The Old Testament and gospel readings for Epiphany
function as point and counterpoint. Isaiah offers a word of great comfort to
those who have been so long in darkness. Impoverished as the hearers have been,
honor and fortune are on their way. It's a message of rejoicing: the light that
has dawned will make all who see it radiant.
Some years ago, when I was in my first pastoral appointment, I met an 11-year-old named Victor at youth court. A friend had asked me to serve as translator for Victor's father, who spoke only Spanish, because Victor was about to be tried for shooting a child in the leg with a BB gun. Violence and trouble were part of life in Victor's neighborhood.
Martin Boehm was a key player in founding the United Brethren in Christ denomination, one of the precursors of the United Methodist Church. More than 240 years ago, Boehm was excommunicated after having a Wesleyan-type spiritual awakening that led to his preaching to people outside of his Mennonite church. Pennsylvania Mennonites recently denounced “the small-mindedness of religious thinking” that led to Boehm’s ouster, restored his Mennonite credentials, and asked local United Methodists forgiveness for their spiritual forebears’ narrowness (UMNS, June 27).