sermons & Illuminations

"The voice of God rings through the ages." Rev. Kelly Kirby

"We should consider what kind of Child of God we are collectively, as humanity."
Rev. Benjamin Hart

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Read the Illuminations

Illuminations on the Lectionary readings for Advent 2A, December 4, 2022 

First Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10
When we hear a call to repent and wait for the Messiah’s coming through this week’s Sunday Lectionary readings, don’t think of “repent” in the sense of guilty remorse. Hear it rather in its traditional sense: “Change your mind” or “turn back” in the New Testament’s original Greek and in the Hebrew Bible. If we are on the wrong path in our relationships with God and our neighbors, Sunday’s readings advise us, now is the time to turn back and watch for the light of God’s Kingdom. In our first reading, Isaiah envisions a time when the Messiah – the descendant of King David, whose father was named Jesse – will reign from the Temple on Zion’s holy mountain, where justice will prevail for the poor and the meek.

Psalm: Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
The Psalmist seems to draw from the same wellsprings as Isaiah in this hymn of blessing for a new king. Tradition holds that Psalm 72 was written in memory of the coronation of King Solomon. In the verses chosen for Sunday’s reading, we hear the people call for a just and righteous king who will rule fairly. They ask God to provide a king who will bring prosperity to all the people; a king who will take special care to provide for the poor and the oppressed; a king who will reign as long as showers water the earth; a king who will bring peace on earth as long as the moon shines.

Second Reading: Romans 15:4-13
At the time of Paul’s beautiful letter to the Romans, the city’s Jews – including Jewish converts to Christianity – had been banished to exile. Paul wrote this letter when Rome’s Jews were coming back home after years in exile. There was tension between the Jewish remnant and the Gentile Christian community that had stayed home all along. Paul turns to the passage we heard from Isaiah to remember the Root of Jesse, presenting the verses as if they were an explicit prophecy of Christ as king over all humanity. In the memory of that time of return, Paul urges the Romans, “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12
We met John, Jesus’s cousin, as an infant when we read the Song of Zechariah as a psalm on Christ the King Sunday. In that passage, John’s father – the temple priest Zechariah – regained his voice to foretell that the boy would grow up to become a great prophet. This Sunday we encounter John again. He has become a prophet indeed, a loud, wild prophet clad in camel’s hair robes and eating locusts and honey, urging people to repent as he baptizes them in the Jordan river. Matthew tells us that John is the fulfillment of another Hebrew Bible verse – Isaiah 40 – promising that a prophet would come to make way for the Messiah. That figure is coming, says John, speaking of Jesus; and he will baptize not with mere water but with the fire of the Holy Spirit.
St. John the Baptist Preaching (c.1665), oil painting on canvas by Mattia Preti (1613-1699). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. 

Dimensions of Faith Lectures

Dimensions of Faith invites thinkers and writers to explore the interface of religion and culture, as we continue as a parish to challenge our minds and renew our spirits.

Upcoming Speakers:
Silas House (Sunday, March 5, 2023)

Previous Speakers Include:
Nadia Bolz-Weber / Dr. Lewis Brogdon / Sarah Bessey / Steve Crump Ruby Sales / Dr. Amy-Jill Levine / Marcus Borg / Sara Miles
Robert Putnam / John Dominic Crossan / Brian McLaren / Scott Gunn
John Philip Newell