Monday, July 25, 2016

Pentecost 10C

Luke 11:1-13

1 He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John [the baptist] taught his disciples." 2He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3Give us each day our daily bread. 4And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial."

5And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.' 7And he answers from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' 8I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

9"So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

In the church's year of grace we're well into the season of Pentecost that we often refer to as the Time of the Church. This is year C – "Luke's Year" – in the Revised Common Lectionary. Among other things, Luke emphasizes prayer, the Holy Spirit, and people who are more marginalized than centralized in society. In Luke's Christmas account, angels first announced Jesus' birth to shepherds, people definitely on the outlying fringes of society.


Today our gospel text includes the Lord's Prayer; Matthew and Luke bring us slightly different versions. Like many rabbis and teachers of his day, Jesus offered his followers a way to pray alongside a way to be and ways to act. His prayer includes a request that the Kingdom of Heaven (Reign of God, Sovereignty of God, etc.) happen on earth.

In Luke's gospel the Reign of Heaven includes everyone, *but* especially those typically marginalized from society; it features inclusive table fellowship. In Luke's gospel and in Luke's second volume, the Acts of the Apostles, the icon of the visible reign of God, the church, is a community under the cross as it breaks bread and remembers Jesus. We need to remember these scriptures got written down half a century after Jesus's death and resurrection, so a lot of Luke-Acts is retrospective.


On recent Sundays we've heard about Jesus sending out the 70 two by two and telling them to travel light; counseling them not to be so smug that even demons are subject to them, but to rejoice that there names were written in heaven; Jesus' summary of the ten commandments, aka The Great Commandment; Good Sam; Martha and Mary. Last Sunday we had Christmas in July, celebrating that Christianity is highly incarnational, featuring a God who lives on earth in a body made of stuff of the earth, a body that's decayable on every level, a body subject to death. Like ours!

Luke's gospel emphasizes the HS. As God's people in Christ Jesus, as people of the Pentecostal reign of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit lives within us, indwells our physical bodies.

We've previously discussed the Presbyterian Church USA's Great Ends of the Church that include the Church (that's us!) as the exhibition of the kingdom of heaven to the world. In other words, when people look at us as a gathered community, as friends, acquaintances, or individuals outside of the church campus, they can see (or are supposed to be able to see and experience) the Kingdom of God.


Today our gospel text includes the Lord's Prayer; Matthew and Luke bring us slightly different versions. Matthew talks about shortcomings and debts; Luke about sin in the classic NT sense of "missing the mark." We ask that God's name be hallowed, holy, set apart. God's name and all names describe and elucidate the person's essence, are identity markers, tell us who that person is.


"Give us today (this day) our daily bread." In his Small Catechism, Martin Luther tells us daily bread includes food on the table, favorable weather and sufficient employment, a kind spouse, good kids, obedient servants(!), just government and civil leaders... Pastor Peg mentioned a recent version of the catechism includes friends among those daily life essentials.


We had an excellent discussion about the manner and content of prayer in general and I didn't even get to mention the jubilee imagery the Lord's Prayer contains.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Pentecost 9C

Celebrating Christmas in July with the Pentecost 09 texts!
I – Colossians 1:15-28

15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

21And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him— 23provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven.

I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel. 24I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. 25I became its servant according to God's commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. 27To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

II – Christmas: Nativity / Birth / incarnation

Incarnation: enfleshment; embodiment. Carne is latin for meat. Carne Asada; Chile con Carne; Carniceria.

By definition Christianity is incarnational. On Christmas we celebrate Jesus's birth among us in a body made out of the stuff of the earth; a body that is finite, decayable, and will die.

A couple thousand years ago it was commonplace that you'd be talking or walking with a person who was half human and half divine. In Jesus Christ we meet someone fully human and fully divine.

III – Colossians

For today and the next two weeks the RCL includes readings from the Letter to the Church at Colossae. Today we're using the default lectionary readings; as we celebrate enfleshment / incarnation / embodiment, how apt that the Colossian community tended toward the heresy of gnosticism that somewhat denied the essential reality of the body and focussed instead on the supremacy of spirit.

Probably written two or three decades after Jesus' death and resurrection, in Colossians we find theology (the word about the divine), Christology (words about the Christ), and cosmology (word regarding the scope and reach of all creation) that anticipates the worldview of John's gospel a half century later. We sometimes talk about the Cosmic Christ!

The apostle Paul is about outward from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth; Colossians' author moves beyond planet earth and into immeasurable time and space. Colossians also contains many words not found in any of Paul's epistles as well as syntax and sentence structure different from Paul's.

IV – God Among Us: historical witness – OT/Hebrew Bible; NT

Colossians tells us about the image, icon, of God. What does God's image look like? Icon, logo examples: google; ELCA; other products. Not the entity itself but a pointer to it.

God's first act of covenant, creation itself shows God's passion to live among us. James Weldon Johnson's poem, The Creation opens with:
And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said:
I'm lonely—
I'll make me a world.

We find God's voice and physical presence in the prophets.

3 Samuel 7: 4-6
But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David, "This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? 6I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling.

Later on the passage God via Nathan promises David a house, a dynasty, a lineage, that wouldn't be a building but would be enfleshed, incarnate, in Jesus of Nazareth, "Son of David."

After the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, the inspired late exilic (or post-exilic community brought us Genesis 1, with all creation as God's home, God's temple.

God among us in Jesus' birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension.

God in our midst in Word and Sacrament.

V – Last week: Neighborology

Colossians tells us about the image, icon, of God. What does God's image look like?

Us as God's incarnate, enfleshed, presence in the world here and now, particularly in our very local communities.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Pentecost 8C

Deuteronomy 30:9-14

9and the Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous [plenteous, surplus!] in all your undertakings, in the fruit of your body, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your soil. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, just as he delighted in prospering your ancestors, 10when you obey the Lord your God by observing his commandments and decrees that are written in this book of the law, because you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

11Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. 12It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?" 13Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?" 14No, the word [dabar] is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.
Neighborology: the Word about the Neighbor – Jeremiah / Deuteronomy

As sometimes happens, the RCL brings us texts closely related to the events of the past week in the USA. First, a relatively rare excursion into Deuteronomy, the covenantal, neighborly – neighborology – text par excellence, very much in the tradition of Jeremiah, despite its long historical sweep.

Deuteronomy is one of the five books of the Pentateuch, Ha Torah, the books of the law. However, rather than being rigidly legalistic, practicing Torah is a fluid, stretchy, flexible enterprise that's always on the side of grace, mercy, love, and distributive justice. Despite its being in the covenantal tradition of Jeremiah, Deuteronomy is compiled from sources that range over about five centuries, from the United Monarchy of Saul, David, and Solomon at least through the Babylonian exile and likely into the post-exilic period of Persian hegemony. Deuteronomy moves beyond theory and ideas to practice and reality, showing us covenantal neighborology in action. Deuteronomy demonstrates Torah neighborology lived out on turf and in time.

Deuteronomy 30:14 "No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe."

Better translation is "the word is very near you in your mouth and in your heart and you will do it." Double meaning of commandment and promise on You will do it.

Neighborology: the Word about the Neighbor – Good Samaritan

The Word for us as Christians? The Word very near us? Baptized into the Word of Life Jesus Christ, immersed in the Word, the word surrounds and engulfs us. The gift of death, the gift of resurrection.

Luke among the gospels uniquely brings us Good Sam: Jesus finishes his capsule description of the commandments that ends with "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," and the guy jumps in and asks, "but who is my neighbor?" Jesus famously replies, "A man went down to Jericho from Jerusalem..."

Mainly because of the past week's events, I'd planned to open the rest of the time to discussion if it felt right, and it did, so these notes are uncharacteristically brief.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Pentecost 7C

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

1After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!' 6And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9cure the sick who are there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' 10But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.'
16"Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me."

17The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" 18He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19See, I have given you authority [not power in the Greek] to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
RCL year C is Luke's year. recap about Luke: history; prayer; women; the marginalized; HS; Table Fellowship; hospitality; Jerusalem.

During this season of Pentecost, the church's year of grace still seriously moves into all the world and reaches way far out beyond "home base."

We've been discussing Galatians as an ethnic church in terms of geography and culture; they also were ethnos—gentiles. Paul gets the case of the Judaizers who required people to become Jewish before they became Christian. We talked some about requirements for people to join us and participate.

Today's passage from Luke contains lots to consider regarding outreach and others and us and our comfort levels.

"After this this" Luke 9:51 Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem. Jerusalem is far more prominent in the gospels of Mark and Luke than in John or Matthew.

Sending people out in pairs. seventy combines the numbers of perfection (7) and completion (10). why not go solo? Sometimes we do! Travel light, in terms of everything.

7Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9cure the sick who are there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'

"eating and drinking whatever they provide." Yikes! what if they don't keep kosher! What if we know we don't like whatever it is! Conversing with strangers, experiencing their hospitality, eating their food — you are what you eat! You are your neighbor! "this is the body of Christ, given for you." We are the body of Christ!

What is this reign of God, kingdom of heaven? Where is it? Connecting with eternity right here and now. How?

Satan falling from heaven like lightning! The word for heaven is the same as heaven most places in scripture. Best to say it denotes authority, sovereignty, can be a cipher for power and reign. Satan now is earthbound.

Rejoice that your names are written in heaven. Baptism? Identity and call. Word here is authority / exousia, not power /dynamos

Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem. Center of the known world. Axis mundi between heaven and earth.

A few weeks ago we talked about the New Jerusalem in the Book of Acts. Easter 5, Revelation 21:2