Monday, October 26, 2015

Reformation 2015

Today we'll discuss all three lectionary readings and talk about God who covenants with us in love and grace. RCL also includes Psalm 46 (of course).

Jeremiah 31:31-34

31"The days are surely coming," says the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt―a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more."

Jeremiah was very much into the ten commandments we've already described as how we live together in community. This passage from Jeremiah is about breaking the commandments of the Sinai Covenant—"out of the land of Egypt."

charter covenant or grant covenant – Abraham; David

treaty covenant or suzerainty covenant: if / then

Sinai Covenant: Exodus 10:1-7; Deuteronomy 5:14-21 if, then

Covenant makes demands but also makes provisions for restoration

Romans 3:19-28

19Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. 21But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22the righteousness of God through faith in/ of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a sacrifice (propitiation) of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; 26it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus. 27Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.

Romans is Paul's [not always very] systematic theology

Abraham, father in faith of both Jews and gentiles? He was not circumcised when God covenanted with him.

covenant: God's election and God's promise. Not much difference between Judaism and Christianity: we enter covenant relationship by birth or by baptism, and absolutely by the election and grace of God. Obedience is how we remain in the covenant.

"works of the law" = circumcision, keeping kosher. "Works of the law" almost never means keeping the commandments.

grace and faith: patron and client // Paul's audience knew that arrangement very well

Throughout this Romans passage, "sin" is missing the mark

3:22 probably faith of IX rather then faith in IX.

3:24 redemption is deliverance

justice, righteousness, just, justifier, justifying = same word throughout for God and for us. Acquitted at the bar of justice!

A little about the New Perspective on Paul without labeling it as such—among other things, Paul's Jews very very definitely were not Martin Luther's Roman Catholics!

John 8:31-36

31Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue (abide) in my word [logo], you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." 33They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, 'You will be made free'?" 34Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not have a permanent place (does not abide) in the household; the son has a place {abides} there forever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed."

As sometimes happens, this NRSV translation misses that in Greek all three words are the same:

v.31 If you continue (abide) in my word; v.35 the slave does not continue have a permanent (abiding) place // the son has a place there (abides) forever.

8:31 If you remain in my word, truly my disciples (truly of me) you are, because Jesus is the incarnate Word!

The past few weeks we've been discussing servants and servanthood – diakonos, deacons The Greek here is doulos or slave rather than diakonos. Implications? Difference?

In English we talk about both freedom and liberty. Ideas? References?

free in this pericope is eleutheria, which also has some currency in the English language

Descendants of Abraham? Abraham as our ancestor? Descendants of Martin Luther? Martin Luther as our ancestor?

God who covenants with us in love and grace; whose final answer is resurrection from the dead!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pentecost 21B

Proper 24 / Ordinary Time 29 / Pentecost 21B

authority and servanthood; expectations and surprise

Mark 10:35-45

35James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." 36And he said to them, "What is it you want me to do for you?" 37And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." 38But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" 39They replied, 'We are able." Then Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared."

41When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42So Jesus called them and said to them, "You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."

Also in Matthew 20:20-28, {also immediately following Jesus' talk about his death), where the mother of the Sons of Zebedee asks Jesus. Great discussion yesterday when someone asked me why Matthew has Mom ask; I suggested with Matthew writing to a Jewish audience and bringing in features such as sacrificial law, Jesus as the new King David and new Human David, he probably felt compelled to do that Jewish Mother thing, too.

In between last week's gospel reading and this week's, Jesus predicts his betrayal, death, and resurrection. Here, in Marks' gospel, that gospel gives us no resurrection account!

Verses 10:32-34 between last Sunday's gospel reading and this one have Jesus still "on the way" and predicting his betrayal and death 10:34 "...and shall kill him, and the third day he shall rise again."

Mark 10

32They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33saying, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; 34they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again."

Like last week they're still on the way―to the cross, to Jerusalem, to lives of service.

"Jesus isn't merely a person; Jesus also is a road, a way." –J├╝rgen Moiltmann

Barbara suggested the guys who found Peter's boldness so arrogant now wanted to take their turn. How dare they? I suggested the intimacy and trust of friendship.

doxa / glory: as in doxology glory of the cross!

Two bandits will grace Jesus’ left and right in the glory of his crucifixion (15:27).

God's power, sovereignty and glory: look to the vulnerability of the bethlehem manger; look to the cross.

10:43 ethnos nations – not necessarily the Jew / Gentile dichotomy we sometimes make

ransom, lutron, to loose, set free • lutrosis = redemption

• Matthew 20:28: "to give his life a ransom for many."

• Mark 10:45: "to give his life a ransom for many."

Jesus refers to a ransom, which is a payment for the release of a slave. Charlene picked up on kinsman-redeemer. Ched Myers points out the connection between this and the exhortation to be a "slave" in the previous verse, as well as the paradox about losing life to save it (8:35).

Myers points out Jesus has transformed the way of servanthood" into the way of liberation.

servant throughout this passage is "diakonos"

We had an excellent discussion about servanthood and service.

deacons in the church?

world facing rather than church-facing, the servant class that looks for and responds to needs of the word.

Acts 6:3-6
The early church first ordained deacons, not elders or ministers of word and sacrament.

