Archive for the ‘Isaiah 43’ Tag

First Sunday after the Epiphany: The Baptism of Our Lord, Year C   4 comments

Above:  The Holy Spirit as a Dove

Receive the Holy Spirit

JANUARY 13, 2019


Isaiah 43:1-7 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob,

he who formed you, O Israel:

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine.

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.

For 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.

Because you are precious in my eyes,

and honored, and I love you,

I give men in return for you,

peoples in exchange for your life.

Fear not, 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 up,

and o the south, Do not withhold;

bring my sons from afar

and my daughters from the end of the earth,

every one who is called by my name,

whom I have created for my glory,

whom I formed and made.

Psalm 29 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Ascribe to the LORD, you gods,

ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;

worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters;

the God of glory thunders;

the LORD is mighty upon the waters.

4 The voice of the LORD is a powerful voice;

the voice of the LORD is a voice of splendor.

The voice of the LORD breaks the cedar trees;

the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon;

6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,

and Mount Hermon like a young wild ox.

The voice of the LORD splits the flames of fire;

the voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;

the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the LORD makes the oak trees writhe

and strips the forest bare.

9 And in the temple of the LORD

all are crying, “Glory!”

10 The LORD sits enthroned above the flood;

the LORD sits enthroned as King for evermore.

11 The LORD shall give strength to his people;

the LORD shall give his people the blessing of peace.

Acts 8:14-17 (Revised English Bible):

When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent off Peter and John, who went down there and prayed for the converts, asking that they might receive the Holy Spirit.  Until then the Spirit had not come upon any of them, they had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus, that and nothing more.  So Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

As the people were in expectation, all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ.  John answered them all,

I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming; the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.  His 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.

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven,

You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.

The Collect:

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Baptism of Jesus:  Prayers:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

Prayer of Confession:

Prayer of Dedication:

When Jesus Came to Jordan:


Water can be threatening.  People have drowned in it.  Sometimes water has flooded, causing great devastation.  Yet water is essential to life; those who dwell in the desert know this well.  An insufficient supply of drinkable water causes death, but too much water can have the same effect.  Yet just enough is healthy.

And water played a vital role in the history of the Jews.  The passage through the Sea of Reeds during the Exodus from Egypt marked the birth of the Hebrew nation.  Episcopal baptismal rituals refer to the Exodus, for in water we have a potent symbol of life, physical and spiritual.

…and the flame will not consume you,

we read in the context of promised divine protection in Isaiah 43:2b.  Fire is also an image for the Holy Spirit, said (in lovely poetic language) to have descended upon Jesus

in bodily form like a dove

(Luke 3:22a).  Fire is also either helpful or harmful, depending on the context.  But the proverbial fire of the Holy Spirit is positive.  As a High Churchy Episcopalian I understand the Holy Spirit differently than do Pentecostals and Charismatics, so I will try to express my concept clearly.  The Holy Spirit, one third of the Trinity (however that works) is how God works on Earth in the here and now.  It is how God speaks to us today.  And God speaks to many people in different ways.

However God speaks to each of us, may all of us receive the Holy Spirit. And, if or when one manner of receiving it differs  from another, so be it.









Devotion for December 23 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   4 comments

Above:  A Map of the Roman Empire in 117 C.E.

Nothing is Impossible with God

DECEMBER 23, 2019


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 43:25-44:20

Psalm 24 (Morning)

Psalms 25 and 110 (Evening)

Revelation 11:1-19


Appearances, we read in Isaiah 43:25-44:20 and Revelation 11:1-19, can deceive us.  We might seem to be be hopeless due to our sins and our circumstances, but God will redeem and vindicate us.  Polytheism was the default setting in most ancient Middle and Near Eastern religions, but there has always been just one deity.  And the church might seem to be defeated under the weight of the imperium, but it is not.

Nothing is impossible with God.

Once, at Piedmont College, in Demorest, Georgia, I heard a presentation by a professor visiting from the Twin Cities.  This gentleman specialized in critical thinking.  I recall most of all one statement he made:  Our most basic assumptions are those we do not recognize as being assumptions.  In other words, sometimes (if not much or most of the time) we do not distinguish correctly between the subjective and the objective categories, even though we can do so.  In this context we can overlook easily the workings and even the existence of God, whom our categories and preconceptions cannot contain.

An empire which has stood (mostly officially as a republic) for centuries will cease to exist.  A young, small, and persecuted religion will become the largest belief system on the planet.  An exile will end.  A young woman will give birth to a baby boy, who will grow up and redeem the human race of its sin.  What else will happen?

Nothing is impossible with God.










Devotion for December 22 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   10 comments

Above:  Torch Seller

The Church and the Future

DECEMBER 22, 2019


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 43:1-24

Psalm 90 (Morning)

Psalms 80 and 72 (Evening)

Revelation 9:13-10:11


Fear not, for I am with you….

–Isaiah 43:5a, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

The text from Revelation, for all its symbolic language, contains a simple message in several parts:

  1. God will destroy the Roman Empire.
  2. Yet many people will persist in their evil after the accomplishment of that fact.
  3. The church will survive its oppressors and thrive.  Love will last longer than evil.

This relates well to Isaiah 43, which picks up where the previous chapter ends.  The exiles are precious to God (verse 4), who will deliver them and destroy the Babylonians/Chaldeans.

