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.

Enjoy.

Search This Blog by Proper and Year (ie: Proper 8B or Christmas C or Advent 1A)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Proper 9C / Ordinary 14C / Pentecost +7

Quotes That Make Me Think

"Notice how Jesus only tells them what they should do and doesn't say anything about measuring their success. If people don't accept your message, he says, shake their dust off your feet and move on. In our congregations it's difficult to avoid measuring success."

Commentary, Luke 10:1-11, 16-20, Michael Rogness, Preaching This Week,WorkingPreacher.org, 2013.

"Leo Bebb said, 'It's worth breaking the law just so you can get put in the lock-up, where the grapes are ripe for the harvest and the Lord needs all the hands he can get for the vineyard. You should hear the way they sing hymns behind bars, Antonio. Makes you go all over gooseflesh.'"

"Hands for the Harvest," sermon discussion from Frederick Buechner, Frederick Buechner Blog. The following excerpt was initially published in Lion Country and later in The Book of Bebb:


General Resources for Sunday's Lessons from Textweek.com

Prayer
Give us the courage of the apostles, and let the gospel set us free that wherever life takes us and with whomever we find ourselves, our first word may always be your gift of love and peace.  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 10:1-11, 16-20

Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel

We begin here in the same way that we began with last Sunday’s Gospel from Luke. Jesus sends out before him messengers. This time he is sending out seventy. The harvest is rich says Jesus. Pray for help in the harvest.

I cannot help but imagine this text without thinking of Moses’ seventy elders who go with him to the mountain. While I do not intend to question the number I cannot help but think this is an important story to be included in the Gospel account because of this very fact. It is important to the theme of Jesus as the great high priestly prophet that he is compared with Moses, not just in deeds as in our last few weeks of reading, but here in action of disbursing authority and replicating and multiplying the proclamation of the Good news.

We can see immediately that previously in our text, Jesus sent the twelve to preach and heal, the messengers to prepare hospitality, and the seventy to do both!

Just as we remember this prophet and the prophets work makes orphans of family members and homeless those who have houses, so here we see that those who follow and undertake this work are sent out for the good work of harvesting and will for their efforts place their lives in danger.

He tells them what to take with them and what to leave behind. The message here seems to be travel light and carry with you the providence of God.

This mission is in the hostile land of Samaria and this cannot be overlooked. They are to be careful and remember they are ministering in a place that will not be welcoming to messengers sent from a prophet of Jerusalem…even if it is in Jerusalem where he will meet his death.  And, at the same time it is in Samaria a perceived hostile land that the Good News takes hold and great works and miraculous deeds are accomplished.

Nothing less than the kingdom of God is going with them, the very same message that has traveled as a mantle with Jesus’ every word. Now they are to carry it, and where it is accepted there will be peace. The kingdom is here and where it is there is peace for those who choose to live their life within its expanding territory.

Wipe off the dirt when they don’t accept you…leave them be and go. When the Day of Judgment comes they will receive what is due them. Jesus uses a colloquial proverb from his day, “go easier for Sodom.” (LTJ, Luke, Sacra Pagina, 168).

We se here in the verses that follow the them of repentance. And, we understand that where the kingdom is, where the grace appears, where God is truly received there is indeed an automatic work of repentance taken on by the people. Woe to those who do not turn to the Lord.

I think that it would be much clearer if we understood that the messengers, these seventy, were actually to do the fire bombing Jesus speaks about. But we must remember from last week’s reading, Jesus carefully instructs those who go before him to stay away from this work. Will there be judgment? The answer is clearly yes. Are we to be the ones to dish it out? Clearly: no. In fact we are to keep focused on the mission. We might remember the plough imagery from last week. We are to keep moving, dust our feet off. True enough…woe to Chorazin…but keep moving…keep proclaiming the Gospel message.

Then Jesus talks about Satan’s fall as he hears of the work his disciples have been doing. This is great news. But don’t let the news of the good work be what drives you forward. Jesus again redirects our attention. It is not the winning or the loosing, the success of the mission, or the fact that they seem to be doing good work that is important, it is rather that they are citizens in the reign or kingdom of God and they are fulfilling their citizenship by ministering in God’s name.

A new beatitude is added to our list. Blessed are those that see and those that hear. Blessed are the ones who can experience and the reign of God in a very real way. While scholars seize on the seeing and the hearing, it is interesting to me in the pericope to note that there is also a part of this saying which is the desire fulfilled. There are many Jesus says who desired to experience the kingdom. They do. So, indeed, blessed are the ones who see and hear of the kingdom. Perhaps, blessed are the citizens of this new kingdom and blessed are they that repent and are able to dwell within its boundaries.

