Friday, November 19, 2010

New Blog update

The Season of Luke has come to an end and so does the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Gospel of Luke website. I will be leaving it up for a while longer. However a new site is being built. I have decided to put all of the resources for the cycle on one site called the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Bible.  It will have all of the material for the three year cycles available in one place.  We will begin publishing the new Advent lessons there next week!

It is under construction but will be up and running soon.

The link is: http://hitchhikingthebible.blogspot.com/

Thank you for your support and I am so pleased that people are using the work. It is a blessing to be in conversation with you about the scripture.

Christ the King, Ordinary Time, Year C

by Hans Memling, Christ the King
"What kind of king is this, who welcomes a criminal into his realm and promises relief and release amid obvious agony? It is a king who refuses to conform to the expectations of this world, who will be governed neither by its limited vision of worthiness nor its truncated understanding of justice."         David Losewww.workingpreacher.org/dear_wp.aspx?article_id=425


Lose holds The Marbury E. Anderson Chair in Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary, where he also serves as the Director of the Center for Biblical Preaching. He is the author of Making Sense of the Christian Faith (2010), Making Sense of Scripture (2009), and Confessing Jesus Christ: Preaching in a Postmodern World (2003). He speaks widely in the United States and abroad on preaching, Christian faith in a postmodern world, and biblical interpretation.


Luke 22:35-43
35He said to them, “When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “No, not a thing.” 36He said to them, “But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. 37For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me, ‘And he was counted among the lawless’; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled.” 38They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” He replied, “It is enough.”
39He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. 40When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” 41Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, 42“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” 43Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength.


A Little Bit for Everyone
Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+22:14+-+23:56&vnum=yes&version=nrsv
Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/christc.htm
Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk22_23.htm

Some interesting articles on this passage:
William Loader’s thoughts: http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkChristKg.htm
Working preacher: http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?lect_date=11/21/2010
Great treasures website: http://greattreasures.org/gnt/main.do

Prayer
Let this King’s cross become the shape of our lives; let this Lord’s compassion form our hearts; let this Shepherd’s embrace welcome us to Paradise.   From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.

Some Thoughts
And so we come to the end of the season of ordinary time which follows Pentecost Sunday. We come to the end of readings, which have focused our attention on the Gospel of Luke exclusively.
    Throughout these readings several powerful themes have been presented for us to consider.
    The major theme has been that Jesus had a missionary vision of the reign of God wherein all are gathered. His march to Jerusalem has been an act of prophetic witness, healing and beckoning of those who see and hear to follow. The time is now and the reign of God is breaking into this world.  
    We have also seen a theme that illustrates not only that Jesus stood in the line of great prophets, but that we as followers, apostles and disciples, now too inherit the gift of prophetic voice for the world around us.
    We have also heard a clarion call to affirm the good that is in the world. Luke’s Gospel is incarnational and there is an understanding that we can change the culture in which we live, raising up the best as well as freeing us from the evil which binds us. We are to pay special attention to the good which is displayed in those who are outsiders: women, the lame, those who represent the outlying religious groups, the poor and those in need.
    The lost play a special role in the theme of the Gospel and the work of the kingdom and its partners in ministry, their lives and discipleship living in Luke is not given for the destruction of the wicked – but for the saving of the lost. Luke amplifies more than any other gospel the sense that this is Good News. Jesus is philosopher and king, he is savior too, bringing salvation, through signs and saving acts. This theme of salvation, the saving of the lost, is the theme of parables after the teachings on discipleship and daily living. Why do we do these things? The answer is to find the lost.
    Lastly, Luke’s Gospel has given us the theme of conversion.
    The Word of God is powerful in Luke’s Gospel. It is alive in the people and in their prophetic actions, and in the prophetic actions of Jesus.
    Conversion and the disciples’ response are the last two major themes. “God’s restored people answer the challenge of his visitation with fruits worthy of repentance (Luke 3:8, Acts 26:20. People who hear the word are converted, by their turning around, their metanoia, literally their facing a different direction (away from worldly values to kingdom values). The followers of Jesus respond with faith, which for Luke is defined by hearing the word and patient endurance. It is not a momentary decision but a journey, it is a response daily. This is nurtured by faith in Luke’s Gospel. And, this work changes the way we live our lives. Following Jesus means that we change our social behavior to imitate God.
    Luke Timothy Johnson writes: “The opening of home and heart to the stranger is explicitly connected to the theme of accepting or rejecting the prophet. Luke provides concrete examples of the proper response of hospitality in Luke 10:38 and Acts 16. In the same way, as the Messiah showed leadership as a kind of table-service, so is leadership in the messianic community to be one of service spelled out in the simple gestures of practical aid.
    As we look back, we also look forward. The Gospel of Luke is clear, it is provided so that we might believe and follow. Today’s Gospel lesson captures a vision of our future and our work should be to pick up our cross and follow Jesus.
    We are to continue in the prophetic ministry which has been Jesus’ own. We are sent out to exercise the authority that has been given to us.
    We are to do this in practical ways. We are not to dominate or be seen as lords. Rather, we are to be like Jesus: teaching, listening, healing and freeing. We are to imitate the work of our master--as good disciples. 

