Archive | January, 2013

Under the Influence

27 Jan

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 03 After Epiphany on 27 January 2013
Under the Influence
I was skipping along quite nicely, thank you very much, until I asked God, “Are we there yet?” After all, He does say,
“To the one who is victorious and does My will to the end,…” (Rev 2:26)
The end of what? What’s left? Everything else has been done! Lord, excuse me, can I tell You something? All the Churches have met the requirements of Your Word. They are “Acceptable” from what I can see as a bottom feeder mortal on this side of the Divide.
Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Father, we are Your children. Each one of the archetypal Seven Churches has fulfilled the law. They got it:
Nehemiah 8:8 So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
The Scriptures have already been fulfilled in our hearing. (Luke 4:21) All the Churches have overcome, (“overcome” meaning whatever Fear had been “eating their lunch.”) Everyone will benefit from their respective positions in one way or another. All will glorify You, Father. All have done Your will. And as far as I can see, Lord, they have completed Your will to the last dot (Mt 5:18) and the only thing left is the “iota” that they haven’t chosen yet.
Mt 5:18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (ESV)
Doing and Choosing are like the dot and the iota. Doing Your will and choosing Your will are not always in the same current in the Divine Flow. Doing Your will and choosing Your will, can both accomplish Your will, Father. Both doing and choosing are acceptable. And You did say there would be reward.
Psalm 19:11 Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them [the ordinances of the LORD, v 9] there is great reward.

19:12 But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.
“Hidden faults” ties in with motivation and only You, Lord, know the true motivation in a person’s heart. We may see outward manifestations of how motivation is revealed as to what drives a person, but even that can be distorted at times depending on the interpretation. So God, please make us pure, so that our motivations are pure. All is not yet right with the world. During the night on Tuesday (22 January 2013) I was awakened in the middle of the night not from a dream but by a [spiritual] “sound” in my soul that was a loud Crack! It was like a walking stick breaking. (Zechariah 11) Wisdom said, “Sin has done it.” Sin has caused the Church’s covenant to break. Only the Churches and prophets know in their hearts what they have done or not done. The message itself to the Churches and prophets was clear. Lord, Your servants have been warned. Your reward really is great when we put You first, when our reverence for You is pure, when we observe Your order and Your ordinances, and we seek Your righteousness.
Psalm 19:9 the fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
On Wednesday, 23 January 2013 I cast out a spirit of Superstition.
On Saturday, 26 January 2013 I cast out a spirit Assumption that told me that what I write is deleted before it’s even been read. Still, I was forced to look at what is being “said” in this Grand Silence. Clearly the Seven Churches with their prophets have become hamstrung. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard (Ps 19:3); and yet the voice of their silence is going out through all the earth, and their silent “words” go out by “arc speak” to the end of the world. And God, You have still set a tent for the sun in the heavens (v 4), which comes out like a bridegroom from His wedding canopy, and like a strong man who runs its course with joy. (v 5) Nothing is hidden from its heat. (v 6) But the Grand Silence of the shepherds continues. Respectfully I say, “Fine, go your way. I bless you.” Mamma says you gotta let go of what you love to give it the choice to return to you if it wants. Four years ago this week on 25 January in 2009 my own mom died. I loved her and had to let her go to see the true depth of Love. Today I proclaim and do the same thing with the Seven Churches and the prophets. I let the shepherds go. I let them go in love, out of love, and for the sake of Love.
Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our LORD; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
That’s pretty clear. Lord? What’s Your favorite flavor? In the Gospel lesson for today You did say, “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:19) As a Parent You know that some kids just have a sweet way of getting into Your heart. It’s not that You go out of Your way to show favoritism, for You don’t do that. (Acts 10:34) But Father, I know that You are the One Who proclaims the favor. At the same time, on occasion there is the child who just does the sweetest things, because s/he has their attention on You and not on themselves, and who melts Your heart. That child does Your will and accomplishes Your will not because the child has to, but because s/he chooses to. And the Seven Churches are like children. And they have religiously maintained their positions. Favor? En Español: Por favor?? What do You think about all this?
