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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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Proper 16C / Ordinary 21C / Pentecost +14 August 21, 2016

Quotes That Make Me Think

"God's focus is not self-aggrandisement as it is with so many who have power and wealth and want to keep it, but generosity and giving, restoration and healing, encouraging and renewing."

"First Thoughts on Year C Gospel Passages in the Lectionary," Pentecost 14, William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.

"It is the synagogue leader who calls Jesus' actions "healing" (therapeuo in v. 14 twice) -- and thus a "work". He doesn't see it as the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy of releasing from bondage -- or a re-enactment of the Exodus journey from slavery to freedom."

Exegetical Notes by Brian Stoffregen at CrossMarks Christian Resources.

"Both themes of praise and rejoicing are emphasized by Luke as appropriate responses to God's work in Jesus (e.g., 7:16) the one who brings the reign of God in healing power to those who most need it."

Commentary, Luke 13:10-17, Jeannine K. Brown, Pentecost +13, Preaching This Week,WorkingPreacher.org, 2010.


General Resources for Sunday's Lessons from Textweek.com

Prayer
O God, the source of all health: So fill my heart with faith in your love, that with calm expectancy I may make room for your power to possess me, and gracefully accept your healing; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, 461


Some Thoughts on Luke 13:10-17

Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel

It is an easy thing to read this passage and to wander off into the strong political imagery of the woman in relationship to those who have power over her. I think we cannot help but wonder about the
relationship between the woman and the ruler of the synagogue. Indeed, as I read many commentaries I was struck by the emotional and convicting imagery of the bent over woman, possessed by powers, struggling for 18 years and the knowledge that one of the powers that kept her down must have been the hard fist of the religious system of the day. It would not have favored her and in fact in her healing begins to work against Jesus who frees her from the oppression. As I reread the passage, I began to ask myself am I missing something?

The first piece of information that seems central to this passage is that our reading does not include the whole pericope. We begin this section of Jesus’ teachings with warnings to repent. We see that Jesus is answering the age old question about God and the manner in which God works in the world. The question: Did God make the tower fall on the eighteen people at Siloam? The answer is no, but it is also that everyone should be ready for the coming of the kingdom. We know that Jesus believe the reign of God was imminent; if not already present as he himself was present. So, Jesus is being clear: be ready. The time to follow is now!

Jesus then gives the parable of the man who saves the fig tree but for a little longer seeking to care for it and to nurture it into bearing fruit. This is an important image because it helps us to understand perhaps how Jesus sees his own ministry. He is the one, spare them but a little longer, let us fertilize and tend to our creation.

So, we come to our text for this Sunday. Here we are told that there is a woman present who has weak. She is possessed according to the Greek. She has been this way for 18 years; notice the connection between her years of possession and the number of people in Siloam that died. Jesus sees her and he frees her. This is done as are all the works of Christ to glorify God.

We are told that the ruler of the synagogue was irritated. Instead of addressing Jesus directly he triangulates the crowd to his cause and raises their ire against the prophet.

Jesus reacts promptly. He tells them that everyone frees even their work animals on the Sabbath and that humans, especially this woman who has been as tied up by the devil, surely deserves her freedom – Sabbath or not.

Notice though too that he calls her a “daughter of Abraham.” She is neighbor. Like Zacchaeus who is called “son of Abraham” she is part of the family; part of the deuteronomistic family of God. Paul calls those in Antioch “sons of the family of Abraham (Acts 13:26). Our prayer book describes the church as the family of God. We are the all the inheritors of this designation and as such are freed from bondage.

Jesus is connecting clearly the freedom of Israel with the freedom of this woman from her possession. Jesus is offering us a very key understanding of the work of the reign of God and that is to free those who are imprisoned, to proclaim release of the captives. To bring the family of Abraham out of the bondage this keeps it from bearing fruit into a new era of mission. Sabbath here is intimately connected with the work, and by the work, of freedom making. The Sabbath is a day of rest; it is a day of proclamatory rest from the bondage of evil, sin, and death.

The crowd rejoices and the opponents are put to shame says the scripture.

This miracle of freedom is one of the signs that play on the great mosaic and messianic themes running through Luke’s Gospel. Jesus is not only the great prophet offering a vision of the reign of God; Jesus is the great deliverer who will bring us out of the land of suffering into a new life of freedom. Here in this story Luke is playing on the powerful images, showing his reader who Jesus is and what our response is to be. We are to see the great signs. Unlike last weeks scripture we are to know the signs of the seasons and the signs of the son of man. We are to see and respond. Luke Timothy Johnson reminds us (Luke, 215) that it is possible that “the woman’s standing to glorify God will remind us of the saying about the return of the Son of Man in 21:28: ‘when these things begin to happen, stand up straight, lift up your heads, for the time of your liberation has come.’”

