Finding the Lessons

I try to post well in advance of the upcoming Sunday.

You will want to scroll down to find the bible study for the lessons closest to the upcoming Sunday.

The blog will be labeled with proper, liturgical date, and calendar date.

You also can simply search below by entering the liturgical date, scripture, or proper. This will pull up all previous posts.

Enjoy.

Search This Blog by Proper and Year (ie: Proper 8B or Christmas C or Advent 1A)

Friday, January 28, 2011

4th Sunday after the Epiphany in Ordinary Time, Year A

"The Beatitudes invite us to play with present and future. God is with us, now, in all of our struggles informing our hope, and God is pointing all of us toward the ultimate 'Vision Beautiful' of the future Kingdom of Heaven where God is all in all."

"The Vision Beautiful," Susan Blain, ucc.org


Matthew 5:1-12

5When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 910“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
3
Sermon on the mount by Laura James


A Little Bit for Everyone

Some interesting articles on this passage:

The Gospel in your face 
This is a new section which clearly states that the article you are going to link to is an in your face proclamation of the Gospel.  It is something you can't believe someone actually says but it also challenges you to think.  Our read of the week: "Set Apart to Wear Plaid Pants," Mike Baughman, The Hardest Question, 2011. "Experience tells us that Jesus' sales pitch is a lie."

Prayer
Rescue your church from the seductive promises of this world's powers and form us as the community of the beatitudes, that we may become your faithful remnant in the world, and that Christ alone may be our wisdom and our righteousness, and sanctification and redemption, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen


From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year A, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.

Some thoughts...

"Each 'Beatitude' states that the possessor of this characteristic will be 'blessed' by God.  A formal 'blessing' is a divine action, somethimes brought about through an intermediary (priest, kingd, parent, etc).  Beatitudes are common in OT wisdom books (Prov 3:13; 28:14).  The NT Beatitudes refer toa future (or eschatological) reward, whereas the wisdom beatititudes assume that the resward is already present." (Daniel Harrington, SJ, Sacra Pagina, Matthew, p 79)
Not unlike the forebearers found in Wisdom the Beatitudes were most likely sayings of Jesus, blessings by Jesus, which circulated among the first followers.  The reality is that sayings such as this made their way throughout the community of first followers and eyewitnesses and make up an important part of the oral tradition of Jesus and his ministry. (Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, p 263) These blessings are different though. The blessings in Wisdom are blessings found in the present.  Jesus is speaking of blessings to be received in the future.
This important connection to the past Wisdom tradition is equally as important with the statements which follow the beatitudes and their connection with the Torah. 
I make these two points because I believe it is essential to understand that for Matthew and his community, they saw themselves as continuing the tradition of the family of Abraham.  So, while we see that the blessings in Matthew point forward we also must think and look into the past and wonder about all the other blessed ones who came before.  It is in the midst of these two blessed communities (our ancient faith ancestors and the hosts of saints in light) that we find our own blessed pilgrim journey.  We walk our way of Christ always continuing the ancient faith of the past and leaning towards the reign of God which lies in our future.
This Sunday preachers will spend time preaching the beatitudes as Christian character, "Ethics of Christian discipleship, "values in opposition to the world," or philosophies.  (Harrington, 84) 
"The Beatitides are thoroughly Jewish in form and content.  They challenged those who made up 'Israel' in Matthew's time by delineating the kinds of persons and actions that will receive their full reward when God's kingdom comes.  They remind Christians today of the Jewish roots of their piety and challenge each generation to reflecton on what persons and actions they consider to be important or 'blessed.' (Harrington, 84)
So, we understand then at our first glance that the text places us firmly rooted in our ancient faith, and that we are challenged to see others as God sees them.  But is that all?
As is typical though we spend more time on us and we might very well miss the opportunity to realize the importanct of reading the beatitudes together with Isaiah 61:1-3.
61The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; 2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
 Remember our text in context. Jesus has come out of the desert time, he has led a great crowd, he is gone up to the mountain.  Who is this person that looks and acts so very much in line with the great prophet Moses?  Is he Moses?  He is in the historic and prophetic line, but see he is the one Isaiah speaks about. Jesus is the Messiah the one who had come to bring good news, good blessings.  The parallels are beautifully woven in Jesus' speach to the people.  This is a revelation moment.  The Beatitudes, and their proclamation reveal the very nature of who Jesus is and who he is to become.
Note that Jesus himself is meek, he mourns, he is righteous, he shows mercy, he is persecuted and reproached.  Jesus himself is enacting a new creation by reenacting an exodus... he is linking his ministry as the continuation of the prophets and revealing his true nature... but he is himself embodying the incarnation of God's blessings in his own life and ministry.
This person Jesus is God with us.  It is in God's incarnation that we receive the blessings that are to come.  Like the Matthean community we are pilgrims along the way, our eyes opened to the revelation of God in Jesus, blessed by a God who knows our suffering and life in this world. 
This week as we step into the pulpit will we talk about the person of Jesus as revealed in the beatitudes or will we spend time trying to link our lives in the first world with the blessing message of Jesus in a third world?  It may be that this Sunday we need more to see the revelation of Jesus Christ than to receive more blessings in this life.