I’ve been thinking…This week we celebrated the Martin Luther King, Jr holiday. I thought of the first Martin Luther. He was a VERY strong leader and spiritual anchor out of the “Thyatira” lineage (Rev 2:18) and yet out this struggle “Pergamum” (Rev 2:12) was born. In this era today we honor and celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. He was another VERY strong leader and anchor for freedom and civil rights. (Isaiah would be proud of both men!) Both men discipled the world with their faith, vision, and words. Both suffered for their convictions. They were not in competition with each other. Their messages of Truth and integrity complimented each other and built upon each others’ works. So, what did Paul mean when he said,
1 Cor 12:31 But strive for the greater gifts.
Honestly, as a woman I “strive” to see the connections of how the greater gifts are working together. How are the apostles connecting to the prophets, connecting to the teachers? (v 29) How is word of God’s works of miracles (v 29) getting to the people so they may be encouraged and faith may be strengthened? I guess “striving” must be a guy thing, and I just don’t get it. I know what striving is from my old life as an elementary school teacher and later as a social worker, but that “striving” didn’t work for me. The archetypal Seven Churches also know what striving is, as they have been influenced by the seven angels who were sent to them. Angels do influence—even guardian angels. That’s why it’s really important to pray to God and not to angels. Angels are servants of the Most High. They have various duties. Angels can bring good news to the poor (Luke 4:18) like the angel who announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds (Lk 2:10). Angels can release captives, like when one freed Peter from his prison cell (Act 12:7). Human disciples, like Ananias (Acts 9:10), can act as ministering “angels” (Heb 13:2) of the Lord to restore sight to the “blind” [ie, multiple levels of “blindness”] like when the Lord sent Ananias to lay hands on Saul after Saul was blinded in his conversion experience (Acts 9:12). All the points in today’s Gospel reading from Luke 4:17-19, as Jesus stood up and read from the scroll of Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1-2) and He read it to His homies in Nazareth (Luke 4:16), all this can still be (and often is) accomplished by angels, EXCEPT “to let the oppressed go free:”
Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
Why can’t angels “let the oppressed go free?” Why does it require Jesus the Messiah to go where angels cannot tread? I believe it is because Oppression is caused by the biggest Goon angel: Satan. It is true that angels do fight Satan and his cronies, and they can even be waylaid by their battles (see Daniel 10:10-14), but it requires the Spirit of the Lord to break the spirit of Oppression. It requires the Spirit of the Lord to break idols, which cause the flock to scatter in the first place. Idols don’t sing praises to the Lord.
Zechariah 10:2The idols speak deceitfully,
diviners see visions that lie;
they tell dreams that are false,
they give comfort in vain.
Therefore the people wander like sheep
oppressed for lack of a shepherd.
I, myself, intimately know indescribable struggle, pain, doubt, and ostracism. But this I also know: It is the Lord’s favor to rescue. “Favor” is not the same as favoritism. From what I can tell, “–isms” seem to be man-made creations. God doesn’t show favoritism (Ro 2:11). And yet God’s Favor is here. Rescue comes through the action of proclaiming. But how does the word get out when it is rotting in isolation? Catch 22. Proclaiming breaks the chains. The Lord will care for Judah. (Zech 10) “Judah” also represents the Church and not only a tribe of Israel. The message has already gotten to the Seven Churches. The message has been delivered:
Luke 4:21 Then He began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
And everybody’s eyes were all fixed. (Lk 4:20) I’m still not sure what the Churches’ eyes were fixed upon. Our eyes are supposed to be fixed on Jesus Christ. Each of the Seven Churches was given a promise. “He who overcomes…” (Rev 2 and 3) Each has overcome in their own way. Each did God’s will to the best of their ability because of God’s authority. (Rev 2:26) And they rolled up their scrolling (v 20) laptops, iPads, and Smart phones, gave them back to the Attendant (v 20,) and sat down (v 20). And stared some more. What the Church has not yet done is to proclaim:
Luke 4:19 “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
The Church and the prophets have been under the influence of the angels to the Seven Churches. (Why else would the Lord address His letters in Revelation 2 and 3 to the angels of the Seven Churches?) We can turn the influence around. We can set up a universal “Brag On God” where anyone from any church, denomination, country, or even any religion could share their personal miracle of where God has set them free from their very own scary zone of oppression. People from everywhere could brag on God, focusing on God’s favor. No proselytizing, no lecturing or preaching. Just bragging on God through sharing. What a concept! To me this does not seem like “striving.” Although I could be wrong. I could be naïve. But how wrong can it be to have the whole world focusing on God for a change?
Prayer: King Jesus, please forgive us for having succumbed to the influence of any other forces except Your Holy Spirit. Clear us from hidden faults. Plumb-line us to be in perfect alignment with Your motivation. Please hone our spiritual receptors of discernment. Enwrap us in Your peace. Fill our mouths with Your praise. And grace our hands with Your divine connections. Sweet gracious, Amen.

