Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Lectionary Notes for Baptism of the Lord, Year A

Readings for Baptism of the Lord, 1/12/14:
Isaiah 42:1-9, Psalm 29, Acts 10:34-43, Matthew 3:13-17

Isaiah 42:1-9:
  • "I have put my spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations" - Reminds me of another Isaiah (61) passage, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me..." both are marking the identity of Jesus, the task to which Jesus is called - at least that is how we interpret them, and to an extent, how Jesus interprets them himself - this is the roll he seeks to play, to fill, to be.
  • "a bruised reed he will not break" - Remember Jesus asking about John the Baptist (Mt. 11) - "what did you come out to see - a reed shaken by the wind?"
  • "I have taken you by the hand and kept you" - This is no God who sits back and watches from a distance. This is up-close-and-personal God. We are God's, and God wants us to make no mistake of that fact. We disobey, turn away, etc. But we are God's.
  • "to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners" - again, compare to Luke 4/Isaiah 61
  • "new things I now declare" - a good verse for a beginning of a new year
Psalm 29:
  • "The Voice of the Lord" - I guess I've never noticed this psalm before, which speaks primarily of God's voice.
  • It is also visualizing God creating or in relation to a strong and powerful thunderstorm, which may be based on a psalm to the Caananite god, Baal (see Chris Haslam's comments on this) God over the waters, God's glory thundering, breaking the cedars, flashes forth flames of fire, "the voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness." What can we do with these images? I led a Bible-study, Companions in Christin a previous church. One lesson is on using our imagination to read the scriptures. Certainly this psalmist used imagination to create this imagery, to make God's voice come alive.
  • What imagery would you use to describe/envision God's voice in your life? I like the process theology metaphor of God's lure, God slowly luring me with God's voice until slowly, step by step, I followed.
Acts 10:34-43:
  • Peter is speaking to Cornelius and his friends and relatives in Caesarea. Cornelius had been visited by a messenger from God telling him to invite Peter to his home and here him speak.
  • "God shows no partiality". Do we get that? Believe it? Preach it? Live and practice it?
  • "preaching peace by Jesus Christ" Ah, the gospel message is a message of peace. Too much of our Christian history works to counter that claim. We struggle on!
  • A mini-sermon, all the facts needed to share the good news packed into one little blurb - this is Peter's quick pitch, at the opportunity he's been given.
Matthew 3:13-17:
  • "John would have prevented him" - when do we play John's role - for whom do we play John's role? Facilitating someone else in their journey to ministry is extremely important - 'proper' as Jesus says, and necessary. If we decline our role, we're preventing another from fulfilling theirs as well.
  • This is the event that marks the beginning of Jesus' 'official' ministry, and is significantly recorded in all four gospels. We might all wish for the heavens to part and for a dove to descend and for God to declare in front of all that we are pleasing and beloved in God's sight, but it doesn't usually work quite that way for us. How does it work for us? How can we know God loves us? What are the markers and milestones in our lives and ministries? How can we play John to someone, preparing them, providing a space for them to begin their calling?
  • Matthew's baptism account is fairly short - don't forget to compare notes with the other gospels
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