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.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Proper 13B/Ordinary 18B/Pentecost 10 August 2, 2015

"Preachers may need to remind their congregations about last week's text and the feeding of the multitude because in today's text, John begins to unpack the meaning of that earlier event."

Commentary, John 6:24-35, Brian Peterson, Preaching This Week,, 2009.

"'The hymn powerfully portrays the plight of so many of God's children: "Across the world, across the street, the victims of injustice cry for shelter and for bread to eat, and never live before ...'"

Commentary, John 6:24-35, Craig A. Satterlee, Preaching This Week,, 2015.

"In this text, Jesus is trying to repair the faulty understanding the crowd took away from last Sunday's text."

Commentary, John 6:24-35, Ginger Barfield, Preaching This Week,, 2012.


To our stewardship, O God, you have entrusted the vast resources of your creation.  Let there be no lack of bread at the table s of any of your children, and stir up within us also a longing for your word, that we may be able to satisfy that hunger for truth that you have placed within every human heart. We ask this through Christ, with whom you have raised us up in baptism, the Lord 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 John 6:24-35

Textweek Resources for this week's Gospel

Oremus Online NRSV Text

We now move into the bread of life discourse in John's Gospel.  This passage follows on the heals of the feeding of the five thousand.
So the crowd of five thousand and more follow Jesus by boat across the sea.  And, there Jesus tells them that they are there because of their hunger and because Jesus fed them. He then reorients their hunger to the hunger for enduring life.  Here Jesus invites them into the deeper life of the spirit. The people were dealing with their physical need and Jesus invites them to lift their eyes to their spiritual hunger and the potential of a spiritual life. 

So, what is this work?  The work is clear in this passage. Jesus says, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”  They then demand more signs.  Jesus again reorients their vision.  He said to them that their religion relies on signs.  And, that as humans they are more likely to give credit to the one who performs signs; this is natural.  But Jesus is clear again that these signs are from God.  And, he, Jesus, is from God.  He is a new bread of life. He is the incarnation.  Those who come close and move beyond the simply physical will find God in the One who comes from heaven. 

Jesus is the living word that feeds the body and the soul.  Raymond Brown reminds me of the tradition in which this conversation about manna from heaven is taking place.  From the book of Wisdom 16:26 we may read, "That your sons whom you loved might learn, O Lord, that it is not the various kinds of fruit that nourish man, but it is your word that preserves those who believe in you."  Or, Nehemiah 9:20:  "You gave your good spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst." Of course the crowd seems unable to understand these links or even to see the revelation of God made man in Jesus that is standing before them.

The revelation of Jesus as Son of Man, the incarnation, is indeed good news. It is good news because it reminds us of our chosen nature. That we are built to love and to long for God, and that though we are constantly seeking to fill our love and longing with bread of this world, it is God who provides a manna which nourishes both the body and the soul.  Indeed, we are beckoned into a new life with God through the incarnation.  A very real Jesus who gives us physical bread is also the the very real living word who gives himself as manna from heaven. 

Today we find this living word not only in the community of faithful people who share communion, we also find the living word in the preaching and teaching of the church.  We are able to find the living word in bible study (private and corporate). We are able to hear the living word in prayer which is petitional and contemplative. We are able to listen for the living word in conversations with fellow church goers and with strangers.  We are also able to find this living word out in the world.

It is too easy to see it only in church. God has sprinkled the world with leaven and in its stories, in the lives of people (even those who do not share our faith), in the arts, in film and in music. If you look, listen, and are attentive you will see that the leaven of God is all around us speaking of revelation, of incarnation, of resurrection.

We thirst and hunger for the living word, some thirst and hunger for real food, the mixture of this physical and spiritual hunger is a nexus in which the incarnation may be experienced in our own day and in our own time, within the confines of a Christian community and without.

Ephesians 4:1-16

"This section of Ephesians begins a series of ethical instructions firmly based on the preceding three chapters."

Commentary, Ephesians 4:1-16, Sarah henrich, Preaching This Week,, 2015.

