Monday, March 14, 2016

Lent 5C

Philippians 3:4-14

4even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh. If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ.

8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

Three weeks ago on Lent 2 we talked about Philippians as the Epistle of Joy! This week on Lent 5 and next week for Lent 6 (Palm/Passion) Sunday, the second reading again will be from Philippians. Philippians is one of Paul's captivity letters written from one of the times he was incarcerated (by humans) in Ephesus or Rome. The readings for today and next Sunday reveal Paul captured by and captive to Jesus Christ as a no holds barred prisoner of his Lord!

We're moving into the conclusion of Lent and getting ready for Easter. That means we're seriously getting into some theology of the cross. Theology of the Cross was at the heart of Martin Luther's theology, and if we read both the OT and NT carefully, we discover it's at the heart of God's self-revelation.
In very short:

• Theology of the cross is about God's own self-revelation, especially in Christ crucified. Theology of the cross is about God's often hidden, sacramental, paradoxical (try to define paradoxical?) presence in the comment things, people, and situations. All of us have experiences of being able to look back onto a tough, hard, unpleasant situation and in retrospect recognize God was there all the time at that time.

• Theology of glory is about human ideas and imaginings of how a powerful, all-knowing, sovereign God might act. How humans wish God would behave?

This section of Philippians starts out with the Apostle Paul's / St. Paul's / Saul of Tarsus' résumé, CV, biography. I mentioned but again need to emphasize that 98% of the time for Paul "law" means the sacrificial and dietary laws and circumcision. He does not mean the Ten Commandments or Jesus' Great Commandment capsule summary.

4:9 different translations read either "faith in Christ" or "faith of Christ," but faith of Christ that's about Jesus infinite faithfulness probably is more accurate.

He goes on to describe how he wants to become like Jesus Christ. We need to remember Paul does not use the words disciple or follower or similar; for him it's always about being "in Christ," the organic incorporation into Jesus' death and resurrection that God accomplishes in each of us together at our baptism. Pastor Peg told us how she loves [3:10] the "power of his resurrection" and I commented power is the dynamite word and that for Paul, the gospel is Death and Resurrection.

Not surprising discussion about ways to live with the past and the future. We absolutely need to learn from the past, dream of the future, but we actually have only this very moment, the here and now.

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