Monthly Archives: November 2007

January 13

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January 13—Baptism of the Lord

isaiah 42:1-7

42Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. 4He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

5Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: 6I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, 7to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

matt 3:13-17

13Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

This is the Sunday we set aside to remember Jesus’ baptism. We also make a special effort to remember our own baptisms on this Sunday. Baptism has lots of meanings—new birth/new life, washing away the old, being claimed by God, becoming part of the Christian community, etc. But central (and sometimes missed) is the idea of vocation, calling. In our baptisms, we are called to follow in the footsteps of Christ, to be servants of God. So the Isaiah reading is helpful because it sketches out what being a servant of God looks like. We find lots of rich themes there: the servant seeks justice, but does so in a gentle/nonviolent way; God walks with the servant; etc. We need to invite people to remember their calling. (RAF)

December 30

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Isaiah 63.7-9
I will recount the gracious deeds of the Lord, the praiseworthy acts of the Lord, because of all that the Lord has done for us, and the great favor to the house of Israel that he has shown them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love. For he said, ‘Surely they are my people, children who will not deal falsely’; and he became their savior in all their distress. It was no messenger or angel but his presence that saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

On this first Sunday after Christmas, we are reminded that Christmas is not a day, but a season; not one event, but a lifetime; not the same-old-thing, but a new thing. Where before there have been messengers and angels, this time it’s God’s own presence, God-with-us…

December 23

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Advent 4

Isaiah 7.10-16
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. Then Isaiah said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.

Matthew 1.18-25
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us.’ When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

You know how it is when you are sleeping and someone else–a partner, a child, a cat–wants to come into the bed with you? They creep in and you have to make room. I think that’s what both of these texts are about today–making room. King Ahaz, in a moment of false piety, refuses to make room for God to speak. Joseph, in a dream, meets one of God’s messengers and immediately makes room for him and his message, changing his life drastically, to accommodate this Immanuel, God with us.

In the season of Advent, especially now as Christmas rapidly approaches, we are busy people, our schedules and our houses are crowded. Our with-us God is trying to creep in…will we notice? Will we make room in our cozy lives for the upset of a baby, especially this baby who is the very presence of God with us? (TCP)