    We are to be imitators through and through of Jesus.
    This challenge is difficult. You and I know it is, we know and experience Jesus’ work and call to us but struggle to do the work ourselves. It is for this reason that we also continue the reading beyond the supper into the prayer of Jesus. Rather than glossing over the ever so human struggle to undertake the will of God, and to allow Jesus to float in some spiritual manner through the suffering that is before him, Luke captures for us a very real human moment of Jesus. Wrestling with God, like Jacob with the Angel, Jesus is seen here struggling with the work that is before him.
    It is in this moment that Luke clearly offers his last theme, the one that undergirds the whole text, prayer.
    It is through prayer that Jesus is strengthened for the work that is before him. Likewise, in order for the disciple to pick up their own cross, to bear the prophetic witness to the world, to transform and change the lives of people and to help usher in the reign of God, the disciple must pray.
    On this Christ the King Sunday we are forced to see, not the resplendent Jesus enthroned in heaven, but securely rooted upon the earth in order that we might, rooted in the ministry on earth, gain the resplendent gifts of the kingdom of our God.
   
The Lambeth Bible Study Method
This Bible study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African." This method is derived from the practice of Lectio Divina. The entire process should take about 30 minutes.


Question #5: "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website: http://www.dcdiocese.org/word-working-second-question


Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.


1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process.
2. Each person briefly identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention then invites another person to share.
3. Each shares the word or phrase until all have shared or passed using the same invitation method.
4. The passage is read a second time, preferably from a different translation. The reader then invites a person in the group to begin the process.
5. Each person briefly identifies where this passage touches their life today, and then invites someone who has not shared yet.
6. The passage is read a third time, also from another translation, and the reader invites a person to start the process.
7. Each person responds to the questions, "What does God want me to do, to be or to change?"
8. The group stands up in a circle and holds hands. One person initiates the prayer “I thank God today for …” and “I ask God today for…” The prayer goes around the circle by squeezing the hand to your right.
9. When the circle is fulfilled, the person who initiated the prayer starts the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father…”

Friday, November 12, 2010

Proper 28, Ordinary Time, Year C

“It is tempting to think that nothing really is done for anybody by seemingly small, everyday things when the problems are so systemic. As my teachers remind me, however, the truth is just the opposite: without the little things, there are no big changes."

In her work as a church historian, Roberta C.Bondi has sought to make the wisdom of the early church and the insights of monastic spirituality available to contemporary Christians. Her books To Pray and To Love and To Love as God Loves (both from. Augsburg Fortress) explore the life of prayer as exemplified by Christian monks of ancient Egypt. Bondi, who teaches at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, recently wrote Memories of God (Abingdon) and is now working on a book about prayer titled In Ordinary Time. This article appeared in The Christian Century, November 2, 2004, p. 17. Copyright by the Christian Century Foundation; used by permission. Current articles and subscription information can be found at www.christiancentury.org. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.

Luke 21:5-19














5When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, 6“As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” 7They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” 8And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. 9“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” 10Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. 12“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17You will be hated by all because of my name. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your souls.

A Little Bit for Everyone
Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+21:5-19&vnum=yes&version=nrsv
Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/properc28.htm
Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk21a.htm
Some interesting articles on this passage:
William Loader’s thoughts: www.staff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost25.htm
Commentary by Chris Haslam: montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/cpr33l.shtml
David Ewart has an interesting take: www.holytextures.com/2010/10/luke-21-5-19-year-c-pentecost-november-13-november-19-proper-28-ordinary-time-33-sermon.html
F. Dean Leuking thoughts from Christianity Today: http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=621
Great Treasures website: http://greattreasures.org/gnt/main.do


Prayer
Let each new day be for us a time to testify to the gospel. Let the day on which the sun of righteousness dawns find us bearing witness to your all-embracing love.  From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.

