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)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Proper 22C / Ordinary 27C / Pentecost +20 October 2, 2016

Quotes That Make Me Think

"Pointing out one's failings is meant to lead to metanoeo -- perhaps most literally in this context to "re-think" the actions. metanoeo besides meaning "to repent" or "to change one's mind," which are part of the meaning here; but it also carries the sense "to perceive afterwards" or "to perceive too late". Sometimes the words or actions we thought were OK at the time, with hindsight were seen to have "missed the mark". Such insight is meant to lead to repentance and forgiveness."

Exegetical Notes by Brian Stoffregen at CrossMarks Christian Resources.

"What is our value if it is not in what we achieve?"

"First Thoughts on Year C Gospel Passages in the Lectionary," Pentecost 20, William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.


"Instead of assuming that Jesus is promising that if our faith is big enough we will be able to do miracles, let's wonder if Jesus isn't chastising us for thinking in the first place that faith / trust comes in sizes."
Holy Textures, Understanding the Bible in its own time and in ours, Luke 17:5-10, David Ewart, 2010.

General Resources for Sunday's Lessons from Textweek.com

Prayer

You hear, O God, the prayer of those whose faith is the size of a mustard seed. Give us humility of heart, that we may work with all our strength for the growth of your kingdom, yet recognize that we are yours, “doing what we were supposed to do”. You have called us in order to reveal to all the wonders your love has accomplished.  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 17:5-10

Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel

Last week we had the story of Lazarus and the rich man.  How we live matters to God and it matters to Jesus. In this reading we learn we are to do what has been given to us to do. Let’s begin by looking closely at the text as our conversation with Jesus and his disciples continues to develop in this 17th chapter of Luke.

We cannot guess why the “apostles” ask Jesus to add to their faith. He has been teaching some very tough messages about stumbling blocks on the journey of faith and he’s been very direct with the religious leaders of the day. I can only imagine, especially after the message of accountability, that I, in their shoes, would ask the same thing. I might say, “Jesus what you say is hard. It is actually REALLY difficult. Give me faith to do these things … add to my faith.”

Jesus then gives the apostles and us the image of “faith as a mustard seed” with which to face the challenges of discipleship. If we had faith “like” a mustard seed the mulberry bush would obey us. Here we believe that it is about the size of the seed and not about the nature of the mustard seed.

The mustard plant is an aggressive weed which will take over and push out other crops if not carefully removed or contained within a garden. If you are not careful that tiny seed will grow and generate a whole garden of mustard. The rural people of Jesus’ time would have understood this immediately.

What Jesus means is if we had just a little faith it would spread and all of creation would obey us. In fact we might lean into the parabolic teaching a little here to believe that Jesus is saying we could, with just a little faith, be at work restoring one another and all of creation into the reign of God. Our work is to proclaim the Gospel of Salvation and the unique person of Jesus Christ and emulate his actions in the world, transforming and changing the world.

Like the “slave” or “servant” (both of which are unsuitable images in our modern context) we are bound or tethered to the work of God. As creatures of God we have been created to reflect the glory of God. Jesus’ death and resurrection provides the grace needed to overcome the obstacles to our work with God in creation; those obstacles are sin and death. Now that we have received the good news of Christ, we are to do as God has invited us: participate in the work of the divine trinity. We are to be a community in healthy relationship with one another, transforming the world around us that it may better serve God as was intended.

I am not talking about a return to some false Constantinian model of Christendom here. But we must meet the needs of the hungry, poor, oppressed and voiceless ones with whom Christ has a special relationship. We must return to a sustainable model of creation. These are stewardship themes that should rattle our cages at the very least.

It is at this point that we must recall the verses that come before in order to have greater clarity about God’s expectations of our faith and ministry:

We are not to be involved in scandal and if so we are to repent

We are not to cause others to stumble and if so we are to change our ways

Be accountable one to another and offer or seek out forgiveness

Luke Timothy Johnson describes this overall section in this way:

“First the reader has been schooled by this point to identify with ‘the poor’ who are called into the kingdom. The reader’s natural temptation is to assume that one is ‘Lazarus’ to the enemy’s ‘rich man.’ The rich man of the story ‘stumbled’ over the demand to share possessions, and did not repent. The community of the poor can easily see itself as pure victim. But the saying on the scandal and repentance turn the ethical demand on this community as well. Even in the kingdom there is opportunity for scandal and the need for repentance and forgiveness. The demand placed by Jesus on his followers is that they are themselves responsible for both; they cannot plead innocence because they are oppressed by others. If they cause scandal, they will be punished for it. If they are sinned against, they must forgive.” (Luke, 261)
How often do we spend our time on one topic or another? We either devote a lot of time on our own needs and wants and how they are not met by others; or we spend time giving clarity to our perception of the problems outside in our culture or in the lives of others. Christians are called to live between the reign of God and the world of today. We are called to work on God’s behalf. I pray, “Heavenly father give us faith, add to our faith for the work God gives us to do is demanding. Give us some comfort Lord that we may repent when we need amendment of life and forgive when we are bound too tightly to the sin of others.” Like the pilgrims in the dessert waiting outside the caves, hoping for a word from the dessert monks, we shout, “Abba, Father, give us a Word.”


Some Thoughts on 2 Timothy 1:1-14


You may remember from seminary studies or readings or a PBS special on the Bible that more than likely the church being presented in 2 Timothy is not the church of Paul but rather one of the churches in the second generation after Paul. We have a more institutionalized church, a church that is well on its way to developing its core traditions and a church that feels directly in line with the work and mission of Paul. They are inheritors if you will of the tradition.

To this end our lesson today rehearses Paul's ministry with a typical introduction to his work. They see themselves not only in line with Paul's mission but the faith ancestry of the Jews.

Timothy is the recipient of this long lineage of faith.

What has happened recently though is that the faith of the church is waning and is in need of being rebirthed by the Holy Spirit.

Where to begin the author poses? Begin with the teachings and life of Jesus. God's incarnation is the core teaching of the faith and here we find not simply a body of faith or a doctrine but rather the spirit of life that will enliven the community. The author writes in Paul's name:
8Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, 9who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, 12and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. 13Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.
This is a great encouragement. What is needed is faith and the remembrance that just as Paul is with us so is Christ. It is none other than Christ that has called us and has appointed us to be the faithful in this age.

So too in our age, a much more institutionalized church, let us once again reclaim the mystery and remember God's presence. No matter what our circumstance God is present with us in Christ and through Christ's love. We are inheritors of the great faith and hope that was in Paul's generation and all the generations to come. We are the ones who today write the story of Timothy, in our time, in our context. What will the faith say about us and how we told and retold the story?


Some Thoughts on Lamentations 1:1-6


A word about lamentations. Lamentations is believed to be written while the Israelites have been carried off to Babylon. Scholars tell us that the songs were written back at home during the ensuing crisis. The songs are songs of morning for the loss of Jerusalem. There are five major sections to the text. These are laments, tears and songs and sadness.

The text compares Jerusalem to a widow who now is alone. Once a princess, a great woman, bejeweled, now she is a servant, slave, and vassal. 

This widow weeps with no one to comfort her. We are reminded that the city (the leaders and people) sought to play a power game with the nations around them only to be destroyed by them in the end. So now our widow weeps - for they treated her terribly. 

The lament proclaims:
Her foes have become the masters, her enemies prosper, because the Lord has made her suffer for the multitude of her transgressions; her children have gone away, captives before the foe. 6From daughter Zion has departed all her majesty. Her princes have become like stags that find no pasture; they fled without strength before the pursuer.
So it is that: 
The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to the festivals; all her gates are desolate, her priests groan; her young girls grieve, and her lot is bitter. 
To read the lament of Jerusalem is to enter into the deep pain of brothers and sisters. To hear another's lament is to understand and to feel with them. The words of lamentations could be said in any country today...in our own...in Israel...in Palestine...Iraq. The words are the words of countless widows, orphans, widowers, mothers and fathers left without sons and daughters.  The lament of today is a lament of Christians, Jews, and Muslims. What is our response? To wail and weep and lament with them at the loss.  Being present with those who are suffering is to love and care.

One of the greatest gifts to those who mourn is not a sunny face or empty hope or trite words...no it is abiding friendship that sits and is present in the lament. Here we find our common humanity.

Before peace, before the laying down of weapons, before the end of wars civil and global must always come the entering into of the pain and suffering of the other. Putting up with another, living with the other, is very different from being present with the other in their pain and suffering.

What does the Christian do? We lament. We remember, we learn the names, we lament and we pray.


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