SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
20 January 2013
Isaiah 62: 1-5
The third Isaiah here sings the praises of the Jews returning from the Babylonian exile, asking that their greatness be recognized, not only by the world, but also by the Jews themselves. When you get home and rebuild your nation Isaiah tells them, you will emerge “a crown of beauty in the hand the Lord”. You yourselves will become a new people, and to symbolize that, God is going to change your names. Here I think the translators and editors of the New Revised Standard Version (from which are lessons are taken) made a bad choice, In the King James bible, the name Forsaken is replaced by the name Hephzi-bah. But in our translation (NRSV) the new name is “My Delight Is in Her.” This is awkward. English speaking peoples never or very rarely use independent clauses as names. It is true that the Hebrew word Hephzi-bah means “she is delightful,” but the editors of the NRSV could easily supply that information in a footnote. In a similar manner, the editors should have followed the precedent set in the King James and allowed the name Desolate to be replaced by Beulah, which means “married.”
When I was a boy, the name Beulah was not uncommon, and once in a great while one heard of someone named Hephzibah.
I Corinthians 12:1-11
Today we begin a series of lessons from the remarkable Chapters 12 to 15 of Paul’s First letter to the Christian colony at Corinth. In the first letter of the series, we find Paul trying to set right the squabbles among the people about who does what in the worship services. Paul point out, first, that individuals have talents differing from the talents of others. In this community, each person should use his talent for the benefit of all. Paul reminds this congregation, made up primarily of Greek converts, that in their former lives they had been led by evil spirits into the worship of dumb idols. As Christians, they are led by the Holy Spirit to worship the living God. They are unified by baptism and by the giver of their particular talents, who is the Holy Spirit. So Jew, Greeks, slaves, freemen are one body.