Some Thoughts
I imagine a couple of things will happen in the preacher or bible class leader’s mind this week; either avoid this passage because it seems of no real relevance, or focus in the teaching on the images of the destruction of the Temple provided by Jesus, spending most of the time musing about the time of Luke’s writing.
     I want us to see here though a very important Lukan theme: Jesus as prophet. Prophecy was a prized gift in the world of Jesus’ time. Here Jesus is making a prophetic judgment about the future, not unlike the great prophet Jeremiah. The power of the prophecy of course, is in the fact that indeed the Temple is destroyed.
     Our modern and post-modern world will want to deconstruct the passage into its historical, critical and literal meaning. This is a fascinating trail to leisurely stroll, not unlike watching a History Channel program on the Middle East of Jesus’ time--something I love to ponder and think about.
     However, if we spend all of our time doing that we miss what I believe to be the Gospel’s chief focus in the telling of the story and that is that Jesus is who Jesus says he is and he is who the first disciples bear witness to.
     Notice in the midst of our selected passage these words: “It will turn out to be a chance for you to bear witness ... do not prepare ahead of time your defense ... I will give you speech and wisdom” (21:13, 14, and 15).
     Let us now remember the first words of the text: “I have decided to write for you, excellent Theophilus, an orderly account, so that you might have full confidence concerning the words in which you have been instructed” (1:3-4).
     The point of the passage we are reading is not that Jesus is a prophet. But that we have evidence from his life and speech that he is a prophet and therefore we may build our proclamation of the Good News of Salvation upon the truth of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ.
     Luke is himself offering us the words of Jesus and communicating to those who would follow him to see the times in which we live as opportunities to proclaim and bear witness to the risen Lord. To work and offer a vision of our future, which is held within the bossom of God and calls us forward into a transformed community beyond the pain, suffering, war and calamity of this world.
     We perpetually live a life of Christian discipleship claiming God cares and has given us to the world to help make it different tomorrow than it is today. Like Jesus we are the voices of prophecy for the poor and the hungry, the out-of-work and the abused. We are the ones who, today, give voice to Jesus’ promise of companionship and support in the most difficult of times.
     We trust in God and in the wisdom provided for the right times that we might bear witness to the world God loved in which Christ became incarnate. Our trust in God calls us into political and social work as we seek to partner with God in bringing to bear a reign of sustainability and peace. The message of today’s Gospel lesson is not one for the individual but rather one to help the community understand its work in the face of oppression and abuse by radical and fringe groups who will try and take over the Gospel for their own purposes.
     We are reminded that as we make our proclamation of Jesus Christ, as we bear witness, as we speak and have confidence in the words we offer as Good News, it is in the deep connectedness and willingness to rest in the wisdom of God that brings us peace in times such as these.
     I was struck with what Dr. William Loder wrote in his commentary on the text for this Sunday, “Trust in God has profoundly personal implications. It also has important political, social and religious ramifications. Luke has not withdrawn into individualism. He (or his text) still weeps for Jerusalem and longs for its liberation. He is prepared to be inventive to tackle the madness of fear and hate and the fanatical theologies it also generates. He keeps our feet on the ground about abuse and oppression. He stands in a tradition which tackles enmity in a way that is not off-centered by hate or fear, but informed by the stillness and wisdom of the Spirit. The shift is then from quantity of time to quality of being in all times and places."


The Lambeth Bible Study Method
     This Bible study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African." This method is derived from the practice of Lectio Divina. The entire process should take about 30 minutes.
     Question #5: "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website: http://www.dcdiocese.org/word-working-second-question
     Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process.
2. Each person briefly identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention then invites another person to share.
3. Each shares the word or phrase until all have shared or passed using the same invitation method.
4. The passage is read a second time, preferably from a different translation. The reader then invites a person in the group to begin the process.
5. Each person briefly identifies where this passage touches their life today, and then invites someone who has not shared yet.
6. The passage is read a third time, also from another translation, and the reader invites a person to start the process.
7. Each person responds to the questions, "What does God want me to do, to be or to change?"
8. The group stands up in a circle and holds hands. One person initiates the prayer “I thank God today for …” and “I ask God today for…” The prayer goes around the circle by squeezing the hand to your right.
9. When the circle is fulfilled, the person who initiated the prayer starts the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father…”

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Proper 27 and Feast of All Saint’s, Ordinary Time, Year C

"The Beatitudes feel like Jesus is Tom Sawyer and discipleship is painting a fence."
Nadia Bolz-Weber, The Hardest Question, 2010


All Saints Day

General Resources


Gospel of Luke Resources

Episcopal Service 1 for Matthew 5:1-12


Matthew 5:1-12
5When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 3Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


Some Thoughts
As we look at Jesus’ ministry, it is important to see that there is a framework at work in Matthew. One that is out of sync with our current reading cycle of Luke, so be aware of shifting gears as you take on the All Saints' Day lessons. In these first chapters of the Gospel of Matthew we see that the individuals who come in contact with Jesus do not have to do anything, Jesus is not teaching about discipleship, he is not charging them to reform the religion of the time, and he is simply giving of himself. He is intentionally offering himself to those around him. The people in the first chapters of Matthew and in the Sermon on the Mount receive Jesus; this is the primary action taking place between those following and the Messiah himself.

Jesus is giving of himself to others.

The Sermon On the Mount begins in Chapter 4.25 and the introduction runs through 5.1. We are given the scenery, which is the mountain beyond the Jordan (previous verse). This continues to develop an Exodus typology which is the foundation of Matthew’s interpretive themes in these early chapters. It follows clearly when one thinks of the passages leading up to this moment: the flight from Egypt, baptism and now the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew’s Gospel the first five chapters parallel the Exodus story. So, Jesus now arrives at the mountain where the law was given.

The structure of the following verses are beautiful and I offer them here so you can see how they play themselves out in a literary fashion (5.3-5.10).
5.3 Inclusive Voice: Theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.


5.10 Inclusive Voice: Theirs is the kingdom of heaven


5.4 Divine Passive Voice: They shall be comforted


5.9 Divine Passive Voice: They shall be called sons of God


5.5 Future Active Voice with Object: They shall inherit the earth


5.8 Future Middle Voice with Object: They shall see God


5.6 Divine Passive Voice: They shall be satisfied


5.7 Divine Passive Voice: They shall have mercy
Matthew uses these formulas and structures throughout the Gospel.

Scholars tell us that the classical Greek translation illustrates the pains that Matthew took as he rewrote Luke’s and Q’s Beatitudes to create the parallels we see. He also writes so carefully that when he is finished, there are exactly 36 words in each section of the Beatitudes (5.3-5.6 and 5.7-510). This combined with the parallels highlight the two sections that must have been meaningful to the church at Antioch (comprised of those who have fled persecution).

