summer solstice!

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.

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