Winthrop Congregational Church, United Church of Christ
No matter who you are. No matter where you are on life's journey. You are welcome here.
Art: Swanson, John August. The Procession, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=56558 [retrieved January 25, 2022]. Original source: www.JohnAugustSwanson.com - copyright 2007 by John August Swanson.
Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away the judgements against you,
he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall fear disaster no more.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands grow weak.
The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing
as on a day of festival.
I will remove disaster from you,
so that you will not bear reproach for it.
I will deal with all your oppressors
at that time.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
At that time I will bring you home,
at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes, says the Lord.
Do Not Fear, O Zion: Zephaniah 3:14-20
Many of you know that I often organize my preaching around a three-year series of Bible readings called the Revised Common Lectionary. Today’s reading is a part of that series. Interestingly, it usually comes up as an option during Advent on the Sunday of Joy, the third Sunday, called Gaudete, when we usually sing a song of joy as we await the birth of Messiah. Usually, it’s Mary’s Song: “My Soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Every three years or so, this call to song, which was our call to worship, is part of the rotation: “Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!” In the season when you are waiting for Emmanuel, God-with-us, it is good to sing with joy while you wait. It is good to sing the songs that remind you of what God has promised: joy, victory, restoration, justice, ingathering, home-making.
You might have noticed that today is not the third Sunday in Advent. That was back on December 12th. This year, I’m trying out a new series of Biblical reading, this one by a scholar named Wil Gafney. She has suggested reading this song of joy during Epiphany, the season after Advent and after Christ... the season in which we celebrate Emmanuel, God-With-Us, God who became flesh and moved like us, among us... God whom we encounter in the world. What difference does it make to read this call to joy after we know that God is With Us in a new and unexpected way? What difference does it make to read this song when we aren’t in a time of preparation but in a time of celebration and affirmation that God does indeed do what God has promised? How do we this call to song not as an assurance while we wait but as a confirmation of what we have come to know, that God is with us... that we can see God in this world? I wonder if it means we should consider that which is named in the reading.... the joy, victory, restoration, justice, ingathering, home-making... as more than just a promise of something God will provide. Instead, when we experience joy, victory, restoration, justice, ingathering, home-making, they are not simply a fulfillment of promise but are God actually with us in that moment. Joy, victory, restoration, justice, ingathering, home-making all a bit of Emmanuel.
I realize the point I’m trying to make may sound a bit like splitting hairs. How different really are a promise and a presence? If we experience joy and know that God has promised joy, wouldn’t it make sense to simply affirm that God has fulfilled God’s promise? God said that God would do a thing and a thing happened, so this is a fulfillment of a promise. Why would we need a different interpretation than that? Frankly, you might not. That being said, I think it is possible to hear this scripture as more than an assurance that God will do something. Instead, it is an assurance that God can be something... or be somewhere, that is, right here, in the midst of the joy, when we feel victory, arising in our restoration, alive through justice, gathering with us in the spaces that feel like, and we make, home.
Last week, I talked about theophany, which means God made manifest. To be manifest is to become clear, to be able to be perceived and recognized. In short, to be understood to be real. In the book of Zephaniah, not only are we being invited to understand that God will fulfil the promises God made in covenant by restoring Jerusalem following her destruction in war, we are also being invited to consider, when we read this text, during this season of affirmation that God is with us, that the joy that is felt in that restoration is actually the presence of God with the people who have been restored. You heard our readers say these ancient words today: “The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst, you shall fear disaster no more.” Dr. Gafney translates that same verse, the second half of verse 15, this way: “The Sovereign of Israel, Creator of Heavens and Earth, is in your midst, daughter; no longer shall you fear evil.” Joy is possible because God is with you. Victory is here because God walks among you. Restoration comes at the hands of the one who walks among you. This God, who is right here, will bring justice and gather those who have been scattered far from home.
Dr. Gafney asserts that what is foundational to both God’s actions and God’s presence is love. The renewal of the city destroyed is a sign of love. The salvation of those wounded by poverty, war, and illness is a sign of love. The drawing in of those who have been cast out... this is love. Being present in the place that had been destroyed... this is God living in God’s deep love for creation and for humanity and for this city, Jerusalem, that had once housed the throne of God, the ark of the covenant. God is manifest in acts of joy, justice, restoration, and love.
Joy often feels like it’s in short supply these days. With the wars and rumors of wars, with the pandemic and responses to the pandemic leaving nearly all of our safety nets stretched and breaking, this feels, to me anyway, a bit more like the time before the restoration and renewal, than the time when it is actually happening. And, if you read back through the rest of Zephaniah, it also comes from an era in which things are breaking apart rather than gathering-in. But it is not the destruction that manifests God, that is, lets the people of Jerusalem see clearly who and what God is. The destruction is real, and deadly, to be sure. But, is not where or how you most clearly recognize God. God is most clear in the restoration, something I imagine you might be able to affirm out of your own experience. How easy it for you to know that God is present in times of joy and restoration and justice? How hard is it to hear God in the midst of desolation?
I hope you don’t hear me saying that God is not there in the midst of that which feels like the end of the world. Because I don’t think Zephaniah believed that and I don’t believe that either. I am sure that God is present in the endings and the beginnings. That is part of the promise of Jesus Christ, one who saw a bloody end to life but also became known more fully as he manifested a new kind of life eternal. What I am saying that that God’s presence is most clear not in our destruction but in our restoration. And, when we participate in restoration and gathering in, God is manifest alongside us. In our songs of joy and fights for justice, God will become more clear. When those who have been broken by the cruelties of war and the ravages of illness are saved, we will know that God is present. The destruction we create will never bring forth the God we long for. Destruction makes God harder to see. Zephaniah tells us that renewal and restoration make God mores clear. May we be the tools through with God can appear.
Resources consulted while writing this sermon:
Wil Gafney, Epiphany 3, in A Women's Lectionary for the Whole Church, Year W (New York: Church Publishing Incorporated, 2021)
Also, Wil Gafney: https://www.wilgafney.com/2018/12/16/rejoice-and-repent/
And, this one by Wil Gafney: https://www.wilgafney.com/2022/01/22/epiphany-3-2/
Definition of Manifest: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/manifest
Gregory Mobley, "Zephaniah," The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994).
Friedrich, Caspar David, 1774-1840. Hiker Above the Sea of Fog, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=58620 [retrieved January 18, 2022]. Original source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Caspar_David_Friedrich_-_Wanderer_above_the_sea_of_fog.jpg.
Drawn Out and Delivered: Psalm 18:2-11, 16-19
Have you ever heard the word “Theophany?” It means “an appearance of God.” In one her commentaries on this text, Dr. Wil Gafney says that this Psalm, known as a royal psalm of thanksgiving, is a Psalm that is as much about God manifesting into the world as it is about thanking God for acting in one person’s life. It is a Psalm that is about God who is as real as the stone foundations of our home, as the volcano that exploded from the ocean yesterday near Tongo, as the smoke that billows from our chimneys on cold nights... A God who is as real as the dark of night and just as inscrutable. This is the God that is described, and thanked, in this Psalm. This is a God that is at work in creation and is concerned on behalf of creation. When the author of this Psalm has needed help from a force greater than themself, they called upon this God of smoke and darkness and earthquake and fire. They were confident that if God could act in the world through creation that they could also call out to God for Salvation.
We don’t usually know exactly who wrote much of the Bible. So many parts of what we know as a book existed for generations and generations as stories passed along, sometimes in worship, sometimes around campfires, sometimes sung, together, to remind people of how they were connected to each other and to God. And, sometimes, by the time things were gathered and written down, they also collected guides for interpreting them. Dr. Walter Brueggemann argues that the notes before some of the Psalms that say “a Psalm of David” are likely more an instruction on how to better understand these Psalms than a clear indication that David actually wrote them. That being said, this Psalm is clearly connected to part of David’s story and the connection can help us understand the connections between God’s manifestation in this world and God’s action on behalf of God’s creation.
This song of thanksgiving is also found in 2nd Samuel 22, one of the books that details David’s life and rise to prominence. In his commentary on the text, Steven McKenzie argues that the Psalm was developed much later than the life of David and likely ended up being included later as a way to help people understand just how thankful David was to be saved from the hands of King Saul, his father-in-law and political rival. David, who would begin the project of the temple in Jerusalem and would bring the ark of the covenant to the city. He would become a king deeply invested in making a space for God’s throne, God’s presence to reside. And, he would overcome significant political and personal conflict to become king. It makes sense that later people would hear his story, in particular, and could imagine the king who created a resting place for God, thanking the Creator for his own salvation.
