summer solstice!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Pentecost 2A

Matthew 9:35 – 10:1-8

9:35Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."

10: 1Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7As you go, proclaim the good news, "The kingdom of heaven has come near.' 8Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment."

Where We Are

We're halfway through the church's year of grace that began during calendar year 2016 on the First Sunday of Advent. Two weeks ago we celebrated the fiftieth day of Easter with the festival of Pentecost that commemorates the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the world. The next six months will be the Season of the Church acting in Jesus' name, a Time of the Spirit of Life and of Resurrection that we receive in baptism, a "green and growing season" that reflects the liturgical color green our vestments and paraments feature. Or more accurately, the current liturgical color of green mirrors the focus of this season.

Last Sunday we celebrated the Holy Trinity with Trinity Sunday. Although the bible doesn't refer to a three-in-one / one-in-three trinity or a triune God, both OT and NT strongly reveal God as triune.

Last week I mentioned during this season we'll be doing some theology of the Third Article of the Creed; both the Nicene Creed from the year 325 that probably first articulated the doctrine or teaching of the trinity, and the Apostles' Creed from about a century later outline Trinitarian theology. First article of the creed would be theology of creation; second article of the creed would be theology of redemption or salvation. Third article would be sanctification, divinization, or theosis as the Eastern churches express it.

I also suggested we'd look at some Third Spaces and Fourth Spaces theology as we develop Acts of the 21st Century Apostles in Southern California:
• First spaces: family, friends, close by neighbors, local schools, nearby workplaces
• Second spaces: a little more geographically and socially distant communities, college, university (maybe a larger high school), larger workplaces; more choices about self-revelation
• Third spaces: moving out of our comfort zones, stretching boundaries: affinity groups, clubs, different cultures
• Fourth spaces: cyberspace! with a lot of choices about what we reveal, opportunities to try on new styles and identities
In the Revised Common Lectionary that suggests our scripture readings, this is Year A, the year of the gospel account the community gathered around Matthew the tax collector brought us.

Briefly Reviewing Matthew

Matthew's gospel begins with Jesus' name Emmanuel – "God with us" – and concludes with Jesus' promise to be with us always.

Matthew's community specifically addressed Greek-speaking Jews in Antioch (then in Syria) that's geographically present-day Turkey.

With a strong Jewish-Hebrew emphasis, among other specialties Matthew presents Jesus as the new Moses and the new King David; with the flight into (and then back out of) Egypt we have a new Exodus; five large discourses in the gospel may parallel the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses and provide a new Torah. Before the resurrection Matthew refers to Israelites; post-resurrection, to Jews.

Matthew is the only one of the four canonical gospels that uses our word related to church, ecclesia. The ecclesia or called-out assembly was the Roman city council, the New England town meeting...

This gospel account also brings us an interesting juxtaposition because it refers to Jesus' ministry in Galilee of the Gentiles – Matthew 4:15 – and tells us gentiles will hope in Jesus' name – Matthew 12:21. Matthew uniquely brings us the visit to the baby Jesus by the Zoroastrian magi, who were both religious and ethnic outsiders. Matthew brings Jesus' Great Commission of bringing the gospel to all the nations that we heard last week.

Today's Text

Notice how Jesus (1)summons or calls his disciples; then he gives them (2)authority; then he (3)sends them out. In the power of the HS, we're also sent people, or apostles.

And then Jesus instructs the disciples to proclaim the gospel, the good news of the reign of life over death—the kingdom/ reign/ realm of heaven has come near; to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. Recently we revisited John's gospel and Jesus' promise we'd do greater works than he did. That was on Maundy Thursday evening, shortly in the wake of Jesus raising Lazarus from death. In those Johannine passages, Jesus also told us to obey the commandments, and to love in the same way he loves us. He promised us the gift of the Holy Spirit (Advocate, Paraclete called-alongside, Counselor, Comforter —I like the concept of comforter or a quilt wrapped all around us) that would enable us to do all those amazing things, and to act in his name.

Proclamation of the Good News, the reality of resurrection, healing, etc. all evidence the presence of the reign of heaven. In the next chapter, Matthew 11:2-5, from prison John the Baptist (Jesus' cousin, who down by the riverside announced Jesus' soon to be arrival in our midst) asks his cohorts to ask Jesus if he's the real thing, or if we needed to look for someone else? Jesus advised them, "Go tell John what you hear and see (full sensory experiences): dead are raised to life; blind see; deaf hear; lame walk; poor receive good news." Those events have been going down? That means heaven among us, God's rule in our midst!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Trinity Sunday A 2017

Matthew 28:16-20

16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Although Sunday we mostly discussed Jesus' Great Commission from Matthew's gospel because this is Matthew's year and we've been doing so much John, how could I not mention perichoresis? Last Friday I reposted here desert spirit's fire Trinity Sunday 2005 that also was year A. Referring to the last few Sundays will give us some Trinitarian theology, as well.

Backtracking

Last Sunday was the Day of Pentecost:

• 50th Day of Easter
• In the Church's Year of Grace, the Church really comes into its own
• Time of the Spirit / Season of the Church
• Green and Growing Season of almost six months of ordered, structured, organized "Ordinary Time"
• Pentecostal fervor!

During the Great Fifty Days of Easter we've read about Acts of the the early Apostles from Luke's second volume, the Book of Acts. We're revisited the upper room of Maundy Thursday and heard Jesus' commands to obey, to love as he loves, his promise we will do greater works than he did during his earthly ministry, his promise to send the Spirit (Comforter, Advocate, Counselor), to remain with us always. I like to translate "comforter" into a quilt that wraps around us. Baptism surround us with God's creative power of the Holy Spirit of resurrection so we can respond to Jesus' commandment to preach the gospel, heal the sick, raise the dead recorded in Matthew 10:7-8 and that will be our gospel reading next week on Pentecost 2.

Trinitarian Theophanies / Trinitarian Theology / Perichoresis

• Last Winter we experienced theophanies of the Trinity or manifestations, appearances of all three persons of the Trinity / Godhead at the Baptism of Jesus and at the Transfiguration
Scripture strongly implies God as Triune one-in-three, three-in=one, but the church didn't define and announce the doctrine or teaching until 325 A.D. at the Council of Nicea that gave us the NIcene Creed
• Today's Great Commission passage from the gospel we received from Matthew's community includes baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but that likely was one of many redactions or editing of Matthew's gospel that we've mentioned 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 or used a similar formula.
• The Trinity is a mystery! All our human attempts to compare and explain it fall way far short, but our brains still need to try.
• Today we'll sing, "Come, Join the Dance of Trinity" that's about the Perichoresis of the Trinity: peri – around, surround – choreo – dance, like in choreographer, choreogaphy

During the Season of Pentecost

We'll do Third Article (of the Creed) Theology:

• First Article – Creation
• Second Article – Redemption / Salavtion
• Third Article – Sanctification, Divinization, Theosis

We'll also talk some Third Spaces Theology as we develop Acts of the 21st Century Apostles in Southern California:

• First spaces: family, friends, close by neighbors, local schools, nearby workplaces
• Second spaces: a little more geographically and socially distant communities, college, university (maybe larger high school), larger workplaces; more choices about self-revelation
• Third spaces: moving out of our comfort zones, stretching boundaries: affinity groups, clubs, different cultures
• Fourth spaces: cyberspace! with a lot of choices about what we reveal, opportunities to try on new styles and identities

Matthew's gospel ends as it begins, with the reassurance of God with us, Emmanuel.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Trinity Sunday A 2005

This week I'm blogging twice for Trinity Sunday; I remembered writing about perichoresis, and found these notes from 2005, which also was RCL year A, and would have been from a Monday at Northminster PC(USA) in Previous City when I subbed for the usual facilitator who probably was on another trip helping out another judicatory. My first instinct was to create a new post here dated 16 May 2005 – Easter was early that year! – but this blog didn't even exist then. Besides, today's date will get more hits and help more people.

From Trinity Sunday A 2005 on desert spirit's fire!

Since I really like the notes I put together for this morning's Bible study (not that the group did much with them, but – as always – the discussion was interesting, stimulating, thoughtful and even helpful). But a note of caution: not surprisingly, I realized I potentially had enough material for a multi-volume book! And extremely surprisingly, one of the regular participants said he'd always found the concept of Trinity easy to understand. Moving on now with the study notes:

Genesis 1:1 – 2:4a

Psalm 8

2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Matthew 28:16-20

Perichoresis of the Trinity

peri – around – choreo – dance

With perichoresis, the early Church described the Trinity as a dynamic and sometimes indistinguishable interpenetration, mutual indwelling, circumincession in unity, union, harmony, agreement, concord, consonance...

The Church [that's us!] as the Image of the Trinity

How does this Perichoresis relate to our lives in the world in general, our lives with other Christians, and as we interact with people of other faiths and of no faith conviction?

Word and Sacrament: the Trinity and the means of grace
  • Written word; preached word; Living Word
  • Baptism
  • Earthy, earthly elements of creation—plain ordinary water; also, anointing with oil: kings, prophets and priests in Israel were anointed and we're baptized into royal, prophetic priesthood.
  • Baptized into the Christ Event in the name of the Trinity—in 325 The Council of Nicaea defined the doctrine of the Trinity; Matthew 28:19 is the only occurrence of the baptismal formula in the Bible, added later than the late 1st century manuscripts; the early church probably baptized in the "Name of the Lord."
  • Eucharist
  • Earthy, earthly common stuff of creation! | Creator
  • Our Lord Jesus Christ...Bread of Life; Cup of Salvation | Redeemer
  • Epiclesis | invoking the Holy Spirit
The Church and the Means of Grace
  • Jesus entrusted his followers – the church – with proclaiming the Gospel in word and action, baptizing and with remembering him by breaking the bread of life and offering the cup of salvation. The Gospel of Jesus Christ also is revealed to the world when we live our daily lives as sacraments mediating between earth and heaven—this is something no one and nothing else in the world can offer! The church as a community and each of us as individuals nurtured and discipled by that community take our cues and clues from the perichoresis of the Trinity, and not from the consumer driven programmatic excesses of the world.
  • "The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered." Philipp Melanchthon, Augsburg Confession, from Article 7
  • "Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, and the sacraments administered according to Christ's institution, there, it is not to be doubted, a church of God exists." John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 4, chapter 1, section 9.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Pentecost A

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13

3bAnd no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit. 4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. 12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

The Day of Pentecost is the 50th Day of Easter!

• Time of the Spirit
• Season of the Church
• A Pentecostal Community filled with gifts from the Holy Spirit
• A second phase of Green and Growing Ordinary (ordered, organized, structured) Time. We experienced the first phase last winter with Sundays after the Epiphany.

During this season we'll be doing Third Article (of the Creed) theology related to the Holy Spirit. "Pneumatology" is one of the technical words for this theological category. First article theology would be theology of creation; second article, theology of redemption. Theology of the HS includes us as the called-out assembly (church/ ekklesia) and sent people (apostles / apostolos).
We'll continue to focus on the interdependence of all creation.

During this Time of the Church we're also visit some (geographical and social)
Third Space theology as we consider moving from:

• The everyday intimacy of geographical and social First Spaces that include face-to-face relationships of family, friends, neighbors on either side and across the street (even in this 21st century), local schools;
• Second Spaces that include many workplaces, university, more distant and structured settings that give us more choices about self-revelation;
• Third Spaces of affinity, trade, and professional groups that take us beyond the comfort of First Spaces and Second Spaces; at times geographically a considerable distance away with potential for greater anonymity; and for the past decade...
• Fourth Spaces – cyberspace! where you can choose to reveal who and where you are, try on new ideas and even new identities

Third Spaces and Fourth Spaces pick up on "all nations" in Jesus' Great Commission commandment at the conclusion of Matthew's gospel;.

Backtracking

• We've studied accounts from Luke's book of the Acts of the original apostles
• Revisited the upper room of Maundy Thursday where we've heard Jesus' command to obey and to love as he loves
• In the upper room we've also received Jesus' promise of the Holy Spirit and power—even to achieve "greater works" than Jesus himself did during his earthly ministry!
• Especially as we celebrated the Ascension (that's technically the 40th day of Easter) on the 7th Sunday of Easter, we considered the concept of ascendancy that denotes stewardship, caretaking, responsible sovereignty over all creation following the model and example Jesus gave us.

Corinth / Corinthians

The site of Aphrodite's temple! Rich, opulent, and worldly, a crossroads for international travel and commerce. The church at Corinth was full of factions and divisions. Jealousy, arrogance, and related. You get the picture?!
The two canonical letters to Corinthians are among at the apostle Paul's Seven (biblical number) undisputed epistles. The passage we read today sets the mood and the standard for our life and ministry as we move into almost six months of Ordinary Time Sundays that we number after the Pentecost event.