The Lambeth Bible Study Method
This Bible study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African." This method is derived from the practice of Lectio Divina. The entire process should take about 30 minutes.
Question #5: "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website: http://www.dcdiocese.org/word-working-second-question
Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process.
2. Each person briefly identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention then invites another person to share.
3. Each shares the word or phrase until all have shared or passed using the same invitation method.
4. The passage is read a second time, preferably from a different translation. The reader then invites a person in the group to begin the process.
5. Each person briefly identifies where this passage touches their life today, and then invites someone who has not shared yet.
6. The passage is read a third time, also from another translation, and the reader invites a person to start the process.
7. Each person responds to the questions, "What does God want me to do, to be or to change?"
8. The group stands up in a circle and holds hands. One person initiates the prayer “I thank God today for …” and “I ask God today for…” The prayer goes around the circle by squeezing the hand to your right.

9. When the circle is fulfilled, the person who initiated the prayer starts the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father…”


Friday, January 21, 2011

The Third Sunday after the Epiphany: 3 Ordinary Time


But mark both their faith, and their obedience. For though they were in the midst of their work (and ye know how greedy a thing fishing is), when they heard His command, they delayed not, they procrastinated not, they said not, “let us return home, and converse with our kinsfolk,” but “they forsook all and followed,” even as Elisha did to Elijah.” Because such is the obedience which Christ seeks of us, as that we delay not even a moment of time, though something absolutely most needful should vehemently press on us. Wherefore also when some other had come unto Him, and was asking leave to bury his own father, not even this did He permit him to do; to signify that before all we ought to esteem the following of Himself.

From St. Chrysostom's Homilies on Matthew

Matthew 4:12-23


12Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” 17From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”


18As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 19And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.



A Little Bit for Everyone

Some interesting articles on this passage:
Interesting read this week: Dylan's Lectionary Blog, Epiphany 3, 2005. Biblical Scholar Sarah Dylan Breuer looks at readings for the coming Sunday in the lectionary of the Episcopal Church. "Becoming a "fisher for people" is going to bring these Galilean fishers not only into relationship with Jesus, but into a whole new network of relationships with others. Their relationship with Herod Antipas and the powers of this world, with the hated toll collectors, with their neighbors, with their families, with Gentiles and Pharisees, with anyone who hears Jesus' call and, responding to it, becomes a sister or brother ... none of these will ever be the same."
Prayer
Let your word dawn in splendor upon our community to dispel the shadows of division adn to disperse the gloom of discord.  United in the bond of your love, may we become a radiant sign of salvation and hope for all who journey from darkness toward the light of your new day. Amen


From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year A, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.

Some thoughts...

The Presbyterian minister Matthew Henry begins his 1708 commentary with these words: "He went not to Herod's court, not to Jerusalem, among the chief priests and the elders, but to the sea of Galilee, among the fishermen. The same power which called Peter and Andrew, could have wrought upon Annas and Caiaphas, for with God nothing is impossible. But Christ chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise." Matthew Henry's Commentary. It is a wonderful image that captures an important theme in the Gospel of Matthew and that is that the incarnation and the word spring forth from the countryside in the midst of the people.

 
A new light is dawning as the word takes root in the hearts of the people of God.  Jesus emerges from the time of testing, his wilderness pilgrimage, a new Israel whose body is made up of the whole people of God - not only the kings or the religious rulers of the day.