03 After Epiphany 27 January 2013 Gospel: Luke 4:14-21
Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
8:1 all the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had given to Israel.

8:2 Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month.

8:3 He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law.

8:5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.

8:6 Then Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. Then they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

8:8 So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.

8:9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law.

8:10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our LORD; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Psalm 19
19:1 The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

19:2 Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.

19:3 There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;

19:4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,

19:5 which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy.

19:6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat.

19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the LORD are sure, making wise the simple;

19:8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eyes;

19:9 the fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

19:10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.

19:11 Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

19:12 But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.

19:13 Keep back your servant also from the insolent; do not let them have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

12:13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

12:14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.

12:15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.

12:16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.

12:17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?

12:18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.

12:19 If all were a single member, where would the body be?

12:20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body.

12:21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

12:22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,

12:23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect;

12:24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member,

12:25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another.

12:26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

12:27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

12:28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues.

12:29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?

12:30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

12:31 But strive for the greater gifts.

Luke 4:14-21
4:14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country.

4:15 He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

4:16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read,

4:17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,

4:19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

4:20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.

4:21 Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

What’s It to Ya’?

20 Jan

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 2 After Epiphany on 20 January 2013
What’s It to Ya’?
I picked up the lectionary readings for today and immediately noticed that the Gospel selection from John 2:1 started off with “On the third day there was…” Well, hang on. That felt rather abrupt. I felt left out. What had I missed? I didn’t even get to the wedding, which I knew was coming up because I’ve heard the story so many times. Clearly John was narrating a story. But, what had happened on the first day or the second day? I went back and looked. In John 1:1 it says that in the beginning was the Word. That was before man stepped into the picture. [Stage trip and stumble.] Then the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (Jn 1:14) The words got into our skin. Integrity has a way of doing that. Jesus was Integrity Himself. John the Baptist testified concerning Him. (v 15) He is the voice of one. (v 23) He is the voice of one calling in the desert. (v 23) [God, how I relate! Sometimes I feel like a lone coyote!] His voice cries out, “Make straight the way for the Lord!” (v 23) And the plot at Bethany thickens before we’re even out of chapter one:
John 1:24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
And the mystery:
“…but among you stands one you do not know.” (v 26)
That was all on the first “day”? The “next day” John saw Jesus coming toward him. (v29) An awful lot was happening from one “day” to the next when the people in the story didn’t really know each other on an intimate, deep, daily grind level:
John 1:31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that He might be revealed to Israel.”
“Then John gave this testimony:…” (v 32) But wait! I’m looking for Jesus to get wet in John’s narrative of Jesus’ baptism, but I don’t see it. Oh, it’s a spiritual thing! I get it.
John admits:
John 1:33 And I myself did not know him, but the One who sent me to baptize with water told me…
It’s the Holy Spirit Who does the revealing and the sticking:
33 …‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
And Jesus did! He fulfilled His mission! Woo! Woo! He came and stood among them and spoke peace on them (Jn 20:19); And Again! (v 21), and He commissioned them with His breath. Look:
John 20:21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
It takes the work of the Holy Spirit to forgive sins, because when man is left on his own, he can’t do it. It was God Who forgave Adam and Eve for putting a blip in His plan, if it really was a blip. (Who knows? We often grow up because of blips when we learn from them, so who’s to say Adam and Eve did a “bad” thing?) I wonder if the kids ever did figure out while they were still on earth that God had forgiven them for putting what feels like a detour in His really big plan, but it’s been a grand detour at that! Then again, what if it wasn’t a detour at all, but was a necessary part of having a relationship? But I digress (maybe)…
Meanwhile back in John 1, John the Baptist says,
John 1:34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
Ok. Show and tell. “Have seen and testify.” Got it.
And we’re still on this same “next day.” Were these “days” like drama scene changes on a stage play?
Now in the next verse (still in Chapter One) we’re moving on to yet another “next day” where John is now standing with two of his disciples and they see Jesus passing by. (v 35) They point him out: Looky! (v 36) They follow Jesus. (v 37) Turning around Jesus sees them. (v 38) [Isn’t this just great drama!]
What do you want? (v 38)
Where are you staying? (v 38)
Come and see. (v 39)
They spent the day with Him until about 4 pm. (v 39)
Andrew goes and tells his brother, Simon, and brings him to Jesus, who changes/adds “Cephas” to his name, which is translated as Peter. (vs 40-42) Peter “the Rock” [Rocky!] was a disciple of Christ. Christ’s mission/commission was to forgive sin and glorify the Father. Peter wept when he realized he’d betrayed Jesus. He had to forgive himself, and his own devoted life to Christ was a testimony of faithfulness, which glorified the Father.
The “next day” Jesus decides to leave for Galilee. Along the way He invites Philip to follow Him (v 43)
Philip finds Nathanael and fills him in on whazzup. (v 45) Nathanael expresses himself honestly, and Jesus respects that and even admires it. [Honesty? Now that is a rare commodity to be respected and admired!]
John 1:46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip. [Sounds like an echo of Jesus’ words.]
47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
[Adam and Eve had sewn fig leaves together to make coverings for themselves after their eyes were “opened” and they realized they were naked before God. (Gen 3:7) In a parallel, the Churches and prophets have tried “sewing” figgy stories to cover up their embarrassment, and there was considerable deceit, because honesty was absent.]
49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”
Now we finally get to the “third day” where our Gospel lesson for today, the Second Sunday in the liturgical season of Epiphany, picks up. I asked myself again, “What does Epiphany mean?”

1. sudden realization: a sudden intuitive leap of understanding, especially through an ordinary but striking occurrence
2. appearance of God: the supposed manifestation of a divine being

