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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Friday, April 14, 2017

Easter 6A May 21, 2017

Quotes That Make Me Think

"I will show myself to him, and be known by him, as if he saw me with his eyes: but this showing of himself is not bodily, but spiritual, yet so plain that no other showing could be more evident."

From John Calvin's the Geneva Notes.

"To preach the promise of the Spirit and the assurance of Jesus' ascension in the middle of the Easter season may very well get us out of our resurrection ruts, that the resurrection is all that God has in store for us."

Commentary, John 14:15-21 (Easter 6A), Karoline Lewis, Preaching This Week,, 2014.

Fifty-seven times Jesus uses love verbs (agapao, phileo). Add to that all of the occurrences of "friend" (which is the translation of philos) as well as the fact that the primary disciple in the Fourth Gospel is an unnamed character called "the beloved disciple," and we might accuse the author of touting a single issue.

Commentary, John 14:15-21, Jaime Clark-Soles, Preaching This Week,, 2008.

General Resources for Sunday's Lessons from

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good
things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such
love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above
all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we
can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer, 1979

Some Thoughts on Matthew
[Some lectionaries may have Matthew's transfiguration - 17:1-9. Please see last Epiphany A for this text commentary]

Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel

We are coming to the end of our Easter readings, we are nearing the Ascension and Pentecost.  The text itself reflects the transition that is underway in the Gospel narrative of John and parallels our own liturgical season.  The words we receive from Jesus in this weeks lesson are words of comfort.  He is leaving them, the moment is near.  Just as the disciples have witnessed Jesus and therefore have experienced the Father's love and care; so as he departs he explains to them and to all those in the coming generations that they will always be close to God.

Jesus is fulfilling the final portion of the mission of God; he is explaining that he will pour upon them the very spirit of God the Advocate who will bind disciples of the living God together and to the divine being itself.
Those who follow will continue to experience Jesus, and the Father's love through the comfort and counsel of the Spirit.  In fact, the as the mission of God has always intended, those who follow and make community in Jesus' name will experience the closeness and presence of the Spirit as it is in this very community that the Spirit will dwell and make its home. (John v.23)

As I search the web for resources I think Chris Haslam does a very good job in describing the nature of the word used by Jesus to describe the Holy Spirit. For those interested in the word study his comments follow:
"Verse 16: “Advocate”: The Greek word is Parakletos, which can be translated as Champion. The Greek word is derived from a verb meaning call to one’s side. The Latin word advocatus has the same meaning, but there is a distinction to be made between the Greek and Roman judicial systems. In a Roman court, an advocatus pleaded a person’s case for him, but a Greek parakletos did not: in the Greek system, a person had to plead his own case, but he brought along his friends as parakletoi to influence the court by their moral support and testimony to his value as a citizen. One can argue that the sense in John is of giving help – as is usually the sense in the New Testament, e.g. encourage, comfort in 2 Corinthians 1:4 and exhort in Romans 12:1. A Champion is one who supports by his presence and his words."
It is clear that Jesus understands that the Holy Spirit is like Jesus himself. The Holy Spirit represents the Father, and living and dwelling in the community of the Spirit will allow others who did not experience Jesus directly to experience the fullness of the Trinitarian community of God.  The Holy Spirit is another representative, a member of the family which is called God.  The spirit is a direct representative not simply an envoy.  This Spirit will offer to all the world through the community of beloved disciples, and the continuing community of witness and the life of the disciple the truth of Jesus, his life, and the nature of unity all have in God.

From the very earliest created moment God has desired to walk in the garden with his people.  The Diocese of Connecticut has this very wonderful way of expressing this desire of God, this mission of God:
"God created all things in love – the universe, earth, humanity. It was diverse, and it was good. Human sin entered in and distorted our relationship with God, one another, and creation. God seeks continually to overcome this alienation. This is God’s mission. God chose and liberated a people, sent the law and the prophets. God came in Jesus, fully human and fully divine, to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.  God sent the Holy Spirit, empowering the Body of Christ.  God commissions us in baptism to participate in God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation." -- Collaboratively written, and offered, by the Mission Discernment Initiative working group .
As Episcopalians we cannot read our verses today without proclaiming the Holy Trinity.  We are a people who believe in the community of God and God's desire through mission and evangelism that we unite people into his community. We are people who proclaim the community of love divine.

As you preach this Sunday I encourage you to speak of this key and essential understanding of God, how God desires us to be in community, celebrate the beauty and goodness of the communities in which you serve, and challenge all the people of God to undertake with God, the pleasure of being a missionary people inviting all the world into relationship bound by God's Holy Spirit.

"Perhaps suffering in this case means being willing to renounce certain things in the name of Christian faith."

Commentary, 1 Peter 3:13-22 (Easter 6A), Valerie Nicolet-Anderson, Preaching This Week,, 2011.

"The point of this rather dense passage seems to be that the hearers need not fear suffering nor fear the powers that be."

"First Thoughts on Year B Epistle Passages in the Lectionary: Lent 1," William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.

Our Author is reflecting in the text the fact that the Christians he is writing to are enduring persecution. Households are divided and some are suffering.  He reminds his readers that no matter what comes they are to not fear or be intimidated.  They have faith.  This faith may bring persecution.  Nevertheless, by focusing on God and continuing to live your life as a follower of Jesus they will make it through this time. He writes: your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.
The author then reminds us that God is a patient God. Our God is a god who in Christ Jesus suffered. Christ himself and many before us have suffered and died for their belief.  God has been patient as is revealed in the story of Noah and we might also remember Abraham.  God has waited patiently even until this moment.  Yet the God we believe in saves us.  Our God is patient and waits upon us and in return we are to (as Mary responds) wait upon the Lord.

In our present sufferings we are to remember our baptism in particular. We are to be mindful of Noah and our baptism.  He writes:
And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.
We are cleansed in baptism and marked as Christ's own forever.  This is true and powerful for those who are suffering.

I am mindful of recent comments from our Archbishop past and present who called the so called suffering of Christians in the west dramatized compared to the very real suffering, persecution, and death of our brother and sister Christians in other parts of the world.

As Christian people in the west we do not honor our fellow Christians who are suffering when we talk about suffering in the U.S. for instance.  Sometimes I think we cry wolf and call it persecution when we are challenged by prevailing attitudes that in turn persecute or treat others without dignity.

The context of Peter's letter is important. The letter is addressed to slaves, and Christians who have no power, who are in the minority, who are dying and being persecuted. He is offering them hope in their suffering. We in the west need to be vigilant to insure that we do not take this passage out of context and use it to protect racism, class-ism, or bigotry.  It is always good to know that when we are powerful we are to seek powerlessness. 

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