This Sunday is the feast of the baptism of Jesus. The Lucan account, which comprises the gospel reading for the day offers us two perspectives on Jesus. As John the Baptist sees things, Jesus, the mightier one who comes after him, primarily comes as a judge. The role of Jesus is to baptize with fire, to purge Israel as part of her renewal before God. John seems quite satisfied to be the herald for this coming judge, the one who will make John’s own penitential brand of water baptism seem gentle by comparison. We should not think that John was filled with resentment, eager to see people punished. Rather, John longed for this one who would baptize with fire because he longed for the renewal of Israel. This renewal would require the apocalyptic unveiling of God’s righteous judgment. Continue reading
2 Sam 23:1-7; Dan 7:9-10; Rev 1:4b-8; John 18:33-37
Cathedral of the Incarnation, Baltimore
This is the final Sunday of the church’s liturgical year. It is the Feast of Christ the King. All of the passages for today reflect on kingship, David’s, God’s, Jesus’. Although Christians in America are far removed from direct experience of a king, there is much these passages can teach us about our own political life. I don’t simply mean political life in the U.S. This reading also can teach us about how we live together here in this particular manifestation of the body of Christ in Baltimore. Continue reading
This Sunday’s texts from Daniel and Mark (and, perhaps, Hebrews) are quite apocalyptic in their outlook. This may lead most preachers to focus their attentions elsewhere.
Jesus, too, lived in apocalyptic times. Many of his fellow Jews, including his relative John the Baptist, were convinced that the world was on the verge of a great apocalyptic judgment. In the gospel reading for this Sunday Jesus, himself, has just predicted the destruction of the Temple also hinting at the immanent onset of the end of the world as we know it. Continue reading
In this week’s gospel Jesus has ventured up into Syria and is hoping to remain in cognito. Of course, if you know much about Mark’s gospel, you will know that Jesus’ desires to work and travel under the radar never work out. There is more here, however. Our gospel reading takes place as far from Jerusalem as Jesus ever gets. He is outside of his home region of Galilee where the great majority of his work takes place. Although he comes to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, he is at this point very far beyond the boundaries of biblical Israel. He is a Jew in Gentile territory.
We who worship Jesus more than 2000 years after these events tend to either forget or downplay the fact that Jesus was Jewish. His mission on earth was to Jews; during his life he restricted his followers from going to non-Jews. Jesus ate with and ministered to sinners, but these would have all been Jews. Jesus has very few direct encounters with Gentiles and we have no reason to think Jesus ever ate with Gentiles. Continue reading
Lent 1 – Psalm 25:1-10, Mark 1:9-15
In the Psalm appointed for this first Sunday in Lent the Psalmist persistently asks to know God’s ways and to be led on God’s paths. Convinced that all God’s paths are “steadfast love and faithfulness” for those who are willing to follow, the Psalmist seems eager to get moving in whichever way God leads. Without question, this is the right disposition to have at the beginning of our Lenten journey. The Psalmist wants to be led by God. For me, actually wanting to be led by God is always the great hurdle to overcome at the start of this season. Am I willing to subject my desires to God’s desires so that over time God’s desires become my own?