Holy Name

1 January 2017
Feast of the Holy Name
Numbers 6:22-27
Psalm 8
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 2:15-21

This feast used to be called the Circumcision, rather than Holy Name. The earlier name carried perhaps more weight — the event in Luke is about more than just naming the child. Male children became members of the covenant people by circumcision on the eighth day. This is about Jesus becoming a child of the covenant. Continue reading “Holy Name”

Oh, the irony

24 December 2016
Christmas Eve
Christmas I (RCL)

Isaiah 9:2-7
Psalm 96
Titus 2:11-14
Luke 2:1-20

Luke sets for himself a daunting task: translate the history of Israel into an idiom a Gentile audience can understand, and then show that Jesus fulfills the themes of that history, while at the same time living and dying as a virtuous Gentile. And keep the treason in this endeavor hidden from sight. Continue reading “Oh, the irony”

Joseph the dreamer

18 December 2016
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

While Luke has angels appearing to Mary and to the shepherds, Matthew has angels appearing to Joseph in a dreams. Joseph dreams three times; the first time the angel tells him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife; the second time, the angel tells him to flee to Egypt; and the third time, tells him to return from Egypt. The first Joseph also had three dreams (well two of his own and then interprets Pharaoh’s dreams). Joseph’s first two dreams (about his brothers bowing down to him) lands him in Egypt as a slave. Pharaoh’s dreams in Joseph’s interpretation makes it possible for him to save his people (after enslaving the Egyptians to Pharaoh, of course). Continue reading “Joseph the dreamer”

The works of the Christ

11 December 2016
Third Sunday of Advent
Advent IIIA (RCL)
Isaiah 35:1-10
Psalm 146:4-9
James 5:7-10
Matthew 11:2-11

I grow increasingly frustrated with the NRSV translation. In this instance, we are told that when John, in prison, “heard what the Messiah was doing,” he sent his disciples to ask. In the Greek, the phrase is, “heard the works of the Christ.” And the genitive could be read as an adjective, “heard the Christly works.” “What the Messiah was doing” just doesn’t communicate that John is referring to specific works and specific kinds of works or acts. Continue reading “The works of the Christ”


4 December 2016
Second Sunday of Advent
Advent 2A (RCL)
Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
Romans 15:4-13
Matthew 3:1-12

The collect for this day calls out the them of repentance in the Gospel reading. The matter is a bit more complicated than just a focus on repentance. Matthew tells us that the people were baptized, “confessing their sins.” When the Scribes and Pharisees come for baptism, he warns them that they must bear fruit worthy of repentance. And when he announces the coming of the mightier one, he says, “I baptize you in water into repentance.” The more powerful one will baptize in Holy Spirit and fire.

What does it mean to be baptized into repentance? Continue reading “Repentance”