Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lent 5 B

The Vision of Faith

This class handout is from Lent 2006, 2 lectionary year B rounds ago.

Bringing the texts together

Jeremiah 31:31-34

Internalized Gospel: now God is so immanent God truly lives in the hearts of humans; as Christians we read this as a Jesus-text; we read it as God "pitching a tent," living and sojourning with God's people! But what could this "new covenant" have meant to God's covenant people before God's incarnation in Jesus of Nazareth? To the people with whom God already had covenanted several times? Implication of "heart" in the Ancient Near East?

Contrast the law written on human hearts with the law written on stone tablets? In both cases, what is the law's content? I will be their God..." Say more about this!

Hebrews 5:5-12

"...once made perfect..." kai teleiotheis... like the "perfect" Jesus tells us to be—whole, complete, a finished creation, achieving the humanness in which God created us to live, being ourselves in the same way God cannot be other than God.

God calls, designates Jesus high priest/mediator! God calls us—how? Christians affirm the priesthood of all believers: each of us is baptized priest, prophet and sovereign. But how does each of us discern God's particular call to us at any particular moment? How is God's call to us part of God's covenant with us? God's call to be our whole, true, fulfilled selves in Christ?

John 12:20-33

Jesus dies on the scandal of a tree and the tree of death – the cross – paradoxically becomes the tree of life. Jesus promises to draw all to himself—the cross and empty tomb finish the redemption of all creation. In a reference back to the healing snake lifted up in the Exodus wilderness in Numbers 21:8-9, this gospel of John pericope is about Jesus lifted up on the cross, lifted up from the empty tomb, lifted up in the Ascension.

• And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. John 3:14-15

• So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he…" John 8:28a

"I Am the snake" could be Jesus' eighth "I Am" statement!

We see the Glory of God as we "see Jesus," the Human One, lifted up on the cross. We see the fulness of the glory of the Presence of God in the weakness, vulnerability and defenselessness of Jesus dying on the cross.

Paul determined to preach only Christ crucified, to preach only the crucified Human One lifted up in glory on the cross: 1 Corinthians 2:2 Why?

" the prince of this world will be driven out," marking the end of the control, the literal worship, and the tyrannical supremacy of the cosmic Powers and Principalities we read about in Colossians and Ephesians.

By destroying evidence of our sins, God also has disarmed principalities and powers"] and driven out "the prince of this world," since sin no longer can accuse those who have been forgiven. Because in Christ God remembers our sin no more, just as God promised through Jeremiah, we can be whole persons. Jesus Christ has provided total redemption and forgiveness; in Christ each of us has been "made perfect!"

Paul of Tarsus notes 2

As I recently sorted through some random papers (again!), I discovered yet another handout from a bible study I facilitated a while back that I hadn't blogged and posted.

For Christians, Paul of Tarsus is a character of biblical proportions! He indisputably wrote 7 epistles, probably sometime between 50 and 60 CE: 1 Thessalonians; Galatians; Philippians; 1 and 2 Corinthians; Philemon; and Romans. His theology influenced 3 more: 2 Thessalonians; Ephesians; and Colossians (around 90 or 100 CE). In addition, the chronologically later epistle to the Hebrews (ca. 90 CE) bears unmistakable marks of Pauline theology and Christology. However, today most scholars do not consider the "pastoral" epistles genuine Paul. Written possibly as late as 125 CE, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus are socially very conservative; the language and content sometimes directly contradict what is found in the authentic letters. Particularly since the Reformation of the 16th century, most Christians are "Pauline Christians" at least to as great an extent as they are Jesus Christians!

In their work on multicultural evangelism, Latino theologians Justo González and Miguel De La Torre both point out Paul's name didn't "change" from Saul to Paul upon his conversion to Christianity but rather Saul was Paul and Paul was Saul - and Saul/Paul concurrently with "Saul" and "Paul" had at least two or three other names.

Since we're studying biblical personalities, here's a little about the apostle Paul: we know from reading Paul's undisputed letters and from the book of Acts that Paul was multicultural – Roman, Greek, and Hebrew/Jewish, which made him sensitive and responsive to the differences between cultures, and also aware that the Church would take differing expressions in different places. From the epistles we know how strongly Paul ran with his convictions, never backing down and always telling his readers – and his listeners – about the life-changing power of the Gospel and especially about the weakness of the Cross that is human foolishness and divine wisdom. Paul was more theologian rather than biblical scholar though only Romans, which essentially is his systematic theology, has much of what anyone would consider "system!" Lots of detours and many ramblings are hallmarks of his correspondence. There's some thought the author of Luke/Acts was Paul's amanuensis.

Today's texts all are from Acts: 4:32-37; 9:26-27; 11:19-30; 15:36-40

Acts 4:32-37

Acts 9:26-27

The following passage comes right after Peter's vision of unclean creatures telling him he's not to call anything – or anyone! – unclean: even the gentiles belong!

Acts 11:19-30

Acts 15:36-41