"God was making a body for Christ, Paul said. Christ didn't have a regular body any more so God was making him one out of anybody he could find who looked as if he might just possibly do. He was using other people's hands to be Christ's hands and other people's feet to be Christ's feet, and when there was some place where Christ was needed in a hurry and needed bad, he put the finger on some maybe-not-all-that-innocent bystander and got him to go and be Christ in that place himself for lack of anybody better."

"Eternal Life," Frederick Buechner from Wishful Thinking.

"We live in a time that tends to undermine any claim to truth out of fear of being divisive or intolerant. But Paul advocates 'speaking the truth in love' (4:15). In other words, our bearing witness to the truth is grounded in a deep humility (4:2)."

Commentary, Ephesians 4:1-16, Mark Tranvik, Preaching This Week,, 2012.

Resources for the Epistle

What seems powerful about the letter to the Ephesians is not only its focus upon unity but also the reality that it was probably meant as a circular letter among many early Christian communities. The communities are flourishing and growing. New members (new families) are being added to the community. Not unlike our own efforts with evangelism - when we add people the community itself changes.  

The church is growing and thriving because God is present.  Consuming this religion is not the only reason for participating though. The Christian community has work to do and membership comes with obligations. 

The obligation is to live a life “worthy of ... [their] calling” as Christians. Unity will be the essential ingredient to this work because it brings about humility, gentleness, patience, and loving forbearance.

There are in fact, 7 ways in which we must work on this unity. 
4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. 7But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Paul reminds us that Christ himself did not wait upon our perfection, nor our agreement, to come and begin the work of gathering us in. The Church, the Christian community, is not perfected - though Christ through the Holy Spirit is even now doing this work. 

Often times as we think about our work of being unified and becoming Christ like we immediately exteriorize the process. We make it about others and about our community or about someone else. We say you should be unified while I go my own way. You should love while I enjoy my hatred and anger. You must put down your sword while I remain an instrument of division.  We put the work of Christ-likeness on others and remind them they are not fully ready yet. They are not worthy. They are not to be included in this community or that community. Their ways are not our ways. 

The truth is that Paul has a much higher standard than this - as does our lord. God is not interested in how others are at work undertaking their obligations of unity, transformation, and Christ-likeness. No. God is much more interested in my personal journey towards unity in the family. God is much more interested in your personal journey. 

So you might ask yourself today as you ponder and pray about this passage - how are you doing with that? How is that working for you?

Where are you learning humility, gentleness, patience, and loving forbearance by unifying yourself (as did our Lord Christ) with those who are so foreign to you? How are you a person of unity and a person being transformed by living among and working with those who are so very other than yourself? 

The work of unity is not some simply nicety. It is at the core of discipleship because it requires a life lived under the power of the bond of relationship with another - setting aside your desires for them and allowing yourself to live in relationship with them. 

This was the work of Christ to come into the creation (though it was not his nature), to embrace its creatures (though they are not of his own kind), to love (even though they would not understand or return it), and to give of himself fully (even as they took his life from him). This seems the measure of discipleship. This seems the necessary ingredient to a thriving God like community.

So, as we think about all the ways we would have it our way we might pause to think of the obligation of following a God who models something quite amazing.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Proper 12B/Ordinary 17B/Pentecost 9 July 26, 2015

Proper 12B/Ordinary 17B/Pentecost 9

ordinary time,new revised common lectionary,Sermon notes,bible,lectionary,Gospel,sundays readings,RCL

"Love that feeds hungry crowds cannot be explained. Love that turns no one away cannot be explained. Love that causes one to sacrifice oneself for the sake of another cannot be explained."
"Chasing Jesus," William H. Lamar, IV, "Chasing Jesus," The Christian Century, 2003.


In the Sunday Pasch, Lord God, you call us to share with one another the living bread that has come down from heaven.  Fill us iwth the charity of Christ and stir us by his own example to break the bread of earth as well adn to share it generously with others, so that every hunger of body and spirit may be satisfied.  We ask this through Christ, with whom you have raised us up in baptism, the Lord 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 John 6:1-21

Ok, so we now switch to John's Gospel.  Today's text is particularly interesting to many scholars because it is right in the middle of a hotly debated section which is arranged and rearranged and so much of the work here is concerned with order and sequence. I am going to leave that up to you if you are interested in going down that particular rabbit trail. 

