Friday, January 23, 2009

Silence and Epiphany

To those who follow this blog - my profound apologies for my silence of late. There are three reasons for this.

1. I'm still getting used to this blogging thing.

2. Coming from my angle of lectionary analysis, Epiphany is a pretty simple season. We progress from the synoptic Baptism to the synoptic Transfiguration, giving the Gospel of John time on Epiphany 2 to comment on the beginnings of Jesus' ministry. All the while, the epistle focuses on the letters to the Corinthians, priveleging 1st Cor over 2nd Cor. The relationship between the epistles and the Gospels are minor at best, though usually workable, as I tried to show in my last post.

3. Most of my work in matters pertaining to the lectionary of late have focused upon expanding and refining my database, particularly in the area of creating a comprehensive list of texts omitted from the lectionary altogether. Dry, dull, methodical, and tedious - like most of the fundamental work that goes into this project - it's reward comes in unexpected gems of information I would have never predicted, like this selected list of books that never appear in the 3 year lectionary: Ruth, Esther, Ezra, Obadiah, Jude, 2 John, and 3 John

I'll resume blogging soon, with a turn towards Lent, as planning for this preaching intensive season begins.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Corinthian Epiphany - Year B

Be advised, the month and a half of 1st Corinthians is here. If you are interested in doing something constructive with these readings, the time to think ahead about it is now. I've already posted a longer piece on this entitled "The Corinthian Epiphany" should you be interested in it.

The year B list of texts: 6:12-20; 7:29-31; 8:1-13; 9:24-27; [2 Cor 1:18-22; 3:1-6; 4:5-12]

A list of these texts in relation to their counterparts in the Gospel readings is provided here:

A list of the texts from the above text is provided below. I've also inserted brief commentary on their contents and routes to harmonize them. Needless to say, don't take my summaries for granted. They exist to speed along connections for you.

However, at the very least, it makes sense to point out the series of readings from 1st Corinthians so that the congregation can make their own connections if none will be made in the sermons.

------- ------- -------

Eiphany 2
1 Cor 6:12-20 - Glorify God in your body and don't fornicate.
John 1:43-51 - Calling Phillip and Nathaniel (similar with next week)
-- Contrasting discipleship with such sins. Discipleship, response to the Gospel, and glorifying God in your body.

Epiphany 3
1 Cor 7:29-31 - Extreme urgency of the moment calls for unusual demands
Mark 1:14-20 - Markan calling of the first disciples (similar with last week)
-- Urgency in ministry, urgency in discipleship works well with the the calling of the first disciples. Real ministry rarely lacks something that is extremely urgent.

Epiphany 4
1 Cor 8:1-13 - Sacrificed meat, Christian Freedom vs offending sensitive Christians
Mark 1:21-28 - Jesus teaching with authority casting out a demon, and amazing people.
-- Meat sacrificed to idols and demons vs Jesus' authority and Christian freedom works well - freedom from forces of evil, authority over them, but not to be self serving.

Epiphany 5
1 Cor 9:16-23 - Responsibility and effort in preaching the Gospel
Mark 1:29-39 - Jesus healing many people, prays alone, and moves on
-- Christian responsibility as viewed through the lens of Jesus' ministry and Jesus' sense of responsibility and His hard labor.

Epiphany 6
1 Cor 9:24-27 - Live the faith like a runner competing for the one and only trophy
Mark 1:40-45 - Jesus heals the leper, and the Messianic secret broken
-- There once was a time to keep Jesus secret. That time is no longer. Now, compete with one another to announce Christ. (faithfully, not poorly)

Epiphany 7 (Won't occur in 2009, skip to Transfiguration)
2 Cor 1:18-22 - Paul defending himself from the allegation of hypocrisy
Mark 2:1-12 - Jesus heals the paralytic and forgives sin

Epiphany 8 (Won't occur in 2009, skip to Transfiguration)
2 Cor 3:1-6 - Competence and confidence from the Spirit, not from the self
Mark 2:13-22 - Calling Levi, eating with sinners, fasting and new wineskins

Epiphany 9 (Won't occur in 2009, skip to Transfiguration)
2 Cor 4:5-12 - Treasures in pots, strength in weakness
Mark 2:23-3:6 - Lord of the Sabbath

Transfiguration Sunday
2 Cor 4:3-6 - Blindness to the light of the Gospel
Mark 9:2-9 - Markan Transfiguration
-- Blinding light of the Transfiguration contrasted with blindness to the light of the Gospel


I am genuinely curious to find out which posts I have created thus far are of interest to those who are following this blog. Please comment and tell me what is of value, and you will receive more of it. Please comment and tell me what is not of value, and you'll see less of it.

Your interest is greatly flattering and appreciated!

Epiphany on a Sunday?

At text study this last week, I ran into an interesting pastor who was visiting someone he knew in the area, but decided to show up at our text study for the fun of it. He kind of took it over in ways that frustrated me, but he did mention at least one idea I found interesting.

Epiphany, he complained, being a fixed festival, is being diminished because of people's reticence to come to mid week services, and so he had taken to celebrating Epiphany on a sunday instead, the sunday preceeding the Baptism of Christ. He is quite sold on the importance of Epiphany as part of the Christian mindset, and wants to be able to preach on it.

Ultimately, I'm glad when I run into such innovative usage of the lectionary. It is not our master, but something we use to guide people through the story of Scripture. Frankly, I would commend this idea to others - I'm considering myself.

However, if this option is chosen, Epiphany will be substituted for Christmas 2 whenever it occurs (4/7 years), and whenever Christmas 2 doesn't occur (3/7 years), Epiphany will be substituted for Christmas 1. Christmas 1 deals with the childhood of Jesus from Luke and Matthew, and Christmas 2 is John on the Word become Flesh.

Practically, this means that John 1 in all its fullness will never occur in worship since it only appears on Christmas 2. Such a loss absolutely MUST be compensated for, for the Word become flesh is so central to our message. Creativity on Christmas or on Epiphany, or even throughout the rest of the year.

It is true that stories about Jesus' childhood wouldn't be eradicated by celebrating Epiphany during Christmas since there are usually two Sundays during Christmas. However, their role would be diminished. It may be that these stories will show up often enough for you, and that's fine. It may be they don't, in which case creativity is in order.

Would you actually use this option? Why? Why not? I invite comments.