Keyword Search

  • Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company
    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

Epiphany 8

Perhaps the most significant theme that runs through these four texts is the theme of God’s action in providing something new for the people of God. It may be new or renewed life that God as a loving, gracious Father or Husband supplies. It may be new wine to revive and invigorate (certainly not to intoxicate) God’s people. It may be a new covenant cut into the lives of God’s chosen ones by the ongoing Spirit of God. That which is new is to be recognized as authentic alongside the older written revelation. The new gift of the Spirit of God is exciting to the people of God because they do not yet know what good things it may involve. The new gift may even be considered to be better than the old, for it gives life now in the present situation.

Hosea 2:14-20

Although the people of God were said to have been unfaithful to the Lord God by submitting to the Baals (“Lords”) of the land in which they settled and lived and to the “Gods” of the people who had conquered them, the Lord is said to be willing, even eager, to win them back, to attract them again to the Lord, and to be like a husband to them again. The Lord God will cause the people to forget the names of their former Baals. The Lord God will provide for the safety of the people by making a covenant even with the wild animals that might otherwise harm them as they come through desolate areas on their way back to Jerusalem. The bow and the arrow, the spear, and all of the other weapons of war that had harmed them in the past will be removed. The people will be joined with the Lord God in a new and better relationship than they had ever experienced in the past.

Psalm 103:1-13, 22

This psalm, which includes in verses 8 and 9 a paraphrase of the great description of characteristics of the Lord God written also in Exodus 34:6-7, Numbers 14:18, Nehemiah 9:17, 31, Jeremiah 32:18, and Jonah 4:2, begins with a reminder to the self to bless the Lord totally and unequivocally. It is a reminder to the self that the Lord God rescues, forgives, and renews life. The Lord is said to be aware of our human limitations. The Lord is portrayed as having pity on us just as a father has pity and compassion for his children. The Lord God is just, but will not punish us as much as we deserve. The Lord gives new life to those who are oppressed. We too can find comfort and hope in this today.

Mark 2:13-22

This text continues the bridegroom analogy that is present in the Hosea 2:14-20 text considered above, but with changes. The Lord God of the Hosea text is now the Lord Jesus, the “bridegroom” of the new developing Christian community of faith. The members of the new community claim that their bridegroom is still with them and that, therefore, for them to fast during the wedding feast would not be appropriate. They should be celebrating their new relationship with their Lord. They are enjoying “new wine” in “new wineskins.” They are to be “new wine” to gladden the spirits of many people. They are still “working” and “fermenting.” How can we use these analogies in our life situations?

2 Corinthians 3:1-6

In this chapter and in Romans 7:6 the Apostle Paul definitely claimed something that was “new.” He claimed that the new revelation from the Spirit of God regarding salvation in Christ gives life where the older revelation given through Moses and preserved on tablets of stone is actually destructive to life. It may be difficult for us to recognize how radical such statements must have sounded within the Jewish communities of the mid-first century in Galilee and of Judea and in the Jewish Diaspora. These statements of Paul that are included within our Newer Testament are offensive to Jews still today.

Paul could have stressed the importance of the ongoing Spirit of God speaking through himself and through other inspired individuals of his time without this blanket condemnation of the Jewish Scriptures. What he wrote here would be comparable to what one of us might write stating that the words of the Bible are destructive to life, that as a written code it kills, but that what the Spirit of God says through us gives life. How would our ecclesiastical communities respond to us if we were to write like that? What would those who are in authority over us in the Church do?

Instead of Paul’s blanket condemnation of written biblical tradition, we today should affirm the ongoing Spirit of God late in this our Epiphany season. As inspired people, we should claim the inspiration of the Spirit of God in our time. There is a new Word of God when we speak in accordance with the Holy Spirit of God. We are the prophets of God in our day and age and in our place. We should claim the Spirit of God when we read and proclaim the biblical texts. The living (spoken) Word of God is efficacious, living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, as the writer of Hebrews 4:12 indicated. The oral stage of the proclamation is the most vital. It is more cutting, more applicable, than is the written text that eventually may preserve a portion of it. But we would not want to condemn the written word that preserves a portion of the spoken revelation. To do so would be to cut us off from our heritage. The written Word has authority. It is our heritage. It is a means of grace for us.