Most of us aren’t King David and most of us won’t be building a temple anytime soon, though we work together regularly to maintain this Body of Christ. And, most of the time, especially in the most ancient parts of the Bible, as Dr. Gafney reminds us, when they talk about salvation, they are talking about the salvation of an entire people. In the United States, and in much of Christian tradition, we’ve lost some of the idea that God’s restoration is communal and not always individual. I think we need to read this Psalm with that tension in mind. The God who appears here is connected to all creation even as the testimony of thanksgiving we heard and read today is an individual describing their own personal deliverance.
Last night, as I worked on this sermon, I heard that a colleague of mine, who is going through her third bout of covid, who suffers from debilitating long covid, has been admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. She lives in a state that has taken few necessary precautions to protect their citizens and so many have died because of it. My prayers for her, as I wrote last night and as I preach this morning, are for both individual deliverance and communal salvation. As I wrote, I also prayed for those being held hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. My prayers for them were individual... that those four people would be released alive and that the one who held them would repent and begin to make amends... but also communal... our Jewish neighbors are often targeted by antisemites. I wish for their communal deliverance from this bigotry that has killed so many. As the hostages were released, alive, last night, the words of the Psalm, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, so I shall be saved from my enemies” held much stronger resonance than mere hours before.
While I didn’t attend Sarah’s recent workshop about exploring and sharing times when you have felt close to go, she did tell me about her plans for the class and her hopes for the people who attended. She’ll be running a zoom version soon. I hope some more of you will consider taking it. What I found to be particularly helpful, as a pastor, about her class, is that she asks people to think not just about their whole lives of faith, but about particular moments and how you might describe those moments with God. Maybe your story would sound something like this Psalm: “My God delivered me. I see God in the majesty of the roiling creation around me. If God can do this, then God can help me.” Or, maybe it would sound like Psalm 117: “Praise the Lord, all you nations! Extol God, all you peoples! For great is God’s steadfast love towards us and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever!” God is manifest is both of those kinds of stories, obvious in individual deliverance and communal restoration, in the thick darkness of night and in the brightness of fire. Whether you find yourself in need of being drawn out of mighty waters in your individual life or in a communal situation, I pray that you feel God drawing you out and delivering you. This Psalm reminds us that God delights in us... in God’s creation. May we delight in God, with whom we wait and work for deliverance.
Resources consulted while writing this sermon:
Wil Gafney, “Epiphany 2,” in A Women's Lectionary for the Whole Church, Year W (New York: Church Publishing Incorporated, 2021)
Also, Wil Gafney: https://www.wilgafney.com/2022/01/07/epiphany-2/
A Definition of Theophany: https://www.britannica.com/topic/theophany
Walter Brueggemann, An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003)
Steven L. McKenzie, "Psalms," The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994).
Luke 2:41-51 The Boy Jesus in the Temple
Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, ‘Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.’ He said to them, ‘Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
Once, when we were kids, my sister Kellie hid inside a clothes rack at Kmart. We were pretty little, so I don’t remember if I knew where she was. And, I don’t know if she was trying to hide or was just curious about what it was like in behind all the denim dresses. I do remember that my mom clearly didn’t. Kellie was only out of sight for a few minutes and Mom was never more than 15 feet from the clothing rack she had tucked herself into. But, it was really scary! It came up several times in our childhood as a warning: “You all better not hide in anymore clothes racks in here.” I imagine some of you listening today have been in a similar position, be it as the kid who is somewhere they not supposed to be or the parent who can’t find them. It’s scary! Now, imagine your child is Jesus. And, you realize that you haven’t seen him for a whole day. And, then it takes 3 days to find him. Three! Days!
I mean, yes. Jesus’ parents probably had a more “free-range” parenting style than most of the parents I know. And, yes, scholars remind us that Jesus’ family probably assumed that the other adults in the traveling party were keeping an eye on him. Still, it would have been terrifying to realize that you had left your child in a large, busy city that was more than a day and a half walk away. There are no cell-phones to call to ahead to your family in the city and ask them to go looking. And, you can only travel as quickly as you can walk or run. I can imagine them running.
The story tells us they don’t find Jesus for three days. Three whole days in a city where he probably had some relatives but didn’t live. It was a city more full than typical, of both pilgrims and dangerous soldiers, because of the festival. The Bible story doesn’t give us a lot of detail about what Mary and Joseph must have been thinking as they searched. But, I bet you can fill in the blanks. Is he safe? Has he eaten? Has he found somewhere to sleep? Has some kind adult noticed him and taken care of him? Hopefully, someone was watching out for him.
