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 also can simply search below by entering the liturgical date, scripture, or proper. This will pull up all previous posts.

Enjoy.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Epiphany 6B February 15, 2015

Quotes That Make Me Think
"By the end of this story, Jesus has shown us what it costs to go where the people are and it is a cost he is 'willing' to pay."

Commentary, Mark 1:40-45, Sarah Henrich, Preaching This Week,WorkingPreacher.org, 2012.

"Jesus steps right into a terribly risky reimagining of social order."

"Lepers and Risky Love," Katie Munnik, Presbyterian Record, 2012.

"Maybe we don't need to choose between the two emotions, anger and pity. Pity and anger can intermingle."

"Blessed to Be a Blessing," Alyce McKenzie, Edgy Exegesis, Patheos, 2012.


General Resources for Sunday's Lessons from Textweek.com


Prayer

Cleanse and restore us, O God, and heal us continually from the sinfulness that divides us and from the sinfulness that divides us and from the prejudice and discrimination by which we degrade ourselves and dishonor your image in others. Help us to stretch out our hands in love especially to those our society scorns and to recognize in their faces the very image of Christ, blood-stained on the cross. 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 B, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.


Some Thoughts on Mark 1:40-45

Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel

Jesus made a noise like a horse - he was so exasperated and incensed!

A lot of preachers will be trying to figure this one out. We will turn to scholars and they will say, and we will typically preach:

Jesus was upset because his preaching mission was interrupted.

Jesus was upset because the man is unclean.

Jesus was upset because the man doesn't believe Jesus can heal him. (Marcus, Mark, 209)

I was struck by the scholar M. D. Hooker's thoughts (Commentary on Mark, 80). He believes Jesus is disgusted with the demon. One might expand this to include the system as well; as in Ched Myers' text Binding the Strong Man.

How often do we get exasperated with the person and not the illness? How often do we get exasperated because we have more important things to tend to? How often do we get exasperated because of how we might be perceived if we are with someone for whom they disapprove?

We are all guilty of this. Me included. We may however loose a great preaching moment if we simply take our exasperation and project it onto the text.

What if we reread the story this way: The leper comes to Jesus. He has, more than likely, already been to the priests to no avail. He comes to Jesus who is not a priest and simply says, "Jesus you could make me clean"; which given the last few chapters is true.

Jesus snorts like a horse because he is simply disgusted - with illness, with the powers that be, with the world...but not with the man. No with the man he is moved and so he acts. He reaches out and touches the leper, making himself unclean according to the holiness code.

Then he sends the clean man away, not in secrecy, but why send him back to the religious power that could not make him well in the first place. No, he can go and he not tell anyone.

How do we begin to move our congregations to snort like a horse when confronted by the brokenness of the world, to be incensed; and then move them to action on behalf of those who come to us and invite us to engage in healing?

So often we are thinking someone else more talented, someone more generous, someone more schooled, someone else will come along and heal the leper raising their hand before us and inviting us into their life. The reality is that we are being invited - you and I. There is just us. And, we have been sent by Jesus.
Some Thoughts on 1 Corinthians 9:24-27



"The proclamation of the gospel, be it public or private, in front of an audience or one-to-one, can be difficult. As Paul says elsewhere it may seem like foolishness and folly to many who hear it, and this will, from time to time, reflect back on we who proclaim it. But this is our imperishable wreath, the life and salvation of those for whom and with whom we run this race."

Commentary, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Karl Jacobson, Preaching This Week,WorkingPreacher.org, 2009.

"Paul's Lord, Jesus, was not a slave of patterns (or the lord of patterns!) and obsessed with being a lord, but one who emptied himself, poured himself out."

"First Thoughts on Passages on Year B Epistle Passages in the Lectionary,"Epiphany 6, William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.


This is one of my favorite passages. I used to be a long distance runner. I even ran a marathon. I loved running. Somehow this passage really spoke and continues to speak to me. 

What I did not know until recently is that the games for which our modern day Olympics are modeled were held in Corinth! So Paul isn't simply picking up an image of running because it is generally known or helps him move back to the major content of the letter. He chooses it because he knew they knew this image quite well there in Corinth. We might even infer that it was an important image for them. 

Of course he uses the race as metaphor to his life and the work of all Christians. Paul uses it to help the Corinthians understand that a Christian life is not a magical fix but rather a lifetime of work. I have to say that in the midst of crisis, pain, suffering, grief, and trouble it would be great if Christianity WAS a magical remedy! 

I don't believe there are perfect Christians. Our perfection is rooted in the perishable world - not unlike the wreath. We must realize that we are a work in progress, our communities are a work in progress, our neighbors are a work in progress, and God has saved us and made us his own anyway. 

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