Monthly Archives: January 2015

Third Sunday after the Epiphany — Rev. Karen Barfield

Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Mark 1:14-20

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our Strength and our Redeemer. Amen.

In the early 1980s a young couple in New England decided to give up the “rat race” of modern life. 

So they began to look at what they could do. 

For a year, they researched the world, examining the places best suited for raising a family away from society’s pollutants. A place where they could get a new start. A place that would be free from the economic rat race, where their children could get a quality education, where they all could develop to their full potential in a healthy environment. 

Finally they found and they left in January of 1982 for a small, isolated island chain off the coast of Argentina: the Falkland Islands. And, of course, in April of 1982 – [three months later], the Falkland’s War began. (On Freedom and Call — The Jonah Complex)

We so want security.
We so want to avoid danger.

This avoidance seems to be human nature,
and yet security so often is elusive.

In the words of Helen Keller: “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

This morning’s Old Testament reading begins this way:
“The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time….”

That presumes a first time.

So let us refresh our memories: The book of Jonah begins this way… Continue reading

Baptism of Our Lord — Rev. Karen Barfield

Mark 1:4-11

An epiphany
is a moment of Divine revelation
in which the nature of God is manifested.

Did you know that can occur at any time, in any place…
the manifestation of the nature of God?

This morning we hear that hordes of people from Jerusalem and the whole Judean countryside were flocking to the Jordan River to see John the Baptizer.

The vision I have in my head is more that of a herd of animals running willy-nilly across the hills rather than the neat, orderly procession of a colony of ants.

There seems to be an urgency as Mark tells his story.

Why?

Why were all these people flocking to see and hear John?

John was proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Not many people seem to take much notice any more of the man preaching on the street corner, holding up a sign saying, “Repent. The end is coming.” In fact, most people cross the street to avoid walking by him.

“Repent. Confess your sins.”

Now, there’s a sure-fire way to get people to run the other direction. Continue reading

Second Sunday after Christmas — Rev. Karen Barfield

Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-19a
Matthew 2:1-15, 19-23

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our Strength and our Redeemer. Amen.

“Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?”

What a curious question to come from a group of star-gazers from far away Persia!

And what an irritant to King Herod’s quest for unabated power!

“Where is the child…for we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” (Mt 2:2)

The story, as told, is remarkable in many ways….

These magi, these “wise men,” have not only taken notice of some grand event in the heavens but they have traveled great distances to find this “child who has been born king of the Jews.”

They took notice of cosmic events and somehow understood the meaning enough to uproot themselves and undertake what must have been perilous travel.

In order for them to understand the significance of the event, they had apparently not only studied the stars but were also well aware of the cultures around them, knowing the history of the people of Israel and what was foretold of the coming of the Messiah.

These “wise men” were well in tune with their whole environment: their cosmos, their earthly cultural history and their interior yearnings.

So, when they saw the brilliance of the heavenly lights, they knew – or in the words of Paul “the eyes of [their] hearts [were] enlightened” – and they took off on a journey in search of the Christ-child.

When the wise men arrived at Herod’s court seeking direction to find the Christ-child, Herod was taken aback.

Star?
What star?

King?
KING?!

But, I am king. Continue reading