Sunday, January 13, 2008

And in His temple all say "Glory!"

Happy end of the Christmas season! Today's readings are triumphant, in a quietly confident way:

Isaiah 42: from 1-7

Thus says the LORD: Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

Psalm 29: from 1-10

Response: The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Give to the LORD, you sons of God, give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name; adore the LORD in holy attire.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters, the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty; the voice of the LORD is majestic.

The God of glory thunders, and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The LORD is enthroned above the flood; the LORD is enthroned as king forever.

Acts 10: 34-38

Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered in the house of Cornelius, saying:
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.
You know the word that he sent to the Israelites
as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.”

Matthew 3: 13-17

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.
John tried to prevent him, saying,
“I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”
Then he allowed him.
After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold,
the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God
descending like a dove and coming upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens, saying,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

There's a certain "Na na na nee na NAAAAAH, toldja toldja toldja, He's the Lord!" tone to this, if that makes sense. No veiled mystery, no difficult metaphysical constructs, no knowledge of philosophy. A thundering voice, a Spirit like a dove, the heavens opened, what a moment of ecstasy! Could it be more direct? Jesus is so clearly who Isaiah prophesied about, the power of God is so clearly upon Him! John, whom I think everybody thought was a irresistably appealing guy but a little bit of a whackjob, is vindicated up, down, left and right.

One reason to love feasts like this one is that they have no cultural baggage. We don't have to worry about getting our Baptism of our Lord cards sent or our baking done. (The Orthodox traditionally have their houses blessed at this time of year, and the blessed water is called "Jordan Water," so they're probably in a frenzy of housecleaning, so somebody somewhere all the time is dealing with cultural baggage, I guess). On feasts like this, and others like Ascension and Pentecost, coming after Lent, Holy Week and Easter, it is a gift to us to simply raise our hands, rare back and say with all in the temple "Glory!"




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"There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know."

Pres. Barack Obama, Feb 5, 2009