Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoĭ, 1837-1887:
Christ in the Desert
God needed some way of remembering,
Or we needed some way of remembering
that God would remember,
Some sort of Post-It note,
"That pretty bow you tied around your finger"
As it's also been called,
A reminder that God would never smack us again,
Which shows up at the oddest times.
Yet many seem to have forgotten
What sort of "us" is meant here.
It's you and me, yes;
But it's also "them" over there,
The people with different
Looks and lives and even so-called beliefs,
Next door and across an ocean.
Oh - and every other living creature, too.
O God, I trust you remember the details.
But when will the rest of us remember
That we're all in the same boat?
With the sun shining, I hope we get some rain soon.
Scott L. Barton
(The phrase about the "pretty bow" is from Leonard Bernstein's "Kaddish" Symphony #3 (being performed in March by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Tanglewood Festival Chorus.))
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
+ + +
Mark 1:9-15 + Genesis 9:8-17
Good News, No Matter What
What a confluence of opposites here!
Jesus of Nazareth - baptized by John!
Out from the water the baptized comes up -
While from the heavens, the Spirit comes down!
Voice from the heaven says he's the beloved -
Yet, to the wilderness, then, he is driven!
Tempted by Satan to give it all up -
Service by angels is Jesus then given!
John is arrested, we know he will die -
Jesus keeps preaching the good news of God!
Near is the kingdom, the judgment soon comes -
Think again - know that the good news is odd!
Waters may flood and your life overwhelm,
Violence, hunger and pain still confound -
God is the One who in covenant stays,
Still, with the promise of love which redounds.
Scott L. Barton
(Slightly revised from 2/22/15)
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”