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January 2022

Released, 1/23/22

By | Sermons

Meadowbrook Congregational Church

Released, by the Rev. Joel K. Boyd

Edited & formatted for publication by J. E. Tucker, MPH

January 23, 2022

 

The Gospel According to Luke, 4:14-21 (NRSV)1         

 

14Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to (the) Galilee,[A] 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[B] 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.”

 

We learn a lot of things about Jesus in the first few chapters in the Gospel [According to] Luke. Curiously, we witness how the story doesn’t even begin by mentioning Jesus—directly, anyway. Rather, we witness two visits by the [arch]angel Gabriel[C], who shares good yet terrifying news of seemingly impossible, miraculous births: first to Elizabeth—in her older years—and second to the youthful Mary. The Holy Spirit is with both the baby John (Luke 1:15) and Jesus, although it is only Jesus who is conceived by the Spirit (Luke 1:35). Why did John get singled out before Jesus? we wonder.

There’s the famous nativity story of Jesus’s birth (Luke 2:1-20; Matt. 1:18-2:12). There’s also the presentation of Jesus at the Temple [in Jerusalem] (Luke 2:22-24), and that time he seemed to be lost in the Temple (Luke 2:46-49). Both times we witness thanks and praise being offered to G-d in connection to the young Jesus. We see that Jesus was unique; that there was something quite special about him.

Now, were we to read these sections of [The Gospel According to] Luke from a cultural view of the centerexclusively (in other words, not from the perspective of those living on the margins of society), then we might be tempted to paint for ourselves easily digestible lessons that do not disrupt our worldview. For example, we might picture docile scenes of delighted parents—except when they lost Jesus in the crowd—who may have even smiled with pride as their child was praised as something special. We might see ourselves as John the Baptizer pointing others to Jesus—as if he couldn’t find them himself as the Son of G-d (Mark 1:1). We might pray to have the devotion of Mary when she prays the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-56). We may laugh at the fumbling foibles of Zechariah, finding ourselves to have fared better than the old priest who was mute (Luke 1:20) from doubt and who could not speak but only write (Luke 1:63) the name of his newborn son.

Reading the Bible from the cultural center alone, maybe we find that we’re as pleased with ourselves as we feel somehow above it all; that we’re able to approach the Gospel without much to lose—or even that much to gain, for that matter. That John the Baptizer viper business (Luke 3:7) does strike us as a bit distasteful and odd, and the baptism of Jesus paints a serene scene of pretty birds and a proud Dad in the clouds (John 1:32; Mark 1:10; Matt. 3:16; & Luke 3:22). The whole names thing (the genealogy?) seems so abstract and weird (Matt 1: 1-17; Luke 3:23-38, for example). Why do we need to know all these names? Can’t we just skip over this part? Well, it’s possible that we do—especially if learning about the names challenges our worldview or when comparing it to the genealogy in Matthew 1, which is different in some ways from the one in Luke (Luke 3:23-38).

Continuing with our cultural specs, we arrive with Jesus in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13). Ah, the temptation! The Devil doesn’t know what’s coming to him. Silly question after silly question, Jesus knocks the Devil out, to the point of his just leaving. [It] looks like the Devil is an annoying parasite, so it’s no wonder Jesus didn’t take the bait. Hey, even we think we could have handled that, piece of cake. And here begins Jesus’ worldly ministry in Galilee (Matt. 4:12; Mark 1:14; Luke 4:14-15), which [the Lukan author] writes for us in today’s Gospel passage. Of course, I’m painting a bit of a caricature, here, right? A simplification of what could easily be anyone’s ‘plain Jane’, milk-white-toast approach to the Bible. Who thinks like this? I don’t know… probably no one. But there is some truth there in the intentional, superficial glossing-over, all of which can happen, or maybe even be encouraged to happen when we read the Bible through only our own eyes. And if we represent the cultural center (of power, influence, and control, that is), then we may end up with a habit of seeing just ourselves or “people like us” in our readings of scripture. And this is dangerous, friends. Because if we only read and think from our perspective, and we are among those with arguably the most power, influence, and control in our city, our state, our nation, our world, well, the most influence will go towards only one group of people, the powerful, barely including, and possiblyexcluding those who live on the margins of society, and by that I mean the margins of American society today.