What Epiphany is waiting to be re-awakened on this Second Epiphany? Or manifested?
…Back to the Gospel lesson: The story now opens on a wedding. Jesus’ mother was there. (Jn 2:1) Jesus and His disciples had also been invited to the wedding. (v 2) Clearly they were not “wedding crashers” because they were invited. John (the narrator of the story) doesn’t describe the wedding, the food, the dancing, or the celebration. He cuts to the chase:
John 2:3 When the wine gave out…
So, evidently they had had wine to begin with. Jesus’ mom tells Him about the crisis and says, “They have no wine.” (v 3) And us today? How does their crisis relate to us? If “wine” is symbolic of the spiritual gifts that God has already given us, but these honest expressions of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:4, 7, 11) have become so watered down in their reception that our “wine” has also given out, then we, too, join Mary’s heart as she says, “They have no more wine.” (v 3) So what happens next?
John 2:4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.”
Now, I must be frank here. Every time I’ve heard these words of Jesus read from the pulpit, they’ve been read (or heard?) with an authoritarian tone. But can you blame the readers? Maybe it’s a cultural thing. Still, it is foreign to me. What son calls their own mother “Woman”? This doesn’t happen in my world. To make some sense of it, I tried it out in different tones:
“Woman” in a knuckle-dragging bossy tone
“Woman” dripping with sighs of exasperation
“Woman” softly and caressingly with near adoration
“Woman” with curiosity in the inflection
“Woman” as if not only addressing His mother, but also the Church, who would come after Him
This led me to Jesus’ next question: “What concern is that to you and to me?” (v 4) Hold on. That is a valid question. What’s it to ya’? When we know what our gifts are and we are grounded in our relationship with God, what concern is it to us (and Him) that the “wine” has run out? How the spiritual gifts are expressed is personal to each individual. It’s individual expression of the Father’s love and commitment to us and through us. So, what concern is it to how those gifts are expressed? And further: What concern is it to the Church to be honest and without deceit? Really: What’s it to ya’? There’s a clue in the next sentence. Jesus had said, “My hour has not yet come.” (v 4) With Jesus at the Wedding at Cana, there was nothing to forgive. And even in context with the Church today, His “hour” has not yet come to rapture the Golden Oldies from the dance floor of the planet. We’re still here. So, what’s a girl to do?
John 2:5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”
Mothers have an uncanny way of redirecting us back to the point by speaking to others. Mary addresses the servants. We, the collective Body, are also servants (as well as friends) of Christ, because everything we’ve learned, we’ve learned it from Him. (Jn 15:15) Just as there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty to thirty gallons (Jn 2:6), so there have been “Seven Churches” (well, technically Six in this context, because the Church of Philadelphia was spared from the hour of trial (Rev 3:10). The Churches have been wrestling with stone hearts like the stone water jars as they have faced the Christian rites of God’s holy purification. (Rev 5:7-10) To the Jewish servants, Jesus gave instructions:
John 2:7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.
The Church, too, has been filled up to the brim. [To the Brim, I say!]
Rev 19:5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying:
“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
you who fear him,
both great and small!”
6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)”
Back at the Wedding at Cana, more instructions follow:
John 2:8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it.
The Church, too, has been drawing it out, and taken it to the “chief steward.” And the Church took it. And took it. Forgiveness and letting go has not been an easy lesson.
John 2:9 When the [Church] steward tasted the water [of suffering] that had become [sweet] wine, and did not know where it came from (though the [other Church] servants who had drawn the “water” knew), the Steward called the Bridegroom [Jesus]

2:10 and said to Him, “Everyone serves the good wine [of spiritual gifts] first, and then the inferior wine [of emotional gifts] after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.”
Jesus revealed His glory first at the Wedding at Cana, through a sign (pointing the way) and His disciples believed him. (v 11) Miracles can happen when the first signs are believed. When the Club Church mentality lets go of her authoritarian right to be right and her demand for discipleship by following her rules, (Rev 2:27) then the real “wedding party” will break out in new song. After all, God did promise for today:
Isa 62:1 For Zion’s [the heart] sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch.
I am soooooooo glad that God will not keep silent!! Only God Himself can break through the Club Church authoritarian rule of “…Know my God by following these rules. I have this authority because God gave it to me. Purchase these products, prayers, and prophecies; use these resources to know MY God (for how can you really know your God?) and by knowing my God you’ll stay out of Hell. Such a deal! Besides, we hang out with all the pre-approved people. Do you care that we are in-breeding into our own bloodline? After all, we really are royalty. God said so.” Yes, God did say so. Yes, He did give you this authority, just as He got it from the Father. (Rev 2:27) The difference is that Jesus laid down His own authority into God’s lap and would not wield it. He breathed Peace on people and spoke compassion into temporal needs. Jesus changed ordinary living water into wine, just as a Priest blesses the sacred, ordinary, living water of our lives and turns it into new “wine” of celebration, of celebrating L’chaim with God! The servants only had to bring the water. Jesus didn’t HAVE to care and be concerned that there was no more wine. His love motivated Him to participate with the expression of God’s design and made Him open to do the miraculous.
Holy Spirit, please do it again for Christ’s Name’s sake! Amen.

2 After Epiphany 20 January 2013 Gospel: John 2:1-11
Isaiah 62:1-5
62:1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch.

62:2 The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give.

62:3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

62:4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.

62:5 For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.

Psalm 36:5-10
36:5 Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

36:6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments are like the great deep; you save humans and animals alike, O LORD.

36:7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

36:8 They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.

36:9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

36:10 O continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your salvation to the upright of heart!

1 Corinthians 12:1-11
12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.

12:2 You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak.

12:3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;

12:5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord;

12:6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.

12:7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

12:8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,

12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,

12:10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

12:11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

John 2:1-11
2:1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.

2:2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.

2:3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”

2:4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.”

2:5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

2:6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.

2:7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.

2:8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it.

2:9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom

2:10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.”

