Tuesday, December 7, 2010

All the Way to Heaven: Tracking God's Rest and Christ's Ensign with Jonathan Edwards

Those who have returned to Year A likely heard from Isaiah 11 last Sunday, the Second Sunday of Advent. This morning I was surprised to find a lengthy entry (No. 503), a real tour-de-force, in Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 15: Notes on Scripture, ed. Stein (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), wherein the Awakener ranges abroad from Isaiah 11:10 ("And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek. And his rest shall be glorious") to the epistle text (Hebrews 4:1-11) for the Third Sunday of Advent in Year D

Edwards tracks the intertwined themes of the Lord's "(en)sign" or "banner" [Heb. Nissi] and the Lord's "rest" through the marching formation of the army of Israel under four ensigns (see Num 2), through the battle with Amalek (Ex. 17:15), through the central ensign of the ark as it led Israel in procession (Num 10:33) and eventually across the Jordan into Canaan (Josh 3:3-4). 

Likewise, the pillars of fire and cloud are visible symbols not only of the locus of the presence of God with or upon the ark (Num 9:15-23), they are also traditional signs of God's glory. So, when Edwards views these texts by way of Isaiah's phrase, "HIS REST SHALL BE GLORY," he ushers in a slew of texts, especially psalms, canticles, and prophetic oracles, that essentially conflate God's (en)sign, ark, banner, tent, tabernacle, temple, mountain, etc., with the rod of Jesse, the cross of Christ, etc., all of which signify, in one way or another, the "rest" of God. In addition to the aforementioned texts, his citations include (in the following order): Jer 17:3; Ps 132:8, 13-14; 1Chron 28:2; 2Sam 7:6; Isa 66:1 and 57:15; Ezek 20:6, 15; Dan 11:16, 45; Pss 48:2; 50:2; 1Chron 22:5; Pss 29:2; 96:6; Jer 17:12; and finally, Heb 4:9. 

The entry is too long to reproduce in full, but among the highlights (with respect to his comments on Hebrews 4) are these:

"Here 'tis remarkable that ... the Apostle seems to suppose that what is called 'God's rest,' or 'Christ's rest,' in the promises of the Old Testament, is so called not only because it was a rest of God's providing and promising, but because it was his personally" (p. 603; emphasis mine).

"All these things show plainly that here is an allusion to God's salvation of Israel of old, when they were brought out of Egypt, and led through the wilderness to Canaan under Christ as their ensign, manifested by those types and symbols of his presence: Moses' rod, the tabernacle and ark, and especially the cloud of glory above them; and that the rod of Jesse, here spoken of, is that person there exhibited in those types [and] symbols. And they all manifestly show that the Messiah was to work out another redemption far greater than that of Egypt, of both Gentiles and Jews, and gather both into one great congregation, and lead 'em to another and far more glorious rest than that of Canaan, Jerusalem, and the temple, even in their greatest glory in Solomon's time, and a rest which should be his own land, and his own dwelling place, and temple, which his people should partake with him in his rest, happiness, and glory. And so that, as the Apostle says, there 'remains a rest to the people of God' (Heb 4:9), besides that which Joshua brought Israel into, and that heaven is that rest" (pp. 604-5; emphasis mine).

It is amazing what emerges when one simply lays hold of a phrase like: "His rest shall be glorious," with almost algebraic certainty and then follows it with a sort of transitive exegetical logic. But that is what the Awakeners were known for: an extraordinarily thorough biblical literacy worn like a pair of seven-league boots.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Why Year D? (Part 2): More Examples of the Principle of Canonical Comprehensiveness

The page you are looking can now be found in Chapter Three of ...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Comments are Open

Dear Year D Readers:

There are a lot of controls on the dashboard of this website, and I confess I am novice, still a student driver really, when it comes to operating such a contraption, but from what I can tell the Comments section should be open and I would welcome the opportunity to hear from you.

• I will try to take on board your ideas where it comes to improving the usefulness of this site, to the extent time and my limited technical know-how will allow.

• Likewise, if you have questions regarding just what in the world I was thinking when I paired up certain texts with certain other ones, I'll do my best to field such questions ... as memory serves.

• The Comments section is also a good place to initiate conversations among yourselves, at least brief ones, on the texts under considerations.

• I would especially welcome your fresh theological discoveries and exegetical insights from the texts, and testimonies as to how your congregation responds to these texts.

