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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Search This Blog by Proper and Year (ie: Proper 8B or Christmas C or Advent 1A)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Proper 6A/Ordinary 11A/Pentecost +2 June 18, 2017


Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servants, the twelve disciples, who you called to preach the Gospel to all people. Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, p. 257.

Some Thoughts on Matthew 9:35-10:8

"On one is true that only the unqualified should present themselves for the church's ministry. No one can be qualified. Everyone who serves does so as the Twelve did, by Jesus' authorization given them by Jesus."

"The Unqualified Twelve," Beverly R. Gaventa, The Christian Century, 1993.

"Jesus then instructs his disciples on how to live as itinerants, what to expect, and how to handle difficulties. These teachings were important because his followers would only have known village life - relying on family and kin for sustenance - and would be totally unfamiliar with the social realities of being an outsider."

Holy Textures, Understanding the Bible in its own time and in ours, Matthew 9:35- 10:8, (9-23), David Ewart, 2011.
We arrive on the scene of our gospel story in chapter 10 following Jesus' modeling of ministry. Jesus has looked out and seen the crowds, he has been moved in his belly towards them, he has been at work then healing and freeing people from that which binds them.

The harvest is now made ready for harvesting and Jesus is prepared to send out people to do the work of mission. This work is work that immolates his own work. And, it is work whereby those first followers are sent, no longer to be led this way and that but to lead and to do the work of ministry.

Before Jesus sends them out he gives them his authority. Jesus lays upon them his spirit and gives them the same power to heal and to cast out. To hold and to release. The word here literally is the word "sent", they are sent, they are apostles. They are no longer disciples. They are in this moment to go out to all those without a shepherd. This is not yet the gentile expansion of mission, but it is an expansion of mission nonetheless. 

The religion of the day was a religion that required the faithful, if they were faithful, to come to the centers of faith. God was in God's house and the faithful came to make their offerings and to support the central religious faith over and against any local or dispersed religiosity. One could only be faithful in direct pilgrimage with the one shrine on the holy mount. So what Jesus does in sending out disciples is quite radical. It undermines a central religious system and takes faith and spirit and the unbinding of burdens out into the field where the people are. 

The image of a harvest is an image of a great dispersed faithful people being gathered in. Lost because of the abandonment of their religious shepherds in favor of a "come and see", "come and get" religious system of exchange. Faithfulness bequeathed to the pilgrim, faithfulness given to the generous who gave of themselves to the house of God. Jesus' and his apostles change this - the Gospel comes near to you...not you to the Gospel.

Furthermore, this radical movement that is to take place in and among the people is to be one that does not require great scholarship or participation in the schools of the wise. There is not need to go and study at the religious centers. In fact a fisherman can do this work. Here again Jesus undermines the religious systems of hierarchical reason and wisdom training in order to be a leader in the faith. Jesus sends them out as apostles with very little training...other than watching him. 

He sends them out without plans. Go and depend on the kindness of others. Go to people's homes. Sure, there will be people uninterested in your work and your good news. That is ok. Pass on by. Pass on by.  

This mission is so very radical that Jesus prepares them by telling them that the religious leaders may even come down hard on the apostles. He charges them not to worry about what to say to the homeowner or to the religious who seek to undermine their ministry. God will give them good words at the best time. 

They will be accepted and they will be reviled. They will be brought in under people's roofs and they will be cast out. But this journey of Good News unleashed on the world and in the streets and people's homes is one that for the apostle will teach them to depend on the grace of God. It will be their humility and mimicking of the the ministry of Jesus and his compassion and love that will reveal to the world exactly who they follow. Their actions, their grace, their mercy, healing and releasing will reveal God to the world. 

Some Thoughts on Romans 5:1-8

"As the prophetic tradition affirms, the Spirit is God's gift of the new creation making the people of God ready for the new age."

Commentary, Romans 5:1-5, Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, Preaching This Week,, 2016.

"The past and the future. Memory and expectation. Remember and hope. Remember and wait. Wait for him whose face we all of us know because somewhere in the past we have faintly seen it, whose life we all of us thirst for because somewhere in the past we have seen it lived, have maybe even had moments of living it ourselves. Remember him who himself remembers us as he promised to remember the thief who died beside him. To have faith is to remember and wait, and to wait in hope is to have what we hope for already begin to come true in us through our hoping."

"Hope," sermon discussion from Frederick Buechner, Frederick Buechner Blog. Justification, from Whistling in the Dark.

"So for Paul peace is about being in a right relationship with God, not as some distant judge nor as someone who is trying to draw us up into himself, but as one who is expansively living love out into the universe."

"First Thoughts on Year C Epistle Passages in the Lectionary," Trinity, William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.

Oremus Online NRSV Epistle Text 

Paul writes to the church in Rome that all that we are invited to do is to have faith. We are invited to have faith that God has intervened for us. We are to be at peace about what will happen and even our own judgment for God in Christ Jesus has justified us by the work on the cross. Grace is not given to us by faith, but in faith we have the grace given to us.

As Jonah speaks to God in chapter 4: "I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing." While Jonah was bemoaning the fact that we shouldn't even bother with calling people to repentance that the fact is and shall always be that God is a God of grace and it is upon that grace that we stand. We boast in our hope in this very real faith that is in us. 

In our need for endurance, in our suffering, in our lives we come to understand that grace, the grace that enables us to risk, is the grace that give us hope. Our very character is formed by our dependance upon God's grace in in sure and certain hope we will not be disappointed. Paul writes in vs. 5: "and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us."

We as humans are quick to change all of this though. We love our religion. We love to turn our faith into religion. In this way we begin to pretend that God is working on some kind of exchange system. We begin to tell ourselves that we must act right, do right, and talk right. In this way we can earn God's love. Sure, we tell ourselves, God is grace filled but no slacker Christian will he tolerate. But this is to remake God into a lesser god a demigod, a god who likes to barter and exchange devotion and adoration for love and acceptance. Our god, this God of Paul and the scriptures is no such God. This God does not need our love, devotion, and adoration to exist. 

No, in fact this God does not wait for humans to get their act together. This god does not wait for me to get my act together. Paul writes, "For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us." What? That is right. God in Jesus Christ saves us while we were yet sinners. God saved us, all people, once and for all by God's mighty work of the cross. To deny this fact, or to make God into a god of exchanges is to create a god in our own image - a god who is no god at all. To make God into a god of no sovereign power to save those God wishes to save. And, it turns out, God wishes to save not the righteous, clean, and faithful but the lost, the least, the unseen, and the sinner. 

That my friends is good news indeed.

Some Thoughts on Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7

"Abraham has received a seemingly impossible promise, but his animated efforts on behalf of these strangers under adverse conditions suggest that he still trusts that God can and will do the impossible."

Commentary, Genesis 18:1-10a (Pentecost +8), Jacqueline E. Lapsley, Preaching This Week,, 2010.

"Grace always comes first. Because that grace is there, God's people can respond with their best."

Commentary, Genesis 18:1-10a (Pentecost +9), Sara Koenig, Preaching This Week,, 2013.
"Along the way, Abraham learns that no one person has a monopoly on God's covenant, and that great endeavors require great partners."

"A Great Partner for a Great Endeavor," Torah Commentary by Wendy Amsellem. BeliefNet.

This is a chunk of scripture. But it is good stuff. God has called Abram out of the land of Uhr. Abram has followed God and set up altars along the way. For his work and pilgrimage God has given he and Sarai new names. Furthermore, God has continued to journey with him even into the land near the oaks of Mamre. 

We are told that God appears there in the person of three men. God is then received, the three men are received, by Abraham and Sarah and they are welcomed and fed. Before God leaves God promises that they will have a son. This seems impossible but God makes the promise that it will in fact happen before God is with them again. Indeed God keeps God's promise. 

This event is often depicted in the great masterpiece of the Trinity as written in the icon my Rublev. The icon is entitled "The Hospitality of Abraham."

Now the passage itself is important for many reasons. Certainly it is important in the origination stories of the people of Israel for it speaks to God's special relationship with Abraham. It is also important for it speaks to God's relationship with God's people and God's willingness for those people to prosper and to multiply.

The passage cannot be divorced from the Genesis desire on God's part that the people multiply themselves. Nor can it be separated out from God's continued desire to walk with his creation in the eve of the day beneath the trees of his garden.

Mary translates her pregnancy to the story of God delivering God's people but also the story of God's promise to Abraham. This links the past to the present in the Gospel narrative, the old with the new. Jesus calls his followers to the work of the hospitality of Abraham. In fact that they are the inheritors, the very real progeny of the Gospel and covenant of Abraham says Peter in Acts. Paul invites his hearers to understand they are inheritors of the relationship Abraham had with God.

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