Sunday, January 01, 2006

January 8, 2006 - Year B - Epiphany 1

Genesis 1:1-5
Psalm 29
Acts 19:1-7
Mark 1:4-11

While ordinarily titled The Baptism of the Lord we might also look at these scriptures as another creation story. Whenever we look beyond the form we are dealing with creation. Sometimes this is interpretive creation as in midrash. Sometimes creativity is seeing the new already present in the midst of the present, only covered over in status quo.

May our eyes be opened to not only see a star leading, but the consequences following.


  1. Mark 1:4-11

    "We may have here the echo of an oracle of Isaiah: [Isaiah 42:1,4].... The voice, thus pronounces a commission to establish an international rule of justice. How this is to be done is what we must learn from the narrative. But it is already clear that what Jesus is up to is precisely this: the establishment of the just empire of God. Jesus has a political, indeed an imperial mandate. In the bible, spiritual and political matters are not separate things; they are the same thing. The difference is not between politics and spirit, but between a divine and a worldly politics, between justice and oppression, between the politics of God and the politics of idolatry." [The Insurrection of the Crucified: The "Gospel of Mark" as Theological Manifesto by Theodore W. Jennings, Jr.]

    This is a huge expectation for one to live up to. Like those disappointed on the road to Emmaus, we are finally getting to the disappointment that after 2,000 years the politics of God are still being trumped, in God's name, by the politics of idolatry. A question comes to mind: did Jesus intentionally avoid the prophetic and messianic expectations of an empire of God or did he find the only way possible (spiritual jujitsu) to move through the resistances of his day?

    How do you hear a call to you to be GOD's beloved? Can it but lead you to risky side of salvation where the temptations, fears, tremblings, and politics are located? What prophetic action grows from your belovedness? what spiritual jujitsu? Surely it is not a beckoning to simply bask in a gauze-wrapped soft-focus slide through life.

  2. Acts 19:1-7

    Here we have a speaking in tongues that would tend to equate it with Pentecost. A difference is that this is an internal speaking, not a sharing of the good news to folks with different languages or cultures. This, in some sense, is a sign of assurance to those folks, like the rainbow to Noah, not an extension of a new covenant. A difficulty comes when a response to baptism becomes legislated as a norm. Different folks have different forms of assurance needed, given, and received.

    Similar distinctions can be made with the issue of prophesying. If we can get "prophesying" out of the realm of "predicting", we can begin to see a parallel with praising and setting a vision of a preferred future. We can also see prophesying as an extension of "me" and unconcerned about the life context of "you".

    "Speaking in tongues and prophesy" have some similarities, but also some differences from "speaking in different languages and praising".

    This leads to the question of how bedrock a matter is baptism. Is it as uniform as some try to make it or is there room for a variety of experiences claimed as a baptism and an assortment of responses to baptism? Where are the commonalities of "baptism" to be found and where is there room to appreciate a Holy Spirit that moves as the wind, unpredictably.

  3. Psalm 29

    We are called to ascribe (give) glory to G*D. In return G*D is called to ascribe (give) peace to people.

    G*D gives belovedness in baptism. In return baptism leads us to remember G*D in the midst of the temptations of life.

    The parallels here are glory/remember and peace/beloved. These can be played with in every encounter in life.

  4. Genesis 1:1-5

    In the Baptism, when G*D began to create belovedness, humans were formless. Then G*D said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. By that light G*D saw what was good and G*D clarified belovedness. G*D called the light Beloved and the darkness G*D called Dream and Possibility. And there was evening dream and there was morning light, the first day.

    Out of chaos we find belovedness arising. It begins the shaping of the formless. Belovedness is the desire of the formless (Thanks be, G*D's light brings this to light). It is beginning and end, evening and morning.

    Have you set the belovedness already formlessly present in your heart to work calling forth more belovedness within yourself and others? Have you received the name Beloved? Have you given the name Beloved to another? Have you seen the formless nonsense of the day being resolved into the shape of a beloved preferred future?

    Big stuff in a big image.

  5. Acts 19:1-7

    Who is it that is your fixed star, your anchored leg of a compass, that allows you to leave well enough in their hands while you pass into an interior region? Who will you trust to watch over your exploring and/or your dying with a formal or understood power of attorney?

    It is important to have an Apollos or two or three in your life. Be sure to thank them as you travel on. They play the role of John the Baptist in ritualizing your leave-taking, of Barnabas the Encourager, of the attending saints, of G*D naming you Beloved, etc. We really can't do without our Apollos' without withering.

  6. Mark 1:4-11

    John exclaims, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me...." This raises a question, "What is power? What is authority?"

    In this passage, what is invested in the one coming is that of Belovedness. Belovedness is power. Relationship is power. Compassion is power. Healing is power. Teaching is power. Forgiveness, even without repentance, is power.

    This reversal of our usual attempts at power through a variety of external controls is worthy of a big crack in the cosmic egg, a tearing apart of the fabric of heaven and earth. Instead of an eagle swooping down from heaven to place its talons in the nape of one's neck to drag you where you would otherwise refuse to go, to make a puppet of you, here we have the dove that brings a sign of a new earth (after a flood), a new heaven (one with a rainbow).

    What are you aware of in your own life that is less than it could be, but it is currently all you are able to do? What sense do you have that there is something better coming? In these ways we follow John and anticipate the best we can do, water baptism, is not the best that can yet be. Let us continue point the way to a better way.


Thank you for blessing us with your response.