Epiphany 2013

Hometown Hazards

Jesus knew they would do this. That's why he said, "Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown." Jesus knew that he couldn't go home because in a real sense, Nazareth was no longer his home. The mental wall that had secured their identity had become a wall of bigotry. And it was bigotry that was holding the people on both sides of the wall in captivity. As far as Jesus could see, breaching that wall was the only way to bring them liberty.

What We're Here For

So you see, salvation has never been only about what's going on between the individual soul and God. Salvation has always included what's going on with society and God. John Wesley said that Christianity is essentially a social religion. To make it a solitary one is to destroy it. ["Sermon on the Mount, IV" Part I.1.] That's why Wesley worked so hard to save souls and, at the same time, to end slavery. That's why he preached out of doors and collected blankets for prisoners of war. That's why the Methodist Church, always known for its emphasis on personal salvation, was the first church to write a Social Creed (1908). Because Jesus deliberately chose this text for what we might call his inaugural address, because he chose this passage in Isaiah to define his ministry, we Methodists use it to define ours.

Passports

"When you pass through waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you." [Is 43:2] I wasn't so sure about that when my co-worker with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks announced that he was going to perform a baptism in the Yellowstone River early the next morning. Never mind the frigid water. Like John the Baptist, he was going to baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire and warm things right up.

New and Now

Listening in the car, I was dumbfounded. I had never considered that there might be a better way to eat a banana. When I got home, I tried it. The radio was right. Well, who would've guessed that turning a banana upside down could turn my whole world upside down! As far as bananas are concerned, I am born anew. And I am reminded that there are always new things to say about new life.

Arise, Shine

If I know you, you will bring far better gifts than the wise guys did. Instead of gold, you'll bring your faith in God...Instead of frankincense, you'll bring your commitment to make a difference...Instead of myrrh, an ointment that was used in rituals of death, you will bring love, the balm of life..So, forget the gold, frankincense and myrrh. Bring us your three best gifts: your faith, your hope, and your love. Then God's light will surely arise upon us, and God's glory will appear over us.