The journey to Jerusalem is the unfolding of Jesus’ sermon on the plain. There is a declaration of woe says Luke Timothy Johnson and then a blessings, here in the alternating action, conversation, witnessing, and teaching we see Jesus’ reign of God unfold. (LTJ, 171)

It is clear that Jesus sees the Samaritans as outcasts of the people and that we are seeing in his own ministry the very essential ingredients to the life and work of the church. If we are a mission of Jesus Christ, the “seventy” sent out into the world, then we must measure our success not on the results of our work, but on these qualities expressed in today’s Gospel.

Moreover, instead of fearing the land outside our congregations like a neo-Samaria we should lift our heads and eyes to see that it is in the world of mission that great things happen and the Gospel takes root.


Some Thoughts on Galatians 6:1-18


Resources for Sunday's Epistle

While taking a stab at the spiritually superior Paul reminds them that their work is to be a mutual support to one another in fulfilling the law of Christ.

This law is governed by the Spirit of Christ.  The law of God in human relationship has a particular history.  God's initial and singular law is replaced by the law of Sinai which human beings are unable to keep.  This then is replaced by Christ and the return to the singular law.  The Sinai law will enslave us; for Paul this is self evident and illustrative both in the teachings of Jesus and through the spirit of revelation.  The singular law revealed is the law of love.

Love one another.  Christ has brought this one way love of God to humans and into the world. The law of Christ, the law of love, is to be the law which ultimately governs the new emerging community of the church.  The church will be known to be Christ's and governed by Christ's law based upon love.

In Paul's words:

"In love, bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will bring to completion in the corporate life of your churches (future tense of ἀναπληρόω - anapléroó) the law that Chris himself has brought to completion.  For Christ brought the Law to completion, when he made it his own Law, by loving us and giving his life for us.  Indeed, he did that precisely in accordance with the will of God our Father, whose promise and whose guidance are spoken by the scriptural Law that is now the Law in the hands of Christ." (Translation by J. Louis Martyn, Galatians, p 558)


Some Thoughts on 2 Kings 5:1-17

I think a lot of times we forget how many times God does good work for the least and lost in the Old Testament. We often times think that it is purely a series of books that have only to do with the people of Israel.

We might do well to remember the Elijah story from a few weeks past when Elijah went and was with a woman, most likely canaanite, and multiplied the food she had and raised her son from the dead. Here again we have a similar story in that Elisha is called out to work miracles for someone not found to be of value in Israel's religious eyes - he is not Israelite, and he is not clean.

The first thing to notice int he story is that Naaman is a great warrior who has had many victories. He has everything in terms of victory but has nothing for he has leprosy. He is counted unclean and therefore he is one of the least.

One of his servants/captives, who became his wife, is one who knows of the miraculous work of the Sinai prophet Elisha and says to her owner/husband you should go and see him. She is an Israelite and considered even lower than he in the eyes of the the powerful in Damascus.

Naaman's king writes to the king of Israel for permission. Naaman is a great warrior and so the king is VERY scared! He is worried that the king of Aram and Naaman are plotting to overthrow him. Elisha says, calm down and let him come to me. So Naaman goes with many gifts. He arrives with many horses and chariots and in great finery.

Here is one of the great exchanges in biblical history:

Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.”  
Naaman has a fit. We are told that Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage.  
Again, a servant wife who is accounted nothing comes to Naaman and says, "Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”  
So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.

Naaman offers Elisha gifts but Elisha says no. The miracle story is important because on the one hand it is telling the story of religious truth found in Israel over and against its neighbors. Certainly God's power is present there in the prophet Elisha, in the Israelite woman, and in the river Jordan. But I think there is still more here for us.

This is a story of how the power of God to deliver and heal for the least and for the other is important. God is clearly working to restore all people, not simply the people of Israel. God is the God of all nations and all people. All come to him and all will worship. This is a story about how God is, through the work of Elisha (like Elijah), working in the lives of those who do not count as members of his flock - Israel.

I know that there are a number of readings possible over these weeks and some number have stayed with the readings from Isaiah. I have kept to the readings from Kings because I think it is of the utmost importance to see that Jesus himself was involved in a ministry not so very foreign to the Sinai prophets who ministered to the least and lost, to the lame and leper, all of whom have very little value in the eyes of the religious. Jesus' work to expand and pronounce goodness and healing for all the least and lost despite of religious or national orientation is essential and rooted deep in a tradition of a God who has forever sought to work on behalf of the least and lost.



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