Thursday, January 06, 2011

Lectionary Ruminations for Sunday, January 9, 2011, the Baptism of the Lord (Year A)

Posted each Thursday, Lectionary Ruminations focuses on the Scripture Readings, taken from the New Revised Standard Version, for the following Sunday per the Revised Common Lectionary. Comments and questions are intended to encourage reflection for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged. All lectionary links are to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead. (Other references are linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.)

Isaiah 42:1-9
v. 1 In light of today’s Gospel Reading, might we whether this passage illuminates John the Baptizer or Jesus? Who was Isaiah most likely writing about?

v. 3 What is a “bruised reed”?

v. 4 This is the third occurrence of the word “justice”. See verses 1 and 3.

v. 5 Now that we have the formulaic “Thus say God, the Lord, ”might we ask who was speaking in verses 1-4? I like the pairing of “breath” and “spirit”.

v. 9 Are most people in the pews willing and ready to accept that “former things have come to pass” and “new things I now declare”?

Psalm 29:1-11
v. 1 Who are the “heavenly beings”?

vs. 3-10 Attributes and praise of God of the Storm, and some baptismal imagery. What if we baptized from maelstroms rather than cute, little, calm, manageable fonts? When I have been backpacking I have loved loud, crashing thunder and lightning because wilderness storms remind me of the awesome grandeur of God. A domesticated God is not worthy of praise.

v. 11 After all the previous violent storm imagery, how shall we interpret this blessing of peace?

Acts 10:34-43
v. 34 It has been awhile since we have heard from Peter. While it might be true that God shows no partiality, I think we can not say the same of the institutional church.

v. 35 What does it mean to “fear”God? How does this verse fly in the face of justification by faith through grace?

v. 37 Does this verse justify this Reading being selected for “Baptism of the Lord”?

v. 43 “All the prophets”? Really? I think Peter is prone to a little hyperbole.

Matthew 3:13-17
v. 13 How people might ask “if Jesus was sinless, why did he seek to be baptized?”

v.14 It seems John asked!

v. 15 How does Jesus being baptized by John “fulfill all righteousness”?

v. 16 Jesus saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him,” but did anyone else see it?

v.17 Who heard this voice? Will this voice be heard this ar anything similar any other place in Matthew?

ADDENDUM: Moving from an emphasis on Jesus’ birth during Advent, Christmas and Epiphany to the baptism of an Adult Jesus three Sundays after Christmas always seems to jolt my sensibilities, but is there any way around it? How might teachers and preachers smooth the transition?


Cartwright Lasse said...

I like the way the common lectionary has worked this out, yes, the seemingly halting Christmas season has not always been certain as to where Jesus' baptism in some usages, six weeks before his circumsision:0. Thankfully, this flow of Epiphany to Baptism, with naming having been within Christmas it connects to pre lent well also.

John Edward Harris said...

Thanks for your comment, Cartwright Lasse. It reminds me that the common lectionary is an artificial construct that helps us systematically read Scripture, but our liturgical year and the lectionary that accompanies it does not necessarily refelect the same calendar or flow of time in any one, let alone all four, of the Gospels.