5.3ff describes the persecuted state of the followers of Jesus

5.7ff describes the ethical qualities of the followers of Jesus that will lead to persecution

The Beatitudes are blessings, not requirements. The teachings therefore are words of grace. In the initial teachings of Jesus’ ministry, healing comes before imperative statements, here Jesus preaches that grace comes before requirements and commandments. This is a perennial Christian teaching: one must receive first before service.

The difficulties required of followers of Jesus presuppose God’s mercy and prior saving activity.

The Beatitudes are clear that the kingdom of God brings comfort, a permanent inheritance, true satisfaction and mercy, a vision of God and divine son-ship. This may be Matthew’s most important foundation stone within the salvation story. We are given, through grace, our freedom to follow. We are like the Israelites and sons and daughters of Abraham, delivered so we may follow and work on behalf of God.

The Beatitudes also are prophetic as in the passage from Isaiah 61.1. Jesus is clearly the anointed one. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy from Isaiah, bringing Good News to those in need. Furthermore, the words of Jesus are the result of the prophecy and so they set him apart from all other teachers.

The beatitudes then are also words which not only promise Grace to the follower, they fulfill the prophetic words of the old message from Isaiah: Jesus was meek (11.29; 21.5), Jesus mourned (26.36-46), Jesus was righteous and fulfilled all righteousness (3.15; 27.4, 19), Jesus showed mercy (9.27; 15.22; 17.15; 20.30-1), Jesus was persecuted and reproached (26-7). The beatitudes are illustrated and brought to life in Jesus’ ministry, they are signs that he stands in a long line of prophets offering comfort to God’s people, and he is also clearly the suffering servant who epitomizes the beatitudes themselves. Origen wrote that Jesus is offering this grace he fulfills and embodies his own words and thereby becomes the model to be imitated.

The Beatitudes are words of proclamation. Are we in a place where we can articulate Jesus’ story and life as a fulfillment of God’s promises to his people?

The Beatitudes are words of mercy. Are we in a place where we can hear Jesus’ words for us? Have we allowed ourselves to be saved before we begin to work on Jesus’ behalf?

The Beatitudes are words of care for the poor. Are we in a place where we can hear Jesus’ special concern for those who are oppressed in the system of life? Are we ready to follow him into the world to deliver his people imitating the work of Moses and Jesus?



Luke Reading for All Saints'

Luke 6:20-31
20Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. 24“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25“Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. 26“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

27“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.

A Little Bit for Everyone


Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/allc.htm

Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk6b.htm


 Some interesting articles on this passage:

William Loader’s thoughts:

Commentary by Chris Haslam


Great treasures website: http://greattreasures.org/gnt/main.do

From Luke: The Gospel of the Gentiles by Robert Deffinbaugh at the Biblical Studies Foundation: "Defining Discipleship" (Luke 6:12-26)  http://bible.org/seriespage/defining-discipleship-luke-612-26

"Life involves choices. We must choose what in life to pursue. Every choice has both benefits (blessings) and a price to pay."
"Tough Love" (Luke 6:27-49)

http://bible.org/seriespage/tough-love-luke-627-49



"We are to do what no one else will do—love our enemy. We are to do so because God has loved us while we were His enemies. We are to do so because God is the One who will bless us for obeying His commands."
From Hacking Christianity: http://hackingchristianity.net/blog

Some Thoughts
Luke’s version of the Beatitudes is quite different. While clearly laying out the boundaries of those who belong within the reign of God Jesus then turns to charge those who follow in the working of God’s will in their lives and in their discipleship.
Love your enemies

Do good to those who hate you
Bless those who curse you
Pray for those who abuse you

If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt

Give to everyone who begs from you if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again

Do to others as you would have them do to you.
These are the standards of our live in Jesus Christ. Many of us pray for God’s will in our lives, here it is.

Luke Timothy Johnson says, “Ultimately, of course, Luke grounds this morality in the covenantal attitudes and actions of God. As God is kind toward all creatures, even those who are not themselves kind, even wicked, so are these disciples to be. The reward is itself the reality of being of God toward the world.” (LTJ, Luke, 112)

We blessed in so many ways. One of those ways is the unequivocal invitation to be members of God’s creation and inheritors of his reign. This is our baptismal promise. We cannot read this without Matthew’s own story of it residing deep within the ancient history of the Israelites planted firmly within our current mission context. We are also blessed because God does not simply invite us but beckons us to join him in the garden as partners in the stewardship of his reign. You and I receive the blessing of God for the purpose of blessing the world through our mission and ministry.

Proper 27

Luke 20:27-38
27Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him 28and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. 29Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; 30then the second 31and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. 32Finally the woman also died. 33In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.” 34Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; 35but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 37And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 38Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”

A Little Bit for Everyone



Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk20.htm
  
Some interesting articles on this passage:

William Loader’s thoughts:

Commentary by Chris Haslam

Another piece from Roberta Mondi in Christian Century:

Great treasures website: http://greattreasures.org/gnt/main.do

Prayer
Work in our times the wonders of your grace, so that the whole world may see that those cast down are being raised up, and what has grown old is being fashioned anew, and all creation is moving forward toward fulfillment through the One who is the beginning and end of all, the Christ who was, who is and who is to come. From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.

Some Thoughts
For those of you who preached and celebrated the Feast of All Saints' and are moving on with Luke I have a few thoughts.

We cannot look at this story and not see the contrast between Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom of God and the religious institutions understanding of it. The religious institution of the day sees the reign of God in political terms. Jesus is speaking in a wholly different manner.