Or, perhaps you may wish to think a little about why these two stories (last weeks and this weeks) are chosen together.

But here is a significant change in the ancient tradition that I do think has more to do with this lesson than last week's lesson, and that is the connection of this feeding with the Eucharistic feast.  This is also highlighted as we pause to notice the mention of the passover.  

Here in this passage we see (very differently from the synoptic tradition) that Jesus gives out the bread as he does in the last supper narrative.  "Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated.." (vs 11)

We might read the section on chapter 6 in Raymond Brown (John, vol 1, 348) to see the other places where there are textual parallels between this and the Didache- which was an early church teaching.

They respond to this revelation of who he is by wanting to make him King or by recognizing his prophetic nature. This of course accentuates the reality that he is the incarnate Lord, and that his work in feeding is transformative for the whole world. Jesus, like Isaiah prophesied, is the means by which God feeds the people with good things.  

Here then the walking on the sea is again part of the passover theme and offers a glimpse of the promise the meal itself will hold for those who follow Jesus.

In recent weeks there has been a lot of talk about the feeding of people bread.  Here is what is interesting to me, the reality is that we as Christians are called to truly give people good things to eat. We are called to feed the hungry.  It is an amazing thing that we spend so much time figuring out how to feed those who come into our church that we will miss completely the point of the meal here made in the wilderness.  And, that is, that is a meal made in the wilderness. We are called to go out and feed people. We are called to share and to multiply what God gives us. We are to be Jesus' hands in the world. 

This passage is echoing the Eucharist because the Eucharist leads to the feeding of the multitudes for Christians.  We are literally to make table in the midst of the community and feed people.  This uniquely Christian understanding of mission is tied into the Gospel. We are to feed their minds and their bodies. And, we are to do it out in the world.  

The church can be so very narcissistic sometimes, thinking that it is all about us! The reality is this is all about the world and our call to be agents of feeding in it.  We are the new Eucharistic symbol that is to literally feed people.

To flip this around means that we are completely out of sync with the narrative story and in some ways let off the hook for doing the right thing in the midst of a very private gathering and failing our mission as Christians. 

I hope that I will leave a Christian mission to the next generation that has walked across the stormy seas of change and the parting of our front doors out into the world where truly hungry and hurting people's needs are met by a eucharistically empowered people of God.  The multiplication of our efforts to change the world around us will be a miracle indeed.

A Little Bit for Everyone

John 6:1-21

6After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick.3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples.4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near.5When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?”6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.7Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,9“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”10Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.11Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.”13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.14When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”

15When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.16When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea,17got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.18The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.19When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified.20But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”21Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

Proper 11B/Ordinary 16B/Pentecost 8 July 19, 2015

"The mission is so successful that one could be left wondering where it will end. Mark's hearers then and now know that this is not the whole story, but it does not change the nature of the mission: to offer leadership in teaching and in acts of compassion that bring healing and set people free from what oppresses them."

"First Thoughts on Year B Gospel Passages in the Lectionary," Pentecost 7, William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.


As we gather again, O God, to celebrate the weekly Pasch, grant your church the joy of tasting again the living presence of your Christ in the word that Jesus proclaimed and in the bread of life we break. Drawing apart on this day of worship and rest, of refreshment and renewal, let us recognize in Jesus the true prophet and shepherd who guides us to unfailing springs of eternal joys. We ask this through Christ, with whom you have raised us up in baptism, the Lord 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 6:30-56
Let us begin first with the meaning of the word "apostles."  I think when we hear this word we immediately think of the chosen and the first 12.  Am I wrong? Nope. That meaning, and that is certainly one way of understanding the word, is correct but it is applied after the church became the Church.  In our reading today we might better read it in the way the gospel means it: those who were sent out.  I think this changes things a bit as we read our text.
Jacopo Bassano, "The Feeding of the Five Thousand"
So, the ones who had been sent out gathered around Jesus.  They explain all the powerful work they have been doing. They had been participating in the building up of the kingdom of God. They had gone out and done work which Jesus himself had been doing. The power of God was now present in the world and flowing through them as well. They had been sent out to do God's work of building up and proclaiming the good news of the reign of God and it had worked.

