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.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Proper 23C / Ordinary 28C / Pentecost +21 October 9, 2016

Quotes That Make Me Think

"Amid the various ecclesial, ethical, and liturgical reforms of the sixteenth century, Martin Luther was once asked to describe the nature of true worship. His answer: the tenth leper turning back."

Commentary, Luke 17:11-19, David Lose, Preaching This Week,, 2010.

"Los pasajes bíblicos que ilustran los encuentros entre extranjeros tienen mucha potencial para informar la predicación."

Comentario del Evangelio, San Lucas 17:11-19, Gilberto Ruiz,, Luther Seminary, 2010.

"We see the faith in the one whose beliefs made a difference in the way he acted. I find it ironic that for him to return and glorify God by thanking Jesus, he had to disobey the command from Jesus to go show himself to the priest! When might our thanksgivings to Jesus mean going against what is deemed good and proper?"

Exegetical Notes by Brian P. Stoffregen at CrossMarks Christian Resources.

General Resources for Sunday's Lessons from

To us sinners, cleansed and forgiven, give a spirit of constant praise and thanksgiving. Let faith be our salvation and service of others our gift of thanks, as we follow your Son toward the cross and new 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 Luke 17:11-19

Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel

Last week I concluded with these words:

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 give 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 to 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.”

This week we receive from Jesus hope for the mission. We are given a Word for the path of demanding work that lies before us.

In the narrative we see our prophet is heading to Jerusalem and his death. We have been listening to his instruction. We have begged for added faith that we may follow. So we find ourselves in Samaria and Galilee.

The ten men follow the prescription in Numbers 5:2ff to call out and warn others away from them. However, this time they call out for help. They call out for mercy.

Not unlike the apostles following Jesus, these men are forgiven, soon to be cleansed and healed. We as followers are like the lepers. We are brought into the family of God, remade sons and daughters of Abraham.

In this moment we see the expectations of the kingdom. We are not to receive thanks but we are to act out of our thanksgiving. We are to offer thanks to God for our healing, for our deliverance. As followers of Jesus gifted with the waters of Baptism and the Holy Spirit you and I are to be thankful for our adoption as full members of Christ’s reign.

We know what it is like to be an outcast, in the words of Jesus, none more so than the foreigner in our midst. Their faith has saved them.

Perhaps when we have faith, even as a mustard seed, we are not only cleansed but supported in our work of redemption and thanksgiving.

You and I are on the one hand like the disciples hungry for faith, because like the other nine we quickly forget what we have received by the grace and mercy of Jesus and long for more. Unlike the leper, with faith like a mustard seed, we struggle to remember daily, even hourly, the gifts given and to glorify God in praise and in action.

Faith therefore is not simply as it says in Hebrews 11:1 "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," it is substantiation of things realized. When we divide faith from works and works from faith we set up both a false dichotomy of competing truths and philosophically protect the human ability to sin without accountability. Faith is the action of thanksgiving; it is the action of living life for God and for others. It is why I am a liturgical Christian where faith is enacted ritually.  It is also why I am focused on the unique proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ - sharing what I have received.  And, it is why I believe in  virtuous work that enacts the Good News as it transforms the world. We as Episcopalians are in the business of enacting Eucharist at table and in the world.

Let us always be on our knees pleading for more faith and giving thanks to God by works which change lives of people, just as Jesus changed the life of the lepers.

Some Thoughts on 2 Timothy 2:3-15

Oremus Online NRSV New Testament Text

Resources for Sunday's New Testament

The author invites Timothy and his Christian community to embrace the life of suffering. It is very possible that they were in the midst of persecution. The last lesson from Timothy reveals some concern about their timidity. The author says there is no timidity in the Gospel. 

In today's reading what is revealed is that part of what is entangling the community is concern over the "everyday affairs" of the community. 
No one serving in the army gets entangled in everyday affairs; the soldier’s aim is to please the enlisting officer. And in the case of an athlete, no one is crowned without competing according to the rules. 
The author reminds the reader and his community that there is no way of getting out of this alive and that the ministry is a cruciform one of discomfort and suffering. The life of the lost and least is the life lived in Jesus Christ. Only in the participation with Jesus' own death do those who follow participate in the resurrection. 

This is far more than a kind of cult of martyrs. What we are reading in today's Gospel is a confirmation of the Gospel that life only comes after death. Deliverance only after suffering. The author writes:
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David—that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal... If we have died with him, we will also live with him...
The living God and the living word will not be bound by death. It isn't simply that resurrection comes after death but that the defeat of death itself has unchained the living word to be about God's work int he world. There is no life, no faith, no proclamation without our death and the living Word's presence with us.

Scholars believe that this last bit (11-13) may actually be a hymn. Singing Christ has died, we share in his death, like him we will have eternal life. Do not give up, do not deny him, his covenant is always faithful and his presence and promise unwavering...sang the early Christians. Reminding them of the centrality of Christ and his cross.

The author concludes with an invitation to remember this and to live it out. Fear nothing, not even death, don't "be ashamed" and teach this Gospel paradox. Only in this will the fears of daily living fall away and take their rightful place in the broad scheme of things. Only in understanding that deliverance is ours, death is ours, and so is life, will the powers and authorities of this world fall away and along with them their powers of binding and enslavement. Don't be persuaded that you should make the truth of the Christian faith any less than an embrace of loss and losing for the sake of life. Any teaching that you offer that eases this truth for the hearer is no teaching at all. 

We continue our reading through Jeremiah. Today's reading is clearly a part of a letter written and "sent from Jerusalem" to the leader of the exiles. He is writing to those "priests, prophets, and elders" who guide the people who have been taken away to the court of Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon.

Jeremiah is here revealed as offering a very controversial prophecy. Moreover, it reveals his ties to the court of Zedekiah and his revolutionary alignment with Babylon over and against the Temple and the Temple's political power over Israel. 

Jeremiah says:
...The Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 
Moreover, he says, 
...Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
We might well ask how this came to be in the scripture at all. Go and be happy in the foreign land? Multiply and pray for your captors and their welfare? This is a radical prophecy. 

Yet it is part of our deep ancestral faith. Here we find in Jeremiah not only, for Christians, the idea that Jesus is the one to bring the new covenant. We also see a vision of a faith that is completely disbursed from the Temple mount. That the people of God, no matter where they are and no matter what the circumstance is, they are not released from responding to their God. They are to pray and worship wherever they are, they are to make homes and grow their community. They are, no matter where they are, to work for the improvement and betterment of the common good of the city in which they find themselves.

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