Approaching Epiphany
2008-01-04 by Dean Snyder

As usual my thinking has been all over the place until I find the message that speaks to me significantly enough for me to care about sharing it with others.

I am focusing on the magi as paradigmatic Gentiles whom Matthew is affirming and including. And Gentiles are paradigmatic of all newcomers -- those from the outside who are now included.

I am going to talk about three things magi/Gentiles/newcomers do: 1) Bring new gifts, ones that the community has sometimes been afraid of; 2) Shake up power assumptions (the magi did not seem very impressed by Herod's power); and 3) Restore a sense of joy to communities whose lives tend to become prosaic and ordinary.


I am going to suggest that Christianity is a missionary religion, not only because we have something to share, but because we need the newness of those who used to be outsiders. And I am going to suggest that evangelism is more important for us than the people we reach out to because we need their gifts, fresh perspectives and joy.





Second that emotion
2008-01-03 by rick brand

I think I will take David's suggestion and look at Ephesians. Paul says that he knows the secret of the universe and that secret is that the gentiles are equal before Grace to the Jews. At least that is the way I think he sees it. (All the commentaries I have read say that.)  Would Paul say that Muslims are equal to the Christians before the grace of God?  Wasn't the world for Paul, them or us, Gentiles or Jews?  So is it possible that Paul is saying that all people, those who lived before Jesus, those who never heard the word Jesus, and those of all creeds and religions stand before God in the grace of Jesus?  Have I stretched this thing too far?





"Lectionary Homiletics" Highlights
2008-01-02 by David von Schlichten

Scroll down to read nourishing blog entries by Dan Flanagan, Larry Lange, and guest blogger Dean Snyder.

Under Share It!, at Free Samples from Lectionary Homiletics you will find Timothy B. Cargal's exegetical article.

Here are highlights of some of the articles for this week from Lectionary Homiletics.

Theological Themes”

Charles Allen wisely draws our attention to God's use of practitioners of the occult (the magi) to lead us to Christ. Indeed, God reveals the baby Jesus to such "heathens." Perhaps, then, we Christians, in our encounters with non-Christians, should be more open to them, more willing to have mutually influential dialog.

Preaching the Lesson”

Anna Carter Florence reminds us that being wise and smart are not the same. The wise men are wise, but going to Herod for help with the search for the new king is stupid. Jesus urges us Christians to be both wise and smart. Further, we will make many stupid mistakes, but Christ transforms us to travel home by a different road.

A Sermon”

Larry Lange, in “It Was Just a Dream,” creates a humorous and revealing portrait of the three wise men, including Fred, the youngest of the wise men, who is handy with a Blackberry. The sermon is exceptionally creative and illuminating.

Gazing at the star and squinting for Sunday's sermon, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Only a partial Epiphany
2008-01-02 by Dan L. Flanagan

  I have in the past dealt with the Matthew 2: 1-12 passage from the perspective of the Magi being "seekers," and applying their spiritual search to the spiritual "seekers" of our contemporary culture.  I continue to see this passage from the perspective of spiritual seeking; however, this week I am focusing on Matthew as an Epiphany text that only begins our journey toward what is outlined to Abraham in Genesis 22:18 -- that he by his offspring, "shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves."  

  If Christianity claims Christ to be the fulfillment of that blessing to all nations, Matthew's story (Epiphany) is only a beginning to the fulfillment of God's revelation to Abram.  The Magi (who study the stars) follow a mysterious star.  They encounter the Jewish lore of a Messiah to be born and associate this celestial mystery with the expected Messiah.  Their encounter with the baby Jesus in Bethlehem brings them great joy for their "seeking" has been fulfilled....but only partially.  One cannot demonstrate a faith commitment by the Magi from Matthew, only an offer of gifts to a child they hoped would bring fulfillment.  Their return trip illustrates the place of Matthew's Epiphany in the unfolding gospel....as the Magi (directed by a dream) avoid Herod and return a different route instead of carrying the good news to someone who clearly needs it.  Herod (and the rest of Jerusalem whom Matthew says reacted out of fear) represents the obstacles along the path of our spiritual journey. 

  Matthew's Epiphany is similar to Wesley's class structure in that the world is now aware of God's incarnation.  The fulfillment of God's blessing to "all the nations" has begun, but is far from complete.  Each step of our journey to encounter the faces of "fear," we may be able to advance in Wesley's class structure until one day all the nations have found blessing in Christ.





Epiphanic Ephesians
2008-01-01 by David von Schlichten

What if we just let the magi story stand without comment and focus instead on Ephesians, where we hear of the revelation of the once hidden plan? There are hidden aspects of God, and then there are hidden aspects that, through Christ, God has revealed.

As part of the sermon, we could invite hearers to consider anew how they can help the stumbling world see the light.

Also, be sure to read the blog entries below, as well as Dean Snyder's engrossing, effulgent sermon on Matthew 2:1-12 at the Sermon Feedback Cafe.

Yours in Christ throughout 2008,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





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