With every blessing in Christ,


Spread the Word

Dear Year D Readers:

With just a few days, a matter of hours really, before the end of Year C, let me encourage you to spread the Word about Year D to your colleagues in ministry, both within your denomination and across "party lines." Next week, the week after Christ the King, is a holiday week, that is, a short work week, so the time to plan for the First Sunday of Advent using this calendar of alternative texts is flying by.

Let others know about Year D, and we will no doubt be enriched by undertaking this journey together.

Meanwhile, you may wish to view this new post about scheduling possibilities.

Yours in Christ,


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

More on Scheduling Options

Can’t decide whether to shift into the Year D lane? Advent's coming! Let's think it through.

First of all, if you have some hesitancy, that is understandable. Year D is not for the faint of heart, and may not be the best choice for the beginning preacher. These are tough texts, "strong meat" (Heb 5:12, KJV). Not that the RCL does not also include many tough, meaty texts. Obviously, it does. It's all "written Word of God," right? But the very design of Year D (with longer lections and fewer ready-made resources) will likely entail more time in the study, that is, if you want the worship service to hold together. 

In many respects, it may be worth your while to give Year D some more serious thought, study, and prayer, perhaps in consultation with your staff or colleagues or with those who might be willing to work on developing more liturgical resources than I have been able to put together here. 

On the other hand, to study it alongside your other weekly exegetical, preaching, and liturgical duties will likely divide your focus, and you may soon set it aside when the the pressure is on and the time is short. In this case, it's probably better to just take the plunge. But if you find that a daunting idea, bear in mind that the bulk of Year D was shaped in the pastor's study, from week-to-week, over the course of a single liturgical year. (Sure, this involved a lot of groundwork ahead of time, but when it came right down to it, the Spirit did most of the work firing off the intertextual connections and giving the Word its own peculiar resonance in light of the liturgical season. The preacher mostly just showed up and put the selections in the liturgical pigeonholes that seemed most appropriate. My point is simply this: if I can design it from week-to-week, you can certainly use it from week-to-week.) 

And if you need any further encouragement to plunge into Year D, here it is: the church today needs these texts - desperately, far more desperately than you need the luxury of lingering over the decision. Don't just take my word for it. The texts that comprise Year D will prove themselves to you again and again. They themselves make the best case for Year D, and if you simply start down this road, you will soon find yourself saying, as I have said repeatedly: "What! You mean that text is not in the lectionary!?"

Second, let’s look at some more scheduling options. As I mentioned in “Expand the Lectionary!”, the effect of many churches doing Year D when lots of other churches do not sets up a cross-rhythm, a sequence of interweaving three-year and four-year cycles. The main point I’m trying to convey is that such “diversity” (!) is not necessarily “divisive” and might in fact be very creative.

Meanwhile, there are other options besides committing indefinitely to a four-year cycle (as with Option X below). When discussing this matter of scheduling, one colleague suggested Option Y, which appears to be a good compromise with, or adaptation of, the current three-year arrangement.

X (4 -year/†-rhythm)
Y (3-year/adapted RCL)
D (in lieu of A)
D (in lieu of B)
D (in lieu of C)

Option X is interesting to me, as I have said, for the cross-rhythm pattern by which, after three cycles of four years and four cycles of three years, everything will "come 'round right."

Option Y, my colleague’s suggestion, keeps the user on the same cycle as the RCL, moving in waltz time, so to speak, but altering the standard RCL pattern every fourth year.

Option Z is what I would simply term “ad hoc,” and this by way of four possible modes: on an annual basis (Z1), season by season (Z2), Sunday by Sunday (Z3), or using a Sunday-by-Sunday hybrid (Z4).

By an annual ad hoc basis (Z1), I simply mean plugging in Year D any year when the pastor thinks the variation would be helpful or necessary. You can simply return to the RCL after that and pick up where you left off.

By way of another example, when I first shared Year D with a small group of colleagues, one pastor who evidently had some hesitancy regarding a commitment to an entire year was nevertheless inspired to preach through the passion, thus exercising option Z2 here.

On the other hand, since most of the preaching I do now is as a guest preacher on a supply basis, I tend to exercise option Z3. Yes, even as the designer of Year D, my first stop is generally the current selections according to the RCL; then I turn to Year D to consider some alternative selections from different perspectives within the canon, and this can open up some new dimensions. This has been helpful on such occasions when the RCL presents me with a text (or texts) that has (have) simply become too familiar.

