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 25C / Ordinary 30C / Pentecost +23 October 23, 2016

Quotes That Make Me Think

"This parable is therefore preached well only to the degree that each time we try to interpret it we find ourselves, yet again, with nothing to claim but our dependence on God's mercy."

Commentary, Luke 18:9-14, David Lose, Preaching This Week,, 2010.

"Far from condemning all Pharisees, Jesus is using one as an example ofvirtue not yet transformed by the love of God."

"Who Are You Talking About, Jesus?" Blogging toward Sunday, Stan Wilson,Theolog: The Blog of The Christian Century, 2007.

General Resources for Sunday's Lessons from

Silence our prayer when our words praise ourselves. Turn your ears from our cry when our hearts judge our neighbor. Place always on our lips the prayer of the publican: “O God, be merciful to us who are sinners.” 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 18:9-14

Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel

So this week’s lesson is the second parable of the set, the first one being about the woman and the unjust judge.

After comparing the religion of the day to an unjust judge, he now speaks about and to those same religious leaders who think very highly of themselves. They consider themselves to be the “righteous” ones. So, now we know Jesus is talking to…us.

Yes, we like the “righteous” ones are very eager to point out how all the others just don’t have it quite right. This in fact is one of the church’s greatest sins. We know that whoever the other is doesn’t have it right. We scorn them, we hold them in contempt, we do actually reject them. Sometimes we do this outright by saying, “our way or the highway.” Sometimes we do this by showing out the “other” is wrong in their theological ideas – after all we are all so very certain. Sometimes we reject them by pretending “they” don’t want to be apart of our group. We do this all the time.

And, quite frankly we are sure glad we aren’t like them. In fact we will even engage in some small piece of humility, then go right back to our old ways. We are all for confession and forgiveness and then we are right back at the “righteous” acting again.

So, Jesus has our number. He had our number in the story about the rich man and Lazarus. He had our number with the lepers who did not return to give thanks. Jesus has our number with these “righteous” ones. I hate that!

Jesus tells us that our spiritual discipline is to be modeled on the sinner. Hmmmmm. Whenever Jesus goes down this road I believe we all get a little nervous. He tells us that the sinner stood far away. He kept his eyes lowered. He made a sign of repentance. And, he cried out for mercy. This is our work. Over and over and over again.

I don’t know why this has come into my memory but I remembered as I studied and prayed over this passage the prayer from the movie the Hunch Back of Notre Dame by Disney. (That’s right I am about to quote Disney!) Esmeralda is in the Cathedral and here is her prayer:

God Help the Outcasts
Vocals: Esmeralda (Heidi Mollenhauer) and Chorus
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz

I don't know if You can hear me
Or if You're even there
I don't know if You would listen
To a gypsy's prayer
Yes, I know I'm just an outcast
I shouldn't speak to you
Still I see Your face and wonder
Were You once an outcast too?
God help the outcasts
Hungry from birth
Show them the mercy
They don't find on earth
God help my people
We look to You still
God help the outcasts
Or nobody will

I ask for wealth
I ask for fame
I ask for glory to shine on my name
I ask for love I can possess
I ask for God and His angels to bless me


I ask for nothing
I can get by
But I know so many
Less lucky than I
Please help my people
The poor and downtrod
I thought we all were
The children of God
God help the outcasts
Children of God
This song and prayer from Esmeralda and the Parishioners shows a similar contrast. The reality is that how we pray reveals who we are. Interesting perhaps to make the observation that perhaps the writers of the song perceive the church to be this way and what does that mean as we sit in our parishes on Sunday morning. Are our prayers and lives as Chrsitians as private as we think. How many people see us day in and day, know us as Christians and wonder about our relationship with God?

I also like the words from Luke Timothy Johnson on this passage:
The parable itself is one that invites internalization by every reader because it speaks to something deep within the heart of every human. The love of God can so easily turn into an idolatrous self-love; the gift can so quickly be seized as a possession; what comes from another can so blithely be turned into self-accomplishment. Prayer can be transformed into boasting. Piety is not an unambiguous posture…The parables together do more than remind us that prayer is a theme in Luke-Acts; they show us why prayers is a theme. For Luke, prayer is faith in action. Prayer is not an optional exercise in piety, carried out to demonstrate one’s relationship with God. It is that relationship with god. The way one prays therefore reveals that relationship. (LTJ, Luke, 274)
We are challenged last week and this week to take our temperature and ask how is our relationship with God? What kind of relationship with God is revealed by our prayer? What kind of faith do I exhibit to God and to the world through my prayer?

Some Thoughts on 2 Timothy 4:6-18

Resources for Sunday's Epistle

We come to the end of our series on 2 Timothy this week. 

The author reveals that his time is limited and that they are going to have to continue their ministry without his guidance. He encourages them to fight the good fight, run the race well, keep the faith, and rest upon the promises of Christ to deliver them. 

Not unlike the previous chapters of this letter the author encourages the community to be steadfast in the faith that they have received and not to be tempted to follow others. And, always (as the author has done) to rely on God and God's grace. 

The letter, whose author is unknown, remains a very personal letter and one that deeply taps into the continuous struggle of any community to remain resolute in their faith.

The prophet Joel is believed, by most scholars, to have written after Jeremiah and following the return of the people from their Babylonian captivity. The prophet throughout the text longs for the return to a Temple oriented faith, and that the people be faithful to God and respond to God's invitation into relationship. Of course the people are not particular faithful and the book describes a particularly devastating plague, drought, and locusts. This is all reminiscent of Egypt.

God though reminds them that he will deliver them. God will pour down rain and there will be a great deal of wheat and grain and wine and oil. God will offer them deliverance from the destruction of the famine they have suffered under these past years. The prophet Joel writes:
[God] has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain, as before. The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. 25I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent against you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other. And my people shall never again be put to shame.
Not unlike the formula of the deliverance from Egypt: God acts, you know God's mercy, you shall respond with faithfulness, the theme is repeated here. God will deliver and they will by their deliverance know that God is in their midst and God is present with them and will watch over them.

God then promises that he will pour out his spirit upon everyone - even the gentiles: 
Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit. I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
 Joel's prophecy echoes the deliverance of Israel, it repeats themes of Godly deliverance and providence. It reminds the people that they are beloved and that God hears their cry and acts on their behalf. 

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