2:11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Baptism of Truth

13 Jan

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for the Baptism of the Lord, Sunday, 13 January 2013
Baptism of Truth
If you’ve ever witnessed a full-emersion baptism, you likely will have seen the person come up out of the water and immediately run their hands over their face to remove the excess water. It is a reflex. Then another person may hand them a towel (and a hug.) Most likely they are also smiling. The baptism itself probably didn’t catch them by surprise because it is a choice, even if making the decision came as a surprise in the moment, like when the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip, “Look, here’s water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” (Acts 8:36) He saw the Truth within himself and took action to stop the chariot (v 38), get baptized, and make a new beginning. We can begin with the end in mind or begin with the New Beginning in mind.
Jesus began His ministry with His Father’s Kingdom in mind. The Church-as-collective-Body has already been “baptized with the End in mind,” but it wasn’t the kind of End that God had in mind. The Church has already experienced the Lord’s “winnowing fork in His hand” as He cleared the threshing floor to “gather the wheat into His granary” just as John the Baptist said would happen. (Luke 3:17) Each of us has been given a part to share in furthering God’s kingdom so the Holy Spirit can gather more “wheat.” It is a Great Harvest! My part in the harvest is to share is these Reflections. I have tried to apply what I have been taught by men: “begin with the end in mind,” so a few years ago I set a goal of publishing my Reflections. I have tried reaching out on three continents to publishers, as well as to editors, authors, bishops, priests, pastors, and prophets, as they have resources and connections (and make those connections seemingly effortlessly, because it is a gift, so they don’t have to work hard at it like some of us do.) I have even tried self-publishing, but I cannot “save” myself by my own efforts. Still the Grand Silence continues. I’ve thought of approaching publishers who address Eastern Philosophy, as there are many principles which overlap with Christian precepts. But I run into a consistent problem, which is that I write “Bible speak.” The inter-faith principles may be similar, but our language/conceptual reference point is different. I don’t write “Buddha speak” or “Koran speak.” I write “Bible speak.” Plus, I currently earn no income from my writings so I cannot pay to get the word out to share the kingdom beyond “religious” doors and the crystal fortresses of “No speak.” We all have been “baptized” in the truth and I am still waiting at the Mercy Gates of Compassion and Understanding. [Sigh. Forgive. Release.]
I’ve been reflecting on Jesus’ baptism for direction. Both Jesus and the people were all baptized. (Lk 3:21) We, the Church, have all been “baptized” through these trials we have collectively been through. It was after Jesus’ baptism and His prayers that the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove. (v 22) A dove is a symbol of peace. I pictured Jesus standing in the Jordan River with a dove on Him. As I let this anchored image steep into my being, another image added to it: the image of the stork [representing birth] stood on the banks of the river on either side. I thought of Zechariah 5. In Zechariah’s vision he sees “two women” with the wind in their wings. They have wings like those of a stork. (Zech 5:9) My NIV Notes say:
““two women.” Divinely chosen agents. “wind.” Also an instrument of God (Ps 104:3-4). The removal of wickedness would be the work of God alone.” (p 1405)
The agents are not wicked. The spiritual influences buffeting them are removed. This is good because Evil happens when good men do nothing. These “two women” lift up the basket of wickedness between heaven and earth. (v 9) This “basket of wickedness” already has an effective lead cover of CYA (Cover Your Assets) over it.
Zech 5:8 He [the angel] said, “This is wickedness,” and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed its lead cover down on it.
CYA also has already built a “house” of “Jack” for it. “Club Church” does an effective marketing campaign to woo, win, teach, and wow converts but doesn’t know how to disciple real people and churches and to come alongside them.
Zech 5:10 “Where are they taking the basket?” I asked the angel who was speaking to me.
11 He replied, “To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it [which has already been done.] When the house is ready, the basket will be set there in its place.”
It IS set there in its place.
Lord, Your Cross forms a “t” for Truth. You said: “The Truth will set us free.” What do we do when Freedom has been held captive because the Truth has been suppressed and held hostage in solitary confinement for years on end? The Church-as-Institution has held to her own teaching and made her own converts, but You said:
John 8:31 To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I know this is true: Truth defeats wickedness. Three and a half years after Your baptism, Jesus, You would tell Pilate that You were born and came into the world to testify to the Truth. (John 18:37) Your life testified to Your deep knowing of the Truth of the Father’s Words voiced on Your day of baptism:
“You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22)
Pleased. Beloved.