For a further variation on this theme and by way another example, on a recent Transfiguration Sunday, I found I was able to gain some fresh insights on the familiar RCL gospel lection, the transfiguration of Jesus, by coming at it from a variety of Year D lections (Psalm, OT, and Epistle), not all of them necessarily from Transfiguration Sunday itself, but from various parts of the Year D "Index of Lections." In short, I retained the RCL gospel lection and varied the other lections, thus implementing a hybrid option (Z4). I think it was perhaps the best Transfiguration sermon I have ever preached.

I hope this helps you think ... and pray ... through all the possibilities.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Index of Lections (Year D)

Genesis 3:1-7 (8-21) 22-24
Genesis 4:1-16
Genesis 6:1-8
Genesis 13
Genesis 14:1-24
Genesis 19:1-29
Genesis 38:1-30

Exodus 4:1-17
Exodus 25:1-40
Exodus 28:(1-29) 30-43
Exodus 34:29-34
Resurrection Evening

Leviticus 16:1-34

Numbers 10:33-36
Holy Saturday - The Great Vigil
Numbers 11:1-30

Deuteronomy 4:9-24 (25-31) 32-40
Deuteronomy 4:32-40
Deuteronomy 5:1-15 (6-21) 22-33
Deuteronomy 7:1-26
Deuteronomy 9:8-21
Resurrection Evening
Deuteronomy 10:11-12:1
Holy Saturday - The Great Vigil
Deuteronomy 10:12-22
Deuteronomy 11:1-17
Deuteronomy 15:1-18
Deuteronomy 16:1-17
Deuteronomy 19:15-21
Deuteronomy 30:1-14
Deuteronomy 31:23-29
Deuteronomy 31:(1-22) 23-29
Deuteronomy 31:30-32:27
Deuteronomy 32:28-47

Judges 5:1-31
Holy Saturday - The Great Vigil

1Samuel 21:1-15

2Samuel 7:18-29
2Samuel 15:30-37; 16:15-17:4

1Kings 9:1-9; 11:1-13
2Kings 4:38-44
2Kings 6:8-23
2Kings 20:1-21

2Chronicles 7:1-22
2Chronicles 7:1-22
2Chronicles 19:4-20:30
2Chronicles 30:1-27

Ezra 9:5-15

Nehemiah 9:1-38

Job 32:1-22
Job 33:1-33
Job 34:1-20
Job 34:21-37
Job 35:1-16
Job 36:1-23
Job 36:24-37:24

Psalm 3
Psalm 3
Psalm 6
Psalm 7
Holy Saturday - The Great Vigil
Psalm 7
Psalm 10
Psalm 11
Psalm 12
Psalm 17
Holy Saturday - The Great Vigil
Psalm 17:8-14 (15)
Psalm 25:11-22
Psalm 28
Psalm 31: (1-5) 6-14 (15-16) 17-24
Psalm 33: (1-12) 13-22
Psalm 34:11-18
Psalm 35
Christmas Day
Psalm 35
Psalm 35
Psalm 37: (1-2) 12-38 (39-40)
Psalm 38
Psalm 39
Psalm 40: (1-11) 12-17
Psalm 44
Psalm 44
Holy Saturday - The Great Vigil
Psalm 49
Psalm 50: (7-8) 9-21 (22-23)
Psalm 54
Psalm 55
Psalm 55
Psalm 56
Psalm 57
Holy Saturday - The Great Vigil
Psalm 57
Psalm 58
Psalm 59
Psalm 60
Psalm 61
Psalm 64
Psalm 68:11-31 (32-35)
Psalm 69
Psalm 71:15-24
Psalm 73
Psalm 74
Psalm 75
Psalm 75
Psalm 75
Resurrection Evening
Psalm 76
Psalm 76
Psalm 76
Resurrection Evening
Psalm 77: (1-2) 3-10 (11-20)
Psalm 82
Psalm 87
Psalm 88
Psalm 89:5-18, 38-52
Psalm 92:(1-4) 5-11 (12-15)
Psalm 94
Christmas Day
Psalm 94
Psalm 101
Psalm 102
Ash Wednesday
Psalm 105:(1-6)2-15, 26-36 (37, 43-45)
Psalm 107:(1-3)10-16, 23-32(33-37) 38-42(43)
Psalm 108
Holy Saturday - The Great Vigil
Psalm 108
Psalm 109
Psalm 113
Psalm 115
Psalm 117
Psalm 119:(1-16) 17-32
Psalm 119:73-96
Psalm 119:113-136
Psalm 119:145-176
Holy Saturday - The Great Vigil
Psalm 119:145-176
Ascension (Thursday)
Psalm 129
Psalm 134
Psalm 136
Psalm 140
Psalm 141
Psalm 142
Psalm 143
Psalm 149
Holy Saturday - The Great Vigil