So they gather and a great many people gather around, as if in a symposium or a teaching time.  And Jesus sees them like Moses, as sheep without a shepherd.  And, like Moses who see his people hungry and longing he provides for them. This is a miraculous story that synchronizes Jesus with the powers and vision of Moses to see his suffering and lost people and to come to their aid.  His followers do not all understand this, nor can they understand the fact that Jesus himself is to be the bread of life.  But here for those of us who are also sent out, who are also sent ahead, we are able to see God's compassion and love and care for his people. Neatly tucked in here is this notion that those who are sent and are able to do great things sometimes also need help seeing that those challenges right before them are also theirs to overcome.

Our text today has a one/two punch as we take two specific and different pericopes into consideration.  In the second part of our text the disciples, his inner circle of missionaries, are gathered and are sent out onto the sea to make their way to Bethsaida. It is another crossing and we should know by now that whenever there is a crossing and water that we are about to see again the creative power of God in Jesus. Indeed we do.

They are trying to make their way. The ones who have been sent out, are now sent ahead, and are struggling to make their way across the boiling sea. Again, they are challenged. We cannot dismiss this as simply difficult work.  The image of the sea is always in Mark an image of powers of creation and powers against Jesus. It is the place of leviathon and the deep.  Jesus walks out to them. And, they see him again as the one in whom all creation has its being and for whom even the waves obey.  It is an epiphany event.  In the midst of the feeding we are treated to a vison of Jesus as the bread of life and a new Moses, on the sea we see him as Moses walking through the waters to deliver his people.  This passage is filled with old testament imagery and the linkage of feeding in the desert and the Red Sea crossing should not be dismissed.  Jesus is the "I am."  Jesus is the lord of the Haggadah, the ego eimi, the one who is, and he is the image of God at work in Moses, and in the new law. (Joel Marcus, Mark, vol 1, 431ff)

Just as this motif of Moses and the Exodus looks back it also looks forward.  It looks forward to the reimaging of Christ as the crucified Lord who makes way through the sheol of death and brings us to a new banquet table which is set on the mountain top and not in the wilderness.  We are given images of Christ as the bread of life. He is our new shepherd and our new deliverer. He is our messiah who leads us all and forevermore out of death into life.

As we pause and think about this for our people today we must ask what are they hungry for? What do they need deliverance from?  

Moreover, we might ask as the church who is being sent...what are we being sent out to do?

How do we as church feed the masses with the Gospel of good news? Are we willing to not only change the world; are we willing to transform it through the proclamation of God in Christ Jesus? 

This is a both/and scenario.  Mission is at once the feeding of the body, shelter for the head, and healing for the sick.  But mission is also hope for the mind, guidance home for the lost, and restoration for the separated.  It is one thing for people to know that Episcopalians care. It is quite another for people to experience the caring of the Episcopal missionary and their story of transformational life.  

Mark's gospel is never only about the wind and the waves, it is also always about the spirit.  These two combined are the key to an incarnational message of the gospel which is apostolic and life changing.  

A Little Bit for Everyone

Mark 6:30-56

30The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught.31He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.32And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.33Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them.34As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.35When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late;36send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.”37But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?”38And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.”39Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass.40So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties.41Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all.42And all ate and were filled;43and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish.44Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.

45Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.46After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray.

47When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land.48When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by.49But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out;50for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”51Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded,52for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

53When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat.54When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him,55and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.56And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Proper 10B/Ordinary 15B/Pentecost 7 July 12, 2015

"Just in case we are getting too excited and thinking this business of being a disciple of Jesus is going to be a piece of cake, is going to be a story of ever increasing fame, miracles, and wonders, Mark gives a story of a good man being executed because of weakness, capriciousness, and vengence."
Holy Textures, Understanding the Bible in its own time and in ours, Mark 6:14-29, David Ewart, 2009.