The words of the hymn written by Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895) echo in our ears:


Jesus calls us; o'er the tumult
of our life's wild, restless sea,
day by day his clear voice soundeth,
saying, "Christian, follow me;"


as, of old, Saint Andrew heart it
by the Galilean lake,
turned from home and toil and kindred,
leaving all for his dear sake.
Jesus' public ministry is underway bay the Galilean lake. Mimicing other preachers of his time Jesus is spreading the Word.  With a wider view to the whole Gospel text we can also see developing in Matthew's Gospel the play between Jerusalem and Galilee; with Capernaum as his home base.  The movement is spreading and growing. Daniel J. Harrington (Matthean scholar) believes this story would have particular meaning to those who first heard the story of Jesus as Matthew's community was most likely in the very vacinity of Jesus' first days of public teaching. (Matthew, 74)


Harrington also points out that the call of the disciples is not the normal way in which followers gather around a teacher of Jesus' time. It would have been normative for the disciples to seek out the teacher.  This is true today in both the arts and in higher education.  Matthew tells us that Jesus seeks the follower, Jesus calls them. God is seeking us and beckoning us to become open.  How often in our own spiritual journeys do we discover that as we seek to find we realize we were already found?


The Gospel lesson this week is an opportunity for us to speak about how the incarnation takes root in the world around us. Jesus came and walked and preached in a very real place. He found and called to very real people.  For Anglicans all over the world and in the Episcopal Church we share and understand the importance of contextual ministry. The adoption of parochial life, custom of worship, even the prayers (while rooted in our Cramnarian liturgy and confession of a creedal faith the life of our tradition always is found in the incarnational reality of how exactly the Gospel takes root in any one particular place.


The study guide to the Five Marks of Anglican Mission include this important reflection on the nature of mission in context:
Mission in context
All mission is done in a particular setting - the context. So, although there is a fundamental unity to the good news, it is shaped by the great diversity of places, times and cultures in which we live, proclaim and embody it.
It reminds me of the video from the 1990's called the many faces of Anglicanism.  Each of us spread across the Diocese of Texas, the country, or the world are given the opportunity, called by Jesus Christ, to make incarnationally present the transformative love of Jesus Christ. 


There are two pieces of literary importance in this text that at this point bear some consideration. Here I am relying on Davies and Allison (Matthew, The International Critical Commentary, 398).  Jesus does not really call. It is not an invitation.  The words used are an "unconditional command" an "imperative."  The truth is that Jesus' words to the disciples is more of a charge. 


The second piece of literary importance that is mentioned in numerous essays on this passage, but I am relying here specifically on the Davies/Allison commentary, is the fact that the art of fishing is paralleled in the scripture with the reign of God. See the reference to Jeremiah 16.16.  Tertulian popularized this parrallel.


With these two pieces in mind we see that we are not only firmly rooted in place and time, within a particular missionary context, but that we are charged by the call of Jesus Christ to bring about the reign of God.


We are to work together with other Episcopalians and other Christians to change and transform the world around us.  Our cities and our communities, our work places, our homes, our families and friendship circles are to changed and transformed througho our work with Jesus Christ to resemble the reign of God - the kingdom of Heaven. To discover the vision of this particular work preached by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew we will see it building and growing as we move forward following the crowd and disciples to the sermon on the mount.


The Lambeth Bible Study Method
This Bible study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African." This method is derived from the practice of Lectio Divina. The entire process should take about 30 minutes.
Question #5: "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website: http://www.dcdiocese.org/word-working-second-question
Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process.
2. Each person briefly identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention then invites another person to share.
3. Each shares the word or phrase until all have shared or passed using the same invitation method.
4. The passage is read a second time, preferably from a different translation. The reader then invites a person in the group to begin the process.
5. Each person briefly identifies where this passage touches their life today, and then invites someone who has not shared yet.
6. The passage is read a third time, also from another translation, and the reader invites a person to start the process.
7. Each person responds to the questions, "What does God want me to do, to be or to change?"
8. The group stands up in a circle and holds hands. One person initiates the prayer “I thank God today for …” and “I ask God today for…” The prayer goes around the circle by squeezing the hand to your right.

9. When the circle is fulfilled, the person who initiated the prayer starts the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father…”


Friday, January 14, 2011

Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A

"Do not, then, seek Christ elsewhere than where Christ wished Himself to be preached to you; and as He wished Himself to be preached to you, in that fashion hold Him fast, in that manner write Him on your heart."
From Augustine's Tractates on John: Tractate VII (1:34-51)

John 1:29-42

29The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” 35The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”

37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o”clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).