Proverbs 1:1-7
Ascension (Thursday)

Ecclesiastes 5:1-20
Ecclesiastes 5:1-20
Ecclesiastes 7:1-14
Ecclesiastes 7:15-29
Ecclesiastes 8:1-17

Song 4:9-5:16
Holy Saturday - The Great Vigil

Isaiah 1:1-20
Isaiah 5:8-17
Isaiah 5:18-24
Isaiah 6:8-13
Christmas Day
Isaiah 6:8-13
Isaiah 26:1-21
Holy Saturday - The Great Vigil
Isaiah 26:7-27:1
Isaiah 29:1-24
Isaiah 37:14-38
Isaiah 43:8-15
Isaiah 45:20-25
Isaiah 54:1-4 (5-14) 15-17
Isaiah 57:14-21
Ash Wednesday
Isaiah 63:(7-9) 10-19
Isaiah 65:10-65

Jeremiah 4:19-31
Jeremiah 7:1-15
Jeremiah 8:4-13
Jeremiah 9:23-24; 24:1-10
Jeremiah 10:1-16 (17-25)
Christmas Day
Jeremiah 22:1-9
Jeremiah 24:1-10
Jeremiah 25:15-38

Ezekiel 7:(1-9) 10-27
Ezekiel 17:22-24
Ezekiel 31:1-18
Ezekiel 47:1-12

Daniel 2:1-49
Daniel 4:1-37
Daniel (11:40-45) 12:1-13
Daniel 12:1-13

Hosea 14:1-9

Amos 4:1-3

Obadiah 1-21

Micah 7:1-7

Nahum 1:1-11
Nahum 1:12-15
Nahum 2:1-13
Nahum 3:1-19

Habakkuk 3:1-19

Haggai 1:1-14 (15)
Haggai 1:1-14 (15)
(Haggai 1:15-2:9)
Haggai 2:10-19
Haggai 2:20-23

Zechariah 7:1-14
Zechariah 8:1-23
Zechariah 9:1-8 (9-12) 13-17
Zechariah 13:1-9
Zechariah 14:(1-3) 4-9 (10-21)

Malachi 3:6-18 (4:1-6)

Matthew 6:7-15
Matthew 7:1-23
Holy Saturday - The Great Vigil
Matthew 7:1-12
Matthew 7:13-20
Matthew 8:1-4; 9:1-8
Matthew 8:5-13
Matthew 8:14-34
Matthew 9:27-34
Matthew 10:9-23
Matthew 10:9-23
Matthew 10:17-22a; 24:9-14
Matthew 11: (1-11) 12-24 (25-30)
Matthew 12:1-21
Matthew 12:22-50
Matthew 12:22-37
Matthew 12:38-50
Matthew 13:10-17 (18-33) 34-35
Matthew 13:53-58
Matthew 14:1-12
Matthew 15:1-20
Matthew 15:29-39; 16:1-12
Matthew 17:9-20
Matthew 18:1-14 (15-20)
Matthew 21:12-22
Matthew 22:23-33
Matthew 23:13-39
Matthew 24:1-8
Matthew 24:15-22
Matthew 24:23-35 (36-44)
Matthew 24:(36-44) 45-51
Matthew 26:1-19
Matthew 26:20-35
Matthew 26:36-56
Matthew 26:57-27:1-2
Matthew 27:3-31a
Matthew 27:31b-56
Matthew 27:(45-49) 50-56
Matthew 27:57-66
Matthew 27:62-66
Holy Saturday - The Great Vigil

Mark 3:7-19
Mark 4:1-25
Mark 5:1-20
Mark 7:1-20
Mark 8:1-26
Mark 9:9-29
Mark 11:12-25 (26)
Mark 11:27-33
Mark 12:18-27
Mark 12:35-37
Ascension (Thursday)
Mark 12:35-37
Mark 13:1-8
Mark 13:9-13
Mark 13:14-23
Mark 14:1-16
Mark 14:17-31
Mark 14:32-52
Mark 14:53-15:1
Mark 15:2-20a
Mark 15:20b-41
Mark 15:42-47

