Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Pentecost 10C

Jeremiah 23:23-29

23Am I a God near by, says the Lord, and not a God far off? 24Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? says the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the Lord. 25I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, "I have dreamed, I have dreamed!" 26How long? Will the hearts of the prophets ever turn back—those who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart? 27They plan to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, just as their ancestors forgot my name for Baal. 28Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let the one who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? says the Lord. 29Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?

The Church's year of grace has reached the Tenth Sunday after the Feast of Pentecost! "Ordinary" or arranged, lined-out, ordered time will continue three more months until Reign of Christ / Christ the King Sunday that celebrates the sovereignty of the risen and crucified Jesus Christ. Then we'll enter a new year with the first Sunday of Advent.

Our Old Testament/Hebrew Bible reading today is from the prophet Jeremiah. A very quick overview of OT structure and content:

Torah, sometimes called the five books of Moses, not because Moses wrote them, but because Moses is a central character and their general trajectory reflects his leadership: Genesis – Exodus – Leviticus – Numbers – Deuteronomy.

Prophets, with the "former prophets" of historical bent: Joshua; Judges; 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel; 1 Kings, 2 Kings. "Major or Writing Prophets" 1, 2, and 3 Isaiah; Ezekiel; Jeremiah; Book of the Twelve, sometimes called "Minor Prophets" because of their length, not because of lack of importance.

Writings, a truly miscellaneous collection that doesn't always have the same canonical content everywhere. Writings include the vital to the church Psalms; plus Job, Proverbs, Chronicles, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel, Song of Songs; Ecclesiastes. I've probably omitted a few.


Jeremiah was a priest from the Benjaminite tradition. Bud remembered what other famous biblical figure came from the tribe of Benjamin—Saul/Paul of Tarsus!

Jeremiah is very very much within the classical tradition of Hebrew/Israelite prophecy that brings us a Word from the Lord. Scripture distinguishes between prophet or nabi, who speaks truth to power, lining out alternatives (the reigning monarch most characteristically being that power), and seer or roeh, who peers into the future and predicts what will happen. Later in the history of Israel both roles became somewhat conflated.

As he responds to "Is there a Word from the Lord," Jeremiah is The Classic Prophet. Jeremiah also is very much within the covenantal tradition of Deuteronomy with its care for the least of these, society's marginalized, caring for the neighbor, the stranger, the immigrant, the sojourner. Jeremiah is another example of someone who had memorized and internalized scripture so he could quote and live that Word of Life.

This is Luke's lectionary year. We've seen Luke's Jesus has the same political, cultural, religious, social, and economic emphases as Deuteronomy and Jeremiah.

Chapter 22 immediately before today's very short reading is one of the most famous from Jeremiah as he addresses the wicked king sons of Josiah, who was one of the only good kings of Israel. Known as The Boy King because he assumed leadership at the age of 8, in a highly exemplary way Josiah helped take care of powerless widows, orphans, strangers, sojourners. In short, Josiah literally did justice and righteousness as God calls every one of us created in the divine image to do.

Jeremiah 22 also reminds us Israeli's God is not only God of liberation (redemption} from bondage and slavery with the subsequent gift of a Promised Land; God also is One who gathers the people together and enacts homecoming (restoration) from exile.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Pentecost 9C

Luke 12:32-40

32"Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

35"Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

39"But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour."

The church's year of grace continues in Luke's gospel. Today's short gospel reading comes to us in three or four sections. We've previously discussed sources; Matthew and Luke both include a lot of Mark – the earliest canonical gospel – in theirs. Luke and Matthew may or may not have drawn upon an additional written source that may or may not actually have existed, though scholars still speculate some about "Q," named from the German word for river, Quelle. Besides those written documents that began as part of the dynamic, ever-changing oral tradition, Luke may have had a document we can label "L" for Luke.

Today's gospel reading opens with Jesus' command not to be afraid and why! Uniquely recorded in Luke's gospel, Jesus then announces the Reign of Heaven, Kingdom of God, Sovereignty of Grace and Love is a gift, a given, not something we need to earn or beg God for. It is not a transaction or an exchange. Gifting us brings pleasure and joy to God!

I asked how people felt about being called a flock (of sheep or birds). Sara mentioned how "All we like sheep have gone astray" in Handel's Messiah includes a wonderfully illustrative musical pattern that wanders all over to demonstrate straying sheep and people.

