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)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Proper 24C / Ordinary 29C / Pentecost +22 October 16, 2016

Quotes That Make Me Think

"...it is missing the mark if we treat the passage as a general teaching about intercessory prayer. It is primarily about the yearning for change."

"First Thoughts on Year C Gospel Passages in the Lectionary," Pentecost 22, William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.

"Who could be against justice, right? I mean, come on, if there's one thing that the law and prophets ? not to mention Jesus ? would seem to agree on, it's justice. So who could be against it? As it turns out, from time to time, I am."

"Justice," David Lose, WorkingPreacher, 2010.

"Jesus challenges us by juxtaposing God?s desire for justice (the presence of the kingdom in our midst) with the possibility that, when Jesus returns, he may find that nothing has changed."

"The Sermon We're Not Going to Preach," Alyce McKenzie, Patheos, 2010.

General Resources for Sunday's Lessons from Textweek.com

Prayer
Look upon the church gathered in prayer, and grant that we, like your people Israel, may grow in the service of goodness and prevail over the evil that holds the world bound, as we await the coming of that hour when you will grant justice to you chosen ones, who cry to you day and night.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 18:1-8

Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel

We know of course that this section of Luke is pure Lukan material. Jesus is teaching about the persistence of prayer, the consistency and perseverance of praying regularly. (Luke Timothy Johnson, Luke, 269)

So our parable is given to us as a story of an unjust judge. He is afraid of no one and everyone is afraid of him. He is not moral and he has no ties to external rules. He is a lone ranger and a maverick on the bench. He doesn't even fear the Lord.

Then we have the widow. She is one of my favorite biblical characters. She is a boxer and not afraid of the judge, and perfectly willing to go a round or two with him.

She has him so frightened that he thinks she is actually going to hit him. She is going to give the man a black eye. She is coming for him. So he rules in her favor.

We see immediately that the Jesus is saying: be persistent but know that God is going to care for you far more than the unjust judge.

Are you really wrestling with God? Are we engaging in prayer with God which is like fisticuffs? I mean we are encouraged by Jesus to have a relationship with God that is like this woman’s relationship with the judge. We must like Jacob wrestle in the desert.

The bell sounds…round one… round two… round three.

God does not give up on us. But the question remains, are we willing to go all the rounds with God?

It is easy to walk away from this parable and focus on justice. I am not saying that is not important. However, we should remember that Jesus began a number of verses ago dealing with the disciples who said they needed more faith. There is a theme within Luke that shows how difficult it is to follow Jesus to Jerusalem. It will take prayer to build up the foundations of our life so that we may make the spiritual journey ahead of us.

“Prayer is not an optional exercise in piety.” (LTJ, Luke, 276) We as Episcopalians understand the nature of prayer is the bedrock of action. Our liturgy is itself a form of prayer engaged with Jesus Christ that moves from living word, to table fellowship, to action in the world.

How we box with God, how many rounds we are willing to go, how engaged we are will often limit or expand our ability to change the world around us.


Some Thoughts on 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

Oremus Online NRSV New Testament Text

Resources for Sunday's New Testament Lesson

In the letter to Timothy we read the encouragement of the author to the local Christian Church to persevere in what they have learned - the Gospel of God in Christ Jesus and his cross. Reminding them that they have received this from a direct lineage of faith from the very beginning and rooted int he experience of Jesus. 

Continuing in the stories of Jesus and sharing this faith will be their work. The author invites them to not simply be followers (disciples), or community members, but to become apostles (people who are sent) sharing the faith that is in them. They are to share what they have received. 

This story is rooted in the Old Testament and that God is at work as a living word within these stories of God's love that delivers God's people. And their faithful response to God who delivered his people of out Egypt and now has delivered all people from death by the work of Jesus Christ is to share their truth with others. 

Moreover, that the conditions of our situation does not change the truth of this invitation or the teaching. It is always easier to look for other messages that coincide or parallel our earthly teachings about power and authority and how to hustle for approval and worthiness. The Gospel rejects these behaviors and though our ears may itch and we may wish to find teachers that suit us...it will not be changed. 

Finally, a bit of ancient motherly advice: don't worry about what others are doing, do what you are called and invited to do. Don't worry about what others are teaching, teach the Gospel that is in you. Don't worry about what they have to say or their words of ease, you have chosen the better part...stick to it.


Jeremiah continues his prophecy saying that God will bring about a bounteous future. God has not stayed the hand of those who have undone the power of Israel as a civilization rooted in the authority of this world. Remember it was Israel's political and religious machinations which brought it down. Yet, God will in the days to come bring about a resurrection from the death they brought on themselves. God will bring about life from their rubble. 

While the people have suffered and have been deported this will not be the final word. Out of lostness, leastness, and death God brings about life. From the children whose teeth are set on edge to those who at sour fruit, God will bring about a bounteous feast and plenty for the children. Jeremiah prophesies:
"The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge. The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 
God promises a new covenant - a new relationship. Christians understand this prophecy to be about the promise of God to deliver all people. The temple's politics intermixed with the state, the civil war between tribes (between the northern and southern kingdoms) has undone the original covenant that was made with God. They forgot who delivered them out of Egypt and so they thought they were responsible for delivering themselves. They forgot who fed them in the wilderness and thought that it was by their own hands that they had wealth. They forgot that God brought water from the rock and thought instead that their future and the future of their kingdoms would flow from their own power.

God speaks through Jeremiah and he writes:
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
The covenant intends that people not work against one another but rather that they see one another face to face and see God face to face. Again a radical message says that God will forget all their sin.

For Christians this is the very mission of God in Christ Jesus. That God in Christ comes and is incarnate such that they meet God face to face, and can no longer look at each other without seeing the face of God looking back. That God in Christ will be the very law himself. We are to understand that the highest law shall be the writing of commandments and actions by Jesus himself. Humanity will know, both by sight and by relationship and by story/witness God. The living word shall come and be part of the community and with him he shall bring forgiveness of every iniquity.

While we may wonder why Jeremiah remains in the scripture because of his obvious entanglement with the Babylonian court, what we see is that his words prophesy a new faith. The first Christians, without a New Testament, understood their work as community and the person of Jesus Christ as revealed in the prophesy of Jeremiah.

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