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.


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

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Proper 14B/Ordinary 19B/Pentecost 11 August 9, 2015

"At some point a human being quits grasping for life and griping at God and begins instead to give herself away with Christ, as a piece of his flesh, for the life of the world (v. 51)."

"Foodstuffs," Jerome Burce, Sabbatheology, The Crossings Community, 2009.

"The good news is that Jesus, rather than our knowledge and understanding, is the source of our calling and the source of our strength."

Commentary, John 6:35, 41-51, Craig A. Satterlee, Preaching This Week,, 2015.

"'Murmur' here and in v.41: Perhaps 'grumble' or 'complain' would be better, but the idea of Jews/Judeans murmuring brings to mind the wilderness stories of the Exodus, when the people of Israel ‘murmured.’ See, e.g. Exodus 16:12, where the people murmur (γογγυσμὸν in LXX) and God, in response, sends Manna, later called the 'bread of heaven' (Psalm 78:24)."

"Murmuring about Bread from Heaven," D Mark Davis, raw translation and exegesis/questions, Left Behind and Loving It, 2012.


Guide your church, O God, on the paths of its earthly pilgrimage, and sustain with the food that does not perish so that, perserving int eh faith to which christ has called us, we may come at last to your holy mountain and gaze on the beauty of your face.  We ask this through Christ, with whom you have raised us up in baptism, the Lord 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 John 6:35-51

Textweek Resources for this week's Gospel

Our gospel today continues with the "Bread of Life" theme that is marching its way through our summer readings in John's gospel.  As I go a little deeper with the bread of life texts I was fascinated by the history of scholarship and theology on this text.  Raymond Brown has a lovely paragraph in the beginning of his exegesis on this passage that is worth repeating for you history buffs.

As Brown begins to unpack the notion that Jesus is either a) speaking prophetically and about himself as the bread of life from heaven and so this is a revelatory passage on the incarnation; or, b) it is about the flesh of Jesus and the Eucharist.  He writes:

"Even in antiquity there was no agreement.  Some of the early Church Fathers, like Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Eusebius, understood the whole discourse (vss. 35-58) spiritually: for them the flesh and blood of 53ff. meant no more than did the bread from heaven - a reference to Christ, but not in a Eucharistic way. For Augustine the flesh referred to Christ's immolaiton for the salvation of men.  In the heart of the patristic period, Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, the Cyrils of Jerusalem and of Alexandria gave a preponderance to the Eucharistic theory. Skipping to the Reformation, we find that many of the reformers did not accepts the Eucharistic interpretation, but then neither did the Catholic champion Cajetan." (John, vol 1, 272)

In the end Brown himself will settle on the notion that Jesus is preaching on a text selected for the seder meal in the Capernaum synagogue at Passover time.  (ibid, 280)

I think this passage gives us the ability to mold and shape a discourse of our own; wherein we meditate upon the nature of Jesus and of the Eucharistic feast.  For Episcopalians this is an important time to speak about our own particular and faithful understanding of the Eucharistic meal.  We believe that the Holy Eucharist is a gospel sacrament that is essential in understanding the revelation of who Jesus is, his life, death, resurrection and our hope of his return.  For Episcopalians you see this passage is a both/and revelation. It speaks to us of who the incarnation is and how we recognize him; and it speaks to us of the sacrament itself.

The incarnation itself, Jesus as manna from heaven, is remembered and we give thanks for God's intervention in the world around us. We understand that the service and Eucharist itself makes Christ's sacrifice present for us in both a physical and spiritual manner. The Eucharist is the place where in the people of God, the Church, gathers for refreshment as it makes its pilgrim journey through the world.  It is part of the narrative of life which stretches from baptism to the passing from this life into the next. 

The narrative life of Jesus and his Church is an important part of this because there is much that is taking place here and much that is at work in the life of the believer: there is in this Eucharist the forgiveness of sins, the strengthening of the union with Christ and with one another, and it also is a foretaste of the kingdom of heaven.  It is a service where people are invited to examine their lives, repent of sin, and seek to be in love and charity with all people. 

So as we turn and look at this passage from John's gospel we see that Jesus' words and teachings profoundly impact and build our narrative. Jesus is the bread of life. His promise is a promise for a world hungry for life and thirsty for salvation.  Those who follow him and partake as family are never lost to him.  Jesus as bread of life, manna from heaven, the incarnation, is part of the reordering and recreating of the cosmic order.  Which is remade in Jesus' incarnation and whose culmination will be the earth's reunion with heaven in the last day.

Ephesians 4:25-5:2

"Even with the transformative effects of the love of God, the writer of Ephesians recognizes that sin does not disappear."

Commentary, Ephesians 4:25-5:2, Susan Hylen, Preaching This Week,, 2009.

"The Spirit wants to bear the fruits of love in you and through you. Fundamental to all of this is forgiveness. It means giving, not holding oneself back and holding something against people. Let it go, embrace them; God embraced us."

"First Thoughts Year B Epistle Passages in the Lectionary," Pentecost 11, William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.

"We must admit that the condemnation ingredient in anger always involves an illusory self-perception. But sometimes illusions are an inevitable part of our human situation and ones that we get around not by eradicating them but by compensating for them."

"Tempering the Spirit of Wrath: Anger and the Christian Life," Robert C. Roberts. The Christian Century, 1997. At Religion OnLine.

Resources for the Epistle

One commentator on this passage wrote something like, "Paul gives advice you don't often hear in the ancient world." The truth is that Paul's letter to the Ephesians was and is unique advice. As a circular letter meant for more than one community we might remind ourselves that it is good to hear and it might just be meant for us.

Paul says we have to speak the truth to one another. This is key. We must be honest with one another and in doing this work we are then true members together in the community. We should never ask that people hold back their honest selves from us. And, we should work to be honest with others. This is a key quality to the kingdom of God and the vision for Christian community. 

This is not license though to be mean. This truth telling is not license to hurt other people. It is not the freedom to get in another persons face and tell them like it is. It is not freedom to hate or be angered against another person. Hate speech, hate, being ugly, demeaning another person, humor at another's expense or in order to degrade another person, treating people poorly or in an unkind manner because you think you have the truth - is evil, sinful, and of the devil Paul says.

If you are a follower of Jesus you can't talk this way. You can't treat people this way - no matter what they do or did. You are to instead build people up, to speak words of grace, and to make sure they hear you speak of them and to them in this manner. 

God wishes to move and work through you as a witness to God's love and mercy. Hate speech and anger will not be vessels of God's love. Bitterness, wrath, anger, arguing, slander, malice and mean intent cannot be transformative vessels of God's love.

I have actually heard people say that kindness is not a biblical value. Paul would disagree. You are to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, and forgiving. This is the nature of Christ and when you are these to other people you are yourselves images of the Christ and much fruit will be born in the world because of your witness.

This is what it means to be imitators of God. To be a beloved Child of God is to live in love and to give your life for those who would harm you. You are to give your life and give up your mean spirited, hate speech, your ugliness, your anger and hostility, and your demeaning of other people if you are to be a child of God. No matter how just you believe your cause to be - God will not have beloved followers who do not imitate these qualities of Christ himself. In fact to behave in this fashion is to actually frustrate God's own mission and ministry in the world. 

This is not some kind of politically correct way of being - it is God's way of being. If we are to be with God and be imitators of God then we are must be about this work in the world too.

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