Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Road Out


The Road Out from Joseph Taber on Vimeo.


Luke 9:28-36
28Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. 34While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ 36When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

This is the Word of the LORD
Thanks be to God. 

Exodus 34:29-35
 29Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. 31But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. 32Afterwards all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; 34but whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

This is the Word of the LORD
Thanks be to God

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Why We Do This

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
1All the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had given to Israel. 2Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month. 3He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law.

5And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. 6Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God, and all the people answered “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. Then they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

8So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. 9And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when the heard the words of the law. 10Then he said to them, “Go your way, earth he fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our LORD; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

This is the Word of the LORD
Thanks be to God

Luke 4:14-21
14Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

18”The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

20And he rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant, and say down. They eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

This is the Word of the LORD
Thanks be to God.

We have returned!

After a long absence, the people of God once again fill the place God has given them. The icy fingers that held us in captivity have melted into history, and the covenant community is home once more. But just being in the old places isn’t enough. We are a covenant people, not tourists at a historical site. The covenant people are glad to be back where they belong, but the setting alone is not enough.

Nehemiah was the governor of Judah when they returned from the Babylonian exile. He oversaw the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem, the rebuilding of what had been torn down 70 years earlier by catastrophic conquest. When we find him in this passage, he has just completed a census of all the people who had returned from exile, released from captivity by Cyrus of Persia.

Having been counted, “All the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate.” They are in a public place, all together, men and women and even the children who were old enough to understand.

They are gathered for a purpose. They have reclaimed their place in the world, but they have not yet reclaimed their identity as a covenant people. In 70 years, they have lost sight of what it meant to be a member of this particular tribe. Some of them no longer speak the language of their grandparents, speaking instead a mix of Hebrew and Babylonian that we call Aramaic.

Their place in the world does not define who they are. Having rebuilt their city, they now need to rebuild their community. “They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had given to Israel. Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding.” They people cried out to their leader to give them the law again, which the LORD had given to Israel, but they had forgotten over generations in a foreign land.

But what comes out is not a list of rules and regulations, and even if it were, these are not imposed limits. "[Torah] is not primarily a legal system but instruction abound how to live as God's covenant community.” Those instructions sometimes take the form of laws and regulations, but much of Biblical Law is a story. The beginning is the stories of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, and the promise of a covenant. The story names those who went down to Egypt and who came out again when God brought the people out with a mighty hand. Mixed in with the regulations are stories of the people wandering in the wilderness, forming a national identity as an alternative to just being slaves in Egypt. 

Ezra reads, and he and his colleagues interpret, the story of God’s covenant people. The people see that this is not just an old record, the scriptures they have been given reflect their own particular story.

We are given a chapter in the ongoing saga of God's relationship with his people. But our story stretches past our own experience, and we see parallels with the words of Scripture. The Bible is full of ancient characters, and yet through their struggles and triumphs we are able to see ourselves, and their experience of The LORD, the great God, helps us to see his hand in our own lives.

Centuries later, the church still gathers to do exactly that. We gather to hear our scripture read and interpreted. Nehemiah 8 depicts what most scholars recognize as the first modern preaching moment. Scripture read and interpreted in public. "Ezra reminds us that we too are recipients of divine instruction, a people called to continual renewal and reinterpretation of God's word among us. The word is alive and ever new in the power of the Spirit among us.” Our story is proclaimed in the reading and proclamation of God’s Word which still claims and shapes our identity.

We have returned!

After a long absence, the people of God once again fill the place God has given them. The icy fingers that held us in captivity have melted into history, and the covenant community is home once more. But just being in the old places isn’t enough. We are a covenant people, not tourists at a historical site. The covenant people are glad to be back where they belong, but the setting alone is not enough.

Last weekend, the Session voted to cancel our worship services due to icy conditions. A flurry of phones calls later, one of our Session members came over to the church and sent out a phone tree announcing our decision. Our phone-tree made at least 80 calls that night. I posted the announcement on social media websites, and more than 600 people saw that announcement in a period of 24 hours. We called a local TV station and had our church put on their list of cancelations. Lord only knows how many people saw that listing.

Turns out, we are really good at telling people to not come to church.

That was a weird Sunday morning for me. The only time I miss worship on Sunday is on vacation. Even when I’m on study leave, I worship with a congregation near wherever I’m studying. But to wake up in my own house, and not have to revise a sermon, or lead worship among y’all, just felt odd. I didn’t know what to do with my Sunday, and it threw off my internal schedule for the whole week.

Like the people who have returned from exile, I need to have the covenant constantly refreshed in my mind. I need to be reminded that my identity is not based on my accomplishments, but what the LORD, the great God, has done on my behalf. I need to hear the word read and interpreted so that I can realize that the God who is active among these pages is also active in my life all the time.

I need to worship, because my creator built me that way. Otherwise, it throws me off all week. So I’m grateful to be back in this pulpit, but I’m more grateful to be gathered in with this community. I’m more grateful that we all gather in this place for worship, men and women and all who could understand. I am grateful for the covenants that keep us close to one another.

