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 also can simply 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)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Easter 7C May 8, 2016 and/or The Ascension


Quotes That Make Me Think

"This fully devoted relationship is what John means by 'love.' It is by abiding in this love, and being completely one that outsiders may truly know that indeed Jesus was sent by the Father." 

Holy Textures, Understanding the Bible in its own time and in ours, John 17:20-26, David Ewart, 2013.

"Jesus’ prayer reminds us that our unity, our “oneness” is to be a sign to the world of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. Oneness and unity is about love. And if you have been a part of a family, a member of a church, or a community, you know that within that love there can be disagreements and squabbling."

Commentary, John 17:20-26, Lucy Lind Hogan, Preaching This Week,WorkingPreacher.org, 2013.


"The good news is that God’s power for life is at work in the world. This news contradicts the common assumption that the world, in its deathliness, has refused and rejected that power for life—and that our proper stance in the world is therefore one of fear enacted as anxiety, greed, selfishness, and violence. The text tells otherwise!"

Walter Brueggeman


General Resources for Sunday's Lessons

Prayer

Righteous Father, before the foundation of the world, your glory was with Christ the root and descendant of David, the bright morning star.  Fulfill the prayer of Jesus that the world which does not know you may come to believe.  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 17:20-26

Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel




Jesus is in the midst of praying to God. (We are actually in the third section of the prayer.) The prayer itself sits in the narrative as a transition between the present and those who believe in Jesus and will come to be disciples in the future.

The reading also marks the movement in our liturgical year from the time of Easter to the time of Pentecost.  Jesus’ words are timely too as we move from pondering in our regular worship the Easter event to the Pentecost event.

He is asking God to make those who have followed him one. He is also asking that those who come to know Jesus and the Father through their witness may be one. He is praying that they may be one with one another, and one with the Father through Jesus.

This oneness we are to which we are to aspire is to be like the oneness of Jesus and the Father - to be together one in another. To be so closely united that one is inseparable. We proclaim by faith there is never a time with Jesus is not one with the Father.

What would the world be like if we could claim to be so united with one another that we were constantly making decisions and determining our future based upon the intermingled relationship of one with another?

Jesus is praying that those who follow will be a part of Godly like community. And, his prayer implies that if his followers are not apart of the Godly community then it will be difficult for people to believe in Jesus and in God. Our witness to the world is damaged when we are not living in God AND one another!

Jesus then tells God that he has given to his followers his glory. This focus upon God’s given work, this act of worship through living, is an essential ingredient to our unity. When we are focused on the things that do not glorify God we are more likely to be divided.

Oneness depends upon this focus of ministry, this focus of life. This glory which is given, this vision of life only comes from Jesus Christ. So when one sees a Christian living in oneness with other Christians focused on living a life and undertaking a ministry which glorifies God one sees and witnesses God and God’s love for them. As we spoke in previous conversations on John’s Gospel we know that this vision of glorifying God and the life of unity with Jesus and God and one another brings with it the gift of love. We may indeed have love for one another, but the love which comes from Jesus Christ is one born out of his love for God and is able to be enjoyed in the glorious “fellowship of the saints of God.”

Jesus then prays that his friends, his followers, those whom were given to him may be with him and see his own glory. He gives thanks that God loved him from before the foundation of the world. And, that such love birthed the ministry of glorifying, and being one with those who he has come to know. He sees his friends, the people he has become one with, as gifts from God.

If we were so focused on God’s Glory and its work, if we were one as the Father and the Son are one, if we received the gift of love, would we see our neighbors, families, and friends as gifts from God?

It is in this way that the world will know God. It is in this manner of life that the world will come to know Jesus. And, that the world will be able to participate in the life of the Trinity – the community of God.

The nature of ecumenical and inter-church unity and structure is an area of conversation around this text. The text is not about that, but the text is used in many of these discussions. It seems clear that the context is a much more organic one than ecumenical dialogues might lead one to believe. Certainly though the dialogues are rooted in this question of unity though.

Truly this last portion of Jesus’ prayer is essential to the life of a community lived within the new covenant. Raymond Brown writes the following words which seem the correct ones to use here as we leave this passage:
It is fitting that this beautiful prayer, which is the majestic conclusion of the Last Discourse, is itself terminated on the note of the indwelling of Jesus in the believers – a theme bolstered by Jesus’ claim to have given glory to the believers and to have made known to them God’s name. We have contended that he motif of the new covenant runs through the Johannine account of the Last Supper even though there is no explicit mention of the Eucharistic body and blood of Christ. We saw above that the commandment of love, mentioned in the first lines of the Last Discourse, is “new“ because it is the essential stipulation of the new covenant. So also the closing note of indwelling is an echo of covenant theology. After the Sinai covenant the glory of God that dwelt on the mountain came to dwell in the Tabernacle in the midst of Israel. In Johannine through Jesus during his lifetime was the tabernacle of God embodying divine glory, and now in a covenantal setting he promises to give to his followers the glory that God gave to him. In the language of Deuteronomy the Tabernacle (or the site that housed the Ark) was the place where the God of the covenant has set His name. So now the name of God given to Jesus has been entrusted to his followers. The Lord God who spoke on Sinai assured His people that He was in their midst. Jesus, who will be acclaimed by his followers as Lord and God, in the last words that he speaks to them during his mortal life prays that after death he may be in them. (RB, John, vol 2, 781)

Some Thoughts on Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17,20-21


Resources for Sunday's Epistle


When I was a seminarian I was invited to do a class on the Nicene Creed.  I talked about the notion that Jesus would return and judge the world.  A man in the front row asked if I really believed it. I stopped to consider this and said yes.  I don't really know what it will look like and how it will all happen (though revelation gives us some themes).  The man said he did not believe Jesus was coming back and this was all there is.  There are fancy theological terms for this theory.  I am really not interested in those.  I don't think your people are interested in them either.