At some point, his family went to the temple. And that’s where they found him. Sitting with the teachers and learning from them. Thank God this child is safe. His parents are reasonably upset: “Child, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety!” He’s lucky that’s all they said. He had the gall to say to them, with all the wisdom and confidence that only a 12-year-old can muster, "Why were you all searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in the house of my Abba?" His parents were flabbergasted. Can you imagine saying that to your parents after being gone for three days? Can you imagine your child saying that to you after being missing for three days. Scripture tells that they didn’t understand what he was saying.
Were they so gobsmacked that this... this... was his only explanation that they just couldn’t even wrap their heads around it? Or, did they understand the events of the previous three days to be some foreshadowing of something they didn’t yet comprehend. This child who had been a miracle was now found learning from the elders and teachers of their community. He wasn’t running around with his buddies for three days. He was listening and learning. He was becoming steeped in the religious teachings of his people. He was asking good questions.
Rev. Niveen Sarras, in her commentary on this text, tells us that this story is crafted this way to show us how Jesus is cultivating the experience he needs in order to be the leader he will become. He seems to be living into his calling already at age 12, even if it puts him in conflict with the expectations of his parents and his broader community. This won’t be the only time they’ll wonder what happened to him for three days. But, they don’t know that yet. Mary seems to know that this event is important though. Scripture says that she “treasured all of these things in her heart.” And, they went home, where Jesus grew in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.
Right now, I imagine a lot of you are thinking not just about Jesus, but also the children in your life, the ones who don’t always tell you where they are running off to, who are eager to learn, who can be exasperating. How do we read this story about Jesus as a child, the only story about Jesus’ childhood after his birth in any of the four Gospels, alongside the experiences of the kids we know today and our concern for their health and well-being in the midst of Covid. When I think about Jesus as a kid in a situation that is full of both danger and potential, I can’t help but think about the adults who didn’t know him who, nevertheless, took care of him while he was learning at their side.
This is a time when we can be like those adults, teachers who were probably Pharisees, and tend to the well-being of the vulnerable ones right before us. Whether that means making sure our schools have adequate funding and policies to mitigate Covid as much as possible or making sure that on-line education is an option for kids who aren’t safe at school or taking our own precautions, on a community level, to slow the spread of Covid so kids and school staff are less likely to get sick. We probably need to do all these things. We are not living in normal times, as much as we wish we were. It is, as you know, the responsibility of the adults to help the kids navigate these times as safely as possible. Jesus could get to follow his calling because he had people to support him, even as a child. Now is our time to tend to the safety of the kids before us. Christ lives on in them. May we recognize him, and respond as our faith demands.
Resources consulted while writing this sermon:
Caroline Lewis: https://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?post=5269
Naveen Sarras: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3930
Ron Allen: http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2708
Fred B. Craddock, Luke: Interpretation- A Bible Commentary for teaching and preaching (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1990).
Fred Craddock, John Hayes, Carl Holladay, and Gene Tucker, Preaching the New Common Lectionary: Year C, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany (Abingdon Press: Nashville, 1985).
Matthew 2:1-12 The Visit of the Wise Men
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 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.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: “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.” ’
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 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.’ 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. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 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. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
Even though it’s a little early, today, we’re going to celebrate Epiphany, which for those of us who are Protestant and Catholic, is the day to commemorate the arrival of the Magi to meet young Jesus. There is only one Gospel that tells us this story. It’s the Gospel of Matthew. The person who wrote Matthew wants to make sure that we know at least two things about the Messiah: One is that Jesus is a fulfillment of the promises God made to God’s people and two, that Jesus is coming to not just his own ethnic and religious group: Jesus is coming to the whole world. And, people outside of their community will see God in Jesus just as clearly, and sometimes more clearly, than the people in his community. We have an entire special day set aside on the church calendar dedicated to one of the stories of outsiders knowing just exactly who Jesus was, even though he was a child. And, the powerful people in Jesus’ community, well, one powerful person, in Jesus’ community is not excited, in the least, to hear that a Messiah has come.