Luke 1:1-25
Luke 1:(57) 58-67 (68-79) 80
Luke 5:12-26
Luke 5:27-39
Luke 6:1-16
Luke 7:18-35
Luke 7:36-8:3
Holy Saturday - The Great Vigil
Luke 8:4-25; 13:18-21
Luke 9:18-27 (28-36) 37-45
Luke 9:46-50; 17:1-4
Luke 11:14-36 (37-54)
Luke 11:14-23
Luke 11:24-36
Luke 11:37-54
Luke 12:(35-40) 41-48
Luke 12:1-12
Luke 12:1-12
Luke 17:20-37
Luke 20:1-8
(Luke 20:27-40)
Luke 20:41-47
Ascension (Thursday)
Luke 20:41-47
Luke 21:20-24
Luke 22:1-38 (39-46)
Luke 22:1-13
Luke 22:14-38
Luke 22:39-53
Luke 22:54-23:1
Luke 23:(1-12) 13-49
Luke 23:2-25
Luke 23:26-32
Luke 23:33-49
Luke 23:50-56

John 3:22-38
John 4:43-54
John 5:1-18
Ash Wednesday
John 5:19-30
John 5:31-47
John 5:31-47
John 7:1-13
John 7:14-39
John 7:40-52
John 7:53-8:11
John 8:12-30
John 8:31-47
John 8:48-59
John 10:19-21 (22-31) 32-42
John 11:45-57
John 12:17-19, 37-50
Christmas Day
John 12:17-19, 37-50
John 13:1-20
John 13:21-38
John 15:18-25 (26-27); 16:1-4a
John 16:16-24
John 16:25-33
John 18:1-12
John 18:13-28
John 18:29-19:16
John 19:17-30
John 19:31-42
John 20:19-29
Resurrection Evening
John 21:20-25

Romans 1:8-15 (16-17) 18-32; 2:1-11
Romans 2:12-29
Romans 3:1-22a
Romans 7:1-12
Romans 9:6-33
Romans 11:2-28 (29-32) 33-36
Romans 14:13-23
Romans 15:1-3, 14-33
Romans 16:1-25 (26-27)

1Corinthians 3:12-15 (3:16-4:5) 4:6-21
1Corinthians 5:1-5 (6-8) 9-13; 6:1-11
1Corinthians 7:1-40
1Corinthians 9:1-15 (16-18, 23)
1Corinthians 10:(14-17) 18-11:1
1Corinthians 11:2-22 (23-32) 33-34
1Corinthians 14:1-40
1Corinthians 15:(20-26) 27-50 (51-58)
Holy Saturday - The Great Vigil
1Corinthians 15:27-50 (51-57)
1Corinthians 16:1-24

2Corinthians 1:1-17 (18-22)
2Corinthians 1:23-2:17
2Corinthians 3:7-11(4:16-5:1) 5:2-5(6-10)
Resurrection Evening
2Corinthians 6:11-7:1
2Corinthians 7:2-16
2Corinthians 8:1-6 (7-15) 16-24
2Corinthians 9
2Corinthians 10
2Corinthians 11:1-12:1
2Corinthians 12:11-21; 13:1-10 (11-13)

Galatians 1:1-24
Ash Wednesday
Galatians 1:1-24
Galatians 2:1-14 (15-21)
Galatians 2:1-14 (15-21)
Galatians 3:1-22
Galatians 4:1-5:1
Galatians 5:(1) 2-12 (13-25) 26
Galatians 6:1-18

Ephesians 2:11-22
Ash Wednesday
Ephesians 4:17-25 (4:26-5:1-2) 5:3-7
Ephesians 5:21-33; 6:1-9 (10-20) 21-24

Philippians 2:14-30

Colossians 1:29-2:5 (16-19) 20-23
Colossians 3:18-4:18

1Timothy 3
1Timothy 4
1Timothy 5

Titus 1

Hebrews 7:1-28
Hebrews 8:1-13
Hebrews 9:1-28
Hebrews 10:1-4 (10-14) 26-39
Hebrews 11:(1-3) 4-7, 17-28 (39-40)
Hebrews 12:(1-3) 4-17
Hebrews 13:9-14 (15-16) 17-25
Hebrews 13:9-14, 17-25

James 1:1-27
James 1:1-16
Ash Wednesday
James 1:17-27
James 1:17-2:13
James 2:1-26
James 2:(14-17) 18-26
James 3:1-18
James 4:4-17
James 5:1-20

1Peter 2:1, 11-18 (19-25); 3:1-11
1Peter 4:1-19

2Peter 1:1-15
2Peter 2:1-22
2Peter 2:1-22
2Peter 2:1-22
2Peter 3:1-7, 15-18

1John 2:3-29
1John 2:3-29
Ascension (Thursday)
1John 2:3-29
1John (3:8-15) 4:1-6




Revelation 1:8-20
Resurrection Evening