The nascent church was small when John of Patmos wrote.  It has grown greatly over the succeeding centuries.  It has survived the first five centuries of its existence and arrived at a broad doctrinal consensus with regard to basic questions.  There is still no unanimity; there has never been such.  And the church is actually more united than appearances might seem; at least we agree on the table of contents of the New Testament, if not the Old Testament.  Furthermore, denominational lines are frequently superficial, so the number of denominations is not the best gauge to use.

These days the church is losing membership overall in Western cultures.  I wonder how much of this shrinkage is superficial, how much of it reflects actual attendance rates.  (Unfortunately, not all of it does.)  The fact that one attends church services regularly for a time and carries an affiliation does not necessarily mean that one is more than superficially Christian.  So, in many cases, dropping out of church is more of a formality than a reversion.  Whatever the details of of church demographics are, the message from Revelation 10:1-11 should comfort us:  There is a future for the church yet.  We Christians of these days stand on the shoulders of those who have preceded us.  Without transforming theologies and traditions into museum pieces, may we honor the past, cling to that which is eternal, and carry the torch into the future.










Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B   17 comments

Above:  A 300s Depiction of Jesus with a Beard

God’s “Yes”



During the period of November 2011-December 2012, also known as Year B on the Revised Common and Roman Catholic lectionaries, seven Sundays will fall between the Feast of the Epiphany (always January 6) and Ash Wednesday (forty days, not counting Sundays, before Easter Sunday).  There can be as many as nine and as few as four Sundays, depending on various factors, such as the date for Easter Sunday and which day of the week January 6 falls on in any given year.  And there is a set of readings each year (A, B, and C) for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany.  Nevertheless, I have converted much of my Bible study into a blogging project, so I follow lectionaries and mark days not observed any given church year accordingly.


Isaiah 43:18-25 (New Revised Standard Version):

Do not remember the former things,

or consider the things of old.

I am about to do a new thing;

now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness

and rivers in the desert.

The wild animals will honor me,

the jackals and the ostriches;

for I give water in the wilderness,

rivers in the desert,

to give drink to my chosen people,

the people whom I formed for myself

so that they might declare my praise.

Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob;

but you have been weary of me, O Israel!

You have not brought me your sheep for burnt offerings,

or honored me with your sacrifices.

I have not burdened you with offerings,

or wearied you with frankincense.

You have not bought me the sweet cane with money,

or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices.

But you have burdened me with your sins;

you have wearied me with your iniquities.

I , I am He

who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,

and I will not remember your sins.

Psalm 41 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Happy are they who consider the poor and the needy!

the LORD will deliver them in the time of trouble.

2  The LORD preserves them and keeps them alive,

so that they may be happy in the land;

he does not hand them over to the will of their enemies.

3  The LORD sustains them on their sickbed

and ministers to them in their illness.

4  I said, ” LORD, be merciful to me;

heal me, for I have sinned against you.”

5  My enemies are saying wicked things about me;

“When will he die, and his name perish?”

6  For if they come to see me, they speak empty words;

their heart collects false rumors;

they go outside and spread them.

7  All my enemies whisper together about me

and devise evil against me.

8  “A deadly thing,” they say, “has fastened on him;

he has taken to his bed and will never get up again.”

9  Even my best friend, whom I trusted,

who broke bread with me,

has lifted up his heel and turned against me.

10  But you, O LORD, be merciful to me and raise me up,

and I shall repay them.

11  By this I know you are pleased with me,

that my enemy does not triumph over me.

12  In my integrity you hold me fast,

and shall set me before your face for ever.

13  Blessed be the LORD God of Israel,

from age to age.  Amen.  Amen.

2 Corinthians 1:18-22 (New Revised Standard Version):

As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been

Yes and No.

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not

Yes and No;

but in him it is always


For in him every one of God’s promises is a


For this reason it is through him that we say the


to the glory of God.  But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.

Mark 2:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version):

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home.  So many gathered around that house that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them.  Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.  And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,

Son, your sins are forgiven.

Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts,

Why does this fellow speak in this way?  It is blasphemy!  Who can forgive sins but God alone?

At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves and he said to them,

Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Stand up and take your mat and walk”?  But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins

–he said to the paralytic–

I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.

And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying,

We have never seen anything like this!

The Collect:

O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A:

Mark 2:

Luke 5 (Parallel to Mark 2):

Matthew 9 (Parallel to Mark 2):


The readings for the Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B, concern the faithfulness and mercy of God.  Let us take them, each in turn, and relate them to each other.

The lesson from Isaiah 43 exists in context of the end of the Babylonian Exile.  God, via Deutero-Isaiah, declares what is about to happen then asks, in so many words, “How have you treated me?”  The answer is, in so many words, “with little regard.”  “But,” God says in so many words, “I will forgive you anyway.”  Simply put, God is faithful, and this fact becomes quite plain when we are not faithful.

The faithfulness of God is Paul’s theme in the excerpt from 2 Corinthians.  Paul writes that he, in his dealings with the Corinthian church, has not vacillated.  Neither does God vacillate, Paul writes.  Christ, he says, is God’s “yes,” for the answer to all God’s promises is “yes” through Jesus.

Speaking of Jesus (a good thing to do), he says yes to paralyzed man with four very good friends.   A merely decent human being watching the healing would rejoice for the formerly paralyzed man, at least.  Such an observer might also wonder at the power of God he or she had just witnessed, and therefore give thanks and glory to God.  So why were the scribes grumpy and obsessed with notions of blasphemy?  Jesus, by being and acting like himself, contradicted what they had grown up to believe.  And the reality of his power belied these men’s livelihoods and raison d’etres.  This scared them.

Their only hope was that God overlooked their sin.  And our only hope is that God will choose to ignore ours.