Personally, I’m glad that Hosea is in the lectionary, though there is not much in it that we will “like.” As it is with spinach and colonoscopies, we can nonetheless grasp the value of things which otherwise might leave us cold.
That the resurrection is a beleaguered doctrine in North America and in Europe is hardly a new revelation. For all its technological wonders, modernity is uncomfortable with old-fashioned miracles. Pre-modern ways of talking about Jesus’ resurrection don’t translate easily for an audience that demands scientific corroboration and empirical evidence. As a result, Christianity has chastened and tamed this story in a number of ways.
God chose to speak through a wild man known as John the Baptizer who dressed in animal skins, ate wild honey, and probably had the most unruly hair. The biblical description of his dress and style resembled the prophet Elijah found early in Second Kings. Why then do we ignore God’s trend of speaking through those who diverge from the status quo?
Samuel speaks of God as working in and through the events to deliver “ruin on Absalom.” This is not simply God with us. It is God against us–whenever we treat our “kingdom” as if it was ours and ours alone. Both David and Absalom acted as if their people, the Kingdom of Israel, were their own plaything.
This week’s lectionary reminds us that power comes and goes. Today the church is tempted to resent its lack of influence, but Mark’s story of Jesus and the words of Paul remind us that even spiritual power has its limits….
Biblical stories about baptism are connected to, but also at odds with, historical theology about baptism as well as the current liturgical practices of baptism. Reading Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism together with contemporary theologies offers a glimpse of the radical solidarity of Jesus.
*This post originally appeared on the Politics of Scripture January 2, 2017.
Matthew’s careful quotation of Isaiah 60 urges us to perceive that the birth of the poor, brown boy in a back corner of the Roman empire was the dawning of God’s glory upon humanity. Let us, then, celebrate—not with fear and self-preservation, but with confident investment in human flourishing.