Showing forth glory

5 January 2014
The Epiphany (observed)
Epiphany A (RCL)
Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
Ephesians 3:1-12
Matthew 2:1-12

In one of those on-line sermon services (they just show up in my inbox — I don’t subscribe) I read that the passage from Isaiah bore remarkable similarities to Matthew’s story of the visit of the magi. I almost choked on my coffee — could it be that Matthew had read this passage from Isaiah, and intended those similarities? The thought seemed never to have occurred to the author of the sermon help.

Matthew’s infancy narrative recapitulate the history of Israel: Joseph the dreamer, the flight to Egypt, the call out of Egypt. This is no literary accident. If that is so, then the visit of the magi from the east corresponds to the return from Exile Continue reading “Showing forth glory”

Don’t be afraid

22 December 2013
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Advent 4A (RCL)
Isaiah 7:10-16
Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-25

Matthew’s infancy narrative differs greatly from Luke’s. While Luke’s narrative focuses almost exclusively on Mary, in Matthew’s account, Mary hardly plays a role: Joseph steps to the fore. Matthew’s infant Jesus recapitulates the history of Israel, and so it makes sense that Joseph the dreamer should have a starring role. Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, and God called Israel out of Egypt. Joseph takes the child and his mother to Egypt so that God again might call his son out of Egypt.

In Matthew’s Gospel, we aren’t given any details about Mary’s pregnancy, except Continue reading “Don’t be afraid”

Are you the one?

15 December 2013
Third Sunday of Advent
Advent 3A (RCL)
Isaiah 35:1-10
Psalm 146:4-9
James 5:7-10
Matthew 11:2-11

In Matthew’s narrative world (whether or not it is historically accurate), one can imagine John stuck in prison, hearing about the works of Jesus and his disciples, and wondering if this really was what he had been waiting for. He had announced someone mightier than himself, whose sandals he was unworthy to carry, who would baptize in holy spirit and fire. He was imagining the ax at the root of the trees, ready to lay into the task of removing the dead wood. And instead, he hears of an itinerant wonder-worker. Surely, this is not the messiah he had been expecting. Where is God’s justice and vengeance in this man?

Matthew’s Gospel Continue reading “Are you the one?”