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)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Easter 5C April 24, 2016

Quotes That Make Me Think

"This short text from John's gospel is like a glowing candle in the darkness, a command to love one another amid the realities of violence and betrayal as a continuation of Jesus' ministry in the world."
"Easter Erosion, Easter Explosion," Alyce M. McKenzie, Edgy Exegesis, 2013.

"By believing against all odds and loving against all odds, that is how we are to let Jesus show in the world and to transform the world."
"Let Jesus Show," sermon discussion from Frederick Buechner, Frederick Buechner Blog.

"One of the stunning parts of this text is the location. This passage comes on the heels of Judas leaving the other disciples at the last supper to betray Jesus."
Commentary, John 13:31-35, Karyn Wiseman, Preaching This Week,, 2013.

General Resources for Sunday's Lessons


Loving god, the promise of the new Jerusalem is your home among us. Already in the new commandment of love you have begun to make all things new. As Jesus loved us, so we would love, that in the love we have for one another a new heaven and a new earth may 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 C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.

Some Thoughts on John 13:31-35

Picture is of Poster entitled, "Beloved of God," printed
for 73rd General Convention
Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel

This Sunday we have Jesus’ departure including his last words to his disciples before the trial and final hours of his life.

There are a number of very important theological and missional points to be considered in these last instructions to his disciples.

The first of these phrases is, “God has been glorified.” The glory of God is the primary, the ultimate, work of Jesus Christ. He is modeling for all humanity the work we are to undertake as creatures of God, and making it clear that our disobedience to this work dishonors our creator. “Glory”, according to Raymond Brown, “involves a visible manifestation of God’s majesty in acts of power.” (RB, John, Anchor Bible, vol 2, 606) This scriptural and textual view is important theologically. We, the creatures of God, are to work on God’s behalf. We are, through our lives as disciples of the most high God, are to manifest God’s majesty in the living out of our lives and in our relationships with one another.

The Biblical scholar George B. Caird wrote this about the understanding of this word "glory" and its meaning within the New Testament, and its meaning for theology: “Through Jesus God is held in honor by men.” “God is honored by Jesus,” through his obedience to God’s will. “God has won honor for himself in Jesus.” And, “God has revealed his glory in Jesus.” (Brown, 606)

Brown reminds us that Origen moved this concept towards Gnosticism because he associated it with knowing God. But the more ancient continuum throughout scripture upholds the idea that the purpose of all creation and humans especially, is to glorify God in word, action, and deed.

In verse 33 Jesus remarks to them, calling them children – as in his later greeting on the beach, and says that he will not be with them long. Moreover, that the work and the journey he is about to take is not for them, but for him alone.

Jesus gives this commandment 18 times in the last discourse in John. The statement is clear: Love one another.

We are to love one another as Jesus loves us. And the word chosen here is “must.” We must love as Jesus loved. This is our commandment. This is how we are to be known: as the ones who love one another.

Raymond Brown points out that over time Christian Apologists, all, “would call upon the impact made by Christian love as a standard argument for the superiority of Christianity.” (607) Today we make the case primarily on other grounds as this is not typically what comes to mind when one thinks about Christians in our culture or globally.

Raymond Brown writes the following:

Yet love is more than a commandment; it is a gift, and like the other gifts of the Christian dispensation it comes from the Father through Jesus to those who believe in him. In xv 9 we hear, “As the Father has love me, so have I loved you”; and both xiii 34 and xv 12 the “as I have love you” emphasizes that Jesus is the source of the Christians’ love for one another. (Only secondarily does it refer to Jesus as the standard of Christian love.) The love that Jesus has for his followers is not only affective but also effective; it brings about their salvation. It is expressed in his laying down his life, an act of love that gives life to men. This is well expressed in Rev I 5: “…the one who loves us and has delivered or washed us from our sins.” We should also stress that the “love of one another” of which the Johannine Jesus speaks is love between Christians. In our own times a frequent ideal is the love of all men, enunciated in terms of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Such a maxim has some biblical basis in the creation of all men by God, but the idea is not Johannine. For John, God is a Father only to those who believe in His Son and who are begotten as God’s children by the Spirit in Baptism. The “one another” that the Christian is to love is correctly defined in I John iii 14 as “our brothers,” that is those within the community.

It seems to me that the Christian community who is not able to primarily engage in the commandment to love one another will be unable to be a missionary community into a world looking and searching for vessels of God’s love. The church that cannot be a sacrament of God’s love for those within first, and those without second, ceases to reflect the glory of God as intended by God for God’s pleasure, and for humanities mutual benefit, and for the salvation of creation.  Loving our neighbor is the primary way in which those who follow Jesus glorify God.

Some Thoughts on Revelation 21:1-5

Resources for Sunday's Epistle

We continue the longest series of readings from the book of Revelation this week.  In today's passage the vision is of a new heaven and new earth.  The first things have passed away.

As a number of theologians point out the book of Revelation squarely places the kingdom of God's work on earth.  Rather than the heavens consuming the earth as in many other apocalyptic tradition the image and theme of Revelation is that heaven comes to earth; the fulfillment of the incarnation and the work of Jesus.

At the wedding at Cana of Galilee one can imagine the bride and groom and the many attendees gathered around enjoying the company of one another.  The image though of the bride of Christ given in the previous chapter is not a wedding feast where earth is brought into heaven and all rejoice.  It is instead an image of a beautiful and wondrous earthly city.  It is a place of hospitality to the stranger and  a place of rest for the weary pilgrim, and peace for God's people.  Tears are wiped away in this place and the world itself is transformed.

Such a city has been on the hearts and minds of Christians from Augustine to the slave, from the missionary to the persecuted.  It is found in the writings of William Blake and is present in the abolitionist and civil rights leader's voice.

In revelation we are not offered a future hope of heavenly bliss but a transformed earth.  The resurrection happens on earth and so to will the reign of God.  We can all think of the Armageddon images and films which promise some form of escapism from the world.  This is not quite the image we find in Revelation.  The earth is made new.  Not unlike the Christ after resurrection where he is more present, more real, than he was before the same may be said for the new earth.  The reign of God on earth will be more present and more real.  What has been seen only in part will be revealed in an even greater way.

The earth which has been sowed for power and ruled by authorities other than God will be changed.  It isn't so much that the earth or seas will be no more as they will no longer be used and corrupted by powers outside of the reign of God.  The earth that is made new is sustainable and God will provide for his people.  This will be a new world, remade, and reordered such that the power of Rome or Babylon cannot keep the waters of life from those who seek it.  This vision is transformative and promises a different world which will provide all that is needed for its population. The hungry and thirsty will receive good things to eat and drink.  The powers that have ruled the world and corrupted the creation and the creatures will no longer have dominion.

The city which John envisions comes down from heaven to earth is a sight for us all.  It is a revelation of a new earth; and the promise of a creation which supports bounteous life under the reign of a loving and providing God.

Some Thoughts on Acts 11:1-18

So when Christians get going and turn from being disciples into apostles, when they stop following the church organization and go out things get dicey. (Disciple means the one who follows, Apostle means the one who goes.) This is exactly what happens in this Acts lesson.

People are going out and doing the work of God, Peter is going out. And, those who were used to having faith a particular way with particular rituals don't like Peter's work. They accuse him of being to easy on these newbies. They accuse him of not offering a true faith. They will do most anything to keep Paul from advancing the mission of the Gospel of Christ.

This reveals that it is always the nature of the internal church, the predecessor church, to have difficulty with the mission evolution of the church within the varying and different contexts.

Here is Peter's defense is 7 part and really a good guide to mission engagement:

1. God directed him to see that things needed to change. In this particular case that it was okay to eat animals that were forbidden by the religion of the day.
2. God then taught Peter that things outside of a person and what they eat do not defile a person. We might remember Jesus' teaching that it is what comes out of the mouths of humans that defiles not what goes in. (Matthew 10:15ff)
3. God makes us clean, not our nature or our own work.
4. God helped me see I was to go with people who I had believed were unclean.
5. I didn't know what to say, but God helped me when the time came.
6. What we truly give one another is God's spirit.
7. I realized God was giving them his Spirit and so how could I get in the way of this.

The best part is that Luke writes, "When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, 'Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.'” The faithful in Jerusalem see that the expansion of the mission is good, that people are sharing a love of Christ, and are being empowered by the Holy Spirit, people are coming to Christ because they did not get in the way and Peter opened the way.

Peter literally fulfills Jesus' own words when he lets it be known that his followers are not to lord it over them. Jesus says in Matthew 23, be  careful not to be like so many religious leaders, "they tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others..." Peter enters the mission field and does not tie up heavy burdens on those he finds there. Luckily the faithful in the predecessor church also realize that this is not their work. 

No comments:

Post a Comment