Still, we might try to justify ourselves, thinking that we mean well or that we pray well, or that we just don’t. want. to. be. made. uncomfortable. But the Bible isn’t directed toward our comfort level (think, the cross). Nor is the Bible about one culture or group of people. The Bible speaks to all people. Just consider how many languages, countries, and different theologies we have in the Church Universal. And not all these faithful are from the cultural center. [The Lord] is praised and sought by countless faithful people living in the margins. And not all of them are White; many are Black.

The [Reformed theologian] John Calvin is often [remembered] as having said that we should view the world through the spectacles of the Bible; to understand and experience the world and our place in it as if using the Bible for glasses.2,3 Of course, it naturally follows that one should be discouraged to view the Bible through the lens of the world. Many reject this out of hand, seeing it as a gateway to revisionism or as a distortion of scripture. And I think they are correct in this assertion. I do believe that we should be approaching the world through the teaching’s invitations and corrections of the Bible, but I would push back on one point. Now, if John Calvin were here to defend himself, he’d likely crush me theologically, but as he’s blessed us to wrestle with his work alone at this time, I would like to just put forward a different spin on this ‘Bible-as-spectacles’ idea. I kindly borrow it from Miguel A. De La Torre, Ph.D., M.P.A., M.A., M.Div., who has written and taught on the topic. Friends, we may all attempt to live in the world by viewing it through the lens of the Bible, but one significant aspect is missing from this line of reasoning: the Bible can still be faithfully read and lived out in the world by people who are different from us. We don’t own the interpretation of the Bible. It is for all G-d’s people.

In his book Reading the Bible from the Margins,4 the Rev. Dr. De La Torre invites members of non-marginalized cultures to consider the ways the Bible is read by members of marginalized [ones]. For example, the invitation here may be for White, affluent, gay men to consider and reflect on the way scripture is read and experienced by Black, impoverished, gay women. What might Black women see in the Bible? What do White men see? How [does one] see the Gospel as one who is advantaged; how [does one] see the Gospel as one who is disadvantaged? How much does who we are impact how we read the Bible? What do we see when we have most all we need, and what do we see when we have next to nothing? I pray that we all can agree that G-d sets people free, that G-d blesses us by faith and by love.

We may thank G-d for the many blessings we have (and it is good and right to do so), but what about when people from marginalized communities do not have access to the same blessings that [we] enjoy—or possibly even take for granted—in communities from the cultural center?

In testifying to G-d’s role as liberator, De La Torre writes how “G-d took the first step in choosing the […] Hebrews so as to tie G-d’s will with the liberation of a politically and socially oppressed people. Just as G-d entrusted the Ten Commandments to this oppressed group so that through them G-d could be revealed to all humanity, so too are the marginalized of society chosen to become the instrument by which G-d the liberator is revealed today.”

While we may feel chosen (or to have chosen ourselves), De La Torre reminds us that it’s not really up to us; it’s G-d who chooses.

In our passage from the [Gospel According to] Luke this morning, we meet Jesus after having become well-known and taught in several synagogues.

Then, Jesus comes to his hometown of Nazareth (Luke 4:16). He went to the synagogue on the sabbath there, but we don’t know how long he was in Nazareth before that.

In the synagogue, Jesus stood to read from the scroll of the Israelite prophet Isaiah (Luke 4:17).5 [He] read from [the Book of] Isaiah 61: “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, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Is. 61:1-2—the reading’s full Tanakhic context can be found here.)

After this reading, Jesus sat down and, having their undivided attention, spoke to everyone in the synagogue, saying, “today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21)

Now we won’t get into all that follows this when folks get all upset and toss Jesus out for what he said, though it is worth keeping in mind a bit, isn’t it?