I wonder if we all share that gratitude for our community of faith. I wonder if all of us share that excitement about our church. I wonder if we could use that same urgency about when we canceled services to instead invite people to come and worship.

In time between Ezra’s preaching as recorded in Nehemiah 8 and now, another preacher stepped into the pulpit. “He went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’” Christ gives us a new covenant. He goes to proclaim release and recovery and liberation and the favor of the Lord. We, the people of Christ’s covenant, follow him as he goes to poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed.

We gather, week after week, men and women and all who can understand, to be reminded that our identity, our personal and communal narrative, is centered around Jesus of Nazareth, called the Christ. "The Holy Spirit gives us something to do for God, and a time to do it. There is a sense of urgency in Christ's mission.” The church is called to join in.

That’s why we do this. Because we find our story’s foundation in scripture, and we find our identity in our relationship to Christ. We baptized an infant this morning because he is joined to an ongoing story, and covenant that shapes who he is, and who he will be. In a few moments, we will celebrate the achievement of another child of this church because our faith community shapes each of us as we continue to grow.

We all gather to heard the word read and interpreted so that we may remember who we are, and whose we are. We gather to encounter Jesus of Nazareth, who gives us the hope to follow him into the world with the promise that “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”


We are claimed by our history, and we do what we do because we are adopted into God’s covenant through Jesus Christ. But that same covenant challenges us to do more, to keep moving forward. We do this because we do not have to be afraid, “…for the joy of the LORD is [our] strength.”

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Abundantly Steadfast

Abundantly Steadfast from Joseph Taber on Vimeo.


Psalm 36:5-10
5Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
6Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments are like the great deep; you save humans and animals alike, O LORD.

7How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
9For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

10O continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your salvation to the upright of heart!

This is the Word of the LORD
Thanks be to God

John 2:1-11
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.”

9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from 9(though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

This is the Word of the LORD
Thanks be to God.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Passing Through

Passing Through from Joseph Taber on Vimeo.



Isaiah 43:1-7
1But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
3For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.
4Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life.
5Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you;
6I will say to the north, “Give them up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring my sons and daughters from the end of the earth - 
7Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

This is the Word of the LORD
Thanks be to God

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
15As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear the threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

21Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

This is the Word of the LORD
Thanks be to God.

Some passages are difficult to preach because they’re confusing and need tons of explanation to figure out what going on in the text.

Our Isaiah passage this morning has the opposite problem.

This passage is difficult to preach because it says it all. This promise of hope is so profound that poetic turns of phrase and studied exegesis can only stand in the way of the gift of this passage. It resists definitive explanation. The power of this passage is the way it intersects with our lives. Those intersection allow us to read the world through this text, like a pair of glasses that help us see God’s world more clearly.

Our vision is often clouded by the soot and mud we pass through, all the mess that we imperfect humans make when we create new problems in the process of solving old ones. We see ourselves as the good guys, and therefore everyone who is against us are the bad guys. We survey the problems of the world and announce that if “I” was in charge, everything would be different, and all the problems would melt away. We jump on power fantasies that tell us that we don’t have to answer to anyone because we have lifted ourselves up.

Or we face the other way, and are overwhelmed by all the problems that are beyond our control. We drop into despair because the burdens of our lives are too great to bear. We run from any potential struggle, because we are already overwhelmed, and one more thing might end us forever.

The twin idols of power and helplessness stand in the same place, and block us from seeing the world beyond the water and the fire.

“But now thus says the LORD”

I don’t know why Isaiah begins this prophetic poem with a contrasting conjunction, “but.” I suspect Isaiah is watching the same patterns of behavior roll past that we are. He sees the pettiness that lives in me, and you, and in his own community. Into the noise of all that muddied existence, he has been given the Word of the LORD so that he can remind us who we are, and whose we are.

“But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”

We belong to the God who created everything that exists, the all-powerful ruler of the universe who spins the whirling planets and keeps the stars in their courses. We belong to the infinite God who is beyond our capacity to understand. Yet for all that grandeur, God calls us by name, intimately, lovingly.

I heard a story a couple of years ago. A family ended in divorce, husband and wife went their separate ways, and cut off from one another completely. The husband didn’t hear from his kids for over a decade. An ocean of history separated them. One day, the man’s daughter reached out to him, wanting to come for a visit. They got together, and the daughter stayed long enough for a major family event.

The day of the event came, and the stern matriarch, who was known to have no sense of humor, entered and was seated. The daughter approached her grandmother’s unsmiling chair, and began to introduce herself after the twenty-year absence. The matriarch stopped her mid-introduction:

“Child, I’d have known you in a crowd that looked just like you. You’re my granddaughter.”

