The Old Testament and gospel readings for Epiphany
function as point and counterpoint. Isaiah offers a word of great comfort to
those who have been so long in darkness. Impoverished as the hearers have been,
honor and fortune are on their way. It's a message of rejoicing: the light that
has dawned will make all who see it radiant.
When our United Methodist Annual Conference urged pastors to create covenant peer groups as a way to maintain connection, seven of my colleagues and I agreed to meet every other week for a few hours of prayer and conversation, mutual accountability and “resourcing.” It seemed appropriate when one of our meetings was scheduled for the Feast of St.
O Lord, the house of my soul is narrow; enlarge it that thou
mayest enter in. It is ruinous, O repair it! It displeases thy sight; I
confess it, I know. But who shall cleanse it, or to whom shall I cry
but thee? Cleanse me from my secret faults, O Lord, and spare thy
servant from strange sins. --St.
Years ago I read an article in Interpretation that forever
changed my understanding of this gospel passage. The writer focused on
the alternate reading in verse 41—a reading so alternate that some
Bibles don't even list it in the footnotes. Here's the question: what
did Jesus feel as he healed the leper?
I'd like to have words with Paul about his pastoral strategy in this
week's epistle lesson. "I have become all things to all people." Oh,
really? These words feed my insecurities and neuroses. And they inform,
more than I wish, my job description and annual evaluation.
When it comes to fierce theological debate—excommunicating,
eternity-in-the-balance doctrinal warfare—neither the ecumenical
councils nor those unpleasant doings in Geneva have anything on my local
The prevailing topic of conversation at my mother's retirement home is
the food: the menu, the cooks and—not least—the order in which people
are served. While I tire of of hearing about the daily drama, I know
that what is true at "the home" is true for many of the rest of us.
"The Gospel doesn't just contain ideas worth remembering," says Henri Nouwen in Reaching Out.
"It is a message responding to our condition." He goes on to add that
Christian doctrines "are not alien formulations to which we must adhere,
but documentations of the most profoun