Each of the gospels has a distinctive emphasis or personality; even the three synoptic gospels that view Jesus' life and ministry in a somewhat similar manner are markedly different. Luke places his solidly within measurable historical time and space. Luke emphasizes women, other marginalized populations, prayer, the Holy Spirit, table fellowship, a reign of heaven that inverts the status quo, levels the economy and everything else about conventional society so everyone becomes social and economic equals; in God's Reign on Earth, everyone has enough, no one has too much or too little, creating an "Upside-Down Kingdom."

Early on in Luke when Mary learns she is pregnant, she remembers Hannah's song that she's likely memorized from a lifetime of exposure to scripture. Based upon Hannah's words, Mary sings her own beautiful prayer of praise and exultation we call the Magnificat, "My soul magnifies the Lord" [Luke 1:46-55]. Mary announces the upcoming reign of Heaven will mean justice and the sufficiency of "shalom" for all. Jesus' first act of public ministry (IPO/initial public offering) in Luke also announces justice and plenty enough for all—the arrival of jubilee justice [Luke 4:16-21].

"Sell your possessions and give alms" isn't about making a guilt-propelled contribution so you'll feel better about having more than many others; it's a concrete action that redistributes money and possessions to help create a common-wealth and evened-out society. It's wonderful to contribute time, money, possessions for a particular cause, and though most of us love to respond generously to specific giving appeals, for Jesus, alms-giving is a way of life.

The heart in Hebrew biology is the seat of the will; heart is not a sentimental, romantic, lacey Victorian, greeting card, floral bouquet warm fuzzy. Jesus begins with treasure (thesaurus, the word we use for a book of word synonyms and antonyms) and then goes on to heart. How we act with our treasures of money, time, and possessions actually changes our attitudes or hearts.

The master serving the slaves at table is very within Luke's emphases that include feasting and dining togetherness; it also coincides with Jesus' identifying himself in the image of the servant God as "one who serves."

The Son of Man/Human One arriving at an unexpected hour? Yes, as Bud suggested, this would include the Second Coming, but even more poignantly it reminds us Jesus' presence always surprises us, happens when we don't expect it, or when we least anticipate it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Pentecost 7C

Luke 11:1-13

1Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." 2He said to them, "When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3Give us each day our daily bread.
4And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial."
5And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, "Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.' 7And he answers from within, "Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' 8I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

9"So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
The church's year of grace is two-third's spent, with only four more months in Luke's lectionary year. Major thanks to Barbara for facilitating the past three weeks; given this is summer, attendance likely was more random than usual, but I trust everyone gave her a lot of holy trouble.

Today we'll hear Luke's version of the famous prayer that's Jesus' response when his disciples ask him to teach them to pray, just as all rabbis and religious leaders did. Let's put it in context by backtracking with a overview of the gospel readings for the past five Sundays. This sequence of readings shows the nature of Jesus' authority.

June 23 – Pentecost 2 :: Luke 8:26-39

"Gerasene Demoniac," about the guy possessed by a legion of demons or unclean spirits and who hung out naked amongst tombs. Jesus's liberating word drove the demons into a herd of swine that then plunged over a cliff and drowned. This has been called a story without a sequel, as it demonstrates Jesus' ultimate power and authority over bondage, slavery, evil of all kinds.

June 30 – Pentecost 3 :: Luke 9:31-62

Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem—no looking back. His disciples claim they will follow Jesus wherever he goes!—to the cross?! Jesus replies the cost of discipleship includes having no regular place of residence, no predictable place to sleep. The price of the itinerating all of us (not only United Methodists and Wesleyans) do as we go where God sends us. And, of course, following Jesus wherever he goes includes the cross. And the empty grave.

July 7 – Pentecost 4 :: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Jesus gives instructions for going out into the world as itinerant missionaries (that's what we all are, all the time). Paralleling Moses and the 70 elders, Luke's Jesus picks up on the number 70 and sends them out in pairs. Their very first thing is to offer Shalom, the fullness of God's loving, merciful, reign and presence to everyone they meet. Then they proclaim the gospel. If the people we go to don't receive us? Shake the dust off your feet! One of the outcomes of prayer is learning to discern when to quit trying to engage an individual, a family, or a group; figuring out when to move on to the next place.