You must read Luke Timothy Johnson’s perspective on this. It is too long to quote but he clearly puts forth the religious argument that the kingdom and politics are connected. I will give you only this quote from the end of his insightful paragraph: “Finally, we see the symbolic expression of such a closed-horizon religion: the professional religionists who find their reward in earthly recognition in public acclaim and prestige, but who cannot be content with that, and oppress others even as they parade a public piety.” (LTJ, Luke, 318) Ouch! These are strong words and powerful ones for those of us who sit in the seats of power in our congregations and in diocesan offices.

Jesus instead he argues is “expressing the deepest convictions of the Christian community concerning its understanding of the kingdom of God. God owns ‘all things’ and ‘all things’ must be given back to God, but this allegiance is not spelled out in terms of specific political commitment, rather it transcends every political expression. No king, not even a Jewish king, not even David’s son, can receive the devotion of ‘all the heart and soul and strength and mind’ but only God.” (LTJ, Luke, 318)

The point Jesus is making when he makes the reply is precisely this: our God is a God of the living. We cannot attempt to pin God down through the mechanisms of this world. The world that is being reshaped as the reign of God is a living world entirely new, completely redeemed, transformed, and restored from the life we experience today. Yes, we do experience the first fruits of God’s reign but at the same time we cannot believe for a second that God does not have the power to restore all things to life. We see only dimly then what God sees and offers us in his son Jesus Christ clearly.

You and I get so caught up in the world and our cultural contexts that we at times foolishly  believe we perceive as God perceives. Behold though, all things are being made new. It is the living, the Holy Spirit, and the Christ of God that we are to share. Can we in the days, months and years to come share the living God more than we protect the church politic? Can we set aside the Constantinian notions of Christendom, which are as carefully guarded as those of Jesus' day sought to protect their own religion? Can we become missionaries once again? Can we dare to share the living Christ with all those who we meet? We are given the opportunity to lift our heads from the political infighting of our daily religious life to see that the living Jesus has left the church building and is calling us back out into the world in order to participate with the reign of God unleashed as a living spirit in the world. Can we reclaim the Pentecost moment not as the birth of the Church but rather as the beginning to a new missionary spirit, which is at work in the world around us?

I leave you with these words from Luke Timothy Johnson, “Finally, this kingdom is symbolized by the widow, who though left all alone in human terms, is not only herself alive but capable of giving life by sharing ‘all her living’ with others.”

The Lambeth Bible Study Method
This Bible study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African." This method is derived from the practice of Lectio Divina. The entire process should take about 30 minutes.

Question #5: "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website: http://www.dcdiocese.org/word-working-second-question

Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process.
2. Each person briefly identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention then invites another person to share.
3. Each shares the word or phrase until all have shared or passed using the same invitation method.
4. The passage is read a second time, preferably from a different translation. The reader then invites a person in the group to begin the process.
5. Each person briefly identifies where this passage touches their life today, and then invites someone who has not shared yet.
6. The passage is read a third time, also from another translation, and the reader invites a person to start the process.
7. Each person responds to the questions, "What does God want me to do, to be or to change?"
8. The group stands up in a circle and holds hands. One person initiates the prayer “I thank God today for …” and “I ask God today for…” The prayer goes around the circle by squeezing the hand to your right.
9. When the circle is fulfilled, the person who initiated the prayer starts the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father…”





Friday, October 29, 2010

Reformation Sunday: Proper 26, Ordinary Time, Year C

You have to watch this on Martin Luther to get you ready for Reformation Sunday:

Here is another one on Gutenberg:


"What a strange mixture of passions must Zaccheus have now felt, hearing one speak, as knowing both his name and his heart!"
John Wesley


“How far are you willing to go to protect a flawed idea? Or to overlook a mistaken assumption? Or to keep intact a broken theory? When it comes to some of our cherished theological formulas, apparently many of us are willing to go pretty far.”  David Loose, Marbury E. Anderson Biblical Preaching Chair, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN


Luke 19:1-10
19He entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 5When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” 6So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” 8Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” 9Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”

A Little Bit for Everyone


Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk19a.htm

Some interesting articles on this passage:
William Loader’s thoughts:

Commentary by Chris Haslam


Martin Bondi’s “The Short One” from Christianity today:

Great treasures website: http://greattreasures.org/gnt/main.do

Interesting new site by Rev. Jeremy Smith, Musings from a United Methodist Pastor:

• It can be a story of the power of gossip. The crowd had claimed Zacchaeus as a terrible person due to his status. But Zac shows the reputation does not hold water. The crowd is the sinner and Zac is still a sinner but shows how he makes up for his shortcomings. What is the crowd doing other than spreading falsehoods in this passage?
• It can be a story of the power of naming and standing up for one’s self. The crowd named Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus spoke the truth. Jesus affirmed the truth. By claiming his name a son of Abraham, Zac named who he was against who they thought he was. Perhaps then the lost Jesus refers to is the crowd not Zac…well, Zac too.
• It can be a different understanding of Salvation being not an event but a person, as Jesus says “salvation has come to this house” could be a reference to Jesus and not the changed heart that dictated an event of salvation. 


Prayer
In our delight we welcome Jesus Christ as guest at our house and in the home of our hearts. Count us among the children of the covenant, among those sinners who were found when Jesus came to seek out and save those sheep that were lost. Adapted rom Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.

