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, June 26, 2018

Proper 15B/Ordinary 20B/Pentecost 13 August 19, 2018


Here in the midst, O good and gracious God, Wisdom has built herself a house, she has set her table and mixed her wine: The flesh and blood of Christ become our food and drink.  Fill us with your Spirit, with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, so that we may be a canticle of praise to you and for our brothers and sisters a feast of joyful love.  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 6:51-58

"Ultimately all hunger cries out for satisfaction and the oldest Jesus traditions report the promise and agenda of the kingdom: Blessed are you who hunger; for you shall be satisfied. (Luke 6:21); so will those who hunger and thirst for justice (Matt 5:6). The two must not be divorced, because in the bread of life we are being nourished by the one whose being is love and compassion."
"First Thoughts on Year B Gospel Passages in the Lectionary," Pentecost 11, William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.

"The verb here translated abide (meno) occurs 40 times in John and 29 times in the Johannine letters. It means to remain, stay, abide, live, dwell, last, endure, continue."
"Living in Jesus' Heart," Alyce McKenzie, Edgy Exegesis, Patheos, 2012.

"God provides, that life is abundant (10:10), that eternal life is not something you can conveniently and conventionally postpone to your future but is your promise in the present, that any claim about life with Jesus, life with God, means an abiding, a unity, a reciprocity, and oneness."
"A 'Living' Bread," Karoline Lewis, Dear Working Preacher, 2015.

Oremus Online NRSV Text

What is interesting here as we continue our Bread of Life narrative in John is that we have the words of institution here rather than in the setting of the Last Supper narrative.  Which means that there are some very interesting combinations happening as the Gospel of John unfolds theologically. The image we are given is two fold.  Jesus is proclaiming that he is the living bread, and that those who eat of this bread AND believe will have eternal life. This is not the bread or manna in the wilderness that was transitory.

While the synoptics record the Eucharistic words only John's Gospel explains what it is and what it does for the person who follows Jesus.

Here in this passage Jesus is the dominant actor, he is the source of salvation.  He is the means of salvation and unity with God.

When we see the nature of believing and abiding united we might be reminded further of Jeremiah's words in 24.7 that we are God's people, and God is our God.  Jesus is not some independent player within this abiding life of the Christian but is rather an unbroken link to the Father. 

The words are difficult for many to hear.  They were difficult in the synagogue at Capernaum where Jesus spoke them.  Within his hearing they very people listening are struggling with the meaning. 

We also must remember that the revelation is completed on the resurrection day. 

I believe this is very difficult for us today because we prefer the message of the Gospel to remain a spiritual thing.  We do not want it to be about both the believing and the physical life in Christ for to do so means that we must be at work in the world not just as believers but as physical vessels of the life promised in Christ. 

We are redeemed, both our hearts/souls and our bodies.  God does the work.  Our Eucharist itself reflects the redeeming work at work in our liturgy and in our mission and evangelism.

This past week we remembered the live and ministry of the Virgin Mary.  And in the scriptures appointed for the day we were reminded that God in Christ Jesus feeds us spiritually and he gives the poor good things to eat.  Likewise both the spiritual and physical are tested by our passage this Sunday.

While the preacher may be tempted to remain in the head and heart parsing out the spiritual revelation of belief about the body of Christ, we should also be clear that the work of incarnating Christ in the world is about the feeding and care of others.  The feeding and care of neighbor and family members is a very real mission given to those who abide with Christ.  This is when bread lives in the hands of the world.

Ephesians 5:15-20

"The promises of the Gospel on this Sunday may make it possible to hear the epistle's commands in the spirit of their intention."

Commentary, Ephesians 5:15-20, Melinda Quivik, Preaching This Week,, 2012.

"How are we supposed to live in love the way Jesus did if we avoid the people Jesus loved?"

"Where Is the Love?" Russell Rathbun, The Hardest Question, 2012.
"These verses continue instructions regarding the Christian life. This life is the result of the reconciliation that God has brought about in Christ..."

Commentary, Ephesians 5:15-20, Susan Hylen, Preaching This Week,, 2009.

The letter of Paul to the Ephesians is instructional to the churches in his care. It may have had special intent in spreading a normative set of standard practices or discipleship qualities among the churches. In fact the verses directly preceding are possibly an ancient baptismal hymn based upon Isaiah 60.1.
In the last few weeks we know that Paul has been speaking to them about their treatment of one another within the community and those outside of it. These are admonitions to be kind and tenderhearted. They are to focus on the good and people's best nature. They are in everything to build up the body and people through care, love, and forgiveness. They are to put away anger, hate, and demoralizing behaviors. They are to have a  positive approach - in other words.

While these are external behaviors, Paul also admonishes them on their own behavior as well. They are to be wise. The reality is that at the time the Jewish society believed that everything would go down the tubes just before the Messiah came. There would be great social decadence and debauchery. We see this in Qumran as well. (Notes taken from Markus Barth's Ephesians, Anchor Bible)

Part of the wisdom Paul believes, comes from the fact that as followers of Christ, baptized in the Spirit, we participate in the wisdom of God ourselves. This enables us to live within the will of God. We are to work on ourselves, and be wise about how we conduct ourselves. Paul writes, "So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit." (17ff)

I would point out that throughout Paul's letters there is a focus upon worship. Worship is the place where all people's gifts come together for mutual instruction, mutual glorification of God, and mutual transformation. The unity which Paul believes is essential is most often reflected in Paul's writings, as it is here in Ephesians, exemplified in the common worship of the community. So bring songs, psalms, lessons, and allow the Spirit to work. 

In this we are not drunken or foolish but we are together wise and joyful. The spirit helps us to give thanks for the work of Jesus Christ and reorients our gaze naturally from our own desires to God's for us, and our desires to treat others poorly to treating others with kindness and generosity. Liturgy (worship) is formational for Paul.

As we think about this Paul is clearly saying that we are to treat others with kindness, forgiveness, toleration, and love. We are to speak truth but lovingly and tenderheartedly. We are to work on ourselves rather than others; seeking to reform and transform our ways of life. And, we are to come together in worship for the building up of our own discipleship, our own community, and for the glorification of God in thanksgiving for the work of Christ Jesus.

So it is that I was reminded by one author that Paul repeats here in Ephesians what he says elsewhere, especially in Colossians 3:16-17, : “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”. 

How very Anglican!

I Kings 2:10-3:14

"Solomon, like his father before him, is a complex character. The preacher would do well to follow the lead of the biblical narrator who describes the whole man?his glory as well as his flaws."
Commentary, 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14, Kathryn Schifferdecker, Preaching This Week,, 2009.

"While he is credited with wisdom, the narrative itself shows a foolish overreach of inordinate greed that proves unsustainable. The accumulation of wealth and honor serve to distort the wisdom God has given him so that his heart no longer 'listens.'"
"Who Will Be America's Next Leader?" Walter Brueggemann, ON Scripture, Odyssey Networks, 2012.

"Leadership, be it governmental, religious, or otherwise, requires us to hold in tension humility and confidence, finitude and limitless capacity, the gifts we have and the gifts we have yet to acquire."
Commentary, 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14, Cameron Howard, Preaching This Week,, 2012.

Oremus NRSV Text all that David stuff is is time for a new king. Now, we all know what is going to happen. But let us rejoice that it is time. What happens next? Adonijah and Solomon both want to be king! Solomon of course wins, but barely. A little mother's help and some violence: So King Solomon sent Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he struck him down, and he died. Then the king commanded Benaiah son of Jehoiada; and he went out and struck him down, and he died. Walter Brueggemann says, "The scene sounds like one from The Godfather." He puts down all those who cannot be trusted including Joab and Abiathar.

Then, in order to show that this king will be faithful as his father, Solomon goes to the high places and offers the appropriate sacrifices. Both in Jerusalem and in Gibeon. In doing this he shows his faithfulness to both the old tradition of Sinai and the new tradition in Jerusalem. And, he appropriately pleads to God to give him wisdom that he may be a good judge.

Again, Brueggemann writes, "It turns out, in subsequent narrative, that Solomon majored in wealth and honor. His temple is an extravaganza of gold. His trade policies flourish so that money flows in like it always does to a superpower. But of wisdom, not so much."

Here is why Brueggemann and we in turn should caution ourselves over and against judging our Solomon as the wisest of kings. Brueggemann reminds us that the wisdom of God is one that remembers the poor, the widows and the orphans. This is important because the doom of the empire will come, and the prophets will foretell, that the people have forgotten the poor and the little ones of God. What we see clearly is that wisdom is not about worldly management of state matters. It is not ruling well such as to bring about a good and healthy trade, or to advance the mechanics of war and technology. No, according to the tradition of Sinai, wisdom comes in feeding the hungry, lifting up the lowly, clothing the naked, and giving roofs for those who have no place to lay their head. This will be the course that Solomon sets the kingdom that is foolish of the things of God.

One's own legacy is always seen in the leadership of your successor.

Proverbs 9:1-6

"The source of wisdom is Wisdom herself. And who (or what) is Wisdom? In rabbinic (Jewish) thought, Wisdom is the Torah."
Commentary, Proverbs 9:1-6, Wil Gafney, Preaching This Week,, 2012.

"In many ways, the message in this text of Proverbs is quite simple: wisdom is better than foolishness."
Commentary, Proverbs 9:1-6, Sara Koenig, Preaching This Week,, 2009.

"Lady Wisdom was the Evangelist, the Life-Giver and the House-Builder. Who else could this be than Jesus?"
"Wisdom and Folly," Steven M. Baugh, in Kerux: The Online Journal of Biblical Theology (Reformed)

Oremus NRSV Text

In a short piece entitled Fairies, Follies, and Wisdom Beth Hayward offers this:

If you read the rest of Proverbs chapter nine the point seems to become really clear. After encountering Lady Wisdom, inviting all to her table of abundance, there is a list of advice on how to be wise. Things like, “whoever corrects a scoffer wins abuse; whoever rebukes the wicked gets hurt.” And then to tie it all up nicely the third section of this chapter presents the personified Folly: Wisdom’s polar opposite. She is loud, ignorant and calling out randomly to anyone who will listen. I assume we are to see the obvious choice between wisdom and folly but when we test it in our own lives the wise decisions are not always easily apparent.
Turning to the New Testament, to the letter to the Ephesians, we receive more advice on wisdom. Here it becomes very specific: “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” And “be careful how you live, not as unwise people but as wise.” If we reduce either of these biblical passages to lists of wise and unwise actions we miss the point. We can only discern what is wise within our particular context and moment in time.
The rules alluded to in these scriptures were contextual, and not to be merely transferred to our time. Wisdom is at the very core of our being and speaks to the truth that all is connected. It is our heart. As Parker Palmer claims the heart holds more than just our feelings. It is where wisdom resides. Wisdom is an intuition for Love that connects us with everyone and everything else. Wisdom is not something we acquire, or attain, or earn – it is a universal truth that connects all, from molecules, to mountains to stars. The more we are connected to our heart, to our wisdom, the more grace filled our choices moment by moment.
In this great notion that wisdom is not something acquired but instead something of the ligament of life I certainly then move to the understanding of the Word. That is the second person of the Trinity - the incarnation. In fact it is difficult to read the passage without the understanding of Christ as the living enfleshment of Wisdom.

Some will want to make Sophia, wisdom, into the Holy Spirit. Certainly, that may be true as well. And, early church philosophers/theologians will compare this passage to the physical embodiment of the Word - the house within which dwells Wisdom.

This is a beautiful passage that puts in the mind of building a home upon the firm rock of God in Christ Jesus. We cannot help but hear Jesus' own words. Why? Well in part because the living word is present in this book just as it was present in the unique incarnation of Jesus and his teaching

There is a meal, a celebration, of bread and wine, follow the Christ, follow the wisdom bearer. Wisdom, the living word, is that which unites us. It is a good word that gives life and unity.

(I found this in Feasting on the Word, and is also found in Haywards piece...with a shout out to my friend Porter Taylor.) Desmond Tutu writes: 
“My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.” We belong in a bundle of life. We say, “A person is a person through other persons.” It is not “I think therefore I am.” It is rather: “I am human because I belong. I participate. I share.” A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming others… for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished… or treated as if they are less than they are.”
This Christ, this wisdom connects us and helps us to see each other as Christ sees us. What I find delightful in this passage is the following...what is folly to humans is wisdom to God. The notion that we are all connected, that we are all created together, that we share common humanity and common godliness, that we are tied to one another, that we can sit at table and break bread and share wine with God is folly to a world that does not believe it. It is folly to build a house, a church, a community on a principle such as wisdom which is bound by love...that flows forth from love. It is folly to worship a God who ends his live on this planet by being sacrificed to the lesser gods of religious and political powers. Yes, the wisdom of Christ, the wisdom of God that unites us all is folly and foolish. And, it is the only alternative narrative for the world.

Sermons Preached on These Texts

IF YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN YOU BETTER BE READY TO FEED PEOPLE, Aug 21, 2009, Sermon preached for Year B, Proper 15 at St. Christopher's Killeen

No comments:

Post a Comment