Picture is from Hagia Sophia (Church of the Holy Wisdom), Istanbul

A Little Bit for Everyone


Some interesting articles on this passage:
Interesting read this week: "Sent of God to Witness," commentary by Fred B. Craddock from The Christian Century, 1990. At Religion Online. "Since temptation is commensurate with strength, the unusually gifted face tests that the rest of us do not."
Prayer
On all who hae been sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints let the Spirit descend and remain, so that filled with grace and peace, we may reveal the One whom we testify to be the Son of God, who lives and reings with you in the unity fo the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen


From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year A, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.

Some thoughts...

In this weeks appointed Gospel lesson we see a continuing pattern of acknowledgement about the person of Jesus asproclaimed by the first Christians.  Last week we were given a vision of Jesus Christ asSon, servant, inaugurator of the new exodus and creation, and the one who fulfills all righteousness.  This week we hear in the voice of John the Baptist that Jesus is: Lamb of God, the pre-existant one, the one on whom the Holy Spirit descends, and as the chosen one.  The theme of our season of the Epiphany (a season of God with us) is a season where in we are able to proclaim and speak clearly about the person of Jesus Christ and our understanding of him as followers.

As theLamb of God we understand Jesus in terms of the suffering servant from Isaiah.  Our early church fathers also saw him clearly as the paschal lamb provided by God for the sake of the world. The Johanine scholar Raymond Brown writes, "John the Baptist hailed Jesus as the lamb of Jewish apocolyptic expectaton who was to be raised up by God to destroy evil in the world, a picture not too far from that of Rev. xvii 14." (John, vol 1, Anchor Bible, 60)

Tying in the first words of John's Gospel, the Baptist reminds us of the concept that Jesus is the incarnation of God and intimately involved in the creation itself. There is some debate around the idea that this may be more the author's plemic than the Baptist's prophecy.  However, this line of thinking seems less interesting than the idea that the first Christians proclaimed and understood that Jesus was God. The second person of the Trinity in accordance with the creeds that would later be formed but nonetheless grounded in these first thoughts.  What also seems clear is that many believed Jesus in their first hand experience to be the "one to come" prophesied in the writings of the Old Testament. (Brown, 64)

Jesus is the one upon whom the Holy Spirit descended. We understand as did the first followers that this is an indication not simply of his holiness but that Jesus was an instrument of God.  He is in the words of Isaiah the Messiah, the servant, the one to lead us. 

We end the scene with the identity of Jesus as the Chosen One. Each of the previous theological typologies for understanding the person of Jesus lead to this one.  Jesus in his baptism is the one in whom God is pleased. While we might look over our long and sacred history and see those saints that came before Jesus and those that came after we cannot help ub recognize the first Christian testimony that Jesus is the uniquely chosen one by God to provide deliverance and new life to God's people - gentile and jew alike. 

It is a marvel that our author could provide such a rich Isaian Christology in these first verses of his Gospel.  We have an opportunity as preachers and teachers to share this unique scriptural witness with those around us.  More importantly that as we listen and engage in conversation with those around us we are showing this Christology already at work in their lives and the lives of those in our community.

The challenge this week will be the primary pastoral challenge of the Gospel - to connect the unique story of Christ with the everyday lives of God's people.

The Lambeth Bible Study Method
This Bible study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African." This method is derived from the practice of Lectio Divina. The entire process should take about 30 minutes.
Question #5: "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website: http://www.dcdiocese.org/word-working-second-question
Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process.
2. Each person briefly identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention then invites another person to share.
3. Each shares the word or phrase until all have shared or passed using the same invitation method.
4. The passage is read a second time, preferably from a different translation. The reader then invites a person in the group to begin the process.
5. Each person briefly identifies where this passage touches their life today, and then invites someone who has not shared yet.
6. The passage is read a third time, also from another translation, and the reader invites a person to start the process.
7. Each person responds to the questions, "What does God want me to do, to be or to change?"
8. The group stands up in a circle and holds hands. One person initiates the prayer “I thank God today for …” and “I ask God today for…” The prayer goes around the circle by squeezing the hand to your right.

9. When the circle is fulfilled, the person who initiated the prayer starts the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father…”


Friday, January 7, 2011

Sunday Readings for the Celebration of the Baptism of our Lord

"In other words, Matthew focuses our attention on Jesus as one before whom we shall have to give account. Whether we think of that in traditional terms of a day of judgement or in more existential ways, the message is clear: in facing up to him we are to face up to ourselves."

"First Thoughts on Year A Gospel Passages in the Lectionary: Baptism of Jesus,"William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.
Matthew 3:13-17 13Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

A Little Bit for Everyone

Some interesting articles on this passage:
Prayer
As we celebrate today the mystery of Jesus' baptism in the river Jordan, renew in us our own baptism: pattern our lives on this Christ, your chosen one, the Child on whom your favor rests, the Beloved with whom you are well pleased.


