Monday, February 29, 2016

Lent 3C

Isaiah 55:1-9

55Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. 4See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. 5See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.

6Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; 7let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. 9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

This is from the final chapter in the second main section of the book of Isaiah that's sometimes referred to as 2nd Isaiah, who mostly wrote during the Babylonian exile. This section begins with the famous "Comfort, Ye" that opens Handel's Messiah.

Discussion of music with texts from Isaiah. Handel's Messiah, of course, and I mentioned Randall Thompson's Peaceable Kingdom with its text a collage of passages from all three sections of Isaiah.

This still is 2nd Isaiah, still writing to the exiles―btw, everyone did not get exiled into Babylon, and of those who did, some actually stayed and remained there to create at least a fairly vibrant life for themselves, others went back to Jerusalem and Judah. Brief discussion of the state and condition of being sort of an exile almost anywhere a person is these days. A sojourner, an immigrant here in southern California―and not necessarily from a different country. From the midwest? From the south? New England? Southwest Arizona, Utah, or NM? However, for the most part we have enough food and drink, in contrast to the people these words first addressed who were hungry and thirsty. Not well fed.

It's sometimes hard to know just where God's offer of material goods ends and where God's offer of the spiritual substance of salvation begins. Does this passage refer to material provision or spiritual provision?

Yes. Both. And.

This pericope opens with a series of commandments, summons, invitations(?), from God:

come – buy – eat – listen – eat – delight – incline – come – listen – seek – let

Through Isaiah God asks why we spend money on fake food? Nutrition has become commodified. Even a basic necessity like water has become a commodity.

The spiritual soul food and the bodily soul food God offers in Isaiah 55 isn't even available for the kinds of money we use for economic exchanges. God has picked up the tab because we could never have paid for it anyway.

The Lord's Supper reminds us the food and drink God offers us is both spiritual and material. Eating and drinking can be a means of grace—not only exclusively in Holy Communion.

Barbara liked that God's thoughts are different from hers. I pointed out "thoughts" in the Hebrew is closer to our word designs in English, rather than to cerebral brain processes.

Our thoughts? We live in a world of economic exchanges where we expect to pay something (legal tender, labor, in-kind) for everything we receive. We don't believe in free lunches; God does believe in free lunches and provides them, too! Time is money? Sometimes – but as Richard explained – sometimes not.

"Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?"

God asks via Isaiah why spend money for fake food instead of real food? Why work hard spending energy and hours to buy stuff (food household items, entertainment, etc.) that does not satisfy anyone on any level?

Discussion of the annual United Nations World Water Day on Tuesday, 22 March. Pastor Peg told us about a synod event we can attend. I mentioned I blog every year for World Water Day, might attend the synod event, take some pics, talk to some people, and blog the results. Water is life! Water and literacy are the best gifts missionaries and humanitarian workers can bring.

North American Affluenza is the widespread disease of acquiring too much of everything you really don't need, sometimes in response to keeping up with or envying our neighbors.

Remember Tony Campolo and Curing Affluenza? Did anyone watch that series at the end of the last century? Wednesday mornings the church I attended offered BCP Holy Communion Rite 1, breakfast and discussion. For several weeks we watched the video series during the discussion portion.

PS Looking through these notes and recalling my end of the Sunday morning discussion, I kept emphasizing fake food rather vs real food. I also suggested we buy local and grow local for many many reasons.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Lent 2C

Philippians 3:17-4:1

:17Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.

4:1Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

Philippians is The Epistle of Joy! The words for grace and joy in Greek come from the same root, so you could say to have joy means to recognize and embody grace.

χάρις = grace

χαράς = joy

Captivity (imprisonment) letter written from Ephesus circa 54-56 or from Rome, circa 61.

Other prisoners whose writing helped change lives: Martin Luther; Dietrich Bonhoeffer; MLK, Jr., Nelson Mandela. Examples of more regular people prisoners whose lives have changed or helped change others during incarceration?

Philippi was a Roman colony on the main east-west road between Byzantium and Rome, so just like the apostle Paul himself, technically the people Paul addressed in this letter also were Roman citizens yet still colonials. They received a lot of freedom and privilege in return for their loyalty to the empire. As Pastor Peg pointed out, Paul gave up the perks and privileges of Roman citizenship because of Christ.

vocabulary notes

3:17 is an example of paranesis, a type of exhortation that's not quite teaching or instruction. "Join in imitating" literally is coming together, "sym"-mimesis in a joint effort. Think of sympathy, feeling together.

3:17 those who live according to the example (example = a pattern or a type = a strike that leaves an imprint. Typography. Typewriter. Jesus is the archetype that made an imprint on Paul's life, therefore Paul feels justified asking us to imitate him. "you have in us" = Paul and his followers.

