Monday, January 16, 2017

Epiphany 2A

Isaiah 49:1-7

1Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother's womb he named me. 2He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. 3And he said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified." 4But I said, "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God." 5And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— 6he says, "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." 7Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the slave of rulers, "Kings shall see and stand up, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."
Last week: Bap-J in Matthew
This week: Bap-J in John
All 4 gospel accounts include John baptizing Jesus!

• Remember: Jesus' baptism of mikvah was not the same as our trinitarian baptism into Jesus Christ's death and resurrection; it was more a signal of newness for the nation. However, at Jesus' baptism we experience a trinitarian theophany with Father, Son, Holy Spirit all in attendance at the event. We hear God the Father naming, claiming, calling and inspiring Jesus. At our baptism, God names, claims, calls, and inspires us with the HS.

Revised Common Lectionary years A, B & C all feature a lot of Isaiah
Mostly pre-exilic First Isaiah, 1-39; Mostly exilic Second Isaiah, 40-55; Most post-exilic Third Isaiah, 56-66...
each has writing mostly by the same author with others interspersed. "Exilic" refers to Babylonian diaspora

All of the long Hebrew bible book of Isaiah brings us broad, inclusive universalism. Israel's God YHWH is God of all, God for all nations, people, creation. God seeks and desire salvation – wholeness, integrity, shalom, interconnectedness, a free future not bound by the past – for all.

Today our first reading is one of 2nd Isaiah's four Servant Songs found at:

• Isaiah 42:1-9

• Isaiah 49:1-6;

• Isaiah 50:4-9;

• Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12

All of 2nd Isaiah brings us a servant attitude. Isaiah 49-66 never again mentions King of Persia Cyrus; Isaiah 50-55 makes no more mention of Jacob as shorthand, as a cipher for all God's people.

The church long has identified the Servant as Jesus Christ, but at different times the Servant could be God's whole people Israel, Israel of the Babylonian (or any other) diaspora; the person who recorded the words of Second Isaiah. How about us as the Suffering Servant? The church reads and hears these texts during Holy Week of Jesus' passion leading to his death.

Jeremiah 1:5 // Isaiah 49:1 God called both prophets in the womb, before their earthly birth!

Today's passage helps us reflect on...

• God's baptismal claim on us as individuals and as a community;
• the presence of the HS;
• God's Work / Our Hands;
• how we sometimes get discouraged.

Example: after a retail or other tenant vacates a commercial building, they tear off that company's sign or banner and you almost always can see what we call a "label scar" where the sign had been. In baptism God marks us with the sign of the cross forever—it's an indelible "label scar." Can people see it or feel it?

Does the New Creation begin at Jesus' baptism or at his resurrection?

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