From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year A, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.

Some thoughts...

The Gospel is one directly related to Mark's account and this connection helps us to understand the import of Jesus' baptism to the earliest of Christians.  It is also important in continuing the theme we spoke of during Advent which is the increasing importance and role of the prime actor Jesus in the Gospel narrative and the ever shrinking role of John the Baptist.

Certainly the connection between Jesus' baptism and our own has brought with it questions about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the baptism by water. But I am not interested in this debate, but rather the importance and meaning this story has for the person of Jesus.  We are able through the lens of Jesus' baptism to understand how he was viewed by his first followers. It is all to easy to get focussed on us and to preach this Sunday on the meaning of our baptism.  This gospel lesson is essentially a lesson about Christology.

It is the heavenly voice who makes clear that this is God's Son.

Daniel Harrington writes and gives an explanation for naming this passage the "Jesus made manifest":

...an attempt has been made to be faithful tot eh focus of the biblical account -- the manifestation of Jesus' identity at the very beginning of his public ministry.  The baptism of jesus by John in the Jordan River is the occaion for the identification of Jesus by the voice from heaven.  Matthew agreed with the other evangelists in this Christological emphasis.

We are given here several other ways to understand the person of Jesus: Son, servant, inaugurator of the new exodus and creation, and the one who fulfills all righteousness.

In our passage today we see these themes continued.  Jesus who climbs out of the water is the new Adam (John of Nazianzus -Davies, Matthew, vol 1, 345) and like the creation narrative itself he rises out of the waters of chaos.  Jesus' own Red Sea deliverance in baptism reminds us too of the Exodus story.  Remember, this story exists in between the flight to Egypt and his journey into the desert to be tested.

We have a unique opportunity in this cycle to read the story of Matthew's Gospel and to recognize that our baptisms and life as Christians are unique only in that they are deeply connected with the very person of Jesus Christ.  It is in his identity, in our own Christology that our lives and our ministry have meaning.  It will be all to tempting to move quickly into our own baptismal imagery in our preaching. However, we may miss an incredible opportunity to speak to the personhood of Christ and his mission in the world. 

I draw our attention to our own Catechism and invite you to consider the questions and answers as they relate in a clear line from Jesus' own personhood and mission to our understanding of ourselves in the waters of baptism.

Q. What do we mean when we say that Jesus is the only
Son of God?
A We mean that Jesus is the only perfect image of the
Father, and shows us the nature of God.
   
Q. What is the nature of God revealed in Jesus?
A. God is love.
   
Q. What do we mean when we say that Jesus was
conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and became
incarnate from the Virgin Mary?
A. We mean that by God's own act, his divine Son received
our human nature from the Virgin Mary, his mother. 


 Q. Why did he take our human nature?
A. The divine Son became human, so that in him human
beings might be adopted as children of God, and be
made heirs of God's kingdom.
Q. How can we share in his victory over sin, suffering, and
death?
A. We share in his victory when we are baptized into the
New Covenant and become living members of Christ.

Q. What is Holy Baptism?
A. Holy Baptism is the sacrament by which God adopts us
as his children and makes us members of Christ's Body,
the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God.
My hope is that we might this Sunday lift our eyes from our own waters of baptism to the heavens and draw apart the veil and explore with our members who we say Jesus is and how his uniqueness in the family of God provides the salvific Good News of God's loving embrace for all people.

The Lambeth Bible Study Method
This Bible study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African." This method is derived from the practice of Lectio Divina. The entire process should take about 30 minutes.
Question #5: "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website: http://www.dcdiocese.org/word-working-second-question
Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process.
2. Each person briefly identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention then invites another person to share.
3. Each shares the word or phrase until all have shared or passed using the same invitation method.
4. The passage is read a second time, preferably from a different translation. The reader then invites a person in the group to begin the process.
5. Each person briefly identifies where this passage touches their life today, and then invites someone who has not shared yet.
6. The passage is read a third time, also from another translation, and the reader invites a person to start the process.
7. Each person responds to the questions, "What does God want me to do, to be or to change?"
8. The group stands up in a circle and holds hands. One person initiates the prayer “I thank God today for …” and “I ask God today for…” The prayer goes around the circle by squeezing the hand to your right.

9. When the circle is fulfilled, the person who initiated the prayer starts the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father…”