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)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Proper 15C / Ordinary 20C / Pentecost +13 August 14, 2016

Quotes That Make Me Think

"By and large, we avoid conflict and division in our congregations at all costs, yet here Jesus is talking about bringing just that. We want peace and moreover call Jesus the prince of peace, yet just now Jesus says that’s not what he came to bring."

"A Stressful Sermon," David Lose, Dear Working Preacher, 2013.

"These words remind us that Jesus keeps us in the tension of longing and looking. On one hand, we yearn for peace, we hunger for the reign of God, we thirst for what is to come, but our prophetic vision cannot blind us to the reality that surrounds us."

Preaching Luke 12:49-56, Carol Howard Merritt, Lectionary Homileticssample.

"It is difficult to over-emphasize how revolutionary Jesus is being in stressing loyalty to him - and kinship with those who are also loyal to him - over family."

Holy Textures, Understanding the Bible in its own time and in ours, Luke12:32-40, David Ewart, 2013.

General Resources for Sunday's Lessons from

Surrounded by your great cloud of witnesses, we look to Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of our faith. Let us be consumed in the fire he kindles, and immersed in the baptism of his death, that he may remember us when he comes into his kingdom.  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 12:49-56

Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel

As we begin the study of the passage for this week we are mindful of references to Elijah who drew down fire and to John the Baptist who foretold, “the tree not bearing fruit is to be thrown in the fire.” (Luke Timothy Johnson, Luke, 207). Jesus’ time is coming, and he is eager for the judgment and the eschaton – end time. He is also sure that his followers are not ready…that we are not ready. We are not ready to go through the baptism that he will go through.

Jesus continues prophetically by speaking of the peace and the division of families. Unlike Gabriel’s words in 1:17 where the heart of the father will be turned towards the son, Jesus promises a different outcome for those who choose to follow into the fire.

The listener shares the “blindness of the lawyers” previously discussed. (LTJ, Luke, 209) They are hypocrites like them and can’t see it is time to do what is right. Calling his followers and listeners hypocrites raises before them the concept that they can read the seasons but do not know that the Son of God is with them now! The time is now! Follow now! Live the life I give to you now!

I cannot help but connect the prophetic naming of hypocrite with the one who is more willing to bring the faults of others to the Godly throne. Do what is right and be careful of hauling your neighbor before the judge.

Jesus began this section of teaching by encouraging his followers. Jesus ends the teaching with a call to conversion. The reader must assume the conversion is meant for everyone - most of all for the reader.

There is a metaphorical connection between the reader/listener/follower and the parable of the two on the road to the judge. We are reading and on the way with Jesus. His listeners are standing on the road with Jesus. All of us are there on the way to Jerusalem, to the judgment seat (literally and figuratively and literally). Settling into life with Jesus now will be easier than later.

This is as if to say that our purpose is to live the life of Jesus in this world - to get to the work of restoration and glorification of God now, imitating our teacher and loving our neighbor. We may choose at the judgment seat in the next life to accept Christ, but it will be more difficult if not impossible. We may first, like the traveler along the road who rested in the comfort of his neighbor’s sure demise, be required to pay all that we owe. We may have to get all that is coming to us.

This reminds me of what my father-in-law used to say, “Would you like a piece of pie?” You would of course say, “Yes.” Then you would notice perhaps that a little crust was left in the pie plate from your piece. You might then say, “Now Paw Paw, I want all that is coming to me.” He would then smile and say, “Do you really want all that is coming to you?” Knowing immediately what he was thinking you say quickly, “Well…no…not ALL that is coming to me.”

When I think of Jesus and this passage  I am thinking of that piece of pie. How sure I sometimes am that I really want all that is coming to me and I want all that is coming to my neighbor too. But Jesus takes the focus off of the other and beckons us to be introspective and act first out of a sense of repentance to the grace we are being offered. Jesus is standing there before us, just at the time we are sure we are the one’s who have it all right, and he is saying, “Do you really want all that is coming to you?” Then Jesus is saying, “You can read the seasons and times, but you can't see the time is now. I am on the road with you right now, as you are trying to follow the way. You better get things right with me now. You better get to work living the life. You better be careful, because you don’t really want all that is coming to you.”