July 14 – Pentecost 5 :: Luke 10:23-37

How to have eternal life? How to have heaven on earth? Keep the commandments! Jesus' shorthand "Great Commandment" version: love God, neighbor, and self. Then the probing question: And who is my neighbor? And then? Activist Jesus narrates the Good Samaritan parable that's unique to Luke. We've talked about Luke's emphasis on the neighbor and called it neighborology, the word/logos about the neighbor. The Good Samaritan sums up the emphasis on the neighbor we find in Deuteronomy that's superbly about actively living out our covenants with God and with one another; Jeremiah also emphasizes the neighbor. Jesus instructs (commands!) his listeners to "go and do likewise" as the Samaritan man has in caring for the guy who's fallen by the wayside after being robbed and beaten.

July 21 – Pentecost 6 :: Luke 10:38-42

Jesus visits Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus. Martha's busy in the kitchen preparing a tasty meal for Jesus their guest; Mary hangs out with Jesus, basking in his presence and in his word. This contemplative way is a radical switch from the tale of the Good Samaritan immediately before it. So which is it? An activist "go and do likewise" or a more receptive "better part" of simply being in heaven's presence? It's both/and.

Today – Pentecost 7 :: Luke 11:1-13

Aspects of prayer include praise, thanksgiving, confession, and petition. After acknowledging God as hallowed or holy, Jesus' prayer guides us through petitions that help envision the reign of heaven will come to earth.

We had a very helpful (IMNHO) discussion of our own prayer lives. Pastor Peg pointed out she liked Jesus praying at "a certain place." A recurring time or times of day and a regular location or locations can help prayer become a habit.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Pentecost 3C

Galatians 5:1, 13-25

1For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

13For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. 14For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 15If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

16Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law.

22By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.

Ordinary Time

In the church's year of grace we've reached a long stretch of Ordinary Time that will continue for the next five months. Ordered, orderly, arranged, structured, this is the green and growing Season of the Spirit, Time of the Church. We count Sundays after the Day of Pentecost; the church lives in the power of the Spirit of Pentecost.


The apostle Paul's letter or epistle to the Galatians is one of his seven undisputed or authentic epistles. All seven carry evidence of his grammar, syntax, sentence structure, vocabulary, and theology, though there's a clear progression from 1 Thessalonians to Romans.

The community at Galatia was the first ethnic church, not in the sense of Jewish–gentile ethnicity, but of geography and culture. But they also were ethnos as gentiles! The words Galatia, Gaulle, Gaelic, Celt, Celtic all come from the same root.

• Galatians is the Epistle of Freedom.
• Galatians is Reformation central, vitally important to Martin Luther's theology.
• Galatians demonstrates we all live under the same law of God, with the same freedom or liberty in Jesus Christ.
• This passage brings us a typical Reformation contrast and dichotomy between law and gospel we try to articulate in preaching.

Galatians famously brings us:

• Paul's only birth narrative: "In the fullness of time God sent his son, born of a woman, born under the law." Galatians 4:4
• Neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, bond nor free, for all are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 – last week! The ground is level at the foot of the cross. But this doesn't obliterate distinctions and wonders of each person's individual gifts and contributions.
• [works of the flesh and] fruits of the Spirit: "By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23a

Freedom, liberty throughout this passage is eleutheria in Greek. Greek doulos is slave/slavery rather than servant/servitude.

5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free ... do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 13 ... do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.

Paul and Law and Gospel

"Gospel" means Good News. For Paul, the gospeled good news is death and resurrection.

Christ has died – Christ has risen – Christ will come again

Almost every time Paul uses the word "law," he refers to circumcision, sacrificial law, ritual law, keeping kosher, ceremonial law, and not to the ten commandments, but "law" in Galatians 5:14 does refer to the Ten Commandments of the Sinai Covenant. Like Jesus, he summarizes the commandments with "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The commandments are the working papers for our life together, as they set permissions, limits, and boundaries so we can live and serve in freedom.

Ethnic Churches – Outreach

Every mainline church body in this country began as an immigrant church—whether non-English speaking Lutheran and Reformed or very English-speaking Anglicans, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists; American protestantism now has come full-circle with substantial numbers whose first language wasn't English, members who still may not know much English. We need to welcome and receive the gifts Asian and Hispanic, African and Caribbean Christian traditions bring. Besides all of those protestant churches, the Roman Catholic Church in this country originally began with ethnic immigrant local churches. Midwestern and Northeastern cities were filled with people from Poland, Germany, Ireland, and Italy. They worshiped in Latin until Vatican II, but did everything else exactly like in the old country;

Pastor Peg mentioned a Pasadena congregation that contextualized the gospel by cycling through many different languages and cultures over many decades before finally recently closing its doors.

We talked about Christians who originally settled in other parts of the country bringing everything with them to California—not only Hot Dish Casseroles and Nativity observances, but as Steve W observed, they also built church buildings with steeply pitched roofs even though snow isn't a current concern in southern California. He said, "That's what they knew."

Outreach, evangelism in the church building and in our everyday worlds: what demands do we make of newcomers? Do we insist people look like us, talk like us, act like us, etc.? Because that's what we know? Do we insist they claim our cultural (ethnic) styles and habits as their own? No one at LCM does, but we still need to be constantly aware. As the Reformers insisted, wherever you find Word and Sacrament you find the church. No Word and Sacrament? No church. No requirement for everyone to look, act, talk, think, feel the same as everyone else.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Pentecost 2C

Luke 8:26-39

26Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs.

28When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me"— 29for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?" He said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him. 31They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.

32Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

34When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed.

37Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39"Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

Welcome to an almost 6-month long stretch of the green, growing, thriving, changing and versatile season of Ordinary Time! As we count Sundays after the Day of Pentecost, we focus on our every moment, every day spectacularly alive in the power and reign of the Spirit of Life. This is Luke's year in the Revised Common Lectionary that provides our scriptures for each week. Every Sunday through Reign of Christ / Christ the King our gospel account will be from Luke.

Luke's perspective includes:

• world history and Jewish history
• Jesus' genealogy that ends with "Adam, son of God."
• presence and activity of the Holy Spirit – the HS has been prominent throughout the Bible's witness, but Luke-Acts brings a fulfillment of God's reign in the Spirit
• prayer
• women
• marginalized people of every type from every perspective—the underclass.
• table fellowship
• neighborology – the word about the neighbor that emphasize people nearby, the other, everyone living together faithfully in covenantal community.

Today's narrative that takes place in a heavily gentile area shows us one of many fulfillments of Jesus' announcement of his mission in Luke's version of Jesus' IPO, his first act of public ministry we read about on Epiphany 3C:

Luke 4:18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free."

Luke is one of the three synoptic gospels that view Jesus' life and ministry in a similar manner (syn=together / optic=related to eye or vision; all three synoptics contain a version of this story.

• Mark 5:1-20

• Matthew 8:28-34 with two demons

This narrative points beyond itself to the reversal of the cross as it shows an example of God's subversive, upside-down reign that inverts almost everything related to conventional human expectations.

We can interpret the guy filled with demons as a scapegoat, the designated outcast who carries around all of everyone else's in the community's bad stuff that includes sins, pathology, every bit of their undesirable less than good of every kind. The contagious crowd, herd, mob, or tribe mentality is prominent here, as well. Luke 8:35c – the crowd was afraid! Here was the end of their scapegoat; with the finality of the pigs filled with all those (2,000?) demons gone over the cliff and drowned they no longer had someone to dump their sin, evil, and undesirables on. Someone called this "an event without a future." Therefore? Luke 8:37 – they asked Jesus to leave.

Luke 4:29b Shortly after Jesus' announcement of his mission of freeing, liberating, from everything that binds or enslaves, his proclamation of the here and now of the reign of God, the crowds wanted to push Jesus over a cliff. That was a conventional form of execution in that culture.

We had a long discussion of ways people can be bound or held in many types of slaveries and addictions beyond their control, including the fact human chattel slavery still exists worldwide. Juneteenth every year on June 19th commemorates the day the reality of emancipation of slavery in the USA reached the state of Texas.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Trinity Sunday C

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

1Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice?
2On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand;
3beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
4"To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live."

22"The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago.
23Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.
25Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth—
26when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world's first bits of soil.
27When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep,
29when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,
31rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race."

Trinity Sunday...

...celebrates a doctrine or teaching, rather than an event. Scripture strongly implies God as triune or three-in-one / one-in-three, but scripture never uses the word "trinity." The Trinity is a mystery! Our human brains insist on trying to describe it, with most attempts ending up with the heresy of modalism (ha ha – those would include ice, water, vapor; son, friend, brother...)

