Sunday, April 24, 2016

Earth Day • Easter 5C

Revelation 21:1-6

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; 4he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away."

5And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Also he said, 'Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." 6Then he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life."
Every day is Earth Day, but on Friday 22 April we celebrated the 46th official formal Earth Day. The Earth Day theme this year is #Trees4Earth that relates closely to #FaceofClimate for 2013 and #GreenCities for both 2014 and 2015. Trees and forests are earth's respiratory system, this planet's lungs.
from "Let us Talents and Tongue Employ"

Jesus lives again
earth can breath again
pass the word around
loaves abound!

Fred Kaan, 1975
For Easter 5 and Earth Day we mainly discussed Revelation 21:1-6, and also considered creation-themed Psalm 96, Psalm 98, and Psalm 148, as well as the beginning of James Weldon Johnson's poem, The Creation. All this poetry is about a God so in love with Creation that God chooses to make a home on earth in the midst of creation. This contrasts with the way temples for other nations and for the Jerusalem temple featured a small physical space with the deity contained and confined to a tiny place.

Most likely from the period of Babylonian exile, Psalm 96 and Psalm 98 are Enthronement Psalms about God's reign over creation. Although Psalm 148 is probably post-exilic, it carries a similar theme of all creation joining in praise of God; Isaiah brings us similar imagery. Hebrew Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann says, "Of course the oceans roar—no more pollution!" "Of course trees sing and clap their hands—no more clear-cutting!"

Sacraments depend upon a healthy creation.

New Song in scripture is not so much a tune and lyrics no one ever has heard before; a new song is a new era, renewed perspective, different paradigm, transformed worldview.

Very briefly from last week: the book of Revelation shows us how empires everywhere operate; it provides not quite a road map, but it's somewhat of a guide book for living baptized in the context of empire. This week and next week the passages from Revelation especially show us ways to live baptized into the new creation.

Bookends in the canon of scripture:

• Genesis 1 and 2: Tree of Life, River of Life, and Garden.

• Revelation 21 and 22: Tree of Life, River of Life, and City (that grows out of a well-tended garden).

Empire? I had Egypt, Babylon, Rome (John on Patmos recorded Revelation during the reign of Roman emperor Caesar Domitian), Spain, Netherlands, UK, USA in mind; Richard mentioned Ottoman Empire.

"Ocean no more" in Revelation 21:1 isn't about ecological disaster! It's a code word for untamed chaos. In the famous passage that opens Genesis 1 the Spirit of God hovers and breathes and speaks over the "deep," the unordered chaotic waters. In our baptism with Water and Word, God calls and enables us to speak words that tame and order the chaos of empire.

More discussion of how physical, earthbound, and incarnational Christianity is. God so in love with creation God chose and still chooses to make a home on earth in a body formed from the stuff of creation. I quoted the Heidelberg Catechism, "we move from Christmas with the mystery of spirit in flesh, to Ascension with the mystery of flesh in spirit."

A had a lot more notes and ideas than we discussed this morning, but happily most of those will work well next week on Easter 6, so I didn't include them here.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Easter 4C

Revelation 7:9-17

9After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10They cried out in a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!" 11And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12singing, "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen."

13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?" 14I said to him, "Sir, you are the one that knows." Then he said to me, "These are they who have come out [who are (still) coming out] of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. 16They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; 17for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Good Shepherd Sunday.

Easter 4 always is Good Shepherd Sunday. In this second reading from Revelation the Lamb is the Shepherd; the Shepherd is the Lamb.

Revelation is the last book in the entire canon of the bible. Revelation brings us the new creation. The city of God – the new Jerusalem. Tree of life. River of life. The one who reigns from the throne of God — who reigns from the cross.

Genesis 1 and 2 are the first books in the biblical canon. We get the original creation, a garden – not a city. Tree of life. River of life.

Revelation is not chronologically the latest book of the bible; Genesis 1 and 2 are not chronologically the earliest.


The as yet unidentified and unknown John the Revelator. Possibly written on the Roman prison island of Patmos in present-day Turkey. Author is not John the Evangelist, whose community (along with a few other resources) brought us the 4th gospel. To help discern authorship we look at internal evidence such as grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary, references to people, places, events.