General Resources for Sunday's Lessons


Let nothing, O God, be dearer to us than your Son, no worldly possessions, no human honors; let us prefer nothing whatever to Christ, who alone makes known tot he world the mystery of your love and reveals the true dignity of every human person.  Grant us onlyt hre riches of your grace, and pour forth on us the full measure of your Spirit, that by word and deed we may prclaim Chrsit, in whom you betsow forgiveness and redemption on all.  We ask this through Christ, with whom you have raised us up in baptism, the Lord 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 6:14-29

Jesus and the disciples have been and are on a missionary journey. We have taken a side trip here in this passage.  Jesus and his followers are making their way to the cross slowly and surely.  Here in the passage today we are told of the martyrdom of John the Baptist who was a "holy and righteous man."  This is a side journey in which we see the powers of this world rebelling and slowing the progress of the kingdom down.  We cannot understimate the thematic battle between the powers that is being shaped in Mark's gospel.  This very wierd detour is an example of just such a battle. Her there is death and martydom in store for the followers of Jesus.  Just like John the Baptist the message is clear that those who choose the way, choose the way of the cross and will loose their life along the pilgrim way.

In Mark's narrative John the Baptist has an important role to play. He is the one who is making way for God.  He is the Elijah of our story.  As the story goes a masterfully gothic tale unwinds itself in the eventual macabre beheading of John.

Again, we see here the powers of the world are rebeling against the mission of God.  This is a stumbling block a moment when the mission is attacked by the forces that would see the reign of God end in favor of a far more worldly reign of Herod.

In the other gospel accounts the story of John the Baptist and his death makes room for Jesus to take center stage. Something different is happening in this martyrdom.
Famous Actress/Dancer Maude Allen as Salome
John the Baptist, perhaps like all those whose murders go unavenged, dies unjustly at the hands of power, authority, and the pleasures of this world.  His death, and the death of the saints martyrered, shall be consumated in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus is rejected and dies a death as gothic and macabre as John the Baptist, as many of the saints; perpetua and her friends for example.  His death though is not rejected by God but is the redeeming act, the new cornerstone, of a new creation.  Jesus' death redeems and makes new the lives of the martyred saints.
This would have been powerful and hopeful news to a community not unlike Mark's own which was most probably in the midst of persecution. 

And, as we are immediately reminded in 6:30ff, out of death and wilderness places comes life and abundance. 

I pause to ask how are we dying today?  How are we dying in our lives? What is dyng?  I find that as I reflect on my own life experience typically what is taking place is that my true self is dying. My imperfect self which desires and hopes for love is dying. My soul which longs to belong and waits for community is dying.  The real me is dying. That is what is being martyred.  It is be martyred in the banqueting hall of my ego.  There my ego enjoys all the false appetites and fake symbols of life lived to the max.  It is the death of the ego that I resist; and it is my heart that I am willing to be pulled out of me.

I live a life where in my true self dies and awaits resurrection by the God who gives mercy and love.  I have hope that God chooses me, the real me, the martyred me.  I await the death of all the false banqueting halls of power in favor of the feeding of the thousands by the bread of life himself - Jesus. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Proper 9B/Ordinary 14B/Pentecost 6 July 5, 2015

"Would you agree that we are living in a world that is more and more characterized by unbelief? If so, doesn't it feel as if we are living in a Nazareth-world ? a culture that is, at best, disinterested in Jesus?"

Commentary, Mark 6:1-13, Mark G. Vitalis Hoffman, Preaching This Week,, 2009.

"Whether among the travellers or among those who stayed in their community, Jesus called people to be and bear good news for the poor. No wonder the established power structures of family and land and religion saw only madness and did their best to tame him and his followers. The judgement of history is probably that they have at least succeeded with most of his followers to this day."

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

"By attempting over and over to make him ‘the Messiah,’ people were missing the point of his message, which was that the Reign of God was present and that they all were invited to participate in it."

"Mission Grounded in Rejection," D Mark Davis, raw translation and exegesis/questions, Left Behind and Loving It, 2012.

"Is there some area – some regret we can't get over, some grudge we can't let go, some hurt that has come to define us, some addiction that imprisons us, some anger that has taken hold of us – that we are having difficulty entrusting to God?"

"Something to Do," David Lose, Dear Working Preacher, 2012.

Remove from before our eyes, O God, the veil that hides your splendor, and flood us with the light of your Holy Spirit, that we may recognize your glory shining inthe humiliation ofyour Christ and experience even in our own human weakness the sufficiency of your grace and the surpassing power of Christ's resurrection.  We ask this through Christ, with whom you have raised us up in baptism, the Lord 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 6:1-13

Textweek Resources for this week's Gospel

Last week the crowds loved this guy, this week they reject him in his home town.  Those who knew him the best, who saw him growing up, those who he perhaps counted as friends - they reject him. He is not able to do any work there in their midst. He is completely "dumbfounded." (Joel Marcus, Mark, vol 1, 377).

There are several powerful themes. The first is that the gospel is not easily heard by the insiders. This is true in the religious authorities and in his closest relatives.  The second theme is that God is at work here, just like the prophets of old.  The third is Jesus' rejection. He is rejected by the demons. He is rejected by the religious authorities. He is rejected by gentiles. He is rejected now by his own people.

God is patient. God is at work. Even though he is rejected here he is not fully without power to do miraculous things.  God in Jesus continues to make his way to the ultimate rejection and crucifixion. But it will be at the cross that he is victorious. 

The message this week is clear to me. God is at work in the world around us. God is at work wether we see it or do not see it. God is at work outside the walls of our churches and outside of our communities. In point of fact some miraculous things are happening inside, but the great work is being done out in the world.  The whole of creation is marching steadily towards fruition of the kingdom of God and his reign.  It is at work and miracles and works of power are being done by God through the power of the Holy Spirit as we speak.

The question is not unlike the dumbfounded Jesus might have posed to his hometown family: cannot you see what I am doing here? Do you not know me?  Don't you want to come with me?

What would it be like this Sunday to preach the newspaper and illustrate where God is at work in the world? Or in music, art, or film?  Where is the language of grace breaking into the culture?  What would it be like to show and highlight those places where the church is following Jesus and is actually out there and working with his miraculous power to change creation?  Yes, that is the inspiration and call to see again for the first time that we need from the pulpit this week. Inspire us to get out there an stop looking for Jesus to be the tame Jesus of our sanctuary.  Inspire us good lord to follow you out into the world and help us to see you at work and to join your efforts there!

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

"And how long was the whole great circus to last? Paul said, why, until we all become human beings at last, until we all 'come to maturity,' as he put it; and then, since there had been only one really human being since the world began, until we all make it to where we're like him, he said - 'to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ' (Ephesians 4:13). Christ's to each other, Christs to God. All of us. Finally. It was just as easy, and just as hard, as that."

"Paul," sermon discussion from Frederick Buechner, Frederick Buechner Blog.

"It may be timely for the preacher to focus less on individual experience and more on a congregation's collective experience."

Commentary, 2 Corinthians 12:2-10, Sally A. Brown, Preaching This Week,, 2012.

"Gratitude and generosity - two virtues that acknowledge we are not all strength and independence, but also (and very basically) weakness and dependency - prepare us for better adjustment in situations of loss."

"Declining with Grace," Robert C. and Elizabeth V. Roberts, (other resources at)"Aging," Christian Reflection, The Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University, 2003.

Buried in the reading for this week is a real gem. Paul writes, "'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.' So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong."

As an Episcopalian this passage from Corinthians reminds us that we are broken and fallen creatures. Our reason is deficient to understand the divine intent its fullness and that we are always powerfully controlled by our ego and selfish desires. In this I know I am weak. I do things I do not wish to do - Paul claims. So my weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions (done to me and inflicted by me) and calamities are so very real. So very real are my weakness that I am saved solely by the grace of God. God's grace is sufficient.

We has Christians struggle though because while we understand that God's grace is sufficient for me - it is rarely sufficient for you.

Today, as we think and ponder the culture all around us we might be challenged to truly accept God's sufficient grace for ourselves and for others.