Finding the Lessons

I try to post well in advance of the upcoming Sunday.

You will want to scroll down to find the bible study for the lessons closest to the upcoming Sunday.

The blog will be labeled with proper, liturgical date, and calendar date.

You can open the monthly calendar to the left and find the readings in order.

You can also search below by entering the liturgical date, scripture, or proper. This will pull up all previous posts.

Enjoy.

Search This Blog by Proper and Year (ie: Proper 8B or Christmas C or Advent 1A)

Friday, February 24, 2012

First Sunday in Lent, Year B, Mark

"Believe in the good news" is better translated as 'Trust into the good news,' since the whole point is not, 'Have an opinion about the good news.' Rather, Jesus is calling for a radical, total, unqualified basing of one's life on his good news."
Holy Textures, Understanding the Bible in its own time and in ours, Mark 1:9-15, David Ewart, 2012.

Prayer

Gracious God, every true to your covenant, whose loving hand sheltered Noah and the chosen few while the waters of the great flood cleansed and renewed a fallen world, may we, sanctified through the saving waters of baptism and clothed in the shining garments of immortality be touched again by our call to conversion and give our lives anew to the challenge of your reign.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year B, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.




Some Thoughts on Mark 1:9-15

We move quickly from the image of Jesus resplendent in light at the moment of transfiguration in Mark's Gospel, Chapter 9, to his baptism and the immediate work of preaching the Gospel in Chapter 1.  This is the first Sunday in Lent and we are reminded as we make our way from Ash Wednesday that we are utterly dependant upon the grace of God - the Good News of God proclaimed by Jesus on the edge of his own wilderness journey of preaching and healing.

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” (vs 15)  Could our author have captured the words of Jesus and the words of an early baptismal formula? Perhaps both. What is very clear in the scholarship is that these words that Jesus offers in our passage today is key to the understanding of his message.  Joel Marcus (Mark, vol 1, 176) writes:

"Repent, and believe in the good news!" - at their baptism they would have heard this exhortation as a call to bury the moribund world in the water and to rise from it to view, through the eyes of faith, God's new creation.  They would in short, have been reminded by Mark 1:15 of the moment when they became disciples of Jesus."

Jesus' proclamation begins following the imprisonment of John the Baptist.  This is the first public ministry of Jesus recorded in Mark's Gospel.  We might remember from a previous Sunday that while Jesus has come to heal and to over power the evil of this world, ultimately he is here for this single purpose.  To bridge the divide between this world and the kingdom of God - the dominion of God.

Joel Marcus (Mark, vol 1, 175) gives us a very clear suggestion of what Jesus is saying:

time has been fulfilled  AND   dominion of God has come near
repent                        AND   believe in the good news

The time is now, the dominion of God is near.  Our response to that grace is repentance and to trust in the good news of God.

For those who now are making their way in Lent, and for those who are still seeking to be restored to the family of God,  the faith reality is one that challenges us to change. To be aware.  To take notice of our own selves and the way we do not live in the ways of God and to amend our lives.

I was interested recently in an interview that I did and the question that I was asked: Do you think that at times like this we especially need Ash Wednesday? Our culture is a mess the interview seemed to be saying perhaps we all needed this special day and season in order to make things right.

Human nature is the same. Ash Wednesday, as is Lent, a very personal discipline.  The confrontation of this ritual life of repentance we so carefully cling to during this season as Christians is one that is not just for today but true for us year round. It is not specifically more important today than it was when Jesus invited us to respond to the dominion of God and the good news.  It is only specifically so because you and I today choose to follow Jesus. Relevance to the culture and all of our want to be special is washed away somehow
in this invitation of Jesus.  Our season is not a time when we are to critique others, a time when we are to find the splinter in another person's eye, or blame and castigate our culture, rather (and on the contrary) it is a time when we remind ourselves personally that we have not done what Jesus asked us to do.

I claim to follow Jesus but fail. I try to amend my life and fail. I make the kingdom of God my goal and do not reach it.  Yes the dominion of God is near and I rest fully upon his grace and mercy to discover it. I repent because of my continuing human frailty which is my nature. I take a moment on this Sunday to be reminded of Jesus' invitation to rise out of the depths of my failure and moribund world/life/relationships and to see before me grace, mercy, forgiveness and invitation.