These are the uncomfortable words of Jesus. Have courage. Get right with Jesus before the judgment. Repent, and take a step into the fire.

I am mindful of the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abedinego, the three young men in the fire by Nebuchadnezzar’s hand. (Daniel 1.1ff).  The passage also made me think of Bob Marley and the Wailer’s song Survival.

Yeah, yeah, yeah!

How can you be sitting there
Telling me that you care -
That you care?
When every time I look around,
The people suffer in the suffering
In everyway, in everywhere.

Say: na-na-na-na-na (na-na, na-na!):
We're the survivors, yes: the Black survivors!
I tell you what: some people got everything;
Some people got nothing;
Some people got hopes and dreams;
Some people got ways and means…

We're the survivors, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego,
Thrown in the fire, but-a never get burn.
So brothren, sistren,
The preaching and talkin' is done;
We've gotta live up, wo now, wo now! -
'Cause the Father's time has come.
Some people put the best outside;
Some people keep the best inside;
Some people can't stand up strong;
Some people won't wait for long.

Some Thoughts on Hebrews 11:29-12:2

Resources for Sunday's Epistle

From fire to the Red Sea, our Epistle also speaks to us of deliverance.  The author of Hebrews continues to tell the story of the people Israel, offering their story as the Christian story. They are the Christian's faith ancestors.  Their faith, their response to the creator God led them through the REd Sea.  It was their faith in this creator God that led them to understand that when the land became theirs it was because of the creator God.  It was Rahab's faith in this God that saved her as well.  It is not difficult to understand or see how these stories can easily become problematic and used to authorize power and abuse.  This however is not the author's intent.  What is?  "What more should [the author] say?" The author makes his argument clear.  The whole history of the people of Israel is a story of faithful people responding to faith in the creator God.

"And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions,quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect."
They made their faithful response.  They were understood to be God's people by their faith.  No matter how hard or difficult life was or how long or arduous the journey was - they were commended by God.

Then follows one of my favorite quotes from scripture, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God."

The life of faith, the creative vibrant life of faith, is always lived in response to God and to Jesus.  This is our privilege, this is our calling, this is what we do as Christians and as Episcopalians.  In fact as faithful people, not unlike the gathering cloud of witnesses, it is our hearts song in response to this God that beckons us forward into mission.

Some Thoughts on Isaiah 5:1-7

A number of scholars believe this is a poem or song that was sung at the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths which is a thanksgiving festival. While it begins with a note of love and joy it is also a parable.

For Isaiah the Temple, mount Zion, and the city of Jerusalem that spreads out around it, is the garden and vineyard prepared by the Lord. God has set this place, this particular space, as the spiritual and moral center of the universe for the people and done all that is required in making it ready and fertile. In fact the whole people of Israel north and south have been nurtured and given fertility by the Lord. Therefore, the fault and failure of the vineyard lies in the religious leaders and people themselves -  not in the creator of the vineyard.

God speaks out and questions the hearer: "And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it?"

The accusation that is at work here is not some simple malfeasance by the religious leaders but that they have done one thing and that is to ignore the plight of the poor, the widow and the orphan. The whole nature of righteousness in God's eyes in this parable is that the least, lost, and alone are crying out and reveal the fact that though the religious center is at the heart of the city it is not responsive as a heart should be.

Instead of mercy and righteousness what the people have delivered is bloodshed and injustice. Therefore, Isaiah prophesies against the Temple and against the southern kingdom. Their focus on themselves, upon their division, and upon their wealth has led to this massive failure of the people of God. All will fall because the two houses are not only divided but at war. They neglect the mission, god's favorite people the poor, and so in the end all the walls will come tumbling down, the wild beasts (the Assyrians) will invade, and the garden will languish for season. 

An important piece of this is that God does not bring this on to Judah and Jerusalem, but neither will God act to stop it. The crumbling of the garden and its disintegration is due to the people's goals of power, and wealth and their losing sight of their purpose as a merciful and generous people.

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