There is no reason for us to doubt that Paul meant what he wrote in these two places. It is somewhat ironic that Paul’s opinion on this subject has come to us in written form in our written religious tradition. At any rate, although followers of Jesus (and of Paul) preserved Paul’s opinion on this subject and incorporated it into their expanded biblical canon, they did not reject the written Word, the Jewish Scriptures, but include them as our Older Testament. And we can be grateful for that.

Leave a Reply

  • Get Your FREE 30-day Trial Subscription to SermonSuite NOW!
    Chris Keating
    The Double-Dog Dare Days of August
    August’s lazy, hazy dog days quickly became a deadly double-dog dare contest between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, the supreme leader of North Korea. Both nations have been at odds with each other for nearly 70 years. During his working golf vacation in New Jersey last week, President Trump responded to North Korea’s rhetorical sword-rattling by launching a verbal preemptive strike of his own.
         Call it the Bedminster bombast, or the putt that rocked Pyongyang. But the duel between the two countries is more than fodder for late-night comedians. It’s a deadly standoff with history-changing repercussions.
         There is no vacation from matters of national security, or the orations of war. Indeed, much of the war of words between Washington and North Korea seems to confirm Jesus’ counsel in Matthew: “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” The contrasts between these barbed exchanges and the biblical understanding of peacemaking offers an intriguing opportunity to hear Jesus’ words in a world filled with double-dog (and even triple-dog) dares....more
    Feeding The 5,000
    The assigned Gospel text for this week skips over a couple of sections in Matthew's story. Matthew 14:34-36 cites Jesus' journey to Gennesaret. The crowds of people recognized him immediately and all of the sick came to him for healing. Just a touch of Jesus' garment brought healing to many. The crowd in Gennesaret recognized Jesus. They came to him in their need....more
    Wayne Brouwer
    Religious balkanization
    One dimension of religious life we have in common across faith traditions and denominational lines is the incessant divisiveness that split our seemingly monolithic communities into dozens of similar yet tenaciously varied subgroups. A Jewish professor of psychology said of his tradition, "If there are ten Jewish males in a city we create a synagogue. If there are eleven Jewish males we start thinking about creating a competing synagogue."...more
    C. David McKirachan
    Jesus Is Coming, Look Busy
    Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
    I had a parishioner who would walk out of the sanctuary if he saw a djembe (African drum) out in front to be used in worship.  I asked him about it, in a wonderfully pastoral manner, and he told me that things like that didn’t belong in worship.  I said that it was in the bible to praise God with pipes and drums (I think it is).  He told me he didn’t care what the Bible said, he knew where that thing came from and he wouldn’t have it.  I asked him why things from Africa would bother him.  He told me that he knew I was liberal but that didn’t mean he had to be.  I agreed with him but cautioned him that racism was probably one of the worst examples of evil in our world and I thought he should consider what Christ would think of that.  He asked me who paid my salary, Christ or good Americans....more
    Janice Scott
    No Strings Attached
    In today's gospel reading, Jesus seemed reluctant to heal the Canaanite woman's daughter. He told her that he wasn't sent to help foreigners, but only his own people, the Chosen Race. The words sound unnecessarily harsh, but perhaps this is an interpretation unique to Matthew, for this story only appears in Matthew's gospel, which was written for Jews....more
    Arley K. Fadness
    Great Faith
    Object: Hula Hoop or circle made out of ribbon, twine or rope
    What an amazing morning to come to church today. I am so glad to see you and talk to you about a wonderful story from the bible. Let me begin by showing you this circle. Now let's get into this circle. (Physically, all move into the circle) It's fun for us all to be together in this circle. We don't want anyone to be left out. To be left out is to be sad. To be kept out is even more sad and painful....more

Authors of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Norman A. Beck is the Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and the Chairman of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Norman A. Beck
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen