Posted by: Pauline | January 6, 2013

Scriptures for Sunday 1/13/2013

Isaiah 43:1-7

“Fear not.”

That command (or other words to the same effect) occurs some 365 times in the Bible. Fear is a powerful force in our lives, and these words of Isaiah are a powerful assurance of God’s presence and love in the midst of the things that make us fearful.

Words put to music seem to have an even stronger effect on us than the words alone, so these words have also inspired a number of songs. Some well-known songs that use lines from this passage include:

“Be Not Afraid”

“Isaiah 43”

“God Leads Us Along”

“How Firm a Foundation”

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

John speaks of the coming Messiah as one who will “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire,” warning of judgment to come on those who are “chaff” rather than wheat.

When Jesus had been baptized and was praying, Luke says the Spirit descended “like a dove,” an image we associate with peace and gentleness.

It is appropriate to associate both those images with God, among others – it takes many images to portray the many characteristics of God. No matter how many we use, we won’t have given a complete picture of our infinite and ineffable God.

But we tend to stick to one set of images at a time, focusing on one aspect of God’s nature. There are times when we choose to think about the sobering fact of God’s coming judgment. There are other times we want the comfort of the peace that comes from God. It may be somewhat unsettling to see God linked with both fire and a dove within the space of a few verses. But God wants to unsettle us when we get too comfortable with one particular way of thinking about Him.

Both the words spoken by John, and the heavenly affirmation of Jesus (by both the Spirit descending like a dove, and the voice from heaven) answer the question people were asking, whether John might be the Christ. No, words and symbols all point to Jesus as God’s anointed one, come to fulfill all the promises of God and the hopes of His people.

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