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.

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Epiphany 2A January 15, 2017

Quotes That Make Me Think

"Perhaps in most congregations, it might be more effective to ignore all the different possible Christological implications of these titles, and simple tell a story about little Andrew who responded to the invitation to come and see and then did his own small part to spread the knowledge of the Messiah to his brother and throughout his town."

Exegetical Notes by Brian Stoffregen at CrossMarks Christian Resources.

"But the hospitality of Jesus was controversial. He chafed against the limits of social propriety by welcoming prostitutes and adulterers, crooks and outcasts into his gracious presence. His hospitality knew no limit. It was not just indiscriminate: it was promiscuous."

"The Other 'H' Word," Mark Ralls, The Christian Century, 2005.

General Resources for Sunday's Lessons from

On all who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints let the Spirit descend and remain, so that filled with grace and peace, we may reveal the One whom we testify to be the Son of God. 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 1:29-42
Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel

In this weeks appointed Gospel lesson we see a continuing pattern of acknowledgement about the person of Jesus as proclaimed by the first Christians. Last week we were given a vision of Jesus Christ as Son, servant, inaugurator of the new exodus and creation, and the one who fulfills all righteousness. This week we hear in the voice of John the Baptist that Jesus is: Lamb of God, the pre-existant one, the one on whom the Holy Spirit descends, and as the chosen one.

The theme of our season of the Epiphany (a season of God with us) is a season where in we are able to proclaim and speak clearly about the person of Jesus Christ and our understanding of him as followers. As the Lamb of God we understand Jesus in terms of the suffering servant from Isaiah. Our early church fathers also saw him clearly as the paschal lamb provided by God for the sake of the world.

The Johanine scholar Raymond Brown writes, "John the Baptist hailed Jesus as the lamb of Jewish apocalyptic expectation who was to be raised up by God to destroy evil in the world, a picture not too far from that of Rev. xvii 14." (John, vol 1, Anchor Bible, 60)  Tying in the first words of John's Gospel, the Baptist reminds us of the concept that Jesus is the incarnation of God and intimately involved in the creation itself.

There is some debate around the idea that this may be more the author's polemic than the Baptist's prophecy. However, this line of thinking seems less interesting than the idea that the first Christians proclaimed and understood that Jesus was God. The second person of the Trinity in accordance with the creeds that would later be formed but nonetheless grounded in these first thoughts. What also seems clear is that many believed Jesus in their first hand experience to be the "one to come" prophesied in the writings of the Old Testament. (Brown, 64)

Jesus is the one upon whom the Holy Spirit descended. We understand as did the first followers that this is an indication not simply of his holiness but that Jesus was an instrument of God. He is in the words of Isaiah the Messiah, the servant, the one to lead us. We end the scene with the identity of Jesus as the Chosen One. Each of the previous theological typologies for understanding the person of Jesus lead to this one. Jesus in his baptism is the one in whom God is pleased.

While we might look over our long and sacred history and see those saints that came before Jesus and those that came after we cannot help but recognize the first Christian testimony that Jesus is the uniquely chosen one by God to provide deliverance and new life to God's people - gentile and Jew alike. It is a marvel that our author could provide such a rich Isaiah like Christology in these first verses of his Gospel.

We have an opportunity as preachers and teachers to share this unique scriptural witness with those around us. More importantly that as we listen and engage in conversation with those around us we are showing this Christology already at work in their lives and the lives of those in our community.  The challenge this week will be the primary pastoral challenge of the Gospel - to connect the unique story of Christ with the everyday lives of God's people.

Some Thoughts on 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

Resources for Sunday's Epistle

Here again we begin with the Pauline formula of using Greek letter writing traditions.  He of course adapts it for his own purposes and inserts a wonderful prayer.

In the prayer he thanks God for grace and spiritual gifts, especially those given to the Corinthian church.  He also gives a nod to the immanent return of Christ.  He tells them that God is present in their lives at this very time and that God is supporting them in their work.  And, as in many of his themes he reminds them of God's own faithfulness to humanity and that he promises to us to be with us and to be with us to the very end.  

Ultimately, Paul is reminding the readers of the past and readers today of God's blessings and care for them.  This passage offers us a moment to invite our listeners to ponder the blessings of life.

In AA and Alanon gratitude is a constant theme.  Without gratitude to our higher power we begin to believe that we are self-sufficient, all powerful and in control.  It is always good to encourage our people for they are indeed richly blessed and our encouragement can help lead them to the right use of those blessings. However, in a world of super egoism and narcissism it may be an even more urgent need to remind them that it is God who provides for them, in fact provides all things, and provides even their/our very life.

Some Thoughts on Isaiah 49:1-7

The passage we have this week from Isaiah is often referred to as the “Second Servant Song.” It is a promise from God through the mouth of Isaiah to the people in Babylon that God will not leave God’s people scattered. That God will not only “comfort, comfort” God’s people but that God will also draw God’s people home to God’s self. In so doing, God’s work will be manifestly witnessed to by all people – there will in fact be a universal understanding of God, God’s faithfulness, God’s desire to unite God’s people, to be united with God’s people, and finally to free and deliver God’s people.

This passage had a profound impact on the Gospel authors. The message that God’s light and God’s mission would reach to the ends of the earth inspired the Gospel authors as they interpreted the ministry of Jesus. They understood specifically that Jesus was not only this “suffering servant” but that God in Christ Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit was going to undertake this work. The universal proclamation in Mark and Luke are especially tied to this particular passage. Jesus is the light, his work of salvation will reach all people. The comfort that Isaiah proclaims is spoken again by Simeon and the people are being prepared for the light and life which he brings. Lips will be freed so that all the nations will resound a prophetic acclamation of God’s work and mission. Richard Hays writes in Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels (a fantastic read) that the Gospels are “hardwired” for this mission.
Paul in Acts says this most clearly: “To this day I have had help from God, and so I stand here, testifying to both small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would take place: that the Messiah* must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.’”

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