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)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Proper 28C / Ordinary 33C / Pentecost +26 November 13, 2016

Quotes That Make Me Think

"Jesus never promised it would be easy to follow him."

Commentary, Luke 21:5-19, David Tiede, Pentecost +25, Preaching This Week,WorkingPreacher.org, 2010.

"How does one preach apocalyptic literature to people who are not suffering? Do we have to convince them that they are suffering for this literature to make sense?"

Exegetical Notes by Brian Stoffregen at CrossMarks Christian Resources.

"It is tempting to think that nothing really is done for anybody by seemingly small, everyday things when the problems are so systemic. As my teachers remind me, however, the truth is just the opposite: without the little things, there are no big changes."

"One Plot at a Time," Roberta C. Bondi, The Christian Century, 2004.


General Resources for Sunday's Lessons from Textweek.com

Prayer
Let each new day be for us a time to testify to the gospel. Let the day on which the sun of righteousness dawns find us bearing witness to your all-embracing love. 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 21:5-19

Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel

I imagine a couple of things will happen in the preacher or bible class leader’s mind this week; either
avoid this passage because it seems of no real relevance, or focus in the teaching on the images of the destruction of the Temple provided by Jesus, spending most of the time musing about the time of Luke’s writing.

I want us to see here though a very important Lukan theme: Jesus as prophet. Prophecy was a prized gift in the world of Jesus’ time. Here Jesus is making a prophetic judgment about the future, not unlike the great prophet Jeremiah. The power of the prophecy of course, is in the fact that indeed the Temple is destroyed.

Our modern and post-modern world will want to deconstruct the passage into its historical, critical and literal meaning. This is a fascinating trail to leisurely stroll, not unlike watching a History Channel program on the Middle East of Jesus’ time--something I love to ponder and think about.

However, if we spend all of our time pondering we miss what I believe to be the Gospel’s chief focus in the telling of the story and that is that Jesus is who Jesus says he is and he is who the first disciples bear witness to.

Notice in the midst of our selected passage these words: “It will turn out to be a chance for you to bear witness ... do not prepare ahead of time your defense ... I will give you speech and wisdom” (21:13, 14, and 15).

Let us now remember the first words of the text: “I have decided to write for you, excellent Theophilus, an orderly account, so that you might have full confidence concerning the words in which you have been instructed” (1:3-4).

The point of the passage we are reading is not that Jesus is a prophet. But that we have evidence from his life and speech that he is a true prophet and therefore we may build our proclamation of the Good News of Salvation upon the truth of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ.

Luke is himself offering us the words of Jesus and communicating to those who would follow him to see the times in which we live as opportunities to proclaim and bear witness to the risen Lord. To work and offer a vision of our future, which is held within the bossom of God and calls us forward into a transformed community beyond the pain, suffering, war and calamity of this world.

We perpetually live a life of Christian discipleship claiming God cares and has given us to the world to help make it different tomorrow than it is today. Like Jesus we are the voices of prophecy for the poor and the hungry, the out-of-work and the abused. We are the ones who, today, give voice to Jesus’ promise of companionship and support in the most difficult of times.

We trust in God and in the wisdom provided for the right times that we might bear witness to the world God loved in which Christ became incarnate. Our trust in God calls us into political and social work as we seek to partner with God in bringing to bear a reign of sustainability and peace. The message of today’s Gospel lesson is not one for the individual but rather one to help the community understand its work in the face of oppression and abuse by radical and fringe groups who will try and take over the Gospel for their own purposes.

We are reminded that as we make our proclamation of Jesus Christ, as we bear witness, as we speak and have confidence in the words we offer as Good News, it is in the deep connectedness and willingness to rest in the wisdom of God that brings us peace in times such as these.

I was struck with what Dr. William Loder wrote in his commentary on the text for this Sunday:

“Trust in God has profoundly personal implications. It also has important political, social and religious ramifications. Luke has not withdrawn into individualism. He (or his text) still weeps for Jerusalem and longs for its liberation. He is prepared to be inventive to tackle the madness of fear and hate and the fanatical theologies it also generates. He keeps our feet on the ground about abuse and oppression. He stands in a tradition which tackles enmity in a way that is not off-centered by hate or fear, but informed by the stillness and wisdom of the Spirit. The shift is then from quantity of time to quality of being in all times and places."


