Hope for the future

2 February 2014
The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
Malachi 3:1-4
Psalm 84
Hebrews 2:14-18
Luke 2:22-40

Luke is very concerned to show that Jesus has fulfilled all the obligations of the law. His tripartite division of history makes this necessary. Before Jesus’ Baptism, the Spirit rests on the prophets of Israel. Between the Baptism and Pentecost, the Spirit rests on Jesus. After Pentecost, the Spirit rests on the Church. By fulfilling all the law, Jesus supersedes the Mosaic covenant, and the Church then supersedes Jesus. The Wisdom myth during the Second Temple period suggested that Wisdom dwelt in the Temple. Here, Jesus enters the Temple, and Wisdom, speaking through Simeon and Anna, announces that henceforward, she will dwell with Jesus. Continue reading “Hope for the future”

Something fishy

26 January 2014
Third Sunday after Epiphany
Epiphany3A (RCL)
Isaiah 9:1-4
Psalm 27:1, 5-13
1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Matthew 4:12-23

The passage from Isaiah for this Sunday is the first half of the usual Isaiah reading for Christmas (9:2-7). The poem goes on to proclaim “A child has been born to us” who will ascend the throne. Zebulun and Naphtali were regions annexed by Tiglath-Pileser III in 732 BCE, and their further history was lost, placing them among the lost tribes of Israel. The poem speaks of the time of their restoration to the kingdom, which will be during the reign of the child celebrated in the rest of the poem.

Matthew has Jesus begin his public ministry in this region Continue reading “Something fishy”

What do you seek?

Sunday 19 January 2014
2nd after Epiphany
Epiphany 2A (RCL)
Isaiah 49:1-7
Psalm 40:1-12
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
John 1:29-42

The reading from Isaiah continues the theme of God’s servant, who bring justice to the coastlands. Again, the prophet emphasizes that the servant carries out his vocation without violence or triumphalism; in fact the opposite. The servant is the slave of rulers. We can see the shift in Israel’s theology in this short passage. Initially, Israel thought of itself as a weapon in God’s hand, a polished arrow or a sharp sword. But this work has come to nothing. Now, in Exile, deeply despised, the slave of nations, God will use Israel not just to restore Israel, but to bring justice to the nations. Kings will stand up when they see Israel in its current condition, and change their way of operating. Of course, we are still waiting.

The passage from John also represents a real shift in theology, a dramatic re-imagination of the old categories. John the Baptist Continue reading “What do you seek?”

A light to the nations

12 January 2014
First Sunday after Epiphany
“The Baptism of Christ”
Epiphany 1A (RCL)
Isaiah 42:1-9
Psalm 29
Acts 10:34-43
Matthew 3:13-17

The season of Sundays after Epiphany continue the theme of the manifestation of the Christ to the world (and specifically to the ‘nations’). In all of the accounts of Jesus’ baptism, we are told that the spirit descends in the form of a dove, and voice is heard from heaven declaring Jesus as God’s Son. The voice from heaven echoes Isaiah’s first Servant Song, which is the first reading for this Sunday. This reference to Isaiah makes it clear that the manifestation of the Christ to the world happens not only one time at the Jordan River, but is ongoing through the Church’s baptism.

Isaiah’s first Servant Song is set with the context of the heavenly court. The gods of the nations Continue reading “A light to the nations”