Christian traditions around the backstory and identities of the Magi abound. We’ve given them names. We decided there were three of them. We’ve also decided that they each might also come from a different ethnic background. And, we turned them into kings. But, as you heard from our reader today, none of that is actually in the story from Matthew. Matthew simple calls them wise ones, or in Greek, Magi. They were scholars, and priests from the Zoroastrian faith. Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest continuing faiths in the world and was once the official faith of Persia, the region we now call Iran. In her commentary on the text, Rev. Niveen Sarras tells us that the priests were consulted to interpret dreams and write horoscopes, based on their immense understanding of the stars, for powerful people, including the Persian emperor. They would be called wise because their training helped them give good advice to powerful people.
According to Rev. Sarras, the prophet for whom Zoroastrianism is named, Zoroaster, was said to have been born from a virgin. Part of his teachings included predictions that other women would become pregnant as his mother had, bringing more divine prophets into the world. The priests believed that they could tell when one of these prophets was going to be born by reading the patterns in the stars. The Persian priests, like their Jewish neighbors, were waiting for someone holy to be born. The star that they would have seen would have been a great and wonderous sign for their people.
At the same time as they and everyday Jewish people were hoping for a Savior, there was a king in Israel who was anything but. Herod was known to be a paranoid, brutal, and cruel king. In her commentary on the text, Elizabeth Johnson notes that he killed one of his wives and several of his sons because he thought they were plotting against them. His power was tenuous... he only got to call himself king because the Emperor of Rome let him do so. Remember, his people believed that God would bring up a leader from their people. Herod was not a leader from their people. And, he knew it. He grew afraid and, in his fear, did great harm. Fearful, powerful people are dangerous.
The Magi show up in Herod’s palace mostly out of politeness. Magi often greeted new kings in neighboring countries. They weren’t trying to cause trouble. They were just making sure to celebrate the prophet, whom they might have expected to become king, that they’d been looking for. Maybe they even may have thought the baby was Herod’s. In the story, it seems like they just followed the star and found themselves right in the middle of a tyrant’s dangerous intrigues.
Herod tried to wrap the magi up in his schemes. He thought he could manipulate them into helping him harm a potential threat to his power. He told them about the Jewish prophecies that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. He sent them ahead, asking them to let him know when they found the baby, so he could pay homage as well. Thank God these Magi saw through his machinations and chose to protect the child instead of coddle the powerful.
They find the baby, following the divine star. And, they receive a dream that warns them of returning to Herod, so they go home a different road. They could have decided to return to Herod out of courtesy or respect for his position. But, instead, they trusted their dream and their God and they left without seeing him. They saved the one special child born under the star. They could not save the other children in Bethlehem. Herod’s fear made him dangerous and he harmed children in order to shore up his political power. He wasn’t the last tyrant to go to such measures either.
Before they leave, the Magi give the child Jesus gifts. The gifts are important. Typically give to royalty and religious leaders, they are details that show us that 1) Jesus will be a leader to his people and 2) that people outside of his community will know it. According to Rev. Sarras, gold is a symbol of royalty; frankincense a symbol of wisdom; and myrrh a symbol of long life and healing. For Jesus, who we will learn had a ministry that was rooted in healing, guided by wisdom, and who represented a new kind of God-ordained leadership in the world, these three gifts are tantalizing clues of what is to come in this story.
Throughout the rest of his life, everyday Jewish and Gentile people will meet Jesus, be changed by their time with him, and come to know that he was the Messiah. They will also realize that he is the Messiah in a different way than they expected. He won’t be a military leader or king. He will be a homeless teacher who heals the wounded and cares for the downtrodden. He will remind his people of their core commitments to love God and neighbor. He will never sacrifice someone else, as Herod had, to maintain power. He will eat with his enemies and be kind to people from other religious communities. And, he will call out powerful people who continue practices that harm the powerless.
The Magi show us something important about following Jesus. They show us that sometimes you follow God by taking a different road home. They show us that cruel people do not deserve our cooperation in harm. We are called not to conspire with the powerful but to humble ourselves in the face of Emmanuel, the Messiah we hoped for who enters into the world in the form of a vulnerable child from a simple family. The star shines on, showing us the way to the Messiah. May we follow it with a sense of faith, justice, and care inspired by the Wise Ones who went ahead of us. And, may we never help the wicked do more harm.
Resources consulted while writing this sermon:
Niveen Sarras: http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3931
Karoline Lewis: http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?post=5271
Elizabeth Johnson: https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/epiphany-of-our-lord/commentary-on-matthew-21-12-11
Pastor Chrissy is a native of East Tennessee. She and her wife moved to Maine from Illinois. She is a graduate of the Divinity School at Wake Forest University and Chicago Theological Seminary.