In our readings this year we've had at least two explicit theophanies or revelations of the Trinity: the Baptism of Jesus and the Transfiguration. In the year 325 the Council of Nicaea articulated the doctrine of the Trinity and wrote the Nicene Creed some churches recite during worship as a testimony of faith. Discussion: LCM hasn't featured the Nicene /Constantinopolitan Creed since I've been attending, but Barbara said they sometimes have in the distant past. Pastor Peg said we may recite in the future, and I suggested she could do a brief intro beforehand.

Trinity Sunday is the Octave of Pentecost. The church long has celebrated important events in octaves of eight days (similar to an octave of eight notes in music). Rather than attempting an analogy that never ever approaches the essence of the godhead, early church fathers and mothers talked about the perichoresis of the Trinity. "Peri" refers to in the vicinity of, around, nearby as in perimeter, peripatetic, peripheral, pericope, perigee, peristalsis... "Choresis" has the same root as choreography, so perichoresis is dancing around. Father, Son, Holy Spirit interact with each other, interpenetrate, mutually indwell in union, harmony, agreement. consonance, integrity shalom, etc. They always travel together.

Sadly, in class I omitted this important comment: the Trinity models our interactive and cooperative lifestyles and ministries. The Church [us!] as the Image of the Trinity.

We baptize using water and a Trinitarian formula, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19 is the only occurrence of the Father, Son, HS baptismal formula in the Bible, but that almost definitely was one of many later additions to the text. We've noted Matthew's gospel most likely is the most heavily redacted or edited of the four canonical gospels. The early church probably baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus, Jesus the Savior, or used similar words.

Old Testament / Hebrew Bible Overview

Preparing for our move into the green and growing season of Ordinary Time next week, a synopsis of the three main sections:

1. Torah or Pentateuch

the first five books, sometimes called Books of Moses, not because Moses could have written them, but because parts of them focus on Moses as liberator of God's people.

2. Prophets

include Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings—the former prophets; and the writing prophets or latter prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel plus the Book of the Twelve or the Minor Prophets that are minor in length but not minor in content.

1, 2. Pentateuch and Prophets both carry a sense of an authoritative, revelatory Word of the Lord; Pentateuch and Prophets emphasize God's covenanting with humanity and with all creation. Torah and Prophets reveal an active, intervening God;

3. Writings

a miscellaneous collection that includes Psalms, Proverbs, Chronicles, Job, Ecclesiastes, Ruth, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Song of Solomon... The writings are not a coherent body of literature; the official canon even varied some over the years. Among other angles, they bring us human words to God and human speech about God. They have a sense of discerning God's work and God's presence in the world from observing creation and social structures, a sense of what we learn from living daily life. Some books report narrative events (Chronicles, Nehemiah, Ezra, Esther for example) or address God in temple or another worship context (Psalms).


The book of Proverbs belongs to Israel's religious literature, but rather than being about covenant or temple, it mainly contains practical advice for living with integrity or wholeness in community. Its 31 chapters contain essays, metaphors, similes, memes/ cultural pieces of different types that reveal structure, order, continuity of creation and of all life.

Most likely Proverbs came from many different authors over a span of 400 years. In a similar way to Moses' connection with liberation, Israel correlated Solomon with wisdom, and some of the content of Proverbs probably is from the united kingdom monarchy of Saul, David, and Solomon. Wisdom in Proverbs and in the other scriptural wisdom books of Job and Ecclesiastes isn't so much head knowledge as it is heart- and foot knowledge—the sense of how life comes together people often gain after they've journeyed for a while. Wisdom literature discerns and discovers God in creation, in the order and structures of human life and activity, and in ongoing human experiences

Today's First Reading

In the first part of today's divided first reading, Proverbs 8:1-4, Wisdom personified stands in a very public place; late Pastor Eugene Peterson's The Message translation says:

"She's taken her stand at First and Main, at the busiest intersection. Right in the city square where the traffic is thickest, she shouts, 'You – I'm talking to all of you, everyone out here on the streets!'"

The attribute of wisdom is for everyone, what a banking commercial a few years back called the "regular people." Wisdom is not an obscure, esoteric trait for super-smart scholars in the library or explorers scaling the highest mountain peaks.

The second section, Proverbs 8: 22-31 is a creation account, somewhat parallel to the creation stories of Genesis 1 and Psalm 104.

Wisdom the "master worker" was like a cooperating craftsperson or artisan alongside God at creation. Wisdom was essential for creation to happen. God wove wisdom into the fabric of reality and made Wisdom – not Chance – at the heart of all that is. This passage ends with Wisdom again personified, "then I [Wisdom] was beside God, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in God's inhabited world and delighting in humanity." Wisdom delights in God’s presence and in God's creation.

Pastor Eugene in The Message translates verses 20b-31:

"Day after day I was there, with my joyful applause, always enjoying his company, Delighted with the world of things and creatures, happily celebrating the human family"

Wisdom sets all of this into motion as a graceful, endless, "dancing around" perichoresis of the Triune God's joy at creation.

From the epistles we know Jesus Christ as the Wisdom of God—I Corinthians 1:30; Colossians 2:2,3

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Day of Pentecost C 2019

Acts 2:1-8 (9-21)

1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?
Easter is 50 Days; today, the Day of Pentecost is the 50th day of Easter.

Penta = 50. Similar words includes pentagram, pentagon, pentacle, pentatonic.

The church's year of grace features a trio of major festivals that relate to each Person of the Trinity/Godhead:

• Christmas – Nativity –> Creation

• Resurrection – Easter –> Redemption

• Pentecost – Whitsunday –> Sanctification / Theosis / Holiness

Next week we'll celebrate all three with the Feast of the Holy Trinity / "tri-unity"; after that we'll segue into the long, winding, growing, greening season of Ordinary Time—Season of the Spirit, Time of the Church. During those approximately six months, we'll count Sundays after Pentecost.

Last week we discussed Jesus' Ascension and the conversation (again!) beforehand. His earthly disciples asked Jesus if at this time he would "restore the kingdom to Israel," and Jesus told them to wait for his ascending followed by the descending of the HS and then they would be his witnesses. In other words, they would help "restore the kingdom," the reign, the sovereignty, God's shalom of all creation.

Pneumatology is the technical word for the branch of theology that's about the person, presence, and activity of the HS.

In his book of the Acts of the Apostles Luke brings us the only scriptural account of the Day of Pentecost. The HS is prominent throughout Luke's gospel—and in Acts, of course. The apostle Paul and the gospel of John also tell us a lot about the HS.

Luke 4:18-19 begins Jesus' public ministry with the HS; Doctor Luke's book of Acts begins our public ministry with the HS.

Today's account of the day of Pentecost from Luke Volume 2 or the Acts of the Apostles, starts with 120 of Jesus' followers gathered together. Strong tradition says they were in the same upper room as during the last supper, but the actual physical location remains unknown. Everyone from everywhere (Steve W provided an excellent list of the locations of everywhere) was in Jerusalem for the Jewish Pentecost that celebrated the wheat/grain harvest along with God's giving the Sinai Covenant or Ten Commandments via Moses. Interesting juxtaposition, because when people faithfully steward all creation by following the commandments, the ground often yields an abundant harvest. Just as the day of Pentecost is one of the three most major Christian festivals, the Jewish Pentecost was one of the three mandated festivals.

Observing Pride Day at the same time as Pentecost is very appropriate! God has no outsiders; as Jesus demonstrated, in God's world everyone is an insider. As Jesus' followers called, empowered, and sent out (an apostle is a sent person, using the same word as scripture uses for God's sending of the HS) people, we need to include everyone.

Acts 2:6 everyone heard in their own language. We discussed the importance of learning other spoken languages, and maybe especially cultural languages such as body language/gestures, table manners, appreciating social class differences. Pastor Peg mentioned emojis have become an unspoken language. Charles explained how positive gestures in some cultures are insults in others. As we reach out in wider circles, as more people from further away venture into our building and often into our community, becoming part of "we and us," understanding and being responsive to spoken and cultural languages is an extremely important aspect of welcoming everyone so they actually feel welcome.

Jesus' disciples asked him, "Will you at this time restore the kingdom?" Jesus responded, "The question is wrong! Wait here in Jerusalem, and you shall be my witnesses." The HS makes witness possible. The converse? Without the HS there is no witness.

The indwelling HS we receive in baptism enables us to live and serve as God's hands, feet, voice, etc. Remember the Golden Calf Event in Exodus 32? God said, "Moses, your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt." Moses replied, "God, your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt." Which is it? Moses' people or God's people? It's both/and.