Some Thoughts
As you probably know the story of Zacchaeus is only found in Luke’s Gospel. Zacchaeus was a chief tax-agent. He was wealthy, not unlike the wealthy man in the Lazarus parable and the wealthy young man from 18.18. So we are see that Luke has crafted a story which is linked through geography and theme.

Zacchaeus climbs up into the tree trying to see Jesus. He wants to see and know who Jesus is. Previously the blind man (18.38), who could not see, indeed recognizes and knows who Jesus is – the Son of David. The blind see the Messiah; they are healed and follow Jesus. So you and I are meant to pause here, only sentences away, and wonder if Zacchaeus, who can see but is blind to who Jesus is, will gain his sight as well. Will his faith make him well?

Jesus, who is seeking the blind and lost, stops under the sycamore tree and tells Zacchaeus that he is coming to his home. Jesus has come and wishes to “remain,” to dwell with Zacchaeus. This is his opportunity to see who Jesus is. This is the moment when Zacchaeus will have the opportunity to welcome the living word of God into his house, and the home of his heart.

The crowd grumbles. They are upset because Zacchaeus is clearly a sinner and a tax collector. Tax collectors are of course beloved by the minority for whom they work and generally despised by the majority from whom they take the tax. In those days the tax collector collected some seven layers of taxes from the day laborer. They also collected from the overall total some money for themselves upon which to live.

But Zacchaeus is not an ordinary tax collector. He has climbed up into this tree because he has already seen and known that amendment of life is essential in the reign of God. He tells Jesus that he has already been giving away half of his possessions to the poor. And if he has cheated someone he is already making restitution. He is fulfilling the law from Exodus 22.1. Zacchaeus has faith. He is being made well before he ever meets Jesus.

Salvation happens because Zacchaeus is living the life foretold in the Lazarus parable. He is a wealthy person but is making a difference in the lives of others.

This is not simply a moral tale though. It is a story of the reign of God coming and making inroads throughout the community. We are clear in the teachings over the past weeks that piety alone does not mean that individuals will: a) welcome the Lord b) change their lives c) live out through action the will of God. Many will be saved, many will glorify God and many will welcome the Gospel of Jesus, the Living Word into the home of their hearts.

We end our parable today knowing the answer to the question from 18.26: Who then can be saved? A blind beggar and a rich tax collector can be saved.

For you and I, we must ask ourselves the perennial Lukan question: Are we faithful but not acting? Jesus seeks us out hoping to find us living out our faith in the world with him through the changing of people’s lives as in the story of Zacchaeus; or proclaiming and glorifying God as in the story of the blind man, which precedes today’s pericope.

There is that wonderful story of the man who stood up just before the offertory at Christ Church and proclaimed: I am Jesus. The Dean turned to the clergy on his right and said, “What should we do?” The answer: “Look busy.”

Jesus challenges us in Luke’s Gospel to see the Living Word of God, the Son of Man, in the person of Jesus, and to not only look busy but be busy in the kingdom work to which we have been invited.

The Lambeth Bible Study Method
This Bible study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African." This method is derived from the practice of Lectio Divina. The entire process should take about 30 minutes.

Question #5: "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website: http://www.dcdiocese.org/word-working-second-question

Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process.

2. Each person briefly identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention then invites another person to share.

3. Each shares the word or phrase until all have shared or passed using the same invitation method.

4. The passage is read a second time, preferably from a different translation. The reader then invites a person in the group to begin the process.

5. Each person briefly identifies where this passage touches their life today, and then invites someone who has not shared yet.

6. The passage is read a third time, also from another translation, and the reader invites a person to start the process.

7. Each person responds to the questions, "What does God want me to do, to be or to change?"

8. The group stands up in a circle and holds hands. One person initiates the prayer “I thank God today for …” and “I ask God today for…” The prayer goes around the circle by squeezing the hand to your right.

9. When the circle is fulfilled, the person who initiated the prayer starts the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father…”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Proper 25, Ordinary Time, Year C


"The hook in this story

may be our own temptation to identify

with the tax collector and not the Pharisee,

even though the Pharisee may resemble many more of us

in many more ways than we would like to think,

in the life of the church and in our society."

http://www.ucc.org/worship/samuel/october-24-2010-thirtieth.html


Kate Huey, SAMUEL ucc.org:

Sermon Seeds, lectionary citations, weekly theme,

lectionary texts, bulletin back page, 2010.


Couldn’t resist this one either:

"Julien Green’s incisive lines come to mind: 'I want to get rid of the sin from my life,' says the Christian. 'And I will help you,' says Pride, 'That way, we’ll both have a peaceful time of it.'"

Mary Luti’s thoughts from Christianity today:

http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=628


Luke 18:9-14

9He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 13But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

A Little Bit for Everyone

Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+18:9-14&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/properc25.htm

Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk18b.htm

Some interesting articles on this passage:

William Loader’s thoughts:

http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost22.htm

Commentary by Chris Haslam

http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/cpr30l.shtml

Russel Rathburn has an interesting take:

http://thehardestquestion.org/yearc/ordinary30gospe/

Mary Luti’s thoughts from Christianity today:

http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=628

Great treasures website: http://greattreasures.org/gnt/main.do


Prayer

Silence our prayer when our words praise ourselves. Turn your ears from our cry when our hearts judge our neighbor. Place always on our lips the prayer of the publican: “O God, be merciful to us who are sinners.”