Jesus is saying the same thing today to the Seven Churches. He is still standing in the Living Waters and the dove of peace is still on Him. We are being baptized into God’s Truth. The “two women” could be actual, or they could also be the two parts of the archetypal Church of Thyatira. (Rev 2:18-23 and 24-29) Churches are referred to in the feminine concept just as ships are. And Jesus did say,
26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—
27 ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron;
They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—
as I also have received from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star.
29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’
There has been much talk lately of overcoming and I honestly cannot tell which “star” (morning or otherwise) the Churches have been looking at. I’ve seen a lot of aggressiveness, but then that is what Jesus said would happen.
In Zechariah’s vision just prior to seeing the basket of wickedness (in chapter 5 of Zechariah) he had the vision of the “flying scroll” (v 1) [which I pictured like the Internet.] This flying scroll has also been roaming between heaven and earth like the basket, but where the basket had a destination, the scroll kept flying. I really don’t think the “scroll” itself is necessarily oooh, evil, “bad,” even though it is “The Curse.” […Drum roll, please…] What curse does not also carry the potential of blessing hidden within its belly? The good news is that the “flying scroll” zooming into houses (even houses of God) has limits. (v 2) There are limits to how much babbling can be endured. Discernment is required when “scrolling.” The truth can be hidden, distorted, twisted, oppressed, and abused, but it cannot be killed without resurrection following it.
Zech 5:3 And he said to me, “This is the curse that is going out over the whole land; for according to what it says on one side, every thief will be banished, and according to what it says on the other, everyone who swears falsely will be banished. 4 The LORD Almighty declares, ‘I will send it out, and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of anyone who swears falsely by my name. It will remain in that house and destroy it completely, both its timbers and its stones.’”
Excuse me? Isn’t Satan the thief and the liar? As I read those verses I pictured a computer gone viral. Does character go viral? Can it even do that? Or does our character contain the anchored Truth of our beloved-ness? Do we trust our beloved-ness in Christ?
In today’s Old Testament lectionary readings from Isaiah 43 God says:
Isa 43:3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.
“Egypt” represents oppression (see the Exodus story). “Ethiopia” represents the unchanged heart prior to experiencing transformational grace. (cf Jeremiah 13:23 and then Acts 8:26-40) “Seba” represents merchandise exchangers. (cf Ezek 27:22 paired with Rev 18 and then paired with Rev 21:15-21)
Isa 43:4 Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life.
God has done the same thing with the Seven Churches. He has given them in exchange for the whole Church-as-Bride. God used the few as a ransom for many. The good news is that the Churches-as-Institution are not actual people. They are a concept. God cares about people. The Church-as-Institution has been oppressed by a spirit of Control which has sent many of the rest of us into exile. It is the same Exile as that of the Israelites, as that of the Dalai Lama from Tibet, and as that of sex traffickers exchanging lost innocence for power. Through God’s redemptive work He is giving us real people and nations our lives back in exchange for the Institution! Woo! Woo! Isn’t this exciting? The Institution is not real but a concept, so this was a very clever ransom God designed. “Ethiopia” also stands out; it is translated as “Cush” in some Bibles and is the “land of whirring wings” (Isaiah 18). And this land has already received “swift messengers.” There were seven angels sent to the Seven Churches! And they went to the USA.
Isa 18: 1Woe to the land of whirring wings [helicopters?]
along the rivers of Cush [Is this a relative of Crush?],
2 which sends envoys by [spiritual] sea
in papyrus boats [books, films, and glossy catalogs] over the “water.”
Go, swift messengers,
to a people tall and smooth-skinned,
to a people feared far and wide,
an aggressive nation of strange speech [cf Rev 2:27],
whose land is divided by rivers [of multiple denominations].
A “banner” has already been raised on the mountains and we have seen it. (Isa 18:3) A “trumpet” has already been sounded (v 3) and we really did “hear” it even though we pretended that we didn’t. And God remained quiet and looked on from His dwelling place like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest. (v 4) And He really did cut off “shoots” with “pruning knives” and took away the “spreading branches” (v 5) when the Churches were not honest and were trying to get away with stuff.
Isa 18:7 At that time gifts will be brought to the LORD Almighty
from a people tall and smooth-skinned,
from a people feared far and wide,
an aggressive nation of strange speech,
whose land is divided by rivers—
the gifts will be brought to Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the LORD Almighty.
This To-and-From dance has been going on with “a people tall and smooth-skinned” etc, for years now. And yet I also know that my gifts of Reflections have literally been brought to Mount Zion, to the Wailing Wall itself, via Prophet Kim Clement on Friday, 28 December 2012. I also trust what God says to the people in today’s Old Testament lectionary lesson:
Isaiah 43:5 Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you;