Before coming to Nazareth, Jesus had been brought by the Spirit to face the temptation of the Devil (Luke 4:1-13), and despite the great challenge to his health and stamina, Jesus did not succumb to temptation. Rather than to try to claim the power to himself, which as the Son of G-d he easily could have done, Jesus lifted the glory to the Lord G-d (Luke 4:8; Deut. 6:13). This is important because we soon see that Jesus returns to Galilee, where his hometown of Nazareth is; he returns filled with the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:14). So, it is here [in] our passage that Luke shows us the Son pointing to the Father by way of the Spirit[D] and entering the familiar: that which he’d have known all while growing up. And Jesus reads and says what he says about Isaiah’s prophecy, and with the benefit of our reading the unity of our triune G-d—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—Jesus changes the ball game. G-d has come to deliver the oppressed people; perhaps just as should have been expected.

Easy for us to say, though. Many of us haven’t had to be delivered from anything: helped here and there, sure, but delivered or released, what would we need to be released from? Sure, we may say “from our sins,” and I don’t argue that. While we may have different understandings of it, the Bible brings it before us. But what about the conditions in which we have lived, have people from the cultural center ever needed to be released from anything on a grand scale? How about marginalized communities: how have they needed [to be] released?

To be fully released from systemic oppression, there must first be educated about prior enslavement and/or disenfranchisement of those marginalized. And before any reconciliation can be achieved, in any event, there must be justice. In the case of our present series, racial reconciliation can only be “achieved” between Black and White Americans, when justice is both actualized and realized in the hearts and prayers of the Black community.

Yet what constitutes our understanding of reconciliation may be the very thing tripping us up. Remember our cultural lens can often reveal to us understandings that we want to see, not what is there.

In her 2018 book I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness,6 Austin Channing Brown writes of several misconceptions we often have about racial reconciliation—specifically, misconceptions we have in White churches. She states that, “a great many people believe reconciliation boils down to dialogue: a conference on race, a lecture, a moving sermon about the diversity we’ll see in heaven. But dialogue is productive toward reconciliation only when it leads to action – when it inverts power and pursues justice for those who are marginalized.”

Brown pleads with us [i.e., the readers] to understand how “reconciliation demands more. Reconciliation is the pursuit of the impossible – an upside-down world where those who are powerful have relinquished that power to the margins. […] Reconciliation is what Jesus does. When sin and brokenness and evil tore us from G-d, it was Jesus who reconciled us, whose body imagined a different relationship, who took upon himself the cross and became peace.”

Sisters and brothers, the Gospels proclaim a Christ who is as much of heaven as he is of this gritty earth. He is born into humility to two parents in need of explaining themselves to the powers that be. Born by the Spirit, with an entire earthly ministry in the Spirit, Christ Jesus throws himself on the line; repeatedly throws himself before us; heals us; gives food for us; cures us; raises us to life; jumps in front of the world’s judgment to take the blow of the stones thrown in hypocrisy… Jesus goes to the cross for us. He goes to the cross for all of us.

When we first picture Jesus at his home synagogue in Nazareth, it can be hard to grasp all that follows. But G-d ordained it, and Jesus became incarnate to deliver G-d’s people. “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.”

As we approach the topic of racial reconciliation with humility, may we ask ourselves who we’re doing it for. The Bible can be read through lenses of all kinds, and its truth remains for all to witness.

When you require being released there is only one reason for the need: you are being held back against your will.

Friends, may we be more than mindful in considering the role we play in racial reconciliation between Black and White Americans. No one feels free when they say they are not. Assumptions should not be made from the center, anywhere. Jesus came to love his people at the margins, and he released them. We need to keep following him. And we should probably try new glasses. [But] let’s not throw ours away. Keep them; they’re yours. Maybe we can just borrow some other ones from friends we know and from friends we will make.