Some Thoughts on 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13


Resources for Sunday's Epistle

I find Paul to be the kind of person who doesn't mince too many words.  He is a pretty straightforward kinda guy.  What I know about the text from reading 1 Thessalonians and from scholars (like Abraham J. Malherbe, p 448 of Thessalonians, Anchor Bible Series among others), is that Paul has been clear about expectations of behavior as Christians. He did this when he helped in the planting of the Thessalonica community.  He was clear in his first letter.  He is clear in his second letter; I don't think I ever want to be on the second or third "reminding" from Paul or anyone for that matter.

So, here he addresses once again the idlers.  Paul says to stay away from them...Christians are not idle. People who follow Jesus are busy people who pay for their food, who toil and labor (a lot) so as not be a burden on anyone else.  People have to be working, taking their part, and doing their share. To spread the Gospel and work to contribute to the community - these are key Christian values.
  
Paul is mostly about grace, but the response to that grace is work.

I don't think Paul is making some case for socio-economic policy in the new millennium.  I do think Paul is serious about people in the community working to spread the Gospel and to support the commons.  

Two interesting perspectives are offered by scholars.  The first is that it is possible that the Thessalonica church has individuals who are used to a patron client relationship. So...they give to the work as patrons but do not actually do any of the work.  The church community becomes something like a city's Theater.  (Bruce Winter, 1994, Thessalonians)

A second possible explanation of what is going on is that the Thessalonica community is a kind of communal church - a tenement church. (Malherbe Robert Jewett, 1993, Thessalonians)  This is a kind of church where people live together and contribute their money and food to the whole community.  It is like a commune.

The classic explanation is that the church simply gave up working because of Jesus' return was to happen at any moment.

So...here is the deal.  Christians have since the very beginning believed that working to build up the community of God was an essential part of life with God.  Christians have believed they were to work hard and they were to share what they have.  Christians have believed they were to do good work.  

In a world where we have set up a patron client relationship with our members, and we don't tell the truth about our requirements for being part of the community (for fear people won't like us), and for excusing poor responses to the Gospel because we are concerned about our own response to the Gospel (and certainly wouldn't want anyone to examine it...) - we have created a community that would be very foriegn to Paul and Jesus.

My advice for preachers and teachers this Sunday:  Don't preach on this passage if you are mad at your congregation.  If you aren't mad and can honestly wade into the text and our Christian response to the Gospel...well you might have a pretty good teaching - one worth a listen.  After all, people want to hear the truth with gentleness and kindness...because they know the truth and can sniff out inauthentic preaching.


Some Thoughts on Isaiah 65:17-25


Resources for Sunday's Old Testament

Isaiah gives voice to a people desperate for a message of hope. And then God reminds them that it is very difficult to find God unless you seek God out, and that most often it is only when you discover you really are the lost, the least, or the broken that you find that God is present. God, through Isaiah, reminds the people that when things were going so well they choose to turn their backs on God and those who were in need. 

Then God promises that God is always working out a new heaven and a new earth from the seeds of the present one. God says that when you are lost I can find you, when you are least, I can raise you up, when you broken I will heal  you and this is how you shall come to be part of what God is doing. This is how you become part of the new...the Jerusalem that waits in our future with its roots in the present. God will forget waywardness, sorrow will cease. New lives and lifetimes will flourish. The harvests will be bountiful and the tree will provide much fruit on the holy mountain. Here the wolf and the lamb will feed together and the lion shall become a vegetarian and the evil of the world, the evil one, the serpent will find no food here in this new Jerusalem.

Part of what is so essential here (as it is in the above lessons) is that people must understand that the powers, principalities, and authorities of this world will all fade away for they participate with the serpent, they turn their back on God, they are never the lost, the least, or the broken. Until people give up on believing they need not God and that the organizations of their choosing will save them it is very hard for them to be found by God. God really just can't do a lot for those who think they have everything figured out. And, until they realize all gain in this world is passing away constantly and only the roots of the new Jerusalem are steadfast - people will suffer of disappointment and hunger.

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