summer solstice!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Pentecost 6A

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

1That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3And he told them many things in parables, saying: "Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9Let anyone with ears listen!"

18"Hear then the parable of the sower. 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty."
We get several famous scripture selections today!

• Isaiah 55:10-13 – with God's assurance the Word will bear fruit, will do God's thing on earth. Hebrew here is dabar that denotes both speech and action—walking the talk. This scripture promises God will send us out with joy, lead us with shalom; mountains and hills will sing, trees will applaud like an excited audience.

• Romans 8:1-11 – no condemnation ("down-judgment") for us who live in Christ. Freedom from sin and death!

• Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 – Parable of the Sower with Jesus' own interpretation. Fruitful, faith seeds grow into whatever the source of the seed promises. Greek for grain" in 13:8 is fruit.

• Our responsive Psalm 65:[1-8], 9-13 – offers universalism that includes rivers full of water that help crown the year with bounty so wilderness pastures overflow, meadows become beautifully arrayed, valleyed decked out with grain shout for joy and sing. All this glory in creation happens because God "visits the earth." Those images in the psalm and in the reading rom Second Isaiah remind us that in the Psalms 96, 98 and 148 appointed for Christmas when God visits the earth in the baby Jesus of Nazareth, mountains and hills, valleys, streams and rivers also sing for joy, clap their hands....

So far in the church's year of grace in chapters 10 through 12 of Matthew's gospel we've had Jesus' instructions and commissioning for mission, for the church sent out into the world (that's us, because all of us are sent people or apostles), along with his warnings of what may happen. In Matthew 8 and 9 we experienced Jesus moving from proclaimed word into the enacted deeds that help explain his words. Before that, chapters 5 through 7 covered the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 1 through 4 tell us who Jesus is with his genealogy, birth, and very early life.

Matthew 13 includes the biblical number of 7 parables, starting out with a parable about seed, sower, and earth (ground, land). Everything we have originates in the earth. In scripture the earth of Genesis becomes the land of Leviticus and Deuteronomy that God graces us with as gift and charges us to steward and care for.

Para is beside, alongside, in a similar sense to a medical, legal, or other para-professional, who works with and supports a professional in that field (though today's paraprofessional are highly-trained and professional in their own right). Paraclete as one of the words for the Holy spirit refers to clesis or "called" by our side. Etc.

At the beginning of the passage Jesus leaves the house, sits by the sea (of Galilee, almost definitely), and then goes out into a boat because so many people had gathered around him. Charlene mentioned that sound carries well over water, so everyone could hear people better and it was a way of the crowds being able to notice and focus on him. This was an agricultural society that well would have grasped concept of seed – sower – different types of ground. But we can parallel this parable into other settings, as well.

Everyone agreed we didn't need Jesus' explanation of the different types of soil; everyone agreed each of us is every one one of these soil or ground conditions at various times, often during the same day.

Sara and I had attended Reformation Roadtrip 6 the day before; it emphasized Luther as an interpreter of scripture, with many cautions about the hazards and difficulties of translating any document of any era from one spoken or written language into another. The translator always is somewhere between the original text and their translation or paraphrase. I mentioned our need to contextualize our ministries of speaking and service into culturally congruent words and actions very much included spoken and written words.

Although I'd planned to discuss stewardship of finances, property, and other resources, the other discussions and observations took enough time and become so detailed and interesting I didn't even mention ways we can be too fear-filled, too cautious, focusing on observable limitations rather than trusting God's limitless giving. Like the different stool types, that also tends to be all of us at one time or another.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Pentecost 5A

Zechariah 9:9-12

9Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war-horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. 11As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. 12Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

16"But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, 17"We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.' 18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, "He has a demon'; 19the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, "Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds."

25At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Today we get selections from Handel's Messiah! Second Zechariah brings us the florid soprano "Rejoice, greatly, O Daughter of Zion" that announces messianic redemption over all the world; a soprano sings Jesus' "Come Unto me" after the alto/mezzo promises "He shall feed his flock." All four canonical gospels identify Zechariah 9:9 with Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem at the start of Holy Week:

• Mark 11:1-11
• Luke 19:28-38
• Matthew 21:1-11
• John 12:12-19

For Pentecost 5 Matthew's gospel continues Jesus instructions for mission that we started considering on Trinity Sunday, the octave of Pentecost. Jesus has more directions and cautions for the church in motion, because to be church means to be "sent people" or apostles sent into all the world, starting right where we are here and now, sent in the power and presence and discernment of the Holy Spirit of Pentecost.

Matthew is the only gospel that uses the word ecclesia / church, and outlines some structural and organizational ecclesiology or ways to be church.

Today's gospel reading gives us that famous contrast between wild and crazy and ascetic John the Baptist down by the riverside and his cousin Jesus (though quite counter-cultural by religious and societal norms), known to love parties, conversation, clearly a lover of questioning and debunking political and religious establishments. It's become commonplace to say Jesus shows the lifestyle God's people are supposed to have, John's style doesn't make it. Even "people like us," tend to think we know how Jesus' followers are supposed to be, to appear, to act, yet we've been seeing the same God acing in different ways in wildly different people and circumstances.