From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.



Some Thoughts

So this week’s lesson is the second parable of the set, the first one being about the woman and the unjust judge.

After comparing the religion of the day to an unjust judge, he now speaks about and to those same religious leaders who think very highly of themselves. They consider themselves to be the “righteous” ones. So, now we know Jesus is talking to…us.

Yes, we like the “righteous” ones are very eager to point out how all the others just don’t have it quite right. This in fact is one of the church’s greatest sins. We know that whoever the other is doesn’t have it right. We scorn them, we hold them in contempt, we do actually reject them. Sometimes we do this outright by saying, “our way or the highway.” Sometimes we do this by showing out the “other” is wrong in their theological ideas – after all we are all so very certain. Sometimes we reject them by pretending “they” don’t want to be apart of our group. We do this all the time.

And, quite frankly we are sure glad we aren’t’ like them. In fact we will even engage in some small piece of humility, then go right back to our old ways. We are all for confession and forgiveness and then we are right back at the “righteous” acting again.

So, Jesus has our number. He had our number in the story about the rich man and Lazarus. He had our number with the lepers who did not return to give thanks. Jesus has our number with these “righteous” ones. I hate that!

Jesus tells us that our spiritual discipline is to be modeled on the sinner. Hmmmmm. Whenever Jesus goes down this road I believe we all get a little nervous. He tells us that the sinner stood far away. He kept his eyes lowered. He made a sign of repentance. And, he cried out for mercy. This is our work. Over and over and over again.

I don’t know why this has come into my memory but I remembered as I studied and prayed over this passage the prayer from the movie the Hunch Back of Notre Dame by Disney. (That’s right I am about to quote Disney!) Esmeralda is in the Cathedral and here is her prayer:



God Help the Outcasts
Vocals: Esmeralda (Heidi Mollenhauer) and Chorus
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz

Esmeralda
I don't know if You can hear me
Or if You're even there
I don't know if You would listen
To a gypsy's prayer
Yes, I know I'm just an outcast
I shouldn't speak to you
Still I see Your face and wonder
Were You once an outcast too?
God help the outcasts
Hungry from birth
Show them the mercy
They don't find on earth
God help my people
We look to You still
God help the outcasts
Or nobody will

Parishioners
I ask for wealth
I ask for fame
I ask for glory to shine on my name
I ask for love I can possess
I ask for God and His angels to bless me

Esmeralda

I ask for nothing
I can get by
But I know so many
Less lucky than I
Please help my people
The poor and downtrod
I thought we all were
The children of God
God help the outcasts
Children of God


This song and prayer from Esmeralda and the Parishioners shows a similar contrast. The reality is that how we pray reveals who we are. Interesting perhaps to make the observation that perhaps the writers of the song perceive the church to be this way and what does that mean as we sit in our parishes on Sunday morning. Are our prayers and lives as Chrsitians as private as we think. How many people see us day in and day, know us as Christians and wonder about our relationship with God?

I also like the words from Luke Timothy Johnson on this passage:

The parable itself is one that invites internalization by every reader because it speaks to something deep within the heart of every human. The love of God can so easily turn into an idolatrous self-love; the gift can so quickly be seized as a possession; what comes from another can so blithely be turned into self-accomplishment. Prayer can be transformed into boasting. Piety is not an unambiguous posture…The parables together do more than remind us that prayer is a theme in Luke-Acts; they show us why prayers is a theme. For Luke, prayer is faith in action. Prayer is not an optional exercise in piety, carried out to demonstrate one’s relationship with God. It is that relationship with god. The way one prays therefore reveals that relationship. (LTJ, Luke, 274)


We are challenged last week and this week to take our temperature and ask how is our relationship with God? What kind of relationship with God is revealed by our prayer? What kind of faith do I exhibit to God and to the world through my prayer?

The Lambeth Bible Study Method

This Bible study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African." This method is derived from the practice of Lectio Divina. The entire process should take about 30 minutes.

Question #5: "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website: http://www.dcdiocese.org/word-working-second-question

Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process.

2. Each person briefly identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention then invites another person to share.

3. Each shares the word or phrase until all have shared or passed using the same invitation method.

4. The passage is read a second time, preferably from a different translation. The reader then invites a person in the group to begin the process.

5. Each person briefly identifies where this passage touches their life today, and then invites someone who has not shared yet.

6. The passage is read a third time, also from another translation, and the reader invites a person to start the process.

7. Each person responds to the questions, "What does God want me to do, to be or to change?"

8. The group stands up in a circle and holds hands. One person initiates the prayer “I thank God today for …” and “I ask God today for…” The prayer goes around the circle by squeezing the hand to your right.

9. When the circle is fulfilled, the person who initiated the prayer starts the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father…”

Mapping Contents and Themes of Luke's Gospel

Introduction
What follows is a brief introduction to the contents and themes of the Gosopel of Luke. You can download a PDF of this teaching here.

One volume or two?
Like many scholars it is my belief that the Gospel of Luke is the first volume of a two volume work. Luke's Gospel and Acts take up more than 1/3 of the New Testament, so this particular Gospel plays a large part of our understanding of who Jesus is and how the earliest gentile followers understood his mission.