It seems to me that this is a key notion to the complete Gospel. Jesus will come again.  God is at the beginning and the end. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." he says.  Just because it isn't the end doesn't mean the end is not coming.

Revelation ends with a lot of the little sayings that we find in our passage this week.  Here are the essentials.  God is faithful.  The God we believe in is faithful and keeps the covenants he has made with his people.  God will be especially faithful to those who serve others, love neighbors, and love God; as he will be with those who are poor and have nothing. The passage has these words:  “See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work."  We must remember that God's special friends are the weak; and we are to be faithful in serving them on his behalf.

God's grace abounds.  In the images of the bounteous tree of life, the holy city of Jerusalem, the kingdom of God on earth where there is good food for the hungry and those in need are not sent empty away. We read:  "I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let everyone who hears say, “Come.” And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift."  The gates of this kingdom are open to all and shall never be threatened.  So safety may be found within its walls always.  God's grace abounds.  There is plenteous redemption.


In God we trust. I believe that most Christians may actually have a difficult time imagining a power greater than the dollar, greater than the government, greater than...yet the book of Revelation believes in a power greater than the powers of this world.  The book of revelation understands a Gospel message that even now is taking root in the world. This God we believe in is setting a cornerstone of a greater power than any worldly power.  The world is not to work this way. People are not meant to go hungry.  People are not meant to live without shelter.  People are meant to live within a holy community which even now is making its way into the world.  In this truth we can trust God.

A God We Can Trust
To imagine that there is any power beyond the Roman Empire is bold, requiring a huge leap of faith. To imagine that the pain and suffering that characterized the lives of so many in antiquity would be wiped away in the arms of a loving God is bold, requiring a huge leap of faith. To confess that God would not swerve from God’s promises is bold faith. It is precisely this faith in God that brings us to the end of this book. It is precisely faith in Jesus’ return that draws these Christians into a promised future.


The book of Revelation is a book that believes in God, understands that God is faithful, that grace abounds, and even now God is planting a foothold in the world and remaking it.  The vision provided in Revelation is lessened if all we can see are beasts, demons, angels, and battles.  The faithful Christian has a far greater vision of the coming reign of God than simply what it might be like to be - left behind.




Ascension Day Transferred


Quotes That Make Me Think

"Incarnate Love, Crucified Love, Risen Love, now on the wing for heaven, waiting only those odorous gales which were to waft Him to the skies, goes away in benedictions, that in the character of Glorified, Enthroned Love, He might continue His benedictions, but in yet higher form, until He come again!"

From the Commentary on the Whole Bible (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, 1871).

"The mission of the church here is nothing less than to go into the world as God?s people, and proclaim a subversive, transforming message about a suffering God who calls anyone without discrimination to respond."

Lectionary Commentary and Preaching Paths (Easter C7), by Dennis Bratcher, at The Christian Resource Institute.

General Resources for Lessons

Prayer

You have glorified your Christ, O God, exalting to your right hand the Son who emptied himself for us in obedience unto death on the cross, and thus have exalted all of us who have been baptized into Christ's death and resurrection.  Clothe us now with power from on high, and send us forth as witnesses to the Messiah's resurrection from the dead, that, together with us, all the nations of the world may draw near with confidence to the throne of mercy. 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 Luke 24:44-53

Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for the Gospel

Leading up to the passage chosen for Ascension day Luke is telling a very clear story.  Jesus prophesied a coming reign of God.  The empty tomb shows that the prophet king was telling the truth. The old prophesies made by the greater and lesser prophets of Israel telling about the suffering servant who will come to remake a new Israel are true.  This is proved in the resurrection appearances.  Jesus himself in life and post resurrection offering a new vision of life lived in the kingdom.  He opens their minds to see what they did not see before.  The disciples are eyewitnesses to the new reality and they are to ministers interpreting and retelling the story.(Luke Timothy Johnson, Luke, 405) 

The disciples will not be left alone.  God is sending the Holy Spirit.  It cannot come and be fully in the world until he departs.  Moses and Elijah who offered a vision of this new reign of God and have been part of the Gospel story throughout are reminders that the power of God is always passed on to the successor.  (LTJ, Luke, 406)  In these last paragraphs of the Gospel of Luke we see clearly that instead of anointing one with the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, the disciples as a group are to receive the Holy Spirit and pass it on.

These last verses of Luke's Gospel are pregnant with the clarity that we are the inheritors of the good news of salvation.  We are to be the inheritors of the vision of a different reign of God. We are the inheritors of God's mission to the poor.We are the inheritors of God's prophetic voice which passes along to others what we have received.  

Some Thoughts on Ephesians 1:15-23



Resources for the Epistle

Christ has been raised and now is elevated. This particular passage comes after the developed theme of the church as Christ's body.  The elevation of Christ emphasizes the themes from Revelation that God has dominion over all and that the church is participating even now the new kingdom.  Christ is even now pouring himself into the new emerging Christian community. Together we are even now being drawn towards the fulfillment of God's desire to gather us in.  We may in fact live in the not yet like Paul's own little faithful community; but hope is present int he victory o f Christ raising and his elevation into heaven.


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