Monday, June 26, 2017

Pentecost 3A

Romans 6:1b-11

1Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

6We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For whoever has died is freed from sin. 8But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 10:24-39

24"A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; 25it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! 26"So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32"Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

34"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and one's foes will be members of one's own household. 37whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Green and Growing Season

The church's year of grace continues numbering Sundays after the Day of Pentecost. This is the third Sunday after Pentecost; three weeks ago we celebrated the fiftieth day of Easter and the gift of the pentecostal Spirit of Life—grace, love, resurrection, God's abiding presence in us, the church, as the body of the Risen Christ. In baptism we receive the gift of this Holy Spirit that enables us to do those "greater things" than Jesus.

This is the Time of the Spirit, Season of the Church in the power of the HS of Pentecost. This is another segment of ordinary, ordered, structured, delineated time; just as during the few Sundays of ordinary time last winter after Epiphany, our liturgical color for vestments, paraments, banners, etc. is growing, verdant green.

The Revised Common Lectionary that suggests our scripture readings pairs Paul/ Saul's Romans 6 baptismal passage with Matthew's Jesus' warning about discipleship. Matthew 10:38 is the first "cross" reference in Matthew's gospel, and it's about the disciples, not about Jesus!

The nuclear family as we know it is not prominent in the Bible, though we hear about parents, children, spouses, in-laws. Jesus describes a new family configuration. Jesus' family is about people who follow him. The continuity of biological heredity and consanguinity also come into the mix, but more than anything, this new family is by Jesus' blood, by baptismal water and word, by chosenness and abrupt discontinuity with what's always been.

Last week on Pentecost 2, Jesus first summoned or called his followers; then he gave them authority to his followers; and then sent them out into the world.


Romans is several decades earlier than the gospel we received from Matthew's community; for Saul / Paul of Tarsus, the gospel is death and resurrection. Paul considers baptism a new exodus from slavery of all kinds: sin, death, and the devil as we say in the baptismal liturgy; all the forces and enticements of empire that are agents of death. Baptism is a life-changing event.

Gerry Rafferty: "we'll meet out on the water, where all strangers are known."

The community gathered around Matthew the tax-collector well may have known the letter to the Romans since epistles were circular, round-robin documents that made their way from church to church, community to community, often receiving edits and revisions along the way. But Matthew's Jesus would not have been doing baptismal theology in the way Paul does in Romans, the way we do in the 21st century church.


With this first reference to cross in Matthew's gospel, Jesus well knew anyone at odds with the Roman occupation government was at high risk for crucifixion; most likely Jesus started anticipating his own crucifixion even earlier than we read about in the gospel narratives. So this refers to literal crucifixion, though everyone agreed with one of our class participants who said it's also putting to death our own desires, preferences, lifestyles, when they clash or interfere with God's call to us, Jesus invitation and call to follow him as disciples, apostles, "sent people." Those of us who lose our lives for Jesus' sake.

Surprisingly, we didn't really talk at all about Jesus' descriptions of how society well might treat his faithful followers.

We also mentioned the study and devotional practice of rewording and rephrasing scripture in ways that make sense to us, that help the ideas come alive. As in Pastor Eugene Peterson's The Message version / interpretation, that in some passages is more paraphrase than it is translation.

I've mentioned how we're creating the Acts of the Twenty-First Century Apostles, and (blogger or not), we could try writing down some of our experiences of action, witness, testimony in the Spirit of Pentecost.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Pentecost 2A

Matthew 9:35 – 10:1-8

9:35Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."

10: 1Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7As you go, proclaim the good news, "The kingdom of heaven has come near.' 8Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment."

Where We Are

We're halfway through the church's year of grace that began during calendar year 2016 on the First Sunday of Advent. Two weeks ago we celebrated the fiftieth day of Easter with the festival of Pentecost that commemorates the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the world. The next six months will be the Season of the Church acting in Jesus' name, a Time of the Spirit of Life and of Resurrection that we receive in baptism, a "green and growing season" that reflects the liturgical color green our vestments and paraments feature. Or more accurately, the current liturgical color of green mirrors the focus of this season.

Last Sunday we celebrated the Holy Trinity with Trinity Sunday. Although the bible doesn't refer to a three-in-one / one-in-three trinity or a triune God, both OT and NT strongly reveal God as triune.

Last week I mentioned during this season we'll be doing some theology of the Third Article of the Creed; both the Nicene Creed from the year 325 that probably first articulated the doctrine or teaching of the trinity, and the Apostles' Creed from about a century later outline Trinitarian theology. First article of the creed would be theology of creation; second article of the creed would be theology of redemption or salvation. Third article would be sanctification, divinization, or theosis as the Eastern churches express it.

I also suggested we'd look at some Third Spaces and Fourth Spaces theology as we develop Acts of the 21st Century Apostles in Southern California:
• First spaces: family, friends, close by neighbors, local schools, nearby workplaces
• Second spaces: a little more geographically and socially distant communities, college, university (maybe a larger high school), larger workplaces; more choices about self-revelation
• Third spaces: moving out of our comfort zones, stretching boundaries: affinity groups, clubs, different cultures
• Fourth spaces: cyberspace! with a lot of choices about what we reveal, opportunities to try on new styles and identities
In the Revised Common Lectionary that suggests our scripture readings, this is Year A, the year of the gospel account the community gathered around Matthew the tax collector brought us.

Briefly Reviewing Matthew

Matthew's gospel begins with Jesus' name Emmanuel – "God with us" – and concludes with Jesus' promise to be with us always.

Matthew's community specifically addressed Greek-speaking Jews in Antioch (then in Syria) that's geographically present-day Turkey.

With a strong Jewish-Hebrew emphasis, among other specialties Matthew presents Jesus as the new Moses and the new King David; with the flight into (and then back out of) Egypt we have a new Exodus; five large discourses in the gospel may parallel the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses and provide a new Torah. Before the resurrection Matthew refers to Israelites; post-resurrection, to Jews.

Matthew is the only one of the four canonical gospels that uses our word related to church, ecclesia. The ecclesia or called-out assembly was the Roman city council, the New England town meeting...

This gospel account also brings us an interesting juxtaposition because it refers to Jesus' ministry in Galilee of the Gentiles – Matthew 4:15 – and tells us gentiles will hope in Jesus' name – Matthew 12:21. Matthew uniquely brings us the visit to the baby Jesus by the Zoroastrian magi, who were both religious and ethnic outsiders. Matthew brings Jesus' Great Commission of bringing the gospel to all the nations that we heard last week.

Today's Text

Notice how Jesus (1)summons or calls his disciples; then he gives them (2)authority; then he (3)sends them out. In the power of the HS, we're also sent people, or apostles.

And then Jesus instructs the disciples to proclaim the gospel, the good news of the reign of life over death—the kingdom/ reign/ realm of heaven has come near; to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. Recently we revisited John's gospel and Jesus' promise we'd do greater works than he did. That was on Maundy Thursday evening, shortly in the wake of Jesus raising Lazarus from death. In those Johannine passages, Jesus also told us to obey the commandments, and to love in the same way he loves us. He promised us the gift of the Holy Spirit (Advocate, Paraclete called-alongside, Counselor, Comforter —I like the concept of comforter or a quilt wrapped all around us) that would enable us to do all those amazing things, and to act in his name.

Proclamation of the Good News, the reality of resurrection, healing, etc. all evidence the presence of the reign of heaven. In the next chapter, Matthew 11:2-5, from prison John the Baptist (Jesus' cousin, who down by the riverside announced Jesus' soon to be arrival in our midst) asks his cohorts to ask Jesus if he's the real thing, or if we needed to look for someone else? Jesus advised them, "Go tell John what you hear and see (full sensory experiences): dead are raised to life; blind see; deaf hear; lame walk; poor receive good news." Those events have been going down? That means heaven among us, God's rule in our midst!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Trinity Sunday A 2017

Matthew 28:16-20

16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Although Sunday we mostly discussed Jesus' Great Commission from Matthew's gospel because this is Matthew's year and we've been doing so much John, how could I not mention perichoresis? Last Friday I reposted here desert spirit's fire Trinity Sunday 2005 that also was year A. Referring to the last few Sundays will give us some Trinitarian theology, as well.


Last Sunday was the Day of Pentecost:

• 50th Day of Easter
• In the Church's Year of Grace, the Church really comes into its own
• Time of the Spirit / Season of the Church
• Green and Growing Season of almost six months of ordered, structured, organized "Ordinary Time"
• Pentecostal fervor!

During the Great Fifty Days of Easter we've read about Acts of the the early Apostles from Luke's second volume, the Book of Acts. We're revisited the upper room of Maundy Thursday and heard Jesus' commands to obey, to love as he loves, his promise we will do greater works than he did during his earthly ministry, his promise to send the Spirit (Comforter, Advocate, Counselor), to remain with us always. I like to translate "comforter" into a quilt that wraps around us. Baptism surrounds us with God's creative power of the Holy Spirit of resurrection so we can respond to Jesus' commandment to preach the gospel, heal the sick, raise the dead recorded in Matthew 10:7-8 and that will be our gospel reading next week on Pentecost 2.

Trinitarian Theophanies / Trinitarian Theology / Perichoresis

• Last Winter we experienced theophanies of the Trinity or manifestations, appearances of all three persons of the Trinity / Godhead at the Baptism of Jesus and at the Transfiguration

Scripture strongly implies God as Triune one-in-three, three-in-one, but the church didn't define and announce the doctrine or teaching until 325 A.D. at the Council of Nicea that gave us the Nicene Creed

• Today's Great Commission passage from the gospel we received from Matthew's community includes baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but that likely was one of many redactions or editing of Matthew's gospel that we've mentioned most likely is the most heavily redacted or edited of the four canonical gospels. The early church probably baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus or used a similar formula.
• The Trinity is a mystery! All our human attempts to compare and explain it fall way far short, but our brains still need to try.
• Today we'll sing, "Come, Join the Dance of Trinity" that's about the Perichoresis of the Trinity: peri – around, surround – choreo – dance, like in choreographer, choreogaphy

During the Season of Pentecost

We'll do Third Article (of the Creed) Theology:

• First Article – Creation
• Second Article – Redemption / Salvation
• Third Article – Sanctification, Divinization, Theosis

We'll also talk some Third Spaces Theology as we develop Acts of the 21st Century Apostles in Southern California:

• First spaces: family, friends, close by neighbors, local schools, nearby workplaces
• Second spaces: a little more geographically and socially distant communities, college, university (maybe larger high school), larger workplaces; more choices about self-revelation
• Third spaces: moving out of our comfort zones, stretching boundaries: affinity groups, clubs, different cultures
• Fourth spaces: cyberspace! with a lot of choices about what we reveal, opportunities to try on new styles and identities

Matthew's gospel ends as it begins, with the reassurance of God with us, Emmanuel.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Trinity Sunday A 2005

This week I'm blogging twice for Trinity Sunday; I remembered writing about perichoresis, and found these notes from 2005, which also was RCL year A, and would have been from a Monday at Northminster PC(USA) in Previous City when I subbed for the usual facilitator who probably was on another trip helping out another judicatory. My first instinct was to create a new post here dated 16 May 2005 – Easter was early that year! – but this blog didn't even exist then. Besides, today's date will get more hits and help more people.

From Trinity Sunday A 2005 on desert spirit's fire!

Since I really like the notes I put together for this morning's Bible study (not that the group did much with them, but – as always – the discussion was interesting, stimulating, thoughtful and even helpful). But a note of caution: not surprisingly, I realized I potentially had enough material for a multi-volume book! And extremely surprisingly, one of the regular participants said he'd always found the concept of Trinity easy to understand. Moving on now with the study notes:

Genesis 1:1 – 2:4a

Psalm 8

2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Matthew 28:16-20

Perichoresis of the Trinity

peri – around – choreo – dance

With perichoresis, the early Church described the Trinity as a dynamic and sometimes indistinguishable interpenetration, mutual indwelling, circumincession in unity, union, harmony, agreement, concord, consonance...

The Church [that's us!] as the Image of the Trinity

How does this Perichoresis relate to our lives in the world in general, our lives with other Christians, and as we interact with people of other faiths and of no faith conviction?

Word and Sacrament: the Trinity and the means of grace
  • Written word; preached word; Living Word
  • Baptism
  • Earthy, earthly elements of creation—plain ordinary water; also, anointing with oil: kings, prophets and priests in Israel were anointed and we're baptized into royal, prophetic priesthood.
  • Baptized into the Christ Event in the name of the Trinity—in 325 The Council of Nicaea defined the doctrine of the Trinity; Matthew 28:19 is the only occurrence of the baptismal formula in the Bible, added later than the late 1st century manuscripts; the early church probably baptized in the "Name of the Lord."
  • Eucharist
  • Earthy, earthly common stuff of creation! | Creator
  • Our Lord Jesus Christ...Bread of Life; Cup of Salvation | Redeemer
  • Epiclesis | invoking the Holy Spirit
The Church and the Means of Grace
  • Jesus entrusted his followers – the church – with proclaiming the Gospel in word and action, baptizing and with remembering him by breaking the bread of life and offering the cup of salvation. The Gospel of Jesus Christ also is revealed to the world when we live our daily lives as sacraments mediating between earth and heaven—this is something no one and nothing else in the world can offer! The church as a community and each of us as individuals nurtured and discipled by that community take our cues and clues from the perichoresis of the Trinity, and not from the consumer driven programmatic excesses of the world.
  • "The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered." Philipp Melanchthon, Augsburg Confession, from Article 7
  • "Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, and the sacraments administered according to Christ's institution, there, it is not to be doubted, a church of God exists." John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 4, chapter 1, section 9.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Pentecost A

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13

3bAnd no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit. 4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. 12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

The Day of Pentecost is the 50th Day of Easter!

• Time of the Spirit
• Season of the Church
• A Pentecostal Community filled with gifts from the Holy Spirit
• A second phase of Green and Growing Ordinary (ordered, organized, structured) Time. We experienced the first phase last winter with Sundays after the Epiphany.

During this season we'll be doing Third Article (of the Creed) theology related to the Holy Spirit. "Pneumatology" is one of the technical words for this theological category. First article theology would be theology of creation; second article, theology of redemption. Theology of the HS includes us as the called-out assembly (church/ ekklesia) and sent people (apostles / apostolos).
We'll continue to focus on the interdependence of all creation.

During this Time of the Church we're also visit some (geographical and social)
Third Space theology as we consider moving from:

• The everyday intimacy of geographical and social First Spaces that include face-to-face relationships of family, friends, neighbors on either side and across the street (even in this 21st century), local schools;
• Second Spaces that include many workplaces, university, more distant and structured settings that give us more choices about self-revelation;
• Third Spaces of affinity, trade, and professional groups that take us beyond the comfort of First Spaces and Second Spaces; at times geographically a considerable distance away with potential for greater anonymity; and for the past decade...
• Fourth Spaces – cyberspace! where you can choose to reveal who and where you are, try on new ideas and even new identities

Third Spaces and Fourth Spaces pick up on "all nations" in Jesus' Great Commission commandment at the conclusion of Matthew's gospel;.


• We've studied accounts from Luke's book of the Acts of the original apostles
• Revisited the upper room of Maundy Thursday where we've heard Jesus' command to obey and to love as he loves
• In the upper room we've also received Jesus' promise of the Holy Spirit and power—even to achieve "greater works" than Jesus himself did during his earthly ministry!
• Especially as we celebrated the Ascension (that's technically the 40th day of Easter) on the 7th Sunday of Easter, we considered the concept of ascendancy that denotes stewardship, caretaking, responsible sovereignty over all creation following the model and example Jesus gave us.

Corinth / Corinthians

The site of Aphrodite's temple! Rich, opulent, and worldly, a crossroads for international travel and commerce. The church at Corinth was full of factions and divisions. Jealousy, arrogance, and related. You get the picture?!
The two canonical letters to Corinthians are among at the apostle Paul's Seven (biblical number) undisputed epistles. The passage we read today sets the mood and the standard for our life and ministry as we move into almost six months of Ordinary Time Sundays that we number after the Pentecost event.

• The cross of Jesus Christ is central – Paul determines to preach only Christ crucified.
• The Holy Spirit gifts individuals with a wide variety of spiritual and practical gifts (vv. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 lists a few); these gifts always are for the greater good – the commonwealth or common-weal (not woe!) of the gathered community of the body of Christ. No class, cultural, education, or ethnic boundaries. The indwelling Spirit we receive in our baptism into Jesus Christ's death and resurrection engulfs us in God's creative power of resurrection.
• 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 is earliest account of Jesus' "founding meal" of the Lord's Supper; one bread, one body; worthy reception in seeking the common good; 1 Corinthians 10 and 11
• 1 Corinthians include the famous love chapter 13 that picks up on the quality of love Jesus charges us with in the gospel we received from John's community.
• The cross of Jesus Christ is central to our proclaimed and enacted theology, but so is the resurrection — learn 1 Corinthians 15!