We looked around the room and noted among the class regulars many of us have served as readers, ushers, counters, musicians, donated flowers, hosted Sunday brunch. Steve noticed the sign in front needed major help, so responded to God's call to use his gifts and time by upgrading the sign so it looks new.

In the power of the Spirit of Pentecost, individuals move from being atomized, isolated, and widely scattered into the gathered-in, interconnected Body of Christ, where each person brings particular gifts, has different functions and callings. The same God acts in different ways through different people!

I mentioned monastic communities with very ascetic lifestyles compared to our urban ones. Some wear very simple clothing, farm the surrounding land to help feed themselves and the surrounding community, spend a lot of time in prayer. Some monasteries have guest houses and sponsor retreats.

Scripture shows us many instances of finding God's presence particularly on the margins in those "other than, different from us." Maybe most stereotypically and characteristically in little kids, strangers, poets, artists, homeless, anyone person or situation vulnerable and marginalized—rather than centralized.
Matthew 11

7What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8A man in soft raiment? 10A prophet? Yes, and much more than a prophet. Behold, I send my messenger before thy face to prepare the way for thee. 11No one greater born of a woman than John, but the least of these in my kingdom still is greater. 14And if ye are willing to receive it, this is Elijah, that is to come. 15He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Just before today's text Jesus admiringly tells us about J the B: "No one born of a woman [no human] is greater than John" – yes despite that, the least of the ones in the kingdom, empire, sovereignty of God still are greater than his cousin John. Even though for Jesus, John is so great he is the prophet Elijah who had to come again before the Messianic age could happen.

Discussion

Different styles of church buildings. Especially because we're in movie land Los Angeles, several people told us about movie theaters re-purposed into churches. I mentioned new churches often begin by gathering for Sunday worship in a living room, school, or hotel function room. No one in our group was there at the time, but LCM started out in a dance studio. Given that God apparently favors the unpretentious, what do we make of Center of the World Riverside Church in NYC? Can God be there as much as God is in a back alley outcast on the edges of existence in Chicago?

Riverside Church NYC and St. Patrick's Cathedral, too. Steve and Richard both mentioned the sense of awe and heaven as soon as you enter St. Patricks, the wide diversity of people who spend time there. I mentioned the relatively new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in LA that's my idea of the ultimate church building. All of these cost a lot to build and to maintain. Barbara reminded us it's all for the glory of God. Barbara and Sara both mentioned some very large donations to LCM that included an individual who paid for about one-third of the cost of the current pipe organ.

Me: in Salt Lake City during the long time it took to renovate Cathedral of the Madeleine, worship at the Lowell School got dubbed "St. Lowell's." Another cultural piece: when I lived in the very diverse but historically ethnically Italian-American North End of Boston, they renovated St. Stephen's Roman Catholic church on the corner of my street to light, bright, austere, northern European standards. In plain language, the updated style was very Protestant and easily could have passed for Scandinavian Lutheran! Because she was accustomed to and preferred florid southern Italian excesses that to me bordered on tacky and vulgar, my landlady told me she "felt like lighting up a cigarette" when she entered St. Stephens. Not her cultural idea of a sacred space, but it definitely was mine!

Further discussion: what people in different professions tend to wear to work. Legal and financial services still usually rock more formal, sober, attire.

Matthew 11:28-29, rest – Exodus 33:14, "I will give you rest." Sabbath rest in Genesis 2:1-3

Matthew 11:29-30, yoke – yoke of oxen to share the burden (Filipino guest preacher told us a well-constructed yoke rests lightly on the beasts' shoulders). The negative yoke and burden of imperial oppression and demands. The light-weight yoke of Torah obedience, of wisdom.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Pentecost 4A

Matthew 10:40-42

40"Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward."
backtracking

Pentecost 1 | Trinity | Matthew 28:16-20


• all authority in heaven and earth
• go, sent, into all the world – make disciples
• baptize!
• I am with you! Refers back to Emmanuel, God-with-us, at the start of Matthew's gospel

Pentecost 2 | Matthew 9:35-10; 10:19-20

• Jesus proclaimed Good News / Gospel
• called, authorized, sent 12 – Jesus told us he has all authority; he gives us an extension of his authority
• charges disciples (us!) to preach the gospel, heal, raise the dead, etc.
• announce kingdom of heaven, reign of heaven has come near you
• travel very light
• don't sweat what to say; HS will give you the words

Pentecost 3 | Matthew 10:24-30

• disciple / teacher // master /slave
• don't fear x 4 – Sara pointed out "in only about 12 verses," but it's actually in only 7 verses!
• not peace but a sword of division
• new family configuration. Though it's clearly there, nuclear family as we know it isn't prominent in scripture; this new family comprised of Jesus' disciples has experienced the new birth of baptism
• to be worthy of Jesus, take up your cross – both Roman empire's literal cross of execution and the crosses of giving up our own preferences for the well-being of the other and of the community

Today, Pentecost 4 | Matthew 10:40-42

Again, the church's year of grace has moved into the green and growing season of Ordinary Time that's anything but ordinary as it emphasizes the church in the power of the Holy Spirit of life, of resurrection, of love, of newness. "Ordinary" refers to structured, ordered, arranged, laid out in a pattern. In this segment of Ordinary Time we number Sundays after the Day of Pentecost.

