Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Baptism of Our Lord - Year C - Psalm 29

The voice of the Lord is LOUD. Glory! Many people experience God in the beauty of nature; sunsets, mountain tops, misty lakes at dawn and the like. They are generally experienced in solitude and bring a sense of peace and contentment. I’m not sure I would equate the blessing of peace with a voice that strips a forest bare. But the psalmist imagines the glory and splendor of God in the terrible and terrifying. Making Lebanon and Sirion skip like a young bull is just a poetic way of saying earthquake and flashing fire doesn’t need to strike twice to get you diving for cover. This image of a terrible and terrifying God evokes praise not only from nature but from the heavenly beings who know a thing or two about terrifying and maybe that is the point. This voice cannot be ignored or denied and all the forces of the universe are obliged to respond. But for those who belong to the Voice hearing God in the terrible and terrifying means the terrible is less terrifying for God present in the whirlwind and the earthquake is our strength and peace. And when from the cross God cried out with a loud voice even death had to sit up and take notice and admit it was finished. And that is a blessing of peace indeed. Glory!


  1. I once heard Erwin McManus say that we are more comfortable with the image of an all-powerful God than we are with the image of God as a servant. Though his wrath may send us running for cover, there is comfort for us in believing that this same God can use his limitless power to protect us. When our God is only all-powerful there is really very little we can do short of running for his cover.
    But, the God who willingly took up His cross shows us a different aspect of God's nature. Jesus had limited power when he began his ministry. He admitted there were things he did not know - was not omniscient. He was only in one place at a time - was not omnipresent. He deferred to his Father - was not omnipotent. Then as he prepared to approach His cross things changed.
    In John 13:3 we read: "Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God." Jesus was then - at that moment - omnipotent and in human form.
    So, what did he do next? Destroy Roman power in Israel? Rebuild the temple and re-establish the dominant earthly kingdom of David? Not quite!
    Scripture says this: "so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him."
    As Jesus came into power and set out to fulfill his purpose, the very first thing he did was serve.
    I think of this often because it is so much easier to worship that all-powerful God who sends us running for cover than it is the God who calls us to fulfill His purpose in servanthood.

  2. I like your description of Jesus' limited power and would agree if we’re talking about the Matthew, Mark, Luke Jesus. I think the Jesus in John retains most if not all of His all Almightiness but chooses not to use it in the way one might expect - as you noted. So Jesus is the servant that should be served but because God's ways are not our ways the only way to serve Jesus is to fulfill his purpose by serving others. Thanks for lunch the other day. It was good to catch up!

  3. Good points. Thanks. I tend not to want to separate the perspectives of the synoptics from John, try to understand them as a whole. But then, John has always been my favorite so I guess I prefer that lens and tend to look through it.
    I enjoy your entries and am looking at them as part of my daily study - and many days the only study and reflection I get.
    I very much enjoyed our lunch as well. I'm glad to see you're celebrating life. I have much less angst about the church than I had at some points in the past. So, in a sense, I'm much more free to celebrate as well.
    Let's connect again soon.