43:6 I will say to the north [North America], “Give them up,” and to the south [Southern California], “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth–

43:7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Two thousand years ago Jesus was baptized in Truth. Now today He is gathering us together after having already “baptized” us in His Truth as His people. Lord, Your Word is Truth. We bow our heads and marvel at Your majesty and wisdom. We already have been “baptized” in Your Truth and then we reflexively tried to wipe off the Living Water from our faces like little kids in a bathtub. Please wrap us in Your heavenly bathrobe; give us Your peace and hold us to Your chest, and send forth Your word. Thy loving will be done. Amen.
Baptism of the Lord 13 January 2013 Gospel: 3:15-17, 21-22
Isaiah 43:1-7
43:1 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

43:3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.

43:4 Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life.

43:5 Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you;

43:6 I will say to the north, “Give them up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth–

43:7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Psalm 29
29:1 Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

29:2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy splendor.

29:3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over mighty waters.

29:4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

29:5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.

29:6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.

29:7 The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.

29:8 The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

29:9 The voice of the LORD causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, “Glory!”

29:10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.

29:11 May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

Acts 8:14-17
8:14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.

8:15 The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit

8:16 (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus).

8:17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
3:15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,

3:16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

3:17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened,

3:22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

The Manna Question

6 Jan

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for Epiphany Sunday, 06 January 2013
The Manna Question
The Epiphany blessing is not just about the wise men bearing gifts of homage, gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Baby Jesus. (Mt 2:11) There’s more to it. Gee, I also notice that the text doesn’t say there were only three wise men (v 1, 7). So, there were likely more wise people in the story than we were lead to believe. […Cough…] It does say there were three tangible gifts offered, though. [I’ll let that realization rest for a moment as the weight of wisdom breathes and expands.] The text says that they asked questions [what a concept!] like “Where is the child?” (v 2) The text says that the wise men gave the purpose for their odyssey: “For we have observed His star at its rising.” (v 2) That is how they knew, for they had observed. And they gave the reason for their trek, so they answered the “why” question: “…and have come to pay Him homage.” So, as an audience of bystander readers, we are privy to the answers of the reporter’s questions of where, how, why, Whom, and even when, for the wise men told Herod the exact time the star had appeared. (v 7) What a great story! A playwright’s dream!
But wait!
There’s one question that cannot be answered, but then this unanswerable question makes any drama so thrilling. It is the Manna Question: “What is it?”
Exodus 16:14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat.
Exodus 16:31 The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.
WHAT? Hold on. This is sweet! What happened? “What” became objectified in ‘What is it?’ The people already knew Who provided the manna. They got the ‘Who’ right. The Epiphany wise men also got the “Who” right. The wise men were looking for the Child. They were looking for the child Who was born king of the Jews (Mt 2:2). (And they found Him!) They were looking for a Person, not a “What.” On the other hand, King Herod, the chief priests, and the scribes slapped a title on the Who and named the What: Messiah! (v 4) So now we have more fodder for more drama, because there has been a shift toward objectification caused by a spirit of religiosity; a shift away from internally grasping Christ’s kingship to outwardly labeling His Who. But what ego-driven king would want to give up his power, even when it had been announced long before by the prophet(s) Isaiah and Micah (5:2)? The ego loves to feed on “What” questions. But the Messiah addresses the “Who” question. God’s Who is His truth and integrity. Like the Magi, we too, must return “home” by a different route (v 12) after seeing His “Who.” Addressing Christ’s Messiah-ship doesn’t change His Who, but it does require that we examine what we are expecting. It does require a change from the inside out.
So, can we talk? (To borrow a phrase from Joan Rivers.)
Hello Israel, dear. Pardon me for taking a personal tone with you, but I feel like I know you, as God called me on Epiphany 2008 and I accepted the marriage proposal on 14 May 2008, which I understand was sixty years to the exact date when you became a Nation. (And it has also fulfilled Isaiah 7:9 with the Church-as-Ephraim.) The irony is that when God called me on Epiphany 2008 I had asked God the same question: WHAT? I was clueless. The Lord asked me the same question He had asked Isaiah: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here I am. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8) And I had so many questions: Where? Why? To whom? And say again? But? But they’ll kill me! Huh? Integrity? What are You saying? “What is it?” was my Manna Question every day. Nothing made sense. And the Church couldn’t figure it (or me) out either. You see, the Church has had an impossible time living up to what the Sovereign LORD had said: “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” (Isa 7:9) So really, Israel, please, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.” (Isa 60:1) You personally know first-hand what Isaiah was talking about when he said,
Isa 60:2 For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.
You already know the “thick darkness” from having experienced the “abomination that causes desolation” (Dan 9:27; Mt 24:15) when the remnant endured the Holocaust. But the LORD did arise upon you and His glory did appear over you. You went on to form the Jewish nation of Israel. Nations have been coming to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn (Is 60:3). Please lift up your eyes and look around (v 4). They have been gathering together (v 4). They have been coming to you. (v 4) Your sons have been coming from far away and your daughters have been arriving at airports being carried on their nurses’ arms (v 4). Please “see” and be radiant; may your heart thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the “sea” has been brought to you, and the wealth of the nations has already come to you (v 5). The Seven Churches-as-Judah who are from the “North” have stepped into Jeremiah 3:11-18 with you, Israel. Look, you have company:
Jeremiah 11 The LORD said to me, “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah. 12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north:
“‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD,
‘I will frown on you no longer,
for I am faithful,’ declares the LORD,
‘I will not be angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt—
you have rebelled against the LORD your God,
you have scattered your favors to foreign gods
under every spreading tree,
and have not obeyed me,’”
declares the LORD.
14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion. 15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding. 16 In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land,” declares the LORD, “people will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. 17 At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. 18 In those days the people of Judah will join the people of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance.
Even caravans of “camels” have covered you, Israel, the young camels of Midian and Ephah (Is 60:6). Where Moses had sat down by a well and met the priest of Midian’s seven daughters, so I also met the Seven Churches right out of the Book of Revelation. And the Seven Churches pretty much asked me the same question which one of the two Hebrews in Egyptian exile had asked Moses: “Who made you ruler and judge over us?”
Exodus 2: 14 The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”
15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. 16 Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.
The Church “shepherds” drove me away, too, but I watered the meager “flock” with the words God gave me. Israel, dear, the “camels” that have “covered you” (Isa 60:6) represent the same CYA [Cover Your Assets] that has been in existence since the Garden of Eden and they covered the Churches, too. “What I did must have become known.” I am certain the Churches knew it. The prophets knew it. We all do it. It’s part of human nature. Ok. So can we have one big Oy Vey!? Altogether now; ready on three; One, two, three: “OY VEY!” Are we better now? Isaiah 60:6 goes on to say: “All those from Sheba shall come.” They’ve already been there and now we are in the Hebrew Calendar month of “Shebat” (Zech 1:7; vs 1-17 for full effect.) The wise men already brought the gold and frankincense (Isa 60:6) to Jesus. The LORD is just waiting for His people to proclaim His praise! (v 6) Now isn’t this a marvel!
Israel, you are particularly well-equipped to do this praising. When I had first picked up today’s lectionary readings, I had wondered what had motivated God’s people to burst out in song and sing, ‘Arise and shine, and give God the glory, glory, Children of the Lord,’ because I looked back to the previous paragraphs from Isaiah Chapter 59 and it seemed to confirm the Churches’ saying nothing. They had the Spirit upon them but the words didn’t depart:
Isaiah 59: 21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the LORD.
It was on their lips alright; and stayed there tightly zipped, thank you very much. Golly, this has been so true with the Christians! God’s Spirit which is in His words has not departed much from their mouths. Words without action don’t mean anything. But God had said, “…and [you] shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.” (Isa 60:6) It’s a good thing we have a variety of Bible translations, because I looked up the Jewish Bible and it translated the same passage in a way I could understand:
Isa 59:21 “And this shall be My covenant with them, said the LORD: My Spirit which is upon you, and the words which I have placed in your mouth, shall not be absent from your mouth…”
Whew! What a relief! That put a different and more hopeful light on things. “Not depart” feels like the airport is in lockdown and all flights are cancelled. No one’s going anywhere. So far the Churches have said Nothing, and so there have been sparse spiritual departures, take-offs, or landings in my neck of the urban desert. There are no connections. “Shall not be absent” gives me hope that there’s somebody alive at the spiritual “airport.” It is good to know that you, my Jewish friends, will keep God’s Word.
Prayer: So on this Day of Epiphany, Lord, I am asking that You send Your Spirit back to meet Israel. You already did send Your Messiah through Jesus and the word spread to the whole world, just like You said it would happen (Acts 1:8). Now I ask for an Epiphany blessing that You would return Your Word of Truth back home by a different route so that You would be glorified and praised for You do keep Your own Word and are faithful to it.

