. And yet, he is imagining a time when God will restore not just Judah, but Israel as well. All those who went into exile from the northern kingdom when it was conquered by Assyria will come streaming to Zion, presumably when the exiles from Judah come back from Babylon. It’s a remarkable inclusive vision, and one which would be lost on Ezra and Nehemiah, who desired to set up a much more exclusive reality at the return.
Continue reading “Sharing divine life”
Fourth Sunday of Advent; 20 December 2020; Advent 4B (RCL); 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Canticle 15; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38.
This passage from 2 Samuel represents a dramatic shift in the theology of covenant in the Old Testament. With this reading, we enter the age of a royal ideology — politics and theology are linked. Up until this point, the covenant God has made with the people has been conditional: if you follow my commandments, I will be faithful to the thousandth generation, but if not, the covenant is void. The land will spit you out.
Continue reading “Building a house”
Third Sunday of Advent; 13 December 2020; Advent 3B (RCL); Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Psalm 126; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28.
A good friend of mine spent six months in Lui, South Sudan as a missioner for the Diocese of Missouri. She was there during the long, dry season, when people stood in line for hours at the water hole to get a little water for the day. She watched the store of grain begin to dwindle, while the people waited anxiously for the rainy season.
Continue reading “In it together”
Second Sunday of Advent; 6 December 2020; Advent IIB (RCL); Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8.
For over a century, biblical scholars have recognized that something shifts in the Book of Isaiah at 40:1. The voice speaking is no longer Isaiah of Jerusalem, who is speaking judgment and forecasting the siege and capture of Jerusalem as punishment for her sins. Instead, the frame of reference now shifts to post-exilic times. Jerusalem has paid for her sins, and God is returning to her.
Continue reading “Awaiting God”