Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Baptism of the Lord - 2nd sunday after Epiphany-Br Andrew

St- Andre-Rublev's Saviour
Holy Redeemer

In the care of the Ecumenical Franciscan Order

Homily, 12th January 2014 First Sunday after Epiphany

The Baptism of the Lord Year A, Rev Br. Andrew EFO

 Matthew 3:13-17

Jessica, on more than one occasion has told me the story of her grandfather taking a shower. In his old age he was a wily old man and didn’t often do what he didn’t want to do.
They would send him into the shower and hear the water running and after a suitable interval he would reappear dressed in his PJ’s ready for bed. Yet not really as freshly clean as one would hope after showering.
So one day you know who peered through the key hole to see good old granddad running the shower and standing safely out of the way of the water.
Henceforth he had to be supervised!

Though we find the record of the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan in each of the Gospels, each are recorded differently according to the congregation to which they were addressed.
Matthew’s Gospel was addressed to a Congregation caught in the confusion of post Jerusalem Judaism, a group of Jewish Christians, in Northern Galilee or Syria who were feeling the oppression of the new Judaism controlled by the Rabbinic Pharisees.
Mostly Greek speaking Jewish Christians (it has been noted that Matthew quotes the Septuagint) with perhaps a few Syrian Christians, Matthew is at pains to place his community squarely within its Jewish heritage, everything he writes is to that end. Matthew is determined to obliterate the confusion generated by the cruel and overbearing Pharisees and their manner of keeping Torah and replace it with the softer middle road of Jesus, who came not to do away with the Law and the Prophets but to fulfil them.
Matthew wanted to show them that Jesus is one of THEM!
In spite of what mainstream Church tells small communities like us; Jesus is one of US too!

This is the first time we meet the adult Jesus and he came, just as every penitent did, to the Jordan to be baptised by John for the remission of sins. Both Matthew and Mark indicate that Jesus came down from Galilee to be baptised, we might assume then, that many would recognise him as Joseph and Mary’s son and think nothing other than that he was joining them in turning his life around in preparation for the coming of the Messiah.
Some, or many, would know him as John’s cousin – Jesus wasn’t the total stranger he is sometimes made out to be. John certainly recognised Jesus as you would hope he would, he also knew who Jesus was and tried to change his mind.
“But John would have hindered him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and you come to me?” (3:13, 14. WEB)
Listen to what Jesus says to John “Allow it now, for this is the fitting way for us to fulfil all righteousness.” V 15

So what does it mean to fulfil all righteousness and in the context of Matthew’s Community? In the context of our Community?
The Jewish Christians in Matthews Community were very familiar with the concept of the liturgical use of water as in Ezekiel 36:25 where God says “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean.” In 2 Kings 5 we read of the use of total immersion in water to cure Naaman’s Leprosy so Matthew’s Jewish Christians understood the Baptism of John to bring both Spiritual and bodily healing.
Jesus, the Messiah of God began his ministry in the same manner as they began their lives as Christians through the waters of Baptism, in his case they were the waters of that change of heart which, for us, precedes the Baptism of Jesus that, for those early Christians, was yet to come.
Through the fulfilling of righteousness Jesus is acclaimed by his Father in Heaven and anointed by the Holy Spirit and proclaimed the beloved Son of God in whom God is most pleased.
In our context the fulfilling of Righteousness, is I believe to make Jesus known again as he really is someone who knew life as a human being, began life just as we did and lived his life for others, and ultimately died for them.
Unafraid of the injustices within society and the church we try to each of our ability to make Him alive and truly human once more, so that we might then show that he is also the beloved Son of God in whom God is well pleased.

One Body One Lord of All

St- Andre-Rublev's Saviour
Holy Redeemer

An ECCA Parish

In the care of the Ecumenical Franciscan Order

Homily, 19th January 2014 Second Sunday after Epiphany

Br. Andrew EFO

John 1:29-42
Jesus returns to the Jordan

It was just last week that we heard in Matthew’s gospel how Jesus came to the river Jordan to be baptised; how reluctant John was to baptize him; how the heavens opened and John saw the Spirit descend upon Jesus and remain upon him.
Another visit to the river Jordan introduces us to three of Jesus’ early disciples, including the Author of this Gospel and from the Reading from Isaiah and Psalm 40 we understand who this Jesus is that is the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world.

Who is this Jesus?

Isaiah 49-
  • He is one called from the womb, whose name was given in his mother’s womb.
  • · His mouth is like a sharp sword dividing the marrow from the bone-
  • · He is a sharpened arrow close in the quiver and is held safe in the palm of God’s hand.
  • ·In the Lord’s eyes He is honourable and is called to gather the remnant of Jacob and the preserved of Israel, to be a light to the nations, that he may be the Salvation of the Lord to the end of the earth.

Why did he come?

To die for the individual and all Nations

Psalm 40, written by king David is one of the Messianic Psalms we Christians associate with the both the triumph and the suffering of Jesus, St Francis makes use of it in the Psalm he wrote for Compline of Maunday Thursday.

And so let it speak:
11 b Don’t withhold your tender mercies from me, LORD. Let your loving kindness and your truth continually preserve me.
12 For innumerable evils have surrounded me. My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up. They are more than the hairs of my head. My heart has failed me.
13 Be pleased, LORD, to deliver me. Hurry to help me, LORD.
14 Let them be disappointed and confounded together who seek after my soul to destroy it. Let them be turned backward and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt. (Psalm 40:11b-14 WEB)

Where do you live? Come and see!

At this the two leave the Baptizer to follow Jesus, they want to know where he lives.
Andrew, however is not ready just to come and see until he has gone to fetch his brother Simon to tell him that they had found the Messiah. As soon as Jesus sets eyes on Simon he says your name is Simon son of Jonah and you shall be called Peter or Cephas which means Rock.
As we journey through the life of Jesus we will come to realise that Jesus changes the names of those whom he has destined to do great or special things. Andrew, Peter and the other disciple stayed with Jesus until the 10th hour, about 4.00pm. Then they left and the next day Jesus will go to find Phillip.

As we now know Peter was the rock upon which Jesus established the Church, so solidly that the gates of hell shall not prevail against her. In these rocky times when so many of us have had to leave the mainstream Church to find succour in smaller Congregations  it is important to mark the experiences of the early church communities for now we are returned to be like them and.

Some twenty or so years after Jesus returned to heaven Paul is writing to the Corinthian Church who await Jesus return to earth, the subject is sectarianism, already the Church is beginning to fracture as groups rise up in favour of the human being who baptised them rather than to the one in whose name they were baptized.

In this new Community of Christ the Redeemer, a non-denominational Christian community seeking to have the courage to open the door to everyone and nurture the belief of everyone to seek the Jesus who was, whom we, too may come and see.

Br Andrew