[You can read more of my thoughts on failure and invitation in my Lenten mediation "Failing Forward" here: http://www.texasbishop.blogspot.com/]

A Little Bit for Everyone






Mark 1:9-15
9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And 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. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” 12And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

Friday, February 17, 2012

Last Sunday in Ordinary Time following Ephiphany: The Transfiguration

"Mark?s use of the story connects so strongly to what follows that we can scarcely interpret it without reference to what Jesus? disciples were to ?listen to? in the chapters which follow, namely lowliness and compassion. It is not just any elevation of Jesus which will do, but this particular one, which we appreciate when we know the whole story. Mark?s story reminds us that disciples, then and now, frequently get it wrong, through fear and ignorance and much else."

"First Thoughts on Year B Gospel Passages in the Lectionary," The Transfiguration of Jesus, William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.

Prayer

God of life, in a blaze of light on Mount Tabor you transfigured Christ, revealing him as your Beloved Son and promising us a share in that destiny of glory.  But in a blinding flash we, children of the promise, annihilate life, disfiguring the face of Christ and mocking his Gospel call to gentleness and peace.  Let the beacon of that gospel pierce again the clouds enshrouding the earth, so that even in the darkness of these times we may believe your day will dawn.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year B, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.




Some Thoughts on Mark 9:2-10

The passages that come before this are filled with a pounding and unrelenting march by Jesus to proclaim the good news and to overturn the forces that now bind God's people. He knows this proclamation and action campaign (to use the military imagery of the Greek text) which is the Way will ultimately lead to the cross.  Therefore, everyone who is on the Way must be prepared to pick up his cross and follow. (8.34)

Yet here in this passage we have a vision of the God's glory and in the last two verses the connection of this mission with the resurrection.

Jesus in this moment of transfiguration is revealed as the new Adam, the new Moses, the great prophet, the Son of God and is clearly the Messiah.  He is God in all his glory revealed in the person of Jesus to the disciples sitting at his feet, to the first hearers of this Gospel, and to us.  And, this work is well pleasing to God. 

We are reminded perhaps of the words of Enoch and his response to his own heavenly vision.

And there I saw another vision of the dwellings of the righteous and the resting-places of the holy. 
And there my eyes saw their dwellings with the angels And their resting places with the holy ones...
And I saw their abode beneath he wins of the Lord of Spirits,
And all the righteous and elect were radiant like the brightness of fire before him....
There I desired to dwell and my spirit longed for that abode.  (I Enoch 39:4-8, trans. Marcus, Mark, 638)
While Peter echoes Enoch's vision in this world, the disciple and follower of Jesus along the way (with the certainty of the cross before them) sees instead the great hope of Resurrection and our eternal dwelling beneath the wings of our "father hen when he calls his chickens home" - to quote Johnny Cash.
The transfiguration is a theophany in which the followers of Jesus and the generations that follow are able to glimpse their future. 

In the months to come our people will enter Lent, we are in tax season, election time, our economy is slow, people are suffering and hurting.  They are pretty sure that this is not heaven! 

Our preaching is to so move those who listen that they may have a glimpse of the transfigured risen Lord.  That they may see the promise of their future and understand that the present sufferings in this world are ones that will eventually be swallowed up by the glory of God.

We are to so move our hearers that on this Sunday, they like Jesus and his first followers, will be moved through their vision of things to come to change the world around them. We are to move our people to understand that their glimpse of the heavenly family and our place under God's embrace is not something to be waited for in some distant future, but that we are to make our drum beat loud and to act in this world building up stone by living stone the kingdom of heaven.

A Little Bit for Everyone





Mark 9:2-10
2Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

9As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sixth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year B

"Ched Myers ("Binding the Strong Man") opts for the angry reading. After his comment about the leper daring Jesus to heal him, he writes...The cleansed leper's task is not to publicize a miracle but to help confront an ideological system: the change in object (from "priest" to "them") suggests a protest against the entire purity apparatus, which the priests control. He is to make the offering for the purpose of "witnessing against them" (eis marturion autois). This is a technical phrase in the Gospel for testimony before hostile audiences (6:11; 13:9). [p. 153]."

Exegetical Notes by Brian Stoffregen at CrossMarks.

Prayer

Cleanse and restore us, O God, and heal us continually from the sinfulness that divides us and from the sinfulness that divides us and from the prejudice and discrimination by which we degrade ourselves and dishonor your image in others.  Help us to stretch out our hands in love especially to those our society scorns and to recognize in their faces the very image of Christ, blood-stained on the cross. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year B, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.




Some Thoughts on Mark 1:40-45

Jesus made a noise like a horse - he was so exasperated and incensed!