G-d bless you and may G-d bless us all to be faithful witnesses through Jesus [the] Christ.

Amen.

 

References:

  1. Society of Biblical Literature. The HarperCollins Study Bible: Fully Revised & Updated. (Meeks WA, Bassler JM, Lemke W, Niditch S, Schuller E, Attridge HW, eds.). HarperCollins; 2006.
  2. Calvin J. The need of scripture, as a guide and teacher, in coming to G-d as a creator. In: Beveridge H, ed. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Vol 1. Calvin Translation Society; 1846.
  3. Lischer R. The Company of Preachers: Wisdom on Preaching, Augustine to the Present. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; 2002.
  4. de La Torre M. Reading the Bible From the Margins. 1st ed. Orbis Books; 2002.
  5. de Jong MJ. Isaiah Among The Ancient Near Eastern Prophets: A Comparative Study of the Earliest Stages of the Isaiah Tradition and the Neo-Assyrian Prophecies. In: Vestus Testamentum Supplements. Vol 117. Brill Academic Publishers; 2007:13-17.
  6. Brown AC. I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness. 1st ed. Convergent Books; 2018.

 

Endnotes:

[A] That is, the region spanning from modern Lebanon’s southern mountains in the north; to the Jordan River, Golan Heights, and Sea of Galilee in the east; to the west by the Mediterranean; and by the Jezreel Valley in the south.

[B] Traditionally, the Hebrew Bible, of which the book of Isaiah is a member, is written on scrolls.

[C] Heb. גַּבְרִיאֵל; meaning, “Adonai is my strength.” Jewish tradition names Gabriel as one of the two archangels (the other being Michael) charged with defending the Israelites, and his protection is requested in the bedtime Shema liturgy. Gabriel is also credited with interpreting the prophet Daniel’s prophecies (Dan. 8:16) and waging Adonai’s war on the Assyrians (Sanh. 95b).

[D] That is, he indirectly depicts the doctrine of the Trinity. For the philosophical foundations of trinitarianism, see Tuggy’s entry titled Trinity in theStanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Wisdom

By | Sermons

Meadowbrook Congregational Church

Wisdom, by the Rev. Joel K. Boyd

Edited and formatted for publication by J. E. Tucker, MPH

January 9, 2022

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 2:1-12 (NRSV)1

 

1In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 6‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” 7Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

 

 

What does it mean to be wise? Is it simply when someone is considered smart and makes informed decisions? Often, we can think of the old as being wise while the young have so much yet to learn. Perhaps the most important thing we should consider here is who defines wisdom. Whereas many see themselves as wise, the [Biblical authors] warn against [doing so]; calling us instead to fear the Lord and to shun evil. In our passage from Matthew 2, we witness the actions of the wise. Maybe we should hold close to scripture then, trying our best to view wisdom through the Bible’s lens.

This morning, we begin a new discussion. It may be a new discussion [to us], but it focuses on a tragically unresolved and long-neglected concern. Yet, not a small concern, nor one which does not include all of us. Doubtless, some may bristle at its mention, and others may fold their arms and think, “what is this pastor talking about?” “This doesn’t involve me; I wasn’t alive back then!” “Everyone is free to do as they please; no one is held back.” “It’s equal, right?!”

When we consider the topic of race in America, it can become emotional. It can put us out of our comfort zone. We either fear being blamed, or we avoid having to take any responsibility. Proverbs 11:30 (NIV)2 says that “the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives.” It [does not] say to make excuses.

Since we’re all made in God’s image, we’ve all been made good. God wants us to continue to be good, to do good; not just for ourselves or for God’s sake, but also one another. So maybe we are busy. Do we need to spend the rest of our lives—every waking moment—on one issue of concern over all [others]? Probably not. The prophets weren’t preaching all the time. The early Church served in many capacities. Even Jesus took time to rest and to just be with his friends. Nobody is asking that we give more time than we have. And no one is expecting that we fix everything.