3:17, 18 – "live" is walk, go about, as in peripatetic

3:20 citizenship – politeuma, note the "poli" root, as in politics, or polity: a thing about the people.

3:21 all things subject to himself. That's absolutely everything: people, planets, plants, politics, structures, institutions, etc.

empire / baptism

Paul tells them the assembly at Philippi their real citizenship is in the earthbound reality of God's Kingdom of Heaven here on this planet. Think about the process for US citizenship. What is the process for heavenly citizenship? It starts with baptism! We enjoy the benefits and perks and responsibilities of Jesus' lordship, of our heavenly citizenship.

we never got to this question:

What does it mean to be a colonial? Roman? Spanish? British Empire? Basic US history? Empire?

We barely mentioned "How about us and empire? Nestle? US government?"

As Sara pointed out, our baptismal identity supersedes our citizenship in the USA or any other country.

We'll hear from Philippians two more times before Easter:

• Paul's autobiography in 3:4-14 on Lent 5;

• the early christian hymn, "did not count himself equal to God, but humbled himself, taking the form of a servant…" in 2:5-11 on Lent 6 /Passion Sunday.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Transfiguration C

Exodus 34:29-35

29Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. 31But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them.

32Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; 34but whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

This account of the second giving of the law happens after the Golden Calf idolatry event. But it also happens after Exodus 34:6-7, when God passes in front of Moses and declares himself compassionate, forgiving, full of lovingkindness, abounding love. "Chesed" in the Hebrew OT is a kind of codeword roughly equivalent to the NT prevalence of the word "grace." God wants to make clear to Moses despite what had just happened, chesed, lovingkindness, grace always sets the tone of the divine heart.

Luke 9:28-36, 37-43

28Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.

33Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"―not knowing what he said. 34While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" 36When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

37On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38Just then a man from the crowd shouted, "Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 39Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 40I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not." 41Jesus answered, "You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here." 42While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father.

Welcome to the Protestant Western Churches' celebration of the Transfiguration!

Transfiguration has been a long-standing major feast day; most Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and some Anglican churches celebrate Transfiguration on August 06. Some churches celebrate it twice!

The Incarnation of Our Lord and the Transfiguration of Our Lord bookend this first major portion of the church year. In Christmas or the Incarnation, the divine enters the human condition. In the Transfiguration, the humans (Jesus, James, John, Peter) share in divine glory.

Today, Transfiguration, is the last Sunday after the Feast of the Epiphany. Wednesday is Ash Wednesday; next Sunday is the first Sunday in Lent.

Church Year Outline:

• Advent through Transfiguration;

• 6 weeks of Lent: Ash Wednesday through Wednesday in Holy Week;

• The Three Days or Triduum: Maundy Thursday; Good Friday; Easter Vigil/Day;

• 50 Great Days of Easter ending with Pentecost—the 50th day of Easter;

• The long Green – and growing – Season of Ordinary Time through Reign of Christ/Christ the King.

For Transfiguration we experience another Trinitarian theophany. Remember the Baptism of Jesus? Remember words that include "phan"? Epiphany, Tiffany, Fantasy... other?

In scripture mountains are places of special revelation. Both Moses [Exodus 20:1-17] and Elijah [1 Kings 19:12] received revelation on mountains.

v.28: "About eight days" could refer to approximately one week, or it could refer to the 8th day of the New Creation. 40 days in scripture is about one month; 40 years is a month of years. In their parallel passages, Mark and Matthew tell us 6 days, which also is about one week.

v.29: As often happens in Luke's gospel, Jesus was praying when this revelation happened. Compare Jesus' baptism.

v.31: in Greek, Jesus' exodus, departure.

They were celebrating the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles or Tents when people remembered and celebrated God's protection during their wilderness wanderings (Leviticus 23:39-43).

Peter, James, and John, the sons of Zebedee are on the mountain with Jesus.

Moses and Elijah visit. Why Moses and Elijah? What do we already know about them? Moses – Sinai Covenant/Ten Commandments, "Law"; Exodus. Elijah – Prophets.

Like Jesus, or a contrast with Jesus?

They talked about Jesus' departure: "Exodus" in the Greek. They are not discussing details regarding the Law and the Prophets. How did the disciples recognize Moses and Elijah?

Jesus' exodus? Freedom, redemption, liberation?

Listen to Jesus! not "look at him," despite all the resplendent shiny heavenly glory and bling that surrounds him.

Listen to jesus, not to Moses or to Elijah, who didn't quite get everything right all the time.

This imperative "listen to Jesus" and not to any other (cultural, economic, consumerist, even ecclesiastical) voices evokes the Barmen Declaration [1934] from the Confessing Church in Germany in the wake of the idolatry of nazi national socialism

Barmen Declaration 8:11: "Jesus Christ, as he is attested to us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God whom we have to hear, and whom we have to trust and obey in life and in death."

How about us?