Tagged: Identity

Luke 8:26-39

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on June 19, 2016.

Strasbourg Cathedral
Strasbourg Cathedral

What is your name? It’s a primary question that goes to the core of identity. We see it from the start, at the beginning of our sacred story in Genesis. God named the world into being, and then gave to humans the power to name. In contemporary times, we know the power of naming as well; on the internet, we make username decisions that reveal or conceal as much as we’d like. We can be anonymous, we can be pseudonymous, we can take on as many identities as we wish to.

The story of the Gerasene demoniac in Luke pushes us to reflect on questions of identity. Immediately preceding this story, Jesus calmed violent wind and raging waves with a word. His disciples ask, “Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?” (Luke 8:25) Who is this, indeed? He masters the storm when the disciples cry out for help, he masters the demons when they cry out to be left alone.

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Jeremiah 1:4-10

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on January 31, 2016

Jeremiah, Michaelangelo 1511
Jeremiah, Michaelangelo 1511

Most congregations will be familiar with this passage in Jeremiah. The description of Jeremiah being knitted together in his mother’s womb under the careful watch of God is a favorite reference of the pro-life movement. Indeed, this is a tender moment for any of us when we think about the imminence of God. A God who, Jesus tells us, knows the number of the hairs on our heads. Yet, in context, the description is even more meaningful to the prophet in the context of his ministry and, of course, richer in meaning for us as well.

Jeremiah was called to confront a corrupt political system and an immoral society that really didn’t want to hear what he had to say. He would pay dearly for his willingness to speak the truth. For bringing God’s word to God’s people he would be beaten, thrown in a well, imprisoned, and hounded. Beside the physical suffering he endured, he would agonize over a nation that wouldn’t respond to the salvation God was offering. He would beg for his eyes to become fountains so he could weep and weep for his people whose choices were taking them further and further away from God.

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Luke 2:41-52

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on December 27, 2015.

Brian Jekel
Brian Jekel

Luke offers some of the most interesting material about Jesus that is unique to his gospel.  The Good Samaritan and Lost Son come to mind immediately, but this text from the infancy narrative is equally intriguing if not as important.  We can’t be sure that the other synoptic writers were aware of this story, but it’s reasonable to guess that they may have been.   We have evidence for its prolific presence.  It turns out Luke’s version is tame when compared to a version of the story that appears in The Infancy Gospel of Thomas in which Jesus makes fools of the elders and teachers with his budding rabbinical “A game.”  For this reason, I think it’s interesting to look at this story in its redacted form.  Why did Luke include this version of the story?

During these twelve days of Christmas the lectionary has gifted us with a window into Jesus’ twelve-year-old life.  Just a year shy of the deepened sense of responsibility that comes with turning thirteen in the Jewish world that he grew up in, Jesus is likely using this opportunity to prepare for adulthood. This is an exclusive look preparing for divine adolescence.  We are well aware of the fact that Jesus wore diapers and was wrapped in swaddling clothes like the rest of us, but Luke heightens our sense of Jesus’ own development with this story.  Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.  It’s sometimes difficult to think of Jesus having to increase in anything.  The early church solved the anthropological problem for us, Jesus is God and man, but Luke reminds us that he grew into those divine and human roles.

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Mark 4:35-41

This text is used for the Lectionary Year B on June 21, 2015.

Hermano León Clipart
Hermano León Clipart

Water.  Chaos.  Danger.  Terror.  Fear.  Rescue.  Safety.  Resolution.  This could be a scene out of a popular movie.  The drama is palpable and the language is that of an author who was present for these events.  It’s urgent and real and personal.

The details of the story leave all kinds of interesting questions to ask.  Why were they leaving the crowd?  Jesus says, “let’s go,” and then they “took him” “just as he was.”  What’s the significance of “how he was?”  Why were they leaving at night?  What’s the role of the boat, which Jesus had already used as a pulpit?  Why were they going to the other side of the sea?  Why leave after night had fallen?  And what of the “other boats who were along with them?”  The story leaves open lots of questions, some of which are explored by the commentators, some not.

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