• The cross of Jesus Christ is central – Paul determines to preach only Christ crucified.
• The Holy Spirit gifts individuals with a wide variety of spiritual and practical gifts (vv. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 lists a few); these gifts always are for the greater good – the commonwealth or common-weal (not woe!) of the gathered community of the body of Christ. No class, cultural, education, or ethnic boundaries. The indwelling Spirit we receive in our baptism into Jesus Christ's death and resurrection engulfs us in God's creative power of resurrection.
• 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 is earliest account of Jesus' "founding meal" of the Lord's Supper; one bread, one body; worthy reception in seeking the common good; 1 Corinthians 10 and 11
• 1 Corinthians include the famous love chapter 13 that picks up on the quality of love Jesus charges us with in the gospel we received from John's community.
• The cross of Jesus Christ is central to our proclaimed and enacted theology, but so is the resurrection — learn 1 Corinthians 15!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Ascension 2017

Acts 1:1-11

1 In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning 2 until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 While staying [or eating] with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. "This," he said, "is what you have heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with [or by] the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7 He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." 9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."
On the 40th day of Easter we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension; that's a Thursday, but since most people don't go to church on Thursdays, today for Easter 7 we're hearing about the Ascension. Next Sunday, the 50th day of Easter, is the Day of Pentecost, the third of our great Trinitarian Festivals.

So far during the church's year of grace, we've studied and learned from Jesus' ministry. During the season of Easter we've experienced Jesus' gift of the Holy Spirit on Easter evening from John's gospel; twice in the gospel we received from John's community we've revisited the upper room of Maundy Thursday with Jesus' commandment to love along with his promise of the Holy Spirit (advocate, paraclete) of comfort and truth. We've had examples of the early church's ministry in the power of the Spirit. Specifically, three weeks ago on Easter 4, we heard about the apostles' preaching and teaching (no longer Jesus'!), their gathering for prayer in the kind of community that's a true "common unity" of koinonia, for "breaking of bread," that likely meant regular meals (potlucks, anyone?) as well as the Bread of Life and Cup of Salvation of the Lord's Supper.

The Heidelberg Catechism tells us we move from Christmas / Incarnation, "with the mystery of spirit in flesh" to the Ascension, "with the mystery of flesh in Spirit."

We don't often use the words ascension, ascendancy, ascent, but in easy theological terms they simply mean sovereignty, authority, stewardship. Not "lording it over" as people sometimes misinterpret dominion in Genesis 2, but caretaking and responsiveness to the needs of our human, animal, and all our neighbors – all of creation! Land, waterways, sky, etc.

During the upcoming long liturgical season of pentecost, the church really comes into its own. The gift of the indwelling Spirit enables the church to do the "greater works" Jesus promised.

The Heidelberg Catechism asks, "Why is the son of God called Jesus, meaning Savior?" And then, "Why is the son of God called Christ, meaning anointed?" And then: "But why are you called a Christian?" Answer: "Because by faith I share in Christ's anointing, and I am anointed to reign over all creation for all eternity."

In our scripture passage from Acts, Jesus' disciples ask him, "is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" Jesus essentially informs them their question is wrong and replies, "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

In the power, discernment, and reach of the Holy Spirit of Pentecost, we becomes Jesus' presence on earth and begin restoring God's reign over all creation. The HS empowers us to walk the talk!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Easter 6A

John 14:15-21

15"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. 18"I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them."

Backtracking from last week, Easter 5A:

This is very shorthand and somewhat crude, but also broadly accurate.

As I've been saying... John is the Gospel of Abiding Presence. John's gospel almost didn't make the canonical cut! The community the beloved disciple John founded conveys a different worldview from the synoptic gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

In contrast to John, despite each of them conveying at least some unique content and a particular perspective, you could say the synoptic gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke all bring us law and gospel – God's holy demands and God's mercy-filled, loving grace. We roughly can place the synoptics in the tradition of the first two parts of the Old Testament, Torah / Pentateuch and Prophets.

The third section of the canon of the Hebrew bible includes Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Psalms, Job, Ruth, Lamentations, Daniel, Song of Solomon... similar to that Writings tradition of the third part of the Hebrew Bible that we sometimes refer to as wisdom literature, John's community offers ways to live faithfully and fruitfully with speech and action that make a difference in the world—"God's abiding presence" in creation, rather than the articulation of law and gospel we find in the synoptics and in the apostle Paul's undisputed epistles.

Today's RCL text:

Easter is Fifty Days; the sixth Sunday of Easter is day 36 / 50. Last week we discussed some of Jesus' farewell discourse, including his telling the disciples they'd do greater works than he had done. Jesus never stopped talking, though our discussion ended. Today's gospel passage continues in the upper room of Maundy Thursday after Jesus had washed the disciples' feet. After Maundy Thursday, we've experience Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter, We're already more than a calendar month after the day of resurrection; besides, in today's text Jesus promises the gift of the Holy Spirit, but we already read that narrative that happened on the evening of the first Easter Day as we celebrated Easter 2.

John, the gospel of Jesus' abiding presence and of our abiding presence in creation in the power of the Holy Spirit, essentially brings us the commandment to love. But at the start of our reading for today, Jesus tells us, "If you love me, you will keep the commandments." It concludes with, "They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them."

Parallel this to:

• the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22 – what must I do to inherit eternal life, and Jesus's keep the commandments response with the demands of the Sinai covenant.

• and Mark 10:17-22 where Jesus tells the rich guy, "You know the commandments and does a basic short list.

• with the lawyer in Luke 10:25-37 that happens after Jesus sends out the seventies, tells them share the peace; Kingdom has come near you, shake the dust off; after Satan falling from heaven... Jesus asks the expert on the law "What do you read in the law?" After love God, neighbor, and self, Jesus responds to "who is my neighbor" with the parable of Good Sam.

To be saved, made whole, have integrity, be alive as part of the commonwealth, we must obey the commandments because none of us is saved, redeemed, no one has shalom until all creation does. Hebrew bible scholar Walter Brueggemann reminds us Life first must be a gift before life is a task.

Although we already discussed Jesus' sending the HS on the evening of the first Easter, we could call today's reading, "You will get your quilt!" Jesus promises to send the paraclete, that in Greek means called (clesis) beside /alongside (para). But translations can include comforter, advocate, counselor, solicitor, attorney... all wrapped up in the assurance of God's presence in the same way a cozy quilt or comforter wraps us up.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Easter 5A

John 14:1-14

1"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4And you know the way to the place where I am going." 5Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" 6Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him." 8Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." 9Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, "Show us the Father'? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

As I've been saying... John is the Gospel of Abiding Presence.

In contrast to John, despite each of them conveying at least some unique content and a particular perspective, you could say the synoptic gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke all bring us law and gospel. We can consider the three sections of the canon of the Hebrew scriptures: Torah / Pentateuch; Prophets; Writings (that include Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Psalms, Job, Ruth, Daniel, Song of Solomon...) and roughly place the synoptics within the traditions of Pentateuch and Prophets, the gospel according to John's community alongside the Writings.

The worldview of John's gospel opens with "in the beginning" and tells us about the pre-existent divine logos that's about order, wisdom, prudence, strength, discernment, knowledge, discretion, honor, well-being, shalom... God's essence that fills and permeates all creation. Similar to the Hebrew tradition of wisdom literature, John's community offers ways to live faithfully and fruitfully with speech and action that make a difference in the world—"God's abiding presence" in creation, rather than the articulation of law and gospel we find in the synoptics and in the apostle Paul's undisputed epistles. Although Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God, always is enfleshed, incarnate, embodied, John's community especially makes a major point of that reality.

Easter is Fifty Days; the fifth Sunday of Easter is day 29 / 50. To some extent, for the course of the church's year of grace, the people who assembled the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) that we generally use for our texts, follow the trajectory of Jesus's life. However, today is day 29 of Easter, meaning we've already journeyed through Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and the astonishment of Eastered resurrection, but the scene we have today from John's gospel is the Upper Room of Maundy Thursday and Jesus's farewell discourse (speech, counsel, advice, "talk") to his disciples.

Discussion: how reassuring it is that Jesus tells us of his ongoing presence, and that he will prepare places for each of us. Note: He already has done so!

How wild to be revisiting Maundy Thursday, the place and time where Jesus just had washed his disciples' feet?! More than a calendar month after the day of resurrection?! We considered what the greater works Jesus referred to might be. I piggy-backed on the former Linda Vista PCUSA pastor's asking, "Where were you born? St. Mary's Hospital? Presbyterian Central? Lutheran General? Where did you go to school? Whitworth? Notre Dame? Concordia? Holy Rosary Elementary?" Those works of health and education are significant ones. A participant mentioned the mighty work of forgiveness, that permits all parties involved to continue living without getting irrevocably stuck in the past.

For John's community, resurrection isn't quite the end of the story; in a sense, ascension trumps even resurrection. As persons who live "in Christ," we also share in his ascendancy. I briefly described ascendancy as authority, sovereignty, stewardship over creation, over life, but didn't go on to quote the Heidelberg Catechism's response to "But why are you called a Christian?": Because by faith I share in Christ's anointing, and I am anointed to reign with Christ over all creation for all eternity.

As we learn from the gospel according to John, in Christ Jesus and in the power of the HS, we are part of God's abiding presence throughout creation.

For Easter 6 we'll continue Jesus' farewell discourse with John 14:15-21.