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)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Proper 4C / Ordinary 9C / Pentecost +2

Quotes That Make Me Think


"Like the people of Nazareth who respond to the story of Elisha and Naaman with anger and rage (4:28), people might respond less than positively if we preach that Jesus cares about, ministers to, and wants to bless our enemies."

Commentary, Luke 7:1-10, Jeannine K. Brown, Preaching This Week,WorkingPreacher.org, 2013.

"Have your needs been carried to jesus by your friends?"

"The Centurion's Friends," Lauren Winner, The Hardest Question, 2013.


General Resources for Sunday's Lessons

Prayer
To you no one is a stranger, God of all peoples and nations, for your saving love knows no boundaries, and your compassion extends to all.  In Jesus, you have come under our roof to speak but a word, and we are healed.  May we, in turn, never set boundaries to your grace, but gladly offer the embrace of your peace to all without difference or discrimination.  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 7:1-10

Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel

The Centurion
As we begin our season of ordinary time following the great Eastertide, we return to Luke who will be our primary companion over these next months of preaching and teaching.

In this passage Jesus heals the centurion's slave.  In the passage we have emerging the themes of the prophet king who is powerful and does acts of power.

In the healing we see the generosity of God to the gentiles. We also see God's power reaching down to earth in love. We see the living out and practice of the words that Jesus spoke to the crowd as he taught.  It is a revelation that Jesus is like the prophets who did such work in the ancient days of Israel.  here again is a great prophet.

All of this is very important in the Lukan narrative as it prepares for the prophecy of Jesus' own death and rising to life again and mission to be fulfilled; and for the gospel message to be proclaimed throughout the world to become a reality.

This passage has in it some interesting themes for our church today.  These are well worth a moment before you pen those final words to your sermon text.

Let us for a moment take the model of this passage as a mission strategy for the proclamation of the reign of God and its transformative potential.

1.  Like Jesus the church is in the world engaging with people who do not belong - the Gentile Centurion.
2.  Like Jesus, the church engages not by blaming the world but by coming into the life of the world - Jesus goes to the centurion's home.
3.  Like Jesus, the church listens to what is needed - healing.
4.  Like Jesus, the church discovers in the world faith, and proclaims that it is there - Jesus proclaims the faith of the centurion.  This faith is foreign to the faith of the church and is exhibited by humility, desire, and seeking.
5.  Like Jesus, the church works to heal what is in need of healing.

The prophecy model here is one where in Jesus proclaims that God loves people... and wants the very best for them... and then meets people.. and then points out their faith... and then helps them.  I wonder is this the kind of prophecy the church is engaging?

I wonder as we look across our congregations this Sunday and think about our ministry as a preacher, teacher, bishop, priest, deacon or lay person...does what we do as church fit this particular model of ministry?

Some Thoughts on Galatians 1:1-12


Resources for Sunday's Epistle

There is a great deal in this passage!  It contains particular words which tie into the discussion about Paul's own authority.  It contains pieces that are believed to be part of ancient liturgies.  It is theological in its understanding of God's redeeming work.  There is much here to intrigue the student and reader to be sure. Indeed the themes in this first passage are the themes of the whole text.

I want to focus on the work of the church.  I am most interested in how Paul communicates his understanding of the ministry of Christian Community.

Rooted deeply in his understanding of the Godhead and in human nature Paul makes a particular argument.  This argument is meant to counter those arguments that the Galatians are making within a very divided community.

Individuals commit and will continue to commit sin.  For Paul the solution or "antidote" is not forgiveness for the particular sin. It is instead that God is God and is even now overcoming through the work of Jesus the power of sin.  (J. Louis Martyn, Galatians, 97)  God is working his purposes out and God's work is grounded in the incarnation.  Paul writes:  "Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father".

Paul believes firmly that God has called the church into being.  God has created it.  It participates in the new creation - the reign of God.

As one person recently challenged - the church is a principality of this world and we should not forget that as such it is part of those principalities which the devil has oversight.  I understand the point.  The church is made up of sinful broken human beings in need of redemption and as such is not perfect to be sure! Sometimes the church does really horrific things; history tells us this truth to be sure.  But there is much good in her too.  And, Paul sees this good and is very intent on focusing our attention on it.

The church even in its brokenness even now participates in the good and heavenly work of the reign of God.  It does this in spite of our human tendencies to harm others and to sin.

For Paul one of the things the church does is to deal with instances of sin.  If it forgives the sins of any they are forgiven and if it binds the sins of any they are bound.

More importantly though is this notion that it is in community that people are able to be at their best.  It is in the Christian Community of the faithful, where the good news is offered, that we outperform the norm of a society that is fallen and "evil" in Paul's words.


Some Thoughts on 1 Kings 18:20-39


Resources for Sunday's First Lesson


The story of 1 Kings is a story of prophecy by Elijah. This is a Sinai prophecy, it is not oriented at the Temple mount, but from the wilderness rooted in the first covenant with God on the mountaintop.  

While this is often correlated with the ministry of John the Baptist, and the later desert fathers, what we see here is that the work of the Sinai prophet is to be responsive to God's love and to enact in life a response. In this we see that Elijah and his story and prophetic work is about life lived in the wake of God's action. 

In this passage Elijah is calling the people back to God. He is reminding them of God's action and how they are to be in response to this delivering God. 

Unlike the church which seems to cower inside over and against the silence of the world around it, Elijah's response to the people is not to resent them or to be moved to inaction. Instead, Elijah calls the people together, he repairs the altar, and makes a sacrificial offering. In doing this he restores the Sinai site to its rightful holy place. It is this re-newing of the temple that prepares him for the contest agains the prophets. 

What seems important here is the reality that instead of allowing the temple to continue to be used for the secular he renews it for the sake of evangelization of the community around it. It is the renewing of the Sinai worship site that brings about the renewal of the people. Elijah calls the people to action, and after the renewing of the site, they obey and do as he commands.

Then Elijah calls upon God:
“O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”
Then God acts:
Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench.
Then the people respond:
When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord indeed is God; the Lord indeed is God.”
God is acting, and God will act in the world. However, in order to encounter the world we must renew ourselves, renew our altars, call upon God, and faithfully respond to the God who freed the Israelites and has made a covenant with them. In this then we may reenter the world and respond to God's work and acts.

When we stay huddled in our broken down and decaying buildings it is very difficult to remember the mighty hand of God at work in the world. Elijah calls us to renew our faith, to get busy, to make sacrifices, to clean up, and to renew our faith that we might receive God's fire.

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