Epiphany 06 January 2013 Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12
Isaiah 60:1-6
60:1 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

60:2 For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.

60:3 Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

60:4 Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.

60:5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

60:6 A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
72:1 Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.

72:2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.

72:3 May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.

72:4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

72:5 May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.

72:6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.

72:7 In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

72:10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts.

72:11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.

72:12 For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.

72:13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.

72:14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.

Ephesians 3:1-12
3:1 This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles–

3:2 for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you,

3:3 and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words,

3:4 a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ.

3:5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:

3:6 that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

3:7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power.

3:8 Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ,

3:9 and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things;

3:10 so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

3:11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,

3:12 in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

Matthew 2:1-12
2:1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,

2:2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”

2:3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him;

2:4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.

2:5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

2:6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'”

2:7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared.

2:8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”

2:9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.

2:10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.

2:11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

2:12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Prayers of Welcome

1 Jan

Kathryn Hauser’s Special Reflection for this Holy Name of Jesus Feast Day, 01 January 2013
Prayers of Welcome
Lord, in today’s Old Testament lectionary lesson You told Moses to speak to Aaron and his sons and to bless the Israelites. (Numbers 6:23) I remember what You said in Exodus about how Aaron and his sons were priests.
Ex 28:41 After you put these clothes on your brother Aaron and his sons, anoint and ordain them. Consecrate them so they may serve me as priests.
Well, God, in the same Spirit I speak to the Seven Churches and their “sons” and I bless them. You did say that the Spirit of Your Son is in our hearts:
Galatians 4:6 And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
So Lord, I welcome Your Holy Spirit and ask You to bless them and keep them (Nu 6:24). I ask You to please make Your face to shine upon them and to be gracious unto them (v 25). Please lift up Your countenance upon them and given them peace (v 26). Y’know, God, Your countenance has not always been pleasant. And neither has mine. We all really do need a turnaround and an infusion of peace. So, that being said, may the shepherds of the Seven Churches put Your name upon the Israelites (really!) and may You bless them (and everyone else in turn!) (v 27) We welcome Your blessing. We welcome Your healing. We welcome Your restored covenant with us. We welcome Your mindfulness (Ps 8:4). We welcome You, our Sovereign. How majestic is Your name in all the earth! (Ps 8:9)
Lord, it is true what Pastor Samuel Laws said on Facebook on Sunday, 30 December 2012: “Your words speak to the condition of your heart.” Father, may Your own words speak blessing and favor into our hearts and lives. You told Moses the pattern of the tabernacle of our lives:
Exodus 25:8 “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. 9 Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.
Well Jesus, You did show us with Your own life. And Your people did it. They followed the pattern. We all did. Lord, You are the Alpha and the Omega, the grieving cycle incarnate. We can go on grieving or we can behave like the shepherds at Bethlehem (Lk 2:15) and complete the cycle and enter into wholeness:
Luke 2:20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
I speak blessing into what You have told them. I speak favor and blessing into the inheritance of Your kingdom You have been waiting to share with us as Your children (Gal 4:7). I speak to Reverence that every knee will bend at Your name, Jesus (Phil 2:10) and every tongue shall confess that You are Lord (v 11). May that confession flow out of humbled hearts, pliable souls, and soft internal beauty. In the fullness of time (Gal 4:4) may every heart, soul, mind, body, and spirit glorify and praise You, God, for Your generous love that knows no bounds.

Holy Name of Jesus 01 January 2013 Gospel: Luke 2:15-21
Numbers 6:22-27
6:22 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

6:23 Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them,

6:24 The LORD bless you and keep you;

6:25 the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;

6:26 the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

6:27 So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.

Psalm 8
8:1 O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

8:2 Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.

8:3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established;

8:4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?

8:5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.

8:6 You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet,

8:7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,

8:8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

8:9 O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Galatians 4:4-7
4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,

4:5 in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.

4:6 And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

4:7 So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

Philippians 2:5-11
2:5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

2:6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,

2:7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,

2:8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross.

2:9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,

2:10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

2:11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Luke 2:15-21
2:15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”

2:16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.

2:17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child;

2:18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.

2:19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

2:20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

2:21 After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.