Following the lectionary, I preached on Matthew 17:1-9 this Sunday. Our pew Bible obscures or leaves untranslated the threefold “Behold!” that feels something like staccato accents in a great orchestral crescendo. When that musical metaphor came to mind, I felt that writing a song was quite appropriate.Continue reading
Here’s a short hymn I wrote using themes from Ezekiel, especially the beautiful meditation on the new temple and the river which flows from it in the last several chapters. It is short metre (188.8.131.52), so it can be sang to the tune of “Breathe On Me, Breath of God” or “We Give Thee But Thine Own.” If you set things to music, I’d love to hear it sang in a new way!Continue reading
Earlier this week I posted some thought-provoking words from theologians about Jesus’s Transfiguration. Their words have helped me to grapple with the text at hand. Now, late in the week, I have been reflecting with a poem and a painting as I try to compose a sermon worthy of this moment in Christ’s life (Matthew 17:1-13).Continue reading
Epiphany’s gradual illumination leads ultimately to the story of Christ’s Transfiguration. I will preach from Matthew 17 this Sunday. During my study yesterday, I felt no sure direction. The best thing I’ve got–which I like more this morning than I did yesterday afternoon–is the repetition of “Behold!” as the first response humans must have when God’s glory appears. What else could we do but behold?
(It’s worth noting that in the pew Bible we use, NIV1984, the word behold never appears as such. The KJV makes it explicit all three times, the NASB two of the three. I think it’s repetition is at least worth seeing, or should I say beholding?)
In any case, I turned to some trusted companions to see whether their beholding might open something up for me. Maybe they will help you, too. I am also sure there is a Mary Oliver poem worthy of inclusion, but I don’t have her book with me. I’ll add it if I find it.
God bless you as you prepare!Continue reading
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.1 John 4:16
What does “God is love” mean? Ian McFarland frames this question by reminding us that Scripture does, in fact, say God is other things—spirit, light, etc. He raises another concern by noting that humans “are before they love.” Is God’s love similar? If not, what is distinct about God’s love?
Like an ancient commentator, McFarland responds by observing a small thing in the Gospel of John’s epic opening hymn about the Word who was with God. Like a ghost note that catches the hearer’s ear, that word “with” captures McFarland’s eye. “Significantly,” he observes,Continue reading
A Review of The Word Made Flesh by Ian McFarland (WJK, 2019): Part 2
In this meditation on the life of God and the problem of theology, McFarland begins with the challenge of knowing God: God’s transcendence implies God’s inaccessibility. “God cannot be said to exist or to be known in the way that other entities exist and are known—as some thing that can be distinguished from other things.” So, is it possible for God to be known or is God-talk “just a projection of human wishes and prejudices into the void that we face when we confront the limits of experience”?Continue reading
A Review of The Word Made Flesh by Ian McFarland (WJK, 2019): Part 1
This book is one of the most engaging theology books I’ve read in years. And I mean engaging in a very broad sense. The book is theologically stimulating. It is clearly written. It is creative and even humorous. All the while, McFarland keeps a careful eye on his purpose, drawing the reader into a conversation with church tradition, exegesis, and scientific literature, in order to dogmatically honor, while seeking to understand, Christ as the Word made flesh.
Ian McFarland is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Theology at Emory’s Candler School of Theology. The Word Made Flesh follows his recent volume on creation, From Nothing.