Originally deacons served the surrounding community rather than parish insiders.

this is what the early church looked like to the world looking at it, evaluating it. Followers of the way to the cross and resurrection.

worship assistant / assisting minister / liturgist at worship / deacon

notes for myself I didn't bring into the class discussion:

Ched Myers calls Mark 8:22 - 10:46 his discipleship catechism

two stories of blind men getting their sight back frame this sandwich filling section of Mark's Gospel

1. Blind man, "trees walking," 8:22-26


2. Blind Bartimaeus, Mark 10:46-52

Monday, October 12, 2015

Pentecost 20B

Proper 23B/ Ordinary Time 28B / Pentecost 20

Mark 10:17-31

17As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 18Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19You know the commandments: 'You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud [do not cheat]; Honor your father and mother.'" 20He said to him, "Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth." 21Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." 22When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

23Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" 24And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." 26They were greatly astounded and said to one another, "Then who can be saved?" 27Jesus looked at them and said, "For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible."

28Peter began to say to him, "Look, we have left everything and followed you." 29Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age―houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions―and in the age to come eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."

Thanks to Kenneth Bailey and Ched Myers for their help preparing this study―thanks to the astoundingly resource-filled internet, especially because most of my actual books still are in storage.

All three synoptics include this pericope, so it's important and we need to consider it.

• Matthew 19:16-23 (24-30)

• Luke 18:18-23 (24-30)

Walter Brueggemann insists the commandments are the working papers for covenantal community; they define the parameters and limits of our – relational – life together.

Mark brings us urban agricultural politics! We're all urban, but not agricultural in *that* way; this story still has a lot to say to us.

NRSV translates the Greek "as (Jesus) was going out into the way" very poorly as "setting out on a journey."

We've been discussing how incessant and relentless the way to Jerusalem and to the cross is in Mark's gospel.
Hodon—"the way" is a code phrase for Jesus' journey to Jerusalem

Hodos is a movement the followers of Jesus

"Hodos is a perspective. It is a way of encountering the world and engaging those we meet through our new lives in Jesus Christ." Travis Meier, The Bartimaeus Effect

Hodos is a way of life.

In Luke's book of Acts, we first encounter The Way in 9:2

Jesus is going to Jerusalem to give his life, to die, but this guy asks how to live.

Rich Young Ruler? Mark IDs him only as a man with many possessions. Matthew says he is young (19:20), and Luke calls him a ruler, head honcho (18:18).

The guy asks about eternal life, which typically is the gospel-writer John's phrase. Matthew prefers Kingdom of Heaven, Luke uses Kingdom of God. Elsewhere in the synoptics we hear "eternal life" only in Matthew 25:46 and Luke 10:25.

Expected Middle-Eastern practice would have been for Jesus to return the guy's "good teacher" salutation in kind with something similarly complimentary and florid, but Jesus cuts to the chase. Besides, "only God is good," and to label anyone or anything else as good is blasphemy.

10:19 "do not defraud" isn't part of the Sinai Covenant in either Exodus or Deuteronomy, but Jesus inserts it apparently in place of commandment 10, do not covet. Connotation for fraud here in Koine Greek (different from in Classical Greek) here is withhold wages, not paying what the hirelings earned (Ched Myers via Vincent Taylor).

At the cost of the greater community, and at the cost of keeping the worker indentured forever, always "owing their soul to the company store," like many southern sharecroppers, like present-day workers who pay room and board from their wages and can't afford to live elsewhere. With all that wealth, the guy wouldn't be tempted to covet, but he would be tempted to cheat and defraud so he could keep the $$$ he had and get even more.

10:22 many possessions, acquisitions, in koine Greek refers mainly to land, "real" property; it also can include flocks and herds.

Jesus' new social and economic reality

Over how long a time span do you imagine this incident took place? 15-20 minutes? Two or three hours? A day or two?

We've discussed oral transmission of texts not being written words spoken out loud, but instead carrying along with spoken narrative the culture; familial, religious, other expectations and practices. And, of course, changing, adding, elaborating on and deleting details along the way. Far different from someone saying, "today when I preach instead of reading the text from scripture, I'm going to recite it from memory."

Money has value only because there's not enough to go around for everyone, and because it carries the full faith and trust of some government. Remember the Weimar Republic and its 50,000,000,000,000 mark notes? Hyperinflation or what?

Eye of the camel: Could be a very low gate in the city wall, so you needed to unpack your camel's pack so the camel could fit through the opening (largest animal, smallest gate). There's no record of such a gate in Jesus' day, but the gospels recorded this story considerably later.

"Camel" could refer to a thick rope made of camel hair, the same way we might say, "they've actually recorded that on vinyl!" Or I could say, "I'm wearing denim" cuz the fabric of my skirt (I wore to church) is denim. Referring to a whole by its constituent part or parts. For example, even a thin rope made of camel hair would be impossible to thread through even the fat eye of a needle the disciples used to mend nets.

Where We Live:

• What captures us?

• What captivates us?

• Urban agricultural politics and economics?

• Where do we place our trust? "In God we trust?!"

"For God all things are possible." Mark 10:27b

Resurrection from the dead!