• emissary, ambassador, representative brings with them the presence, the authority, the function, and the words of the one who sent them.
reward here is about earned wages, payment you're entitled to, and not a gift of grace
• how did Israel historically treat the prophets?
• hospitality begins and ends this short passage

Scripture distinguishes between the prophet who speaks truth to power and roeh the seer, who peers into the future, though telling if/and/ but alternatives also is part of the word and work of the prophet.

Prophecy in Israel officially began because of the whole Kings Thing they insisted on. Prophecy literally is speaking against the reigning monarch, against any expressions of death-dealing social, economic, cultural, political empire.

In a somewhat permissible official capacity, we sometimes find a court jester or a motley fool, who almost can say what they want in the presence of the official authorities.

Prophets also call people back to the freedom of a new covenantal obedience to the commandments.

Prophets particularly speak God's word of hope and promise for a different future; the end of the old, the beginning of the new. Resurrection from the Dead; a New Creation. In the Hebrew bible we officially find the four "books" of former prophets Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings; and four of latter prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and The Twelve. Although we don't formally list Moses among the prophets, Jesus of Nazareth was "a prophet like Moses," because they both spoke the word of God. So roughly, a prophet is anyone who speaks for God. That includes us with our baptismal roles of prophet (speaker of God's word), priest (mediator between earth and heaven), and sovereign (caretaker of creation).

Monday, June 26, 2017

Pentecost 3A

Romans 6:1b-11

1Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For whoever has died is freed from sin. 8But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 10:24-39

24"A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; 25it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! 26"So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32"Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. 34"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and one's foes will be members of one's own household. 37whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Green and Growing Season

The church's year of grace continue numbering Sundays after the Day of Pentecost. This is the third Sunday after Pentecost; three weeks ago we celebrated the fiftieth day of Easter and the gift of the pentecostal Spirit of Life—grace, love, resurrection, God's abiding presence in us, the church, as the body of the Risen Christ. In baptism we receive the gift of this Holy Spirit that enables us to do those "greater things" than Jesus.

This is the Time of the Spirit, Season of the Church in the power of the HS of Pentecost. This is another segment of ordinary, ordered, structured, delineated time; just as during the few Sundays of ordinary time last winter after Epiphany, our liturgical color for vestments, paraments, banners, etc. is growing, verdant green.

The Revised Common Lectionary that suggests our scripture readings pairs Paul/ Saul's Romans 6 baptismal passage with Matthew's Jesus' warning about discipleship. Matthew 10:39 is the first "cross" reference in Matthew's gospel, and it's about the disciples, not about Jesus!

The nuclear family as we know it is not prominent in the Bible, though we hear about parents, children, spouses, in-laws. Jesus describes a new family configuration. Jesus' family is about people who follow him. The continuity of biological heredity and consanguinity also come into the mix, but more than anything, this new family is by Jesus' blood, by baptismal water and word, by chosenness and abrupt discontinuity with what's always been.

Last week on Pentecost 2, Jesus first summoned or called his followers; then he gave them authority to his followers; and then sent them out into the world.

History

Romans is several decades early than the gospel we received from Matthew's community; for Saul / Paul of Tarsus, the gospel is death and resurrection. Particularly with his Jewish / Hebrew roots, he consider baptism a new exodus from slavery of all kinds (sin, death, and the devil as we say in the baptismal liturgy; all the forces and enticements of empire that are agents of death), an life-changing event we do not turn back from, don't revert to our pre-baptismal ways of living and being.

Gerry Rafferty: "we'll meet out on the water, where all strangers are known."

The community gathered around Matthew the tax-collector well may have known the letter to the Romans since epistles were circular, round-robin documents that made their way from church to church, community to community, often receiving edits and revisions along the way. But Matthew's Jesus would not have been doing baptismal theology in the way Paul does in Romans, the way we do in the 21st century church.

Discussion

With this first reference to cross in Matthew's gospel, Jesus well knew anyone at odds with the Roman occupation government was at high risk for crucifixion; most likely Jesus started anticipating his own crucifixion even earlier than we read about in the gospel narratives. So this refers to literal crucifixion, though everyone agreed with one of our class participants who said it's also putting to death our own desires, preferences, lifestyles, when they clash or interfere with God's call to us, Jesus invitation and call to follow him as disciples, apostles, "sent people." Those of us who lose our lives for Jesus' sake.

Surprisingly, we didn't really talk at all about Jesus' descriptions of how society well might treat his faithful followers.

We also mentioned the study and devotional practice of rewording and rephrasing scripture in ways that make sense to us, that help the ideas come alive. As in Pastor Eugene Peterson's The Message version / interpretation, that in some passages is more paraphrase than it is translation.

I've mentioned how we're creating the Acts of the Twenty-First Century Apostles, and (blogger or not), we could try writing down some of our experiences of action, witness, testimony in the Spirit of Pentecost.

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.