“he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” 

Our identity is sure, and none of the soot or the mud that obscures our vision from time to time can erase our relationship with the God who claims us.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

These words of assurance are some of the most comforting in scripture, and extend all the way to the beginning of verse five. I think it’s important to note that our special relationship with the LORD does not mean that we are exempt from passing through water and fire. The people of God will always face challenges. But we know that the rivers will not overwhelm us. We know that the flame will not consume us. Doesn’t mean it won’t be unpleasant, but it does mean that we are not lost in the soot and the mud. God is still with us, even in the painful parts of our lives. “For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

But even more than that, God is ransoming us back from the things we let separate us from God.“I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.” Now that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t care about Egypt, or Ethiopia, or Seba. They were the superpowers of Isaiah’s day, and God is speaking to a very particular people. This is Israel in exile, all but destroyed, barely surviving in the wake catastrophe. The water and fire are more than imagery to them, they are memories of burning homes and flooded farmlands. To this people, Isaiah promises a future beyond imagination, where they are seen as worth more than powerful empires and vast economies. “… Isaiah’s poem is a vision of re-creation. It tells of ‘new things’ God is doing for an enslaved despairing people left for dead at the hand of their conquerors.”

God is redeeming these people for a very simple reason, even though it defies understanding. “Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.” Nothing about deserving, nothing about worthiness. Just the love of a grandmother for her granddaughter. Just the grace of God for his adopted family. This is a promise that not matter what rivers we are passing through, no matter what flames threaten us, we can still keep the faith. “Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; I will say to the north, ‘Give them up,’ and to the south, ‘Do not withhold; bring my sons and daughters from the end of the earth - Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.’”

The world will be made right again. The family will be made whole again. We are passing through water and fire to get there, but God goes with us to bring us all home again. We are not consumed by the water or fire, we are not overwhelmed by the rivers or flames. We are claimed through them. Isaiah is not the only prophet whose words we read today. “John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear the threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’”

The chaotic instruments of water and fire are signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and John promises that they too are on their way, as the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled before our imperfect vision.

This passage has long been misused to tell folks that some go to heaven and others go to hell. On the surface that looks good, you’ve got a sorting and you’ve got unquenchable fire. But that ignores the relationship between wheat and chaff. For folks who have as much experience with harvesting grain as I do (being none), the chaff is a protective husk over the fruitful wheat. It keeps it from being scorched by the sun or ruined by the rain. But it’s also not very useful for food. John is promising that all the empty husks we use to protect ourselves will be cast off, because we will not need them anymore. We will not need the power fantasies that tell us we are our own masters, for we will know who our true master is. We will not need the despairing helplessness to hold back our grief, because the source of our help is already gathering us in.

This promise finds its fullness in Christ, to whom John has knowingly been pointing. Christ’s baptism joins him in the continuing saga of humanity’s repentance and renewal. There’s not much fanfare for Luke’s account, not confrontation about John’s worthiness like there are in other gospels. Jesus joins the crowds in baptism, but passing through that water anoints him for the work that lays ahead. “[Jesus] quietly withdraws in prayer, and then all heaven breaks loose… The baptism may have been routine, but the aftermath surely was not.”

We join the crowds in seeing the dove, we join the people in hearing the voice from heaven, and then we are left wondering where this Jesus, the anointed one of God, is leading us next. In Jesus, God has joined the human condition. In Christ’s baptism, Jesus has joined our story. We are passing through water, and rivers, and fire, and flame even now. In our baptism, we have also joined in Christ’s story, a story of flames that do not consume, rivers that do not overwhelm.

Most importantly, a grave that does not remain closed.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Glimpsing the Promise

Glimpsing the Promise from Joseph Taber on Vimeo.


Deuteronomy 34:1-12
1Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the LORD showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, 2all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far a the Western Sea, 3 the Negeb, and the Plain - that is, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees - as far as Zoar. 4The LORD said to him, "This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, 'I will give it to your descendants'; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there." 5Then Moses, the servant of the LORD, died there in the land of Moab, at the LORD's command. 6He was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Bethpeor, but no one knows his burial place to this day. 7Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor hat not abated. 8The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the period of mourning for Moses was ended.

9Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the LORD had commanded Moses.

10Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face. 11He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the LORD sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, 12and all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

This is the Word of the LORD
Thanks be to God

Luke 2:22-40
22When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord"), 24and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons." 

25Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Messiah. 27Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 
29"Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; 
30for my eyes have seen your salvation, 
31which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 
32a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." 

33And the child's father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, "This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too." 

36There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

39When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

This is the Word of the LORD
Thanks be to God.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Lowly to Leaping

Lowly to Leaping from Joseph Taber on Vimeo.

Micah 5:2-5a
2But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little ones of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from old, from ancient days.
3Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel.
4And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth;
5And he shall be the one of peace.

This is the Word of the LORD
Thanks be to God

Luke 1:39-55
39In those days Mary set our and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed in the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

46And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47and my spirit rejoiced in God my savior,
48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
50His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
51He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
53he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
55according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

This is the Word of the LORD
Thanks be to God.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Shame Into Praise


Shame into Praise from Joseph Taber on Vimeo.


Zephaniah 3:14-20
14Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!

15The LORD has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more.

16On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak.

17The 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

18as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it.

19I 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.

20At 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.

This is the Word of the LORD
Thanks be to God

Luke 3:7-18
7John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."

10And the crowds asked him, "What then should we do?" 11In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise."

12Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?" 13He said to them, "Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you."

14Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what should we do?" He said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages."

15As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

18So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

This is the Word of the LORD
Thanks be to God.