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.

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Easter 6C May 1, 2016


Quotes That Make Me Think

"There are probably at least 3 ways to misunderstand John. One is to treat each of: following, loving, and abiding; as if they were separate and distinct pieces. These things are all of a whole; you cannot selectively choose only one part: 'I'll have the love of Jesus please, but hold the keeping the commandments.'"

Holy Textures, Understanding the Bible in its own time and in ours, John 14:23-29, David Ewart, 2013.

"The story demonstrates what "enough" means, even when, in the midst of it, we think that time or some other commodity is running out. Jesus, by means of his Holy Spirit, finds time, place, love and life enough for all of us."

"Enough," Mary Hinkle, Pilgrim Preaching: Keeping Company with Biblical texts and the people who hear and preach them.


General Resources for Sunday's Lessons

Prayer

Jesus gave us peace. Do not let our hearts be troubled or afraid but send upon all the baptized the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to remind us of all that Jesus said. So may we keep your word and be counted among those whom you make your home. 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 14:23-29

Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel

We continue our discourse with Jesus’ final teaching to his disciples. We are offered in today’s Gospel Jesus’ response to Judas’ question: how will you reveal yourself to us and not to the whole world?

Jesus’ response is that we, the followers of Jesus, will keep his word. Jesus’ revelation to his followers will in turn be revealed to the world through their action of keeping the word. Raymond Brown prefers keeping my word to keeping my commandment because he believes Jesus is speaking about the Spirit of Truth and its indwelling which leads the follower to right action not the keeping of rules in a works righteousness manner. (RB, John, vol 2, 650)

Jesus tries to explain to his followers, rightly concerned that he will leave him, that he is giving them this teaching while he is with them so they understand. And, that they need not fear because the Holy Spirit, the comforter, the Spirit of Truth, will soon be sent to be with them and to guide them. The Spirit of Truth will teach them everything they need. Somewhat like Psalm 25.5 which reminds the one in prayer that God will, “guide you along the way of all truth.” (RB, John, vol 2, 650)

Jesus then again tells them he is going away but leaving his Peace with them. He will be back, but this is less important that loving Jesus and being apart of the divine community. For in living and loving in the divine community not only keeps one close to Jesus but helps the disciple to see Jesus and the Father revealed. This essential love of one another within the community brings with it a peace and a witness of the Spirit of Truth into the world. I am convinced that Jesus understood that if his followers would live in the Holy Spirit and live in a loving community with one another he (Jesus) would be revealed in glory to the world and that the world would in turn have a revelation of God.

Peace in Jesus’ teachings stems from the grounding and sharing of love born from the Spirit of Truth, like the Holy Spirit itself it is a gift.
The first four lines of this verse are a majestic promise made by Jesus to the disciples he leaves in the world. The peace of which Jesus speaks has nothing to do with the absence of warfare (indeed it will come only after the world has been conquered: 16:33), nor with an end of psychological tension, nor with a sentimental feeling of well-being. Cyril of Alexandria identified pace with the Holy Spirit mentioned in the previous verse; his exegesis is wrong, but it is closer to the truth than many of the modern oratorical distortions of this verse, for it recognizes correctly that the peace of Jesus is a gift that pertains to man’s salvation…peace is one of the blessings of the souls of the just who are in the hand of God…in Johannine realized eschatology peace is enjoyed by Christians even during this life. (RB, John, vol 2, 653)

Some Thoughts on Revelation 21:10, 22-22.5


Resources for Sunday's Epistle


We are drawing to the close of our Revelation readings just as we draw close to the end of Easter and the Ascension.  So it is that on this Sunday we arrive at the final vision in a book of visions.

When heaven comes to earth there will be no need for a temple because God is present everywhere and illumines everything.  The people of the earth will be united as they are focused upon God's light and all will have access to the God who comes to dwell with us.

We in our time have no hope for power, and distrust it's use of authority.  We believe that all power and authority is corrupt.  This is a vision of the old world which has passed away.  In the new world we see and understand differently.  Here in the new earth, where heaven makes its home, we see that God has power and authority. All the powers and authorities of the world are not gone but rather are oriented at worshiping God and reflecting his light.  Power and authority, the kings, are transformed.

This is achieved by God's grace.  We are washed clean by the healing which is God's alone.  One author wrote, "God's drawing of the kings and nations to God's self, to the holy city, is no threat; the uncleanness that had led to oppression, violence, and evil will stay removed forever."

This vision is a vision of hope which is visible, even dimly, now in the world around us.  We as Christians and followers of Jesus, the lamb of God, are invited to do this now.  We are invited to see our role in the world today. To know we are made clean by Christ.  That we are to attempt to unearth this heavenly city in the midst of our families and friendship circles.  We are to see the seeds already sprouting of this kingdom come to earth.

The vision of the heavenly city which find its home on earth is our vision. It is our motivating invitation to enter the gates which shall never be closed and to worship the God who makes his life in the world and not locked away in a temple.  If we can imagine and see the end we can work towards it with purpose and vision.

Some Thoughts on Acts 16:9-15

Oremus Online NRSV Text

Resources for Sunday's First Lesson

This is the story of the conversion of Lydia, her husband and household. We have here a wonderful sense of early church mission and evangelism and it is well worth thinking carefully about what is happening here.

First, Paul discerns a calling to go across to Troas and then to Philippi. This is on the Aegean Sea. We are not told that Paul has any plans. He is not thinking I am going there and I am going to do a, b, and then c. We imagine that he is. The church organization we know will automatically assume that Paul is going there with plans to birth a church. To read this into the story though completely undermines it in the arc of Lukan mission. Paul has a dream, a call, and so he discerns this is where he is to go. He trusts that God will give him some hint as what is to take place there.

The church must send, and empower people to go out, without plans! People should go and discover in the world what is up there and not overly plan their work. Certainly, there will be time enough to figure things out... but the beginning of mission is a Person attentive to the Holy Spirit and a Place and dependance upon God. Nothing less and nothing more.

On the day of rest Paul goes out to the river. He may be looking for a synagogue...though Luke is not clear. He leaves the city and heads to the river. He is attentive and there finds a group of women there. These women are gentiles. They are not Jews and they are gathered. Paul goes and visits with them. Paul speaks to her.

This is the second mission principle worth noting. Paul goes, keeps his eyes open, sees some people - maybe working to rinse cloth, maybe sitting by the river. We don't know. But he sees them and goes and visits with them. Once you are in the place where you are to be you keep your eyes open and you meet people.  The idea here is to let the spirit lead you, open your eyes and heart to what is around you. See people for who they are, not who you want them to be. Enter into relationship honestly and openly.

The third thing is that God opens Lydia's heart...not Paul. This is very important. We think we MUST convert. This is not our work. Conversion is the work of God - not ours. We are simply to be about God's business in the world with our eyes open, clear about who we are, and willing to meet people where they are and allow God to do what God will do.

Paul and Lydia are opened to her baptism and so she and her whole house are baptised. This is important. The household would include many different kinds of people and it is very likely that the household did not all come to believe in the same way as Lydia - some had to do it because they were in Lydia's house. This is the fourth thing about mission that is important: there is no hierarchy of knowledge regarding Baptism. When you desire it you get it. Sometimes you may not even really know what you are doing. Paul I am sure helped them along with this. But, we cannot overlay some modernist/postmodernist form of Christian formation on top of baptism. The work of conversion and act of baptism are reflective by those who participate in it. We must go with the flow as it were.

The last thing is that often times we think we are to have people who come to baptism join us. Imagine a mission that is willing to go where the people live. Baptize them and then journey to their mission field, their home, their place of work rather than lifting them out of that format and putting them to work inside a church building. 

What happens in our story is that a new church of importance is planted in Philippi.

Ancient Mission for a New Context

1.  Go. Mission is a Person attentive to the Holy Spirit and a Place and dependance upon God.
2. Once you are in the place where you are to be you keep your eyes open and you meet people.
3. Conversion is the work of God - not ours.
4. There is no hierarchy of knowledge regarding Baptism.
5. Baptize them and then journey to their mission field, their home, their place of work rather than lifting them out of that format and putting them to work inside a church building. 

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