by Norman Beck We have a responsibility in our ministry to observe and to preserve the festival of the Epiphany in some way each year, not only on the years in which January 6 happens to be a Sunday. The Sundays after the Epiphany will not have much special meaning unless we observe Epiphany itself [...]
Jeremiah 31:7-14 This thoroughly optimistic text is a reminder to us that the concept “salvation” in much of the Older Testament is primarily corporate and this-worldly and in most of the Newer Testament is primarily individualistic and is often other-worldly. By accepting both the Older and the Newer Testaments as its biblical canon, the early [...]
All four of the texts chosen for our use on Christmas Day refer to the coming of the Lord God. That coming is perceived in a way that is unique to each text. The most noticeable differences are that in the two texts from the Older Testament the coming of the Lord is expressed by use of a series of anthropomorphisms (depictions of God using various features and characteristics of humans), while in the two texts from the Newer Testament the Lord is depicted as coming incarnate (in the actual form of a human person).
After many years during which the grain and the wine from the vineyards of Jerusalem had been given by the Lord God to the enemies of its people, the people of Israel are depicted here as streaming back to the city from the broad highway cleared of all stones and obstructions over which they were returning from their exile in Babylonia. The people who return to the city are called “holy,” because they are the people of the Lord; they are called “redeemed” because the Lord has purchased them from their captors.
The usage of religious traditions affects the form and even the content of those traditions. For example, usage of evergreen trees that are brought into our homes, stores, and churches during the season of Christmas over periods of time has affected the trees themselves. The use of such trees, especially when they are placed into stores and even into homes and churches many weeks prior to Christmas, has mandated that unless the trees are constructed out of materials that are made to look as if they were live trees cut from a forest or tree farm, even though they were not, they will deteriorate to the point that they are no longer useful objects of beauty.