Finding the Lessons

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You will want to scroll down to find the bible study for the lessons closest to the upcoming Sunday.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Christmas 2A - Not in 2017 Lectionary

Quotes That Make Me Think


"For an alternative approach, rather than helping our hearers to see the light of Christ shining in the darkness, preachers might help them to hear Jesus as God’s love song, singing life into the world’s babble, chaos, and voices of death."

Commentary, John 1:1-14, Craig a. Satterlee, Preaching This Week,WorkingPreacher.org, 2012.

"The gospel message does not go forward without witnesses like John, and one of the tasks in this sermon is to help show what it looks like to point our fingers towards Jesus. In the age of talk of missional churches, how does that work out practically? How can we point towards Jesus in mission in such a way that others come to know him and come to know and love God?"

Commentary, John 1:(1-9), 10-18 (Christmas 2), Ginger Barfield, Preaching This Week, WorkingPreacher.org, 2010.

"It would be truly horrendous to be in the hands of an all-intrusive God who never left us alone, and who, when it came time to send his messiah, sent one who ruled the earth like some heavenly Mussolini. In the very unobtrusiveness of the light of Christ, God honors our finite freedom."
"Penetrating the Darkness," Ronald Goetz, The Christian Century, 1988. AtReligion Online.

General Resources for Sunday's Lessons from Textweek.com

Prayer

May we welcome this mystery of your love and thus delight in the joy that will be ours as children and heirs of your kingdom. 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 A, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.


Some Thoughts on John 1:1-18
Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel

I like how Raymond E. Brown approaches this text. There is first the Word with God (1-2). The opening verses of this Christ hymn used to frame an entrance into the Johannine Gospel is brief and it is completely, or I should say “seemingly”, uninterested in a metaphysical conversation about the nature of God. It is however very clear that Salvation history begins with the relationship between God, revealed through the living Word, and Man. Quite simply God reveals God-self to us in the work of creation – and by John’s usage here; creation also reveals something about the salvation of man as well. Creation is by its very nature a revealing act. (John, vol. 1, 23, 24)

Secondly there is the Word and Creation. “All creation bears the stamp of God’s Word,” Brown writes. (Brown, 25) Here we see the author reflecting and re-imagining the opening lines of Genesis. We can see that what is clearly of importance is that creation itself existed primarily for the glory of God and the revelation of who God is. The problem is that the creation is broken; it does not fulfill its purpose as God intended. It is not a sustainable creation. Instead it is one where there is a constant battle to supplant the power and revelation of God. We can return to the creation story in Genesis, certainly this seems on the author’s mind. However, it is not really that hard or difficult to see and imagine as we read the paper or watch television how humanity has created a non-sustainable kingdom for ourselves, and that we wrestle for power with God placing our needs above creations explicit purpose to glorify God.

The third portion of our Gospel selection is the portion where we are re-introduced to John the Baptist. I say reintroduced, because we spend several Sunday’s reading passages from Matthew that dealt with him and his ministry. Yet here we get a slightly different attempt to speak about how John responded to the living Word, the Light in the world. How he was clearly not the one everybody was looking for, but that he dutifully gave witness to the revelation of God. Moreover, that John the Baptist called everyone to a time of preparation and repentance for the light itself, the living Word was entering the world.

We come to the final and fourth portion of our reading and we return to the relationship between God and humanity; specifically in how the community of God (God’s people) responds to the living Word. God is dwelling with his people. He has made a “tent”, he is incarnated, and he is present within the community. (Brown, 35) The images here in this last section return not to Genesis but play on our remembrances of the Exodus and the idea that God came and dwelt among the people as they made their way in the wilderness. Here too is an expressed intimacy between God and people. God is not simply outside, having wound the clock tight and is now letting it run. On the contrary just as God was intimately involved with creation and the people of Israel, God also is involved in the new community post resurrection. God has come and is dwelling with the people in wisdom and in truth. God in the living Word is making community within God’s tent and is revealing himself and the purpose of creation to all those who would call him by name: Jesus.

Some Thoughts on Ephesians 1:1-14


Resources for Sunday's Epistle

Ephesians is about the Glory of God and the glorification of God.  The reality is that God reaches out across the cosmos and enters our lives and becomes one of us and then even provides a path by which we may become sons and daughters of God.  This is an amazing reality and as such we recognize that the greatest form of response is the glorification of God. In Ephesians this is the first response to God's might act of deliverance. We are to glorify God and our speech and living word is to glorify God.

God has been about this work for a long time and before time.  God's love is working its purpose out and the coming and incarnation of Christ is part of the manifestation of that love in creation.  Christ's work is to be complete and that is the salvation and reconciliation of the world.  HOWEVER, this is not for humanity or for the sake of humanity. Ephesians seems very intent on insuring that we understand that God is about God's business and God's business flows from the relationship of Christ and Father and from before time.  God's love is at work for the purpose of helping us to do the first thing: glorifying God.

All of this reveals to us the reality of God's heart and longing for humanity.  It reveals God's pleasure in the work of Christ. So we labor together for this work and we celebrate the revelation of God.

God's work is not over though.  This began in the past and continues in the present and future.  God continues to reveal God's self and God's intentions.  God is even now pouring more grace into the world and is about the work of reconciling all people to God's self.  The Church, the community which follows Jesus, attempts to listen to that grace, be a witness to it, and work in tandem to bring all things into union with God.

This is truly a lovely passage and one of my favorites as I believe it reveals the holy trinity at its best!




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