But racial reconciliation does have a way of grabbing hold of our hearts, doesn’t it? Kind of makes us wonder, what are we spending all our time on? When does Jesus ask us to call it quits and just do whatever we want with the rest of our time on earth? When does Jesus just say we have too much on our plate always, that there is never any time to serve beyond our perceived capacity?

The answer is never, of course, to all these questions. Jesus does, [however,] call on us to make sacrifices, but he doesn’t ask us to be experts on every topic. Scripture shows that we are called to share our unique gifts (1 Pet. 4:10; Rom. 12:6). Yet, above all, Jesus calls us to love God, and to care [and] love one another (Mrk. 12:30-31). And so, I hope you’ll not judge me too harshly, and that you’ll join me on this humble journey as we consider racial reconciliation with this being our first step in this series.

In his book The Color of Compromise,3 Jemar Tisby, PhD, extends an encouraging invitation to join the dance of racial reconciliation, even without knowing all the steps. “So many of us fear that we will get it wrong,” Tisby writes, “we worry that we do not know enough yet, that our good intentions may have unintended consequences, or that the very people we seek to serve will rebuke us for our ignorance or missteps. We know that no one can assure us that such things will not happen. Standing for justice and racial reconciliation involves risk. Like all other skills, we can learn, and we can get better. And we can do this together. We acknowledge that we cannot read our way, listen our way, or watch our way into being faithful servants for racial [reconciliation]. At some point, we must act.”

This morning, we re-hear one of the most memorable passages of the New Testament, the story of the wise men who travel to meet the young Jesus. Before digging into the entire passage and how it speaks into the topic of racial reconciliation (specifically, the reconciliation of Black and white Americans), let’s first consider a few things that can help us live into this great event in the Gospel [According to] Matthew.

For starters, [the Gospel According to] Matthew is the only book of the [New Testament] to share this story. Sure, many passages mention “the wise” [and] “wisdom,” but only [the Matthean author] speaks of “wise men” (Matt. 2:7) as we know them.

In various English translations, the wise men are often referred to as the magi. While it may seem like an unusual word, magi is more faithful to the original Greek μάγοι (from the root μάγος), which, interestingly has several meanings itself. The ancient Greek world understood μάγος to mean a member of the Persian priestly caste whose religious ideas were influenced by philosophy, or a magician among other things.

In Judaism, μάγος is a loan word for magician, which the Hebrew people would have been forbidden to associate with (b. Shabbat 75a).4 In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, μάγος is used in the Book of Daniel (Dan. 2:2, 4:4, & 5:15), indicating the possessor of the religious and magical arts of Babylonian mediators between the “higher powers” and mankind. Many modern English translations understand μάγος to be astrologer.

Back in Matthew 2, we witness the challenge of discerning which definition is the most faithful, the most accurate. Were magi [specifically] Babylonian astrologers or astrologers, in general? Magicians or philosophical priests? Were they from Persia or somewhere else? (When I briefly visited the Sultanate of Oman in the Arabian Peninsula a few years ago, I was surprised to learn the history of both myrrh and frankincense there. Frankincense is sap from trees that grow in southern Oman and northern Yemen.) Either way, the magi appear to have come from the east of Jerusalem, and they were widely considered to be smart people of influence.

Matthew shows how magi came to Jerusalem in search of the baby born to be King of the Jews (Matt. 2:2). They followed signs and knew “this” was about the right place. Herod found out about this and was deeply troubled, this would have been a big threat to his power. Sending the magi off to Bethlehem, Herod asked them to let him know where Jesus was (Matt. 2:8), lying through his teeth as to the reason he’d like to visit the child. The magi continue to follow the star, their sign, and they enter the house where Jesus was with joy (Matt 2:9). There they gave Jesus the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and they paid him homage (Matt. 2:11). A dream warned them of Herod, and they left another way (Matt 2:12).

Yet these wise men, these magi, could arguably have gone anywhere else, or have been more interested in someone else. They were intelligent, influential leaders. So why would they travel so far to pay homage to a refugee Hebrew child? To our knowledge, the magi weren’t early Christians, and they weren’t Jews.[A] So how could they have known they should embark on this journey; this unknown journey of a surprising faith? What did any of this have to do with their being wise? Where [was] God in all of this? I would say God was everywhere; God was the reason; and, by reasserting wisdom as God’s own, God sent God’s people on a journey to point the whole world to the love God has for all people and to express how that love not only ends brokenness but also effects authentic reconciliation.

Nikole Hannah-Jones [and The New York Times Magazine] created The 1619 Project, [an anthology of essays] published at the end of 2021.5 Subtitled A New Origin Story, 1619 surveys the legacy of slavery and how it has continued to impact the lives of Black Americans. The project takes its title and content from August 1619, the [year] the very first African captives were taken to America, arriving in Virginia on a ship called the White Lion. With poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and photographs, Hannah-Jones and fellow contributors offer a striking, relevant rehearing of the lasting effects which are so pervasive in American culture that they’ve nearly become invisible. Invisible to many white Americans, that is.

With many of the founders being slaveholders in the time of the American Revolution, historians have remarked that “slaveholding Patriots went to war in 1775 and declared independence [against England] in 1776 to defend their rights to own slaves.” While countless white Americans have approached what has all too often been labeled “the Negro problem” or “the Black problem” in the U.S., Hannah-Jones explains how the statistical focus has been primarily on things like “poverty, out-of-wedlock births, crime, and college attendance,” almost as if to dismiss the most important lens with which to view them: that Black people were enslaved in America longer than they have been free. It’s worth pointing out that, depending on how you view the numbers, and what your definition is of “free,” Black Americans have arguably only been free some decades after having been enslaved for centuries. How can that not matter?

Here, just a few days after Epiphany, when we picture the magi who seek the Christ [as a] child, we must wonder what they were looking for. We don’t know where they came from—specifically anyway. We may not even be that sure how much they came together or whether they knew one another or not. But we do they followed the signs to Jesus. Jesus “called” the magi to himself, they gave offerings, and they [received]—perhaps we see no small amount of our worship service here.

Yet the next part, the part we don’t see much about in the magi, is what happens when we are drawn to Jesus. Jesus the Christ would go on to show, in many ways, that all who are called to his love are then sent to live his love into the world. This is the wisdom of God; not in our own eyes, but the words of the Word made flesh, that we are called from wherever we may be to give to Jesus the Christ and to give as he gave.

Sisters and brothers, may we, regardless of our racial [or ethnic] ancestry, be encouraged to join in being witnesses for racial reconciliation and to walk in loving solidarity with all Black Americans. While we may never be prepared or feel strong enough to do so, we may know most certainly that Jesus is and has always been. While the Christ child drew the wise to himself as they bore him gifts and adoration, the risen Christ sent his mourning disciples to be his love to all people, all to the glory of God.

“Arise, shine; for your light has come,” proclaims the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 60:1), “and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” May we always know that Jesus is with his people; and may we live each day like we believe it. Amen.

 

References

 

  1. Society of Biblical Literature. The HarperCollins Study Bible: Fully Revised & Updated. (Meeks WA, Bassler JM, Lemke W, Niditch S, Schuller E, Attridge HW, eds.). HarperCollins; 2006.
  2. Biblica Inc. The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. 4th ed. Zondervan; 2011.
  3. Tisby J. The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism. Zondervan; 2020.
  4. Jastrow M. A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Bavli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature. Vol 1. Luzac & Co.; 1903.
  5. Hannah-Jones N, The New York Times Magazine. The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story. (Roper C, Silverman I, Silverstein J, eds.). One World; 2021.
  6. Boyce M. Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. 2nd ed. Routledge; 2002.
[A] Most scholars of biblical history agree the three were Zoroastrian priests based on the historical contextual origin of magi.6