"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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The Christ Hymn
Philippians 2:1-13 Commentary
by Amy G. Oden
It’s a pretty radical idea -- God descending into human flesh.
God chooses downward mobility against all expectations of a deity. If folks have spent a lot of time in church, it’s likely they are used to the idea of God becoming human. It can be the wallpaper of our faith -- all around us and yet just sort of there in the background. These verses from Philippians 2 call us to see -- again, maybe for the first time -- how radical this God is and what that means for our lives.
In the ancient world, a god who was “born in human likeness” (verse 7) was a self-demoting God, hardly the sort of God useful for human life. It’s one thing for Zeus to become human for a day to play tricks, but it’s quite another for the God of the universe to “empty himself taking the form of a slave” (verse 7), that is, to take on flesh, become fully human, suffer and die. Who needs a God like that? This God doesn’t sound like a “winner,” like a mighty deity who comes to the aid of powerless humans or like a super kick-butt-and-take-names ...
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Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL320: The Christ Hymn
May 13, 2018
Podcast on Philippians 2:1-13, the Narrative Lectionary reading for May 13, 2018, featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Kathryn Schifferdecker, and Mark Throntveit. Podcast recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn.