Jesus gets testy

3 February 2013
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
Epiphany 4C (RCL)
Jeremiah 1:4-10
Psalm 71:1-6
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Luke 4:21-30

Today’s Gospel reading is often called “the rejection at Nazareth.” Jesus has been preaching and healing, and everyone in his home town wants to see him, and he can do nothing at Nazareth. At least that’s the way Mark and Matthew present the story. The rejection at Nazareth occurs well along in their narratives. Luke, on the other hand, moves it right up front. This is Jesus’ first sermon, and already the home-town crowd is filled with rage. Why would Luke tell his story this way?

There are several puzzling aspects Continue reading “Jesus gets testy”

Reading scripture

27 January 2013
Third Sunday after Epiphany
Epiphany 3C (RCL)
Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
Luke 4:14-21

The first thing to notice is that the RCL leaves out all the names of the Levites and lay friends of Ezra who interpret the scripture reading. Pity the lectors when we used the BCP lectionary, who had to pronounce all those names!

The second thing to notice is that it is the people who ask Ezra to read the Torah (the Penteteuch? we’re not sure what shape the scriptures took at the time). At any rate, Ezra reads for six hours, and presumably they maintain their attention the whole time Continue reading “Reading scripture”

That’s a lotta wine

20 January 2013
Second Sunday after Epiphany
Epiphany 2C (RCL)
Isaiah 62:1-5
Psalm 36:5-10
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
John 2:1-11

Six stone water jars, each holding twenty to thirty gallons, and the servants filled them to the brim. If you do the math, that’s somewhere between 120 and 180 gallons of wine. Let’s just say 150 gallons. That’s a lot of wine. Of course a marriage feast involved the whole village, and would last for several days, but still, it’s a lot of wine, and really good wine.

Many readers have difficulty with Jesus’ seeming rudeness to his mother: “Woman, what is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” It would have been a great shame Continue reading “That’s a lotta wine”

Holy Spirit and fire

Sunday 13 January 2013
The Baptism of Christ
1 Epiphany C (RCL)
Isaiah 43:1-7
Psalm 29
Acts 8:14-17
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

Luke has a highly developed theology of the Holy Spirit. He divides history into three major ages, each connected with the Spirit. The first age is the age of the prophets, which lasts up through John the Baptist, he being the last of the line of prophets. In this age, the Holy Spirit energizes the prophets and speaks through them. The second age is the age of Jesus, when the Spirit rests in a unique way on him. The third age, the one in which we live, is the age of the Church. The Church is the primary agent of the Holy Spirit in this final age.

We get a sense Continue reading “Holy Spirit and fire”


Sunday 6 January 2013
The Epiphany
Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
Ephesians 3:1-12
Matthew 2:1-12

One doesn’t often get to preach on the Epiphany. It’s a shame, because the readings are so rich.

Clint McCann sees Psalm 72 as a coronation psalm used at the crowning of Davidic kings in Jerusalem. If this is so, in later times of the monarchy, it’s use could only express a pious hope that “the kings of Tarshish and the isles shall pay tribute and the kings of Arabia and Saba offer gifts.” Any thought of tribute coming to Jerusalem surely began to fade during the divided kingdom, and particularly after the conquest of Samaria by Assyria. And yet, the psalm survives, and has language about the king protected the poor and needy and rescuing the oppressed. It maintained the vision Continue reading “Epiphany”