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)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Trinity Sunday C May 22, 2016

Quotes That Make Me Think

"...we need to hear this brief section from Chapter 16, not as Jesus giving a lecture on the doctrine of the Trinity, but as a personally intense commitment of abiding, continuing, present love / loyalty / protection / guidance / bonding with his followers then - and now - and always." 

Holy Textures, Understanding the Bible in its own time and in ours, John 16:12-15, David Ewart, 2013.

"There is always a degree of finagling that goes on when any biblical text is called upon to support a doctrine or understanding of the church..." 

Commentary, John 16:12-15, Sarah Henrich, Preaching This Week,, 2010.

"Not everything which masquerades in garments of light brings light. To affirm this Spirit, this Christ of John, is to deny counterfeits and to encounter popular spiritualities inside and outside the church critically."

"First Thoughts on Year C Gospel Passages in the Lectionary: Trinity,"William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.

General Resources for Sunday's Lessons

We glorify you, O God, and ponder the mystery of the wisdom by which you created the world in wondrous beauty and order.  We, your church, your new creation, reconciled in your Son and sanctified by your Spirit, ask you to lead us through endurance into hope and from hope to full knowledge of you, who are love itself, fullness of truth and undying life.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 16:12-15

Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel

It is interesting that this passage is part of Year B's Pentecost readings.  This year it becomes our reading for Trinity Sunday.

Jesus begins his teaching several passages before our reading today when he speaks to the disciples about the fact that because of Jesus' own intimate relationship with God he is going to suffer and die; and if they follow him they will certainly suffer and be persecuted as well.  They will be persecuted because the notion that the individual may have a personal experience of God was anathema to the people in religious power of his day and it is anathema to people in religious power today.  In point of fact (and as Bonhoeffer once put it) the grace and mercy received in personal relationship with the Godhead through Christ is the non-religious faith of Jesus.  Direct connection, unorganized, non approved, and unsanctioned, relationship with God through the power of the Holy Spirit is a threatening to institutional threat. For this reason, and for the reason that Jesus is a friend of sinners, he and all who follow him will suffer and many will die.

Jesus then offers to those who are listening, his closest followers, a message that the Holy Spirit will remain with them and that they will not be disconnected either from Christ Jesus or from God himself.  In fact the very nature of a personal relationship of grace, thereby unmediated by the world and its religion, will in point of fact prove the reality of his words.

This grace of the Holy Spirit is given by God alone. It cannot be earned.  This Holy Spirit comfort will put at ease all those who bear witness to it because it requires nothing of approval from the world.  Jesus in his words here is clear that living in the Holy Spirit is a way of life devoid of worldly approval and religious authority.

One of the reasons that I love the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion is that we are (when at our best) trying to live into the challenge of God's Holy Spirit.  The challenge to be one and united as God is united in an undivided Trinity.  We are trying to see God moving in the world as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We see God's grace and mercy challenge our piety.  We see God's grace and mercy challenge our lawlessness.  We attempt to be conscious of the Holy Spirit's presence in the midst of our context.  At our best our mission and ministry is not limited to our church campuses but is meeting the Holy Spirit in the world; both as it sends us out and as it transforms us through our experience of the Gospel in the world.

We listen to the personal stories of life lived with Jesus.  We also are aware of God's fatherliness as creator and provider.

I want to suggest that at this week we should not lose the power of  the Holy Spirit as part of the trinitarian life; and we may wish to remember it is the Holy Spirit that offered relationship beyond the confines of our church with the sinners of the world.  That it reminds us within the church of our smugness and too often self-satisfaction which builds up barriers rather than offering an embrace.  May we on this Sunday be reminded not of God's having birthed a perfect community but of God having invited his people to leave the temple and synagogues in favor of a faith (a personal relationship) that leads the faithful followers of Jesus out into the street to meet the people where they live and in the market place.  

May we perhaps this Sunday discover that the life lived in a trinitarian community is a life lived out in the world.  Where in the context and community in which we find our churches is an essential ingredient of the Holy Spirit's ingathering.

May we on this Sunday rediscover a missionary Holy Spirit that is articulating in the culture of the world (its images, music, economy, and culture) God's grace. And, like the disciples who on Pentecost were given the tongues of the culture which surrounded them, let us pray to be given tongues to name and call out the Gospel as we find it in the world around us.

Some Thoughts on Romans 5:1-11

Resources for Sunday's Epistle

We live in a culture which is based upon the exchange of capital.  This economic equation that makes the world go round is very often applied to the life and community of faith.  We will say things like: if I am better at this or that I will somehow have more God in my life.  How often have I myself used the phrase, "If I would just...." How many times collectively have we as preachers spoken to our congregations about how if they would only: love the poor, give more money, ask for forgiveness, come to church more often, attend bible study, do more social justice, or any one of the myriad things we believe are necessary for the Christian life.  We all too often preach and live our own lives of faith (me included) out of a sense of capital exchange.  If I am a better Christians, a better Episcopalian, God will love me more.

This world of capital exchange and economic transactions are not the world of the Gospel.  They are not the world of Pauline Christianity. They are not the world of Episcopal theology.  No, the spiritual economy of God is one where God chooses us first. God reaches out to us.  God saves us out of his love for us and the world while we are sinful broken people.  Paul writes in verse 9:  "God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us."  And, in verse 2: "...through [Jesus Christ] we have obtained access to [God's] grace."  We are chosen, we are selected, we are loved by God first.

Our redemption, our forgiveness, our reconciliation with God is not dependent upon anything we can or ought to do.  Paul is clear in verse 11 that it is "through [God] we have now received reconciliation." The embrace of the Father (as in the prodigal son) is not dependent upon a return to him as a perfected human being.  We are embraced by God as the broken individual who is even now wasting our inheritance of God's grace away; and still God chooses us.  

I believe that in the Christian Church the thing we most often neglect and forget is the message of Grace.  Instead we supplement grace with a "but" or a "try harder" sermon.  God is clear in the person of Jesus - it is the sinner who God is most interested in finding and making his friend.

I do believe that life is hard and it is difficult. There is no question that the message if accepted that we follow a God who is not interested in the righteous or people pleasing followers is one that will haunt anyone who is determined to figure out the exchange rate for God's love.  It is for us, the sinful and broken, the struggling and the people pleasers, the poor and the rich, the perfect wanna be's and the imperfect that "...God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit."

Perhaps this week we might try putting down the God exchange rate and try accepting a bit of grace.

Some Thoughts on Proverbs 8: 1-31

Resources for Sunday's First Lesson

Christians read this particular text as the Holy Spirit speaking. In the stanzas presented the Spirit is personified as a woman. We are told that she is calling out to us all - especially the youth. She is speaking truth and wisdom and she is the one upon whom we are to depend. 

You must open your self up to her and to her good advice, sound wisdom, insight, and strength. She is the one who will guide us in justice and righteousness. The more that we enter into her words the more we will discover God's love for us through the Spirit, through her.
Wisdom comes from God and has flowed through the beginning of creation. The Spirit moved with God in creation. She was a master worker who helped God to bring forth all things. 

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