The prologue to Acts is a summary of Luke’s Gospel, and a great place to begin if you are interested in the cliff notes.

Luke Timothy Johnson writes, “The volumes are joined by an intricate skein of stylistic, structural and thematic elements which demonstrate convincingly that the same literary imagination was at work in both.” (LTJ, Luke, I)

Who wrote this Gospel?
Luke, follower of Jesus and partner with Paul, is the person identified in the work of patristic writers, (earliest Christian theologians) and in the letters of Philemon (24), Colossians (4.14) and 2 Timothy (4.11).

Early collections of Christian writings, like the Muratorian Canon, also mention that Luke traveled with Paul. For instance:

“The third gospel according to Luke. After the ascention of Christ, Luke, whom Paul had taken with him as an expert in the way (teaching), wrote under his own name and according to his own understanding. He had not, of course, seen the Lord in the flesh, and therefore he begins to tell the story from the birth of John on, insofar as it was accessible to him” (Muratorian Canon lines 3-9)

The “we” passages in Acts, are written from a first person perspective. This leads many to believe they are written from the vantage point of an eye witness, leading credence to the idea that the author traveled with Paul. These passages are: Acts 16:10-17, 20:5-15, 21:1-18, 27:1-28:16. (LTJ, Luke, 2)

Some say that would make the author too old. There is nothing to preclude a person from having traveled with Paul at age 20 in the year 50, to writing the Gospel in the year 80. Most mainstream scholars place the date of the Gospel of Luke around 70-80.

Some scholars question why Luke doesn’t include the letters of Paul or mention their existence in Acts. Still others aren’t so sure that there are not remnants of the Gospel of Luke in the Pauline letters.

Where do we get the tradition that Luke was a doctor? Eusebius thought he was a doctor from Antioch. And, Col 4, 14, Phlm 24, II Tim 4:11 testify that he was the beloved physician.

To Whom is Luke writing?
Both Luke and Acts are written for the same reader, Theophilus. Scholars believe that Theophilus might have been a new Gentile Christian or the benefactor of the two literary masterpieces. In my mind what is clear is Luke's intent on instructing those who follow Jesus. I have always believed that this reason is why Luke makes a wonderful first Gospel to read as it can help anyone come into contact with Jesus and provide direction and instruction on living a life that follows Jesus.

Luke is well educated, as his arguments and structure within the text demonstrate. He is most certainly a Greek – speaking author, and writing for a Greek – speaking reader. Leading us to believe his community was most likely very similar.

His first readers were Christians. As it says in 1.4, Luke is writing to confirm teachings already held by his readers.

Most of all Luke was a story teller. His intent is story telling, to tell the story of Jesus. He weaves a wonderful tapestry of conversations, events, and miracles along the way to Jerusalem. Luke is certainly an apologetic writer on behalf of the Gentiles. His view of the Empire is also without malice. This gives the tale quite a different reading than Mark’s Gospel for instance for instance.

Some recent scholarship invites speculation that perhaps Luke was writing not only an apology for Christians in general but an apology for Paul’s ministry specifically.


Prophetic Theme
Luke has a prophetic message for the Christian church today. Luke’s Gospel shows a Jesus lifting up the eyes of the people (mostly Gentiles) to see the coming kingdom and to prepare and work for its coming. In the midst of our own worries and church struggles we too need to have our eyes lifted up to the work of God in the restoration of creation.

The prologue leads into the first major section of the Gospel 1:5-4:13. This section moves through the historical antecedents: announcements of the birth of John to the baptism of Jesus, Jesus’ ancestry and his temptation. This section sets the stage that Jesus is himself the one prophesied, the Son of Man, to come and bring the Kingdom of God.

The second section of the Gospel is from 4:14-9:50, it is Jesus' ministry and mission to Galilee. These healings and this action move the reader from the first recognition of the disciples to the confession of Peter the second passion prediction. It also holds major teaching moments on topics such as the Sabbath, the sermon on the plain, and the parable of the sower. This is a very rich section.

The third section is from 9:51-13:30, and it is marked by Jesus beginning his journey to Jerusalem. We have the sharing of mission with the disciples in this section and sending out of the 70. This section holds a number of teachings on the nature of discipleship. Guidance on preparation for the judgment are given by Jesus to both disciples and people alike.

The fourth main section is 13:31-19:27, begins after the teaching to disciples and people and we see a marked and steady march to Jerusalem. This section has the most Lukan material. And, it is in this section that we see Luke’s particular vision of Jesus and how he lays the stage for the story of Acts. It is a major teaching section on discipleship with material dealing with: Jesus need to go to Jerusalem, sitting at table, parables of tower-builder and warrior, parables of lost sheep and lost coin, and the two sons, instructions on attitudes towards earthly goods, the parable of the unjust householder, how to deal with offense, reconciliation, faith, obligation and the blessing children. This section concludes with Zacchaeus almost as an exclamation point to the whole section on discipleship.

The fifth section is 19:28-24:53 where we arrive at Jerusalem and we see the actions unfold as prophesied. We have the last supper and arrest on the Mount of Olives, to the account of the crucifixion and the Easter message of the empty tomb. This last section sets the foundation for Acts. (1.1-1.14)

The Prophets
The Gospel of Luke is a book about the Holