Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Pentecost 7C

Luke 11:1-13

1Jesus 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 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!"
The church's year of grace is two-third's spent, with only four more months in Luke's lectionary year. Major thanks to Barbara for facilitating the past three weeks; given this is summer, attendance likely was more random than usual, but I trust everyone gave her a lot of holy trouble.

Today we'll hear Luke's version of the famous prayer that's Jesus' response when his disciples ask him to teach them to pray, just as all rabbis and religious leaders did. Let's put it in context by backtracking with a overview of the gospel readings for the past five Sundays. This sequence of readings shows the nature of Jesus' authority.

June 23 – Pentecost 2 :: Luke 8:26-39

"Gerasene Demoniac," about the guy possessed by a legion of demons or unclean spirits and who hung out naked amongst tombs. Jesus's liberating word drove the demons into a herd of swine that then plunged over a cliff and drowned. This has been called a story without a sequel, as it demonstrates Jesus' ultimate power and authority over bondage, slavery, evil of all kinds.

June 30 – Pentecost 3 :: Luke 9:31-62

Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem—no looking back. His disciples claim they will follow Jesus wherever he goes!—to the cross?! Jesus replies the cost of discipleship includes having no regular place of residence, no predictable place to sleep. The price of the itinerating all of us (not only United Methodists and Wesleyans) do as we go where God sends us. And, of course, following Jesus wherever he goes includes the cross. And the empty grave.

July 7 – Pentecost 4 :: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Jesus gives instructions for going out into the world as itinerant missionaries (that's what we all are, all the time). Paralleling Moses and the 70 elders, Luke's Jesus picks up on the number 70 and sends them out in pairs. Their very first thing is to offer Shalom, the fullness of God's loving, merciful, reign and presence to everyone they meet. Then they proclaim the gospel. If the people we go to don't receive us? Shake the dust off your feet! One of the outcomes of prayer is learning to discern when to quit trying to engage an individual, a family, or a group; figuring out when to move on to the next place.

July 14 – Pentecost 5 :: Luke 10:23-37

How to have eternal life? How to have heaven on earth? Keep the commandments! Jesus' shorthand "Great Commandment" version: love God, neighbor, and self. Then the probing question: And who is my neighbor? And then? Activist Jesus narrates the Good Samaritan parable that's unique to Luke. We've talked about Luke's emphasis on the neighbor and called it neighborology, the word/logos about the neighbor. The Good Samaritan sums up the emphasis on the neighbor we find in Deuteronomy that's superbly about actively living out our covenants with God and with one another; Jeremiah also emphasizes the neighbor. Jesus instructs (commands!) his listeners to "go and do likewise" as the Samaritan man has in caring for the guy who's fallen by the wayside after being robbed and beaten.

July 21 – Pentecost 6 :: Luke 10:38-42

Jesus visits Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus. Martha's busy in the kitchen preparing a tasty meal for Jesus their guest; Mary hangs out with Jesus, basking in his presence and in his word. This contemplative way is a radical switch from the tale of the Good Samaritan immediately before it. So which is it? An activist "go and do likewise" or a more receptive "better part" of simply being in heaven's presence? It's both/and.

Today – Pentecost 7 :: Luke 11:1-13

Aspects of prayer include praise, thanksgiving, confession, and petition. After acknowledging God as hallowed or holy, Jesus' prayer guides us through petitions that help envision the reign of heaven will come to earth.

We had a very helpful (IMNHO) discussion of our own prayer lives. Pastor Peg pointed out she liked Jesus praying at "a certain place." A recurring time or times of day and a regular location or locations can help prayer become a habit.

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