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Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a; Luke 4:14-21 “Today the scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” We have heard it proclaimed. But what is fulfilled, exactly? Well, let’s see: “to let the oppressed go free, to give sight to the blind, to bring release to the captives, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…” when all shall be forgiven and made whole. The Spirit of the Lord is upon Jesus and He has come, empowered by His Baptism and anointing in the Spirit, to do what He came to do – to save us. Salvation implies that a) we need to be saved and b) that need goes further than sinfulness but freedom from all that would make us slaves in this world. Remember

My words and hopes: pleasing God

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” Psalm 19: 14 The final words of the 19th Psalm have always been there with me and go, in so many ways, to the heart of Christian faith and life. Many of you know that I am a middle child, the third of five. I grew in a very loving household, for which I am eternally grateful and I am very close to my four siblings. When I became a man (just a few years ago; I was hopelessly immature even as I became a father at 25), I looked back at my youth and realized that there was a lot of dysfunction and I often played the role of peacemaker, the one who wanted to keep folks hap

Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 36:5-10; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; John 2:1-11 When I first came out of seminary, I was called to a large, suburban parish with a brand-new, gorgeous, acoustically brilliant worship space. The stained glass in this place is stunning and, as it is called St. Mary’s, all of the stain glass surrounding the worship space contain images of the Virgin Mary, telling her story through Jesus’ story. I would often go in there, early in the morning, and pray. Many times, my prayers would focus on a particular stained-glass story. The one I think I frequented more than any other, was the one that told the story of the wedding feast at Cana. There was simply something about that moment

Your name is no longer forsaken

You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married. Isaiah 62: 4 How apropos that on the Sunday where we have John’s account of the wedding feast at Cana, where Jesus turns water into wine, that we also experience Isaiah’s words – filled with wedding images – on Israel’s redemption. Israel’s exile - and return from exile in Babylon - is the focus of a HUGE amount of energy in the prophetic witness of the Old Testament. And Isaiah 62: 4 uses the language of a lover, once scorned by the nations, who will now be embraced and given a

Feast of the Baptism of our Lord

Isaiah 43:1-7; Psalm 29; Acts 8:14-17; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 You are mine There is an adorable meme going around Facebook that has a cute-as-pie toddler, bow on head, saying into a cell phone, with much expressiveness: “So, today in church, a guy in a dress tried to drown me. And, I kid you not, my family stood there taking pictures.” From a child’s point of view, Baptism may be a kind of belonging he or she could do just fine without, yes? Last year, I was introduced to a beautiful piece of music called You are Mine by David Haas, a Catholic composer who writes contemporary but often very folksy melodies about our journey with God. And it is infused with the words of Isaiah 42. The chorus sin

Resurrection

This Saturday at 6 pm, we will offer the film, Risen, which tells an interesting tale about the aftermath and resurrection of Jesus through the eyes of a Roman Tribune. I hope that you will try to join us. But I have been musing, of late, as we enter this time after the Epiphany and before the beginning of Lent: what does resurrection mean to us, as Christians? If we really believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, appeared to His disciples, and charged them with the sharing of the good news through Baptism, teaching, proclamation, and action…what does that mean? The latter question is part of the reason this movie is so provocative and interesting to me and I hope will be so for y

The Epiphany!

Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7,10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12 For the Sundays of Advent and Christmas we observed the three kings, moving toward the manger, not in any particular hurry. But they do move ever closer, irreversibly, irretrievably, and forever toward the presence of Jesus. The three Kings were certainly non-Jews, Gentiles, who believed - for whatever reason - that the star that they followed would lead them to something new, prophetic, and life-changing. Did they know that they would find a baby? Maybe. But nothing could have prepared them for the bright light shining on them from Jesus, eclipsing the star, and calling them into rethinking everything they thought they knew

Venturing further for God

Clinging like sheep to the earth for protection, We have not ventured far in any direction: Wean, Child, our aging flesh away, From it’s childish way. --WH Auden, from For the Time Being I’ve been reading WH Auden’s For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio. Auden wrote this wonderful long poem after he had moved to the United States from his native England and began to have a resurgence of faith. He even joined the Episcopal Church. The above quote comes from the section in the oratorio called “The Vision of the Shepherds.” These clear and stirring words speak directly to our tendency to often play our lives very close to the vest. “We have not ventured far in any direction.” But the wisemen

Holy Name of Jesus

The Feast of the Holy Name is not about remembering a baby, but remembering that the God whose name is unpronounceable, unspeakable, and ultimately unknowable, is the same God who comes to us in the person of Jesus who knows us, and loves us, and ultimately saves us. —James Koester, SSJE. Today we celebrate the holy name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Luke tells us that on the eighth day after Jesus’ birth, He was circumcised, according to Jewish custom. On that eighth day, Jesus was formally given His name…. “Therefore, God highly exalted Him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend…” Jesus, the Savior of the World, has come i