A new covenant

First Sunday in Lent; 21 February 2021; Lent 1B (RCL); Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-9; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15.

The temptation story in Mark’s Gospel seems rather truncated compared to Matthew and Luke, until one remembers that Mark wrote his account first. Matthew and Luke added Q material to Mark’s account, as well as some of their own material. But they leave out an interesting detail. Mark mentions that Jesus was with the wild beasts.

Continue reading “A new covenant”

Authority

Fourth Sunday of Epiphany; 31 January 2021; Epiphany 4B (RCL); Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 111; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28.

I find this passage from Mark’s Gospel to be rather frustrating. Jesus teaches as one having authority, but Mark doesn’t give us the content of his teaching, just the crowd’s response to it. We do get an exorcism, which is really the first public act of Jesus’ ministry. And it happens in the synagogue at Capernaum. What point is Mark making?

Continue reading “Authority”

God’s call

Third Sunday after Epiphany; 24 January 2021; Epiphany 3B (RCL); Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 62:6-14; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20.

All of the readings for this week seem short and abrupt, and leave more unsaid than they say. We get only a tiny piece of the story of Jonah — his second call. We miss his running away to Tarshish, the three days in the belly of the fish, and then it leaves off the end of the story — Jonah being angry about the plant. All we get is his short sermon to Nineveh.

Continue reading “God’s call”

The body politic

Second Sunday after Epiphany; 17 January 2021; Epiphany 2B (RCL); 1 Samuel 3:1-20; Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51.

The epistle reading for this Sunday seems kind of oddly out of context. Who asked about fornication? In my growing-up days in a fundamentalist background, this passage was used to proscribe sex in general (outside of marriage, but even in marriage it still sort of frowned on). Paul, however, is talking about something very specific here: temple prostitution.

Continue reading “The body politic”

Watching insurrection

First Sunday after Epiphany; the Baptism of our Lord; 10 January 2021; Epiphany 1B (RCL); Genesis 1:1-5; Psalm 29; Acts 19:1-7; Mark 1:4-11.

I am watching the television coverage of a protest (?), a riot (?), an insurrection (?) at the US Capitol Building. It seems to me that the scripture readings for this coming Sunday have something to say to us about the way power works in God’s plan as opposed to how we think it should go.

At Jesus’ baptism, as narrated by Mark, the Spirit descends on Jesus in the form of a dove (think of Noah sending out the dove after the flood), and a voice comes from heaven saying, “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.” Mark is here quoted Psalm 2, a coronation psalm, and one of the Servant songs in Isaiah.

Continue reading “Watching insurrection”

Sharing divine life

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”

Building a house

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”

In it together

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”

Awaiting God

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”

Discernment

Last Sunday after Pentecost; Christ the King; 22 November 2020; Proper 29A (RCL); Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Psalm 100; Ephesians 1:15-23; Matthew 25:31-46.

Matthew has this thing about judgment as separation: separating wheat from weeds, good fish from bad fish, sheep from goats. And always someone is thrown into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. I would love to know what was going on in his community that required such a final separation

Continue reading “Discernment”