A lot of preachers will be trying to figure this one out. We will turn to scholars and they will say, and we will typically preach:

Jesus was upset because his preaching mission was interrupted.
Jesus was upset because the man is unclean.
Jesus was upset because the man doesn't believe Jesus can heal him. (Marcus, Mark, 209)

I was struck by the scholar  M. D. Hooker's thoughts (Commentary on Mark, 80).  He believes Jesus is disgusted with the demon.  One might expand this to include the system as well; as in Ched Myers' text Binding the Strong Man

How often do we get exasperated with the person and not the illness?  How often do we get exasperated because we have more important things to tend to?  How often do we get exasperated because of how we might be perceived if we are with someone for whom they disapprove?

We are all guilty of this.  Me included.  We may however loose a great preaching moment if we simply take our exasperation and project it onto the text.

What if we reread the story this way: The leper comes to Jesus. He has, more than likely, already been to the priests to no avail. He comes to Jesus who is not a priest and simply says, "Jesus you could make me clean"; which given the last few chapters is true.

Jesus snorts like a horse because he is simply disgusted - with illness, with the powers that be, with the world...but not with the man. No with the man he is moved and so he acts.  He reaches out and touches the leper, making himself unclean according to the holiness code.

Then he sends the clean man away, not in secrecy, but why send him back to the religious power that could not make him well in the first place.  No, he can go and he not tell anyone.

How do we begin to move our congregations to snort like a horse when confronted by the brokenness of the world, to be incensed; and then move them to action on behalf of those who come to us and invite us to engage in healing?

So often we are thinking someone else more talented, someone more generous, someone more schooled, someone else will come along and heal the leper raising their hand before us and inviting us into their life.  The reality is that we are being invited - you and I.  There is just us. And, we have been sent by Jesus.



A Little Bit for Everyone




Mark 1:40-45

40 A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ 41Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ 42Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, 44saying to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ 45But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B

"You could surmise that Mark is making a point here by having the kingdom start at home. That may not be in Mark?s intention, but its truth stands nevertheless."

"First Thoughts on Year B Gospel Passages in the Lectionary," Epiphany 5, William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.

Prayer

With a father's care and a mother's compassion, you embrace as your own, O good and loving god, the sufferings borne by the whole human race, and you join these to all that your Son endured in his Passover from death's bitter pain to risen life.  In all our time of trial and testing, purify our hearts and fortify us deep within so that, bearing the light of unfailing trust in your power to heal and save, we may hasten to the support of our brothers and sisters as they face the mystery of illness and pain.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year B, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.


Some Thoughts on Mark 1:29-39

After reading and studying this passage I have these two questions for us preachers: Are we bringing people a glass of cold water on the battlefield of life? Or are we delivering them off the battlefield?

Jesus is here to teach (vs 38) and specifically to offer Good News.  Joel Marcus points out that this is decidedly the most important message of the verses which follow the healing of Peter's mother-in-law.  (Marcus, Mark, vol 1, 201ff)
Jesus is invited to come and heal Simon Peter's mother-in-law. He touches her hand and she is healed and is so revived that she begins to serve them. Jesus does many works of healing and casting out demons and these are important to show his power and his might over and against the strong man of this world.  He is a doer of great deeds.  Yet this is not the purpose of his coming (vs38). 

Jesus does not come to heal us. He does not come to cast out the demons. He does do these things but they are specifically acts that show his strength and his power.  And, in so doing draw us to his teaching and preaching.  He has come to proclaim a gospel of Good News. As one scholar put it, to give us the good news from the battlefield. (M. E. Boring, Beginning, 56; see also Marcus, Mark, 146)  This ties into Isaiah's prophetic voice of offering good news for the captives.

He has come to tell us the good news. And, that good news is accompanied with mighty acts that free people from their lives.  Lives are changed, the world is different.

I wonder what battlefields will be brought into our churches this Sunday morning? What battlefields will you be bringing in with you?  How easy it is to stay on the battlefield and to remain captive to our fear and anxiety. How easy it is to be imprisoned by our anger at someone.  How immobilizing it is to be so angry that we might avoid our real work. 

What about the battlefield where people are hungry, naked, and in prison? What about the battlefield of raising kids alone? Yes...there will be many battlefields carried laboriously into the church sanctuary this week.  Can we let the mighty Jesus heal us as he heals Simon Peter's mother-in-law, so that we may hear the good news of deliverance, and serve him in mission?




A Little Bit for Everyone




Mark 1:29-39


29As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

32That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. 35In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” 39And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.