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Dr. Anthony D. BakerBy Anthony Baker
Wednesday – December 9
Psalm 38; Amos 8:1-14; Matthew 23:1-12
Listen to the author read their meditation and prayer:
Let’s imagine a Pharisee who finds that it’s his turn to climb up into Moses’ hermeneutical seat. Perhaps at first he hesitates, wondering if his life really qualifies him to handle this text. But then he begins to find himself on a midrashical roll. It’s in the eyes of his listeners, in the conversation he overhears breaking out – he’s nailing it. Before long all hesitation is gone. The next time it’s his turn, he doesn’t give a thought to what he did after sundown on Friday night: he’s in the zone and has become pure Rabbi.
The irony is that the Law he’s teaching is as much about the owning and confessing of sins as it is about deeds of righteousness. So it can’t be that he’s such a great law teacher that he’s forgotten to be humble, because a truly great law teacher wouldn’t ignore the imperatives of humility.
Despite Jesus’ hyperbolic solution to this quandary, most of us will find it necessary to accept places and titles of honor at one point or another. Still, can we accept these honors as one who, at a deeper level, refuses to be taken in by them? Be “rabbi” as one who confesses her inadequacy to be rabbi?
Bless the Lord who comes to us in humility, in small voices, quiet invitations, and in the birth of a poor child of Galilee. Amen.
Dr. Anthony D. Baker
Clinton S. Quin Associate Professor of Systematic Theology
SEMINARY OF THE SOUTHWEST
Professor Anthony D. Baker joined the seminary faculty in 2004. He teaches classes in both historical theology (focusing on a figure, an era, or a school of thought) and constructive theology (the building of persuasive arguments about God and creation). He is the author of Diagonal Advance: Perfection in Christian Theology, as well as various articles in Modern Theology, Political Theology, The Journal of Anglican Studies, Anglican Theological Review, and other journals and collections. He is currently working on a book that explores theological themes in the works of Shakespeare. Professor Baker is the theologian-in-residence at Saint Julian’s Episcopal Church in north Austin, where he and his wife Allison (a pediatrics nurse) and their three children attend. B.A., M.A., Olivet Nazarene University, Ph.D., University of Virginia.
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