By Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson, reposted from Advent 3 2017
Just north of Magdala in Galilee stand the cave-pocked cliffs of Mt. Arbel. Twice in a hundred years, Roman soldiers shot fire into the caves to destroy Israelites who refused to give in to imperial rule. The first occasion was the imposition of Herod as king in 40 BCE, while the second was during the Roman-Jewish war of the mid-60s CE.
Salal + Cedar is the Watershed Discipleship community that curates Wild Lectionary. Psalm 148, which both celebrates and demands more-than-human praise for the creator, has become something of a “theme psalm” that we return to in worship. As it appears each year in the lectionary cycle we use it as a chance to look back at our year.
Isaiah was a prophet in times of kings. In the lectionary passage, God sends him to Ahaz, a king defending his earthy kingdom, to say that God will send a sign: a young child named Immanuel meaning God is with us. This child, from a very young age, will know how to, “refuse the evil and choose the good.” For Ahaz, who may have felt powerless in his situation, this message was meant to give him hope for a time of peace and restoration.
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at?” Matt 11:7
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus, it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.
by Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson
Amid the shadowed darkness of impending winter, our Advent lection from Isaiah envisions springtime joy. We might at first wonder, “What does Isaiah’s imagery have to do with the celebration of the birth of Jesus?” This questions leads to another query: What exactly are we hoping for with the coming of the one we call “messiah” and “lord”? Or as John the Baptist puts it in this week’s gospel, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” (Matt 11:3) Continue reading “Wild Lectionary: The Desert Shall Rejoice and Blossom”→
The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:1-3)
By Laurel Dykstra
It is hard to be hopeful in the Anthropocene, in the days when the destructive human impact on climate, individuals and communities, creatures, waterways and ecosystems is unprecedented. The lectionary passages this week have a fierce and compelling urgency but they seem far from the Advent theme of hope and further still from this lectionary project’s focus on Creation. Just what should we be awake to? Why the urban emphasis the focus on judgment?
Jeremiah’s oracles of a future king, a messiah, indicate that the sheep, the pasture, the people, the flock, never leave the watchful eye of the Lord. All are referred to as “mine” belonging to Yahweh. There is a close association of the Lord the God of Israel to those who shepherd and know the sheep; and to the land, its fecundity, and even to the spiritual lives of the sheep and shepherds: God dispels fear, corrects those who are in error, and even finds the missing. Continue reading “Wild Lectionary: We Live in Relation”→
This week’s first Lectionary reading from Isaiah features a vision of the Almighty who promises to create, “new heavens and a new earth,” in which, “the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.” Restoration is a theme running through Isaiah, and today’s passage conjures up visions of utopia in my soul. I imagine old paradigms collapsing, social justice replacing unfairness throughout the land, and communally supported programs, such as Medicare for All and robustly-funded public health care systems, ensuring that, “No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.”
I am often confronted with the destruction of the natural world from my backyard. I live near the escarpment trails that run through the city of Hamilton, Ontario. On a clear day, you can see across the bay to the CN Tower in Toronto. Frequently the view is hazy and the landmarks in the distant are barely visible. Looking through the all too familiar yellow-tinged smog I try to imagine what this land was like when it was pristine. Before my people came. Continue reading “Wild Lectionary: This House in its Former Glory”→
19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.
– Luke 19:10
If the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost, who could be more lost than large corporations whose actions defile the earth and her creatures? But wouldn’t corporations need to be “people” in order to be saved? Apparently in the USA, corporate personhood is a thing. Corporate personhoodis the legal notion that a corporation separately from its associated human beings (like owners, managers, or employees), has at least some of the legal rights and responsibilities enjoyed by natural persons. Continue reading “Wild Lectionary: Saving Corporate Lostness”→
In the Christian bible the book of Joel is three chapters long, in the Jewish bible four.
Joel describes a years long plague of locusts in military language. The people are exhorted to fast, pray and repent from ambiguous transgressions. An oracle of consolation—divine promise of restoration–is followed by a raw prayer of revenge equating Israel’s restoration with the defeat and humiliation of surrounding empires.