We're previously discussed apocalyptic; it means uncovering, unveiling, revealing—thus the book of Revelation, that the author begins by telling us it's an apocalypse.

Revelation is:

Recorded some time between 90 and 100, during the reign of Roman Caesar Domitian. Revelation shows us how empires operate; Rome was one in a long series that continues until this year 2016 with the current USA empire. Revelation is a liturgical, political, counter-imperial text, a guidebook and a map for living out our baptism into Jesus' death and resurrection as an alternative to imperial violence and death in the midst of empire. Any empire.

Revelation is not:

An indecipherable collection of strange sayings or predictions of events future to when John the Revelator recorded it. Just as with a lot of literature and with a lot of our human conversations, it includes many symbols, code words, and figures of speech.

"After this" at this start of today's text beginning at verse 9 refers to verses 4-8 and their description of the 144,000+++ tribes of Israel along with people, ethnicities, nations, languages, cultures, etc. that fulfill God's promise to Abram of faithful descendants greater in number than stars in the sky, more than grains of sand. Some of those faithful descendants include us, the church! All people are God's people with Jesus Christ as ultimate authority under the cross of Calvary. Please note these people still stand solidly on earth and have not been raptured.

Revelation is a liturgical and political text. We get "This is the Feast," the hymn of praise we sing in the liturgy today (Sarah referred us to pages 4 and 5 of the printed bulletin) and during festival seasons from Revelation 7:12. It brings us seven (the number of completion and perfection) words of praise to God and to the Lamb:
1. Blessing

2. glory

3. wisdom

4. thanksgiving

5. honor

6. power

7. might

These words make anti-imperial claims that only God is Lord. Not caesar. Not anything else or anyone else.

7:14 Those who have come out of the mega ordeal—in the Greek still are coming out. The church lives out its baptismal call and identity in Jesus' death and resurrection alongside the pain and suffering in the world. God in the Spirit calls and enables us to be a counter-force to the deadly violence of empire. Pastor Peg told us about Barbara Rossing referring to "Lamb Power."

7:15 the one seated on the throne will shelter (make a dwelling, booth, tent, tabernacle) us. Same word as in John 1:14 that tells us the pre-existent word became flesh and lived in our midst, literally "pitched a tent," a portable structure (¿¡ramada?!) that would go with us wherever we journeyed. Ark of the Covenant; Festival of Booths / Succoth.

Every week during the eucharistic liturgy we pray the counter imperial: "Our Father, who art in heaven… for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever." Authority, power, and glory belong to God not to Caesar not to the USA government not to Monsanto… [when I blogged this, Monsanto still was a thing because Bayer hadn't yet claimed it)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Easter 3C

For Easter 3C we read and discussed the gospel text appointed for Easter 3A in the RCL
Luke 24:13-35

13Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

28As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.


Easter is 50 Days—a week of weeks, 7 x 7. Today is the 3rd Sunday of Easter; the 15th day of Easter.

Last Sunday on Easter 2, we heard the account of Easter evening from John's gospel, where Jesus bestows the Holy Spirit. This week Luke brings us another Easter evening experience.

The Word on the Street

"Word on the street." Current buzz talk or information or simply circulating rumors.

Wall Street. Sesame Street. Santa Monica Blvd. Where you live, where I live, the freeway, any street we frequently or occasionally walk or drive. The Word on the sidewalk—almost anywhere but inside the house, shopping center, retail outlet, apartment, church building.

This is Luke's lectionary year. A while ago we lined out some characteristics of Luke's gospel that include... HS, women, the marginalized, history, prayer, table fellowship.

This story begins while they were on the way from one place to another place.

• Me: the people and groups that gave us scripture wrote theology as much as they wrote history.
• Pastor Peg: they wrote theology more than they wrote history!

For this week, Easter 3, Luke brings his version of Easter evening.

They had hoped. Evidently were disappointed, yet they recounted the entire resurrection morning story. In Spanish hope and expect are one and the same word, espero. So if you hope for something, you actively expect it to happen.

I put together a
Word Cloud

•that same [resurrection] day •Jerusalem •death •we had hoped
•tomb •alive
•interpreted scripture [beginning with Moses]
•took bread •blessed •broke •gave
•recognized [from previous experiences] •Jerusalem •road
•known in [action of] breaking bread

Where else in scripture do we find "taken, blessed, broken, given"?

We've had a version of He Qi's Emmaus Road painting over the fireplace in the parish house living room. The side closest to us is open: a place for everyone of us at the Table God sets. It wasn't there this morning because it temporally had migrated to the chancel.

The earliest account comes from the apostle Paul

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Three accounts from Luke's gospel

And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.Luke 9:16

Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." Luke 22:19

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Luke 24:30

In Luke's second volume, the Acts of the Apostles

Acts 27:35 After he [Paul] had said this, he took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. Acts 27:35

Where in our own lives do we experience "take, blessed, broken, given"? This is what we do in the liturgy: scripture read/re-cited, scripture interpreted, the word made visible in the sacrament.

They know the words, but recognize Jesus in the action. The action reveals Jesus' identity. Besides, they remembered other times Jesus had done the same actions took, blessed, broken, gave. So their memories were critical in recognizing Jesus. In this Emmaus Road pericope about Easter evening, Luke brings us a re-citing, remembering of scripture, followed by the "visible" Eucharistic word. We can see the bread and cup; we also can hear it, smell it, taste it, touch it.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Easter 2C

John 20:19-31

19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

26A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” 30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Creation – Resurrection – Forgiveness – New Creation: Work of the HS

Some numerology:

easter is 50 days, 7x7, a weeks of weeks; "7" is the number of perfection in Hebrew numerology. The day of Pentecost is the 50th day of Easter. pentagram, pentagon, etc.

Day of Resurrection is:

• 1st day of the week, day after the Sabbath, therefore, the 1st day of creation.

• 3rd day after Friday—a day or part of a day is considered an entire day; also, Semitic languages have no word for some, a few, several, so they use the expedient 3.

• 8th day of the week = 1st day of a new week; therefore, the day of a new creation

Bright Week, the week after Easter Sunday just ended. The church celebrates Bright Week as the 8th day if creation.

Many baptismal fonts have 8 sides (octagon) and demonstrate our baptism into the new creation, our baptism as a new creation In Jesus' death and resurrection.

The new creation is not pristine: it carries scars from our old lives. Today's text from John shows us Jesus' scars.

The order of the new creation subverts the order of the old:

• God calls, names, A-dam
• Jesus calls names, Mary

Spirit and Word: Creation essentials—texts from the Easter Vigil

Genesis 1:1-3

1In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

Ezekiel 37:1-14

4Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: "O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.'" 5Thus says the Lord God to these bones: "I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live." 14"I will put my spirit within you and you shall live"

prophesy – word – dabar
breath, spirit, wind = same root

Today's Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31 really is two pericopes or passages.

Greek is the same word where English translations read shut, or locked
Locked: gates, minds, hearts, churches

Thomas: disbelief in the scandal of the crucifixion! not disbelief in resurrection from the dead (John brings us Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead for the last story prior to Jesus' trial and execution). Gnostic trends and influences that denied the reality of the body were making rounds at the time of this text.

Peace: 3 times in 12 verses. Forgiveness, new beginnings.

John 20:22 Jesus breathed on them, "Receive the HS." The only other place in the Greek bible that uses that word for breath is Genesis 2:7.

"God formed A-dam out of dust and breathed into him the breath of life." Humans carry the breath, spirit, wind [words have the same root] of the Divine within them.

Barbara: why do we have this account of the HS and also the account of the day of Pentecost in the Book of Acts?

Me: John brings us a different worldview from the synoptics Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It's interesting that Luke wrote both a gospel and the book of Acts, the HS is prominent through Luke's gospel, yet he brings us a detailed account of the coming of the HS in Acts.

John 20:21 As the Father has sent me, so I send you.

Second calling of the Apostles – literally "sent people" – three days after Friday. Moses, Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, Apostles, Jesus...

God sends us—where? In the power of the HS, clothed with power from on high.