I can see that in different contexts both messages (the justice and the missionary) will be important. So we might reflect and ask these questions of ourselves: On this Sunday will our proclamation be that the woman is freed and so we are free? Or, will we say “see this is the Christ, come and follow, bear fruit, and make way in the wilderness so that others may be free”?


Some Thoughts on Hebrews 12:18-29


Resources for Sunday's Epistle

We continue to read Hebrews this week.  The author has been telling the readers that the people of Israel have been responding to this creator God.  Their faithfulness has led them on a great adventure with this God and this God has done great thing through them. These people are our faith ancestors.  So this week the author offers a view into the nature of this God.  

The author writes, "You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them."  These words remind the reader that this God is completely unlike us. This God is wild and is known in and among the wild things.  This God is terrific, terrifying, and powerful.

This is a God who promises to shake the foundations!  "At that time his voice shook the earth; but now he has promised, 'Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.'"

It is this God's people and this God's kingdom in which we reside. It is this God whom we follow. This is the God who shakes our foundations and offers us life and life abundantly is a realm that cannot be shaken.  It is to this God that we worship and offer lives and ministry. It is this God who consumes us through his love. It is this God who sets our hearts on fire because of his love.  This is indeed a terrifying love.

Paul Tillich wrote a wonderful little book entitled: Shaking the Foundations which I have enjoyed.  He writes:

"How could the prophets speak as they did?  How could they paint these most terrible pictures of doom and destruction without cynicism or despair?  It was because, beyond the sphere of destruction, they saw the sphere of salvation; because in the doom of the temporal, they saw the manifestation of the Eternal.  It was because they were certain that they belonged within the two spheres, the changeable and the unchangeable. For only he who is also beyond the changeable, not bound within it alone, can face the end.  All others are compelled to escape, to turn away.  ...For in these days the foundations of the earth do shake.  May we not turn our eyes away; rather see, through the crumbling of a world, the rock of eternity and the salvation which has no end!" (Tillich, p. 11)

Michael C. Jackson (whose works I was introduced to by reading Margaret Wheatley's The New Science) in his text Systems Approaches to Management writes, "The things we fear most in organizations - fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances - need not be signs of an impending disorder that will destroy us. Instead, fluctuations are the primary source of creativity."  (Wheatley p. 19-20 as cited in: Michael C. Jackson (2000) Systems Approaches to Management. p. 77)

What is present in this ancient text is a vision, an artifact of truth, that somehow the world is one of complex potential always renewing, growing, dying, birthing, and shaking.  It is a creation that at the same time holds within itself the eternal and the future.

Some Thoughts on Jeremiah 1:4-19


Resources for Sunday's Old Testament Lesson
Last week we heard from Isaiah, in Jeremiah's time the prophesies come to pass.


Isaiah has been appointed for the special mission of prophesying against the religion on Mount Zion and its leaders. 

In this passage we here that Jeremiah is specially and specifically called to this vocation:
5Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 6Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” 7But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you, 8Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” 9Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth.
Here is something very important to understand about Jeremiah (And I lean on Levenson in his book Sinai and Zion pp 180ff here) - he was part of the Sinai prophetic tradition. Jeremiah was one of the priests in Anathoth. Now here is the story... the Sinai shrine at Shiloh (one of the most ancient and powerful shrines of the Sinai tradition) was destroyed after its priests supported the wrong king - Adonijah over and against Solomon. Solomon punished the line of Eli which led to Jeremiah. So while the great high priest at the Temple mount succeeded, the shrine was destroyed and the priests and their lineage including now Jeremiah, were lost. That is until now.

Jeremiah then resurrects the prophetic Sinai tradition over and against a centralized dynasty in Israel. He reminds the religious institution of his day that God dwells in the midst of the people, and that they are invited to partake as members of God's family. They do not own the rights to the religion and should be very careful of thinking they are somehow protected by throwing around God's name.

Jeremiah tells us that God has given him the God's spirit to speak truth to the powers that be and to the religious institution:

8Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” 9Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth. 10See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”
God invites the prophet to speak out loud what he sees and to speak the truth about the centralized religion of the day. Jeremiah speaks:

I see a branch of an almond tree.” 12Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”13The word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, tilted away from the north.” 14Then the Lord said to me: Out of the north disaster shall break out on all the inhabitants of the land. 15For now I am calling all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, says the Lord; and they shall come and all of them shall set their thrones at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its surrounding walls and against all the cities of Judah. 16And I will utter my judgments against them, for all their wickedness in forsaking me; they have made offerings to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands. 
With these words and the passages that will follow Jeremiah sets out upon a mission to preach against the religion who centralizes faith, heaps up codes and requirements upon the people, which rob the people of wealth and who in the end hang a millstone around the least, and lost, and hungry's neck.

God is clear with Jeremiah, he is to give the faith of Israel back to the people and break the back of the oppressive religion. God for God's part will not stand in the way of the armies that are to come, who will bring the reign of man who acts like a God down reminding them this is not their home, nor their place, nor their wealth - but it is God's and meant to be shared to and benefit all of God's people. 

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