Sunday, January 31, 2016

Third Sunday After Epiphany: Job Description


The blizzard (photo by Zejlko Mirkovic)

It is the morning after the blizzard. Public transportation has resumed. Still the snow is deep, I’m not expecting many to brave the snow and cold, though the sun s shining, reflecting off the blanket of white.

Last night was the last night of Antigona, by Noche Flamenca. Marking a real artistic achievement. As I told the cast, we have had a vision   of making this a place where dreams come true. And they have done that.  Extra special because of the blizzard. When I was at work yesterday, about every two minutes, I was answering a question about whether the show was still or not. (One call literally said because of the gizzard..) Some angry, some excited. The idea was that the show would be performed for whoever showed up.
The show would go on....
And the house was about 2/3 full…

The night was eerily beautiful and quiet.  No buses, traffic noises. People walking ..or skiing …up the street…pulling children on sleds..

Why was the response to the storm so dramatic? As Gary Greengraas said yesterday, when I was a kid, we called this winter..

In our reflections, we’ve had a dual agenda for these last few weeks…watching Jesus learn and grow and looking at the content of our ministry.

We’ve had Jesus in the temple as a boy, Jesus getting baptized and leaving his old life behind, Jesus at the wedding pushed by his mother to perform a miracle. Now Jesus preaching his first sermon. That sermon will announce his self-understanding, his job description, and in this, what the content of our ministry must be.

He reads from the scroll of Isiaah:
"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." 

But when you look at the original,Isaiah, you’ll notice there’s one difference…Isiaah includes this:
and the day of vengeance of our God;

Jesus has removed vengeance from the equation. (Like in the Revenant, Hugh Glass remembers the Native American saying that revenge belonged to the creator…)

Jesus Is not here to  start a new religion, or messianic revolution. This messianic era, which he inaugurates, will be of a different nature. And as he says, it has already begun…Someone in my clergy study group pointed out that this is Jesus’ magnificat, his version of Mary’s song which has that same declaration and affirmation of alreadyness… perhaps he heard it as a child…

Our ministry, which we receive at our baptism, and the character of our community is rooted in Jesus’ job description. This is the greater good to which our many gifts are to be used.

But there is also this…
22On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

That is the real challenge…especially moving it beyond platitude to reality…

In the end, we are all in this together….

As we discuss the passage, Marsha shares that she feels we need to take some care here. That in our small community, we often pay so much attention to those who may be on the margins, of so many different kinds, that we may miss the inner needs of the quiet, the steady, the those who are always there. (The older brothers, and sisters, as it were….) She has  a point.

Soon our quiet service is over. Back into the snow. A quiet Sunday afternoon ahead….

12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
14Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot would say,"Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear would say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31But strive for the greater gifts.
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.
16When 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 back to the attendant, and sat down. The 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."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Another step for justice


Yesterday at the meeting of the Presbytery of New York City, another step for justice was taken. West-Park working with our cross town partner Jan Hus was able to bring to Presbytery an overtire to General Assembly towards reconciliation with our LGBTQ/Q brothers and sisters beginning with an acknowledgement of and apology for the harm done over nearly three and a half decades. While it is good that the long struggle for ordination and now marriage equality has been won, that is just the beginning. There are people who were called to ministry by God who were denied recognition, excluded, marginalized and even prosecuted by the church they had committed their lives to. While many remain within our circle, others have left for other denominations, left the church altogether while many others died before seeing this day. This Overture, now under the name of the Presbytery of New York City, will now go to the PCI(USA) General Assembly in Portland, Oregon this summer. It's approval there would be a first step towards the long road to reconciliation and healing. It is an expression of the living legacy of those who preceded us at West-Park, where the "More Light" statement was drafted in 1978, and long time colleague in the struggle for compassion and justice, Jan Hus, teamed together to begin this process. Many thanks to Jan Hus Commissioner and longtime friend Jim Nedelka for carrying the ball forward politywise and Stated Clerk Andy James for his timely advice. Now on to Portland!


Overture text from Presbytery of New York City
A Healing Overture for the Admission of, and Apology for Harms Done to the LGBTQ/Q Members of the Presbyterian Church(USA), Family and Friends
The Session of Jan Hus Presbyterian Church and Neighborhood House calls for the Presbytery of New York City to overture the 222nd General Assembly (2016) to affirm and witness these truths:
a. we come to understand forgiveness, healing, mercy and reconciliation by God’s actions through Jesus Christ’s teachings and the Risen Christ in our midst;
b. we are reconciled to God and one another by the forgiveness of our acts of sinfulness, through the Christ who is our peace and who breaks down the walls of hostility and division;
c. further, we understand that ours is a faith and ministry of forgiveness, healing, mercy and reconciliation that requires admission of the harms we have done to one another; and
d. that the fullness of our new life in Christ calls for a unity of Spirit, a sharing of gifts, and a valuing of all parts of the Body of Christ in the spirit of true forgiveness.
And we confess that our actions have fallen short of these truths in the marginalization of our sisters and brothers who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ/Q), admitting:
e. that harms have been done to this community by the denomination’s participation in the creation of barriers to God’s call to our sisters and brothers, based on sexual identity, sexual orientation and gender identity;
f. that charges have been instigated with the intention of preventing qualified individuals called by God to serve based on sexual identity and orientation;
g. that the Constitution of the PC(USA) has been erroneously used to support these charges, resulting in the use of the denomination’s court system, in effect, being co-opted to discipline others for who they are; and
h. that the denomination has participated in or been silent about challenging the destruction of the careers of faithful servants who identified as LGBTQ/Q.
Therefore, we direct that the Presbyterian Church (USA) Affirm, Confess and Apologize:
i. admitting that it has been wrong in the way it has treated the LGBTQ/Q Community in the PC(USA);
j. apologizing for the teachings and actions that have created marginalization of our sisters and brothers, adding to the erroneous belief that people who identify as LGBTQ/Q should be considered unworthy to serve fully or be honored as family within and without the church;
k. acknowledging that during this struggle we have often treated one another in ways that did not reflect the presence of the Risen Christ in our midst; including those in opposition to one another, as well as those within their own communities;
l. stating publicly that the PC(USA), as a denomination, makes this pronouncement as an act of forgiveness, healing, mercy and reconciliation; and
m. that this admission and apology lifts up the constitutional changes that have been duly implemented to dismantle the lines that have divided us from one another and the ways in which we have been called to serve, including but not limited to Amendment 10-A; the Authoritative Interpretation on Marriage, and Amendment 14F.
1. The admissions of harms done to one another, the petition of each other for forgiveness, and the public witness of the humility by the church as an institution is required to open our doors - as fully as our hearts and intentions have always called us to do.
The last forty years of opening those doors to our sisters and brothers who identify as LGBTQ/Q has not been our only struggle, nor has it been the only place where lives have been harmed in our efforts to change. It is, however, a place where we can bring our experience, strength and hope in an even greater response that we hope this will initiate, and in which way we encourage others to respond.
We acknowledge that there are many communities and groups who have felt the sting and harms of the church as an institution; an institution in some ways holding on to practices and teachings that separated us, rather than brought us together.
We acknowledge, too, the power and privilege that has not always been exerted in the best interests of those with no power or privilege, and we hope that this “Healing Overture” will begin broad movement to become a reconciling church in ways that “clean our slate” of harms and injustices for all the world to see.
Further, we believe that such a church is the fullest faithful representation of the Church of Jesus Christ that practices the teachings of Jesus Christ in word and deed.
We also wish to make it clear that we do not see the struggle of the LGBTQ/Q community in our church as exceptional to the struggle of others who have sought justice and welcoming in the denomination. It is where we begin, hoping that this will create an invitation and a process for others to follow, bringing forward their overtures. We hope others will summon the church to acknowledge harms that need to be spoken in their communities, so that we can be the inclusive and welcoming Kin[g]dom on God on earth, beyond anything we have yet to see. We support the efforts of others to follow this process in bringing such actions forward to their presbyteries and the General Assembly.
(NOTE: See Attachment 1 from the Presbytery of Yukon and its statement of repentance to the community of Gambell, Alaska as a precedent, upon which parts of this overture have been based.)
We believe there will be no chance for healing and reconciliation until the PC(USA) admits its mistakes and makes a statement of apology. There are many faithful sisters and brothers who have been estranged by the church because of its teachings, practices, and disciplinary actions towards minsters and others who identify as LGBTQ/Q. A statement such as the one suggested would have the affect of validating our legislative actions with our commitment to changing what has been exclusionary and wrong.
2. As one of the most constitutionally inclusive mainline denominations in the world, our witness has an impact beyond any borders we might imagine. Our voice of hope, love, joy, peace, justice and welcoming—the Good News—leads the way for global change and a beginning to the end to the violence of marginalization and discrimination around the world.
Calling the church to admit harms done and apologize to those it has wronged has an impact beyond the LGBTQ/Q community. All Gospel and Justice/Love ministry is about our relationship with each other in this world. An honest statement of apology and determination to herald the changes we have been called to make lifts up the entire denomination in a way that reaffirms who and whose we are.
3. The theme of the 222nd General Assembly is The Hope in Our Calling - Ephesians 1:18. May it be so!

Revised: January 9, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Second Sunday after Epiphany: What are your gifts?


We’re back in the chapel. It’s cozier there. Eric’s back again, it’s been good having him with us. We read the passage from First Corinthians , 12: 1-11 and then the Wedding in Cana story from John 2: 1-11 in a readers’ theatre style. Then it’s time for reflection.

A lot can happen in a week or so…

* A musician and his wife race to the hospital only to discover that the child they waited for with anticipation for 9 months is already dead. The sadness of that is almost too much or me to imagine.
* David Bowie dies. Even though he’s a musician I never fully “got”, I can see that the internet is filled with eulogies. My oldest son posts his own tribute and I learn something I didn’t know before. About a difficult teen year and what this artist meant to anyone who felt different or “alien.”
* A father shares with me the challenges of a young teenaged daughter trying to figure out where she fits on the gender line. He introduces her to David Bowie and she is amazed.
*My own first grandchild is born in Berlin. And I am reminded what I forgot …that every child is a gift of the grace of life.
* A good friend of mine, a colleague in study and witness, must go to the hospital and lose a kidney. Another friend of mine from Germany is now freed from dialysis  because a beloved  friend gave up one of his own kidneys.
* Our friends from Noche perfomed Antigona for 250 high school students from the Bronx. And the hip hop kids completely responded to flamenco.
* One of the Noche dancers is being trained by the son of a flamenco dancer I knew 40 years ago in the hills of Northern New Mexico,,,,

What we’re talking about this week is gifts. All these little vignettes involve gifts at some level or other…artists, healers, friends….

Let’s look at Paul’s list….first remembering that all these are gifts of the Spirit, given for the common good..

* The utterance of wisdom….. and to another the utterance of knowledge
* We need people who know how to do things, but we need people who know why to do things. Both are important. These gifts need each other. We need people who press for the bottom line and those who know when true value goes beyond dollars. Without the one we simply don’t survive, without the other, we are no longer who we are. Wisdom and knowledge are not the same thing…we need both to be in dialogue with one another.

*Faith. It’s not always easy. Not everyone can have it. At least all the time. Paul’s words recognize that and remind us. But we always need a critical number who believe it can happen, that we can do it….it will happen, in God’s time, and that the victory is already won.

*Healing. Doctors and nurses are the healing hands of God. Others bring prayers and healing words. Others do the listening that allows healing to begin.

*Working of miracles. We need those with us who can do the impossible. Who can do what no one believes can be done. Who are willing to try.  The very fact that our doors are still open here is thanks to a small and dedicated group of miracle workers.

* Prophecy. Those who can see what’s coming down the road if we don’t change course. Those who are brave enough to speak truth to power and those who can organize prophetic action, effective action.  Those who pass out loaves and fishes and those who train bakers and fishers.

*Discernment of Spirits. Those who get it. Who can feel rightly the gift of others. I had a friend in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Bishop Thomas Smith. Of the Church of the Living God. I knew he had a conservative theology to go with his rigorous social ethic. For one of his revivals, he invited one of our colleagues, Rabbi Charles Sherman, to speak. I knew how closely Thomas guarded his pulpit so I asked him why he invited Charles. I have the gift of discerning Spirits. And there is one spirit, he said. And the Holy Spirit has shown me that Charles is of the spirit. And that’s why he’s in my pulpit.

*Tongues. To speak other languages. To other cultures. I’m not just talking ethnicity and national origin, you know? Thee are all kind of cultures and communities in this city. This is where artists come in: Speaking the WORD without WORDS.

*Interpretation of tongues. Those who can hear the various languages being spoken and help others understand. Those who are translators, the readers of signs…. Helping us understand one another.

The gospel story yet another in the series that could be called Jesus learns and grows.. from the teen-aged boy in the temple to the man at baptism called out from the life he’d been living for 30 years  to the young man called by his mother to use his gifts…

So what are your gifts? Which one are you? What do you contribute to the common good? May the Spirit help us with discernment of that question…today..and every day…

Biggest thing to remember, often these gifts work best in dialectic….but still, even in dialogue, there is  ONE SPIRIT…


I ask for us to consider, talk about our gifts. I realize how hard it is for some of our people to own their gifts. Like Leila with her artistry and esthetics. Her creativity and sense of beauty. Or Dion with his cheerful spirit and willingness to do whatever is necessary. I remind him of how much it lifts me when I see him when I arrive on Sundays.  Or John, who truly is in service to others in caring ways.  I remind him that  he’s the essence of the traditional meaning  of Deacon. And Rachel. I remind her that she was  nurse. And how much she did for others. Reflecting  on being 94 she says, but it’s all gone now. And I said, but not  your heart. We still feel your care and concern for us. It lifts  me, strengthens me, just to see you here.  (I saw her this morning outside approaching from an unexpected direction. When I asked her about this,  she said that sometimes she like to walk around the block just to see what's going on.  She is a real New Yorker.) I think of John walking her home every Sunday. And so many others…gifts. All.

We say our prayers. Sing our songs. Our amens. And it’s time to go back into  the world.

1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says "Let Jesus be cursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit.
4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord;6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

John 2:1-11 The Voice (VOICE)
Three days later, they all went to celebrate a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was invited together with Him and His disciples. While they were celebrating, the wine ran out; and Jesus’ mother hurried over to her son.
Mary: The host stands on the brink of embarrassment; there are many guests, and there is no more wine.
Jesus: Dear woman, is it our problem they miscalculated when buying wine and inviting guests? My time has not arrived.
But she turned to the servants.
Mary: Do whatever my son tells you.
In that area were six massive stone water pots that could each hold 20 to 30 gallons.[a]They were typically used for Jewish purification rites. Jesus’ instructions were clear:
Jesus: Fill each water pot with water until it’s ready to spill over the top; then fill a cup, and deliver it to the headwaiter.
They did exactly as they were instructed. After tasting the water that had become wine, the headwaiter couldn’t figure out where such wine came from (even though the servants knew), and he called over the bridegroom in amazement.
Headwaiter: 10 This wine is delectable. Why would you save the most exquisite fruit of the vine? A host would generally serve the good wine first and, when his inebriated guests don’t notice or care, he would serve the inferior wine. You have held back the best for last.

11 Jesus performed this miracle, the first of His signs, in Cana of Galilee. They did not know how this happened; but when the disciples and the servants witnessed this miracle, their faith blossomed.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Baptism of Jesus Sunday 2016


Jesus' Baptism by Angelo Romano

It’s Baptism Sunday. And because our 600 pound late Victorian Baptismal font is in the Chapel, due to Antigona in the Sanctuary, we will worship there this morning. Dion is there when I arrive, getting everything ready. And John Roggie will be our musician. A young couple with a 2 month old named Jack is visiting.

We’ll share a lot of good Baptism songs today, like Take Me to the Water, and Baptized in Water, and of course, When I Went Down to the River to Pray. We read Isaiah 43: 1-7 and Psalm 29 and Luke 3: 15-17 and 19-22, the story of Jesus’ Baptism.

I ask everyone how many remember their baptism. About a third received adult baptism. Including one by full immersion  in a baptistery in public.

So we’re talking about Baptism. In Isaiah, we’re told that God calls us by name… could say that it is at baptism , when you receive your name, , is when YOU become YOU so to  speak.

I’m wearing today my father’s watch. My mom told my sister she wanted to give it to one of the boys someday, and my sister said, Do you know how old the boys are?  So my mom gave o tot me for Christmas.  Baptism was really important to my dad. SO it was really special when he was so pleased at the bris (Jewish circumcision /naming ceremony) when my son received his name.  My Dad said, least he’s not a nameless waif… a blessing had been invoked, a name given, our friends and family celebrated.

At Baptism we receive our Christian name…..we only baptize using the  first (and second) name….Our last name is shared by family, but the first and second names, those are unique to us, make us who we are.
We sometimes used to say Christening as an alternative word for baptism pointing to being dedicated to Christ and also the receiving of our Christian name.

Isaiah speaks of redemption . In the Old Testament, it related to debt, to debts owed. Your redeemer was the one who paid your debt, thus setting you free. The pawn bought back to its original owner.

Isaiah also says Do not fear….a common theme, like the angels in the Christmas story. Do not fear…

So we have water baptism ….and by fire…the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Of the three basic elements, Sun, air and water…does everything need all? No…creatures can live without sun or without air (in the water) but no creature can live without water. Water is primordial…it’s where life begins…and we ourselves are 98% water.

By tradition, water was Chaos…God brings order out of chaos. …Defeats Tiamat  of the Babylonian creation story. But Tiamat, chaos is always there…as my friend Pastor Heidi…of Trinity Lutheran likes to say.

In Luke, John speaks of  Jesus coming to separate the wheat from the  chaff…..separating out…we have come to see this not only in the individual but  in the communal sense as well.  At the end of the day, we are both. We have both within us and Jesus comes to burn the chaff part out of us.

But there is a communal issue as well. The question always arises, so Why Jesus? If Jesus was sinless, why did  he need to be baptized? I’m not going to get into “sinless” discussion. The story of Jesus in the Temple spoke of him as needing to grow in wisdom and stature, even as normal children do.

At any rate, some commentators see this as Jesus’ commitment to be in solidarity with humanity. In the middle verses, before Jesus’ baptism, we find John in prison…SO Jesus in essence picks up John’s mantle…To understand this, you have to understand John.  He left security of the Temple world where his father was an official. The center of Jewish religious power living in collaboration with the Empire.

John’s baptism was an act of  protest/judgment against temple system, a call to come out from empire…So after Jesus lived within the system for 30 years, he had to COME OUT too. Separate  his life from the power of the Empire to where only God the creator has authority. Baptism is a public witness to that authority.
So what does it mean for us? First we are called to answer and demonstrate the question of what authority is primary. We need to understand that if  Jesus is our redeemer, in the time of Jubilee, all debts to empire cancelled…

Hear this…and know this…YOU are God’s child…in YOU God is well pleased…you have your own name, you have your own ministry…name it, claim it and live it…


After our prayers, I lead evryone to the baptismal font. Tell the story of its florid Tiffany design. The uncommon  water lily, lotus motif rising from the waters of chaos, rippled by the breath of the Holy Spirit.  How the lid disappeared during Occupy and how a very special mother, Sheryl Jaffe, made us a new ceramic cover. How the one on the other is a metaphor for who we are.

I say the Thanksgiving over water. Pour drops of Jordan River water in.  And invite every one to come up for laying on of hands and a blessing. I remember doing that for so many years with Katherine and how I felt the first time I did it alone.

We have our benediction. Sing Amen. And go out into the world….

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 from far away
and my 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."
1Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name;
worship the LORD in holy splendor.

3The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over mighty waters.
4The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

5The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.

7The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
8The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

9The voice of the LORD causes the oaks to whirl,
and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, "Glory!"

10The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
the LORD sits enthroned as king for ever.
11May the LORD give strength to his people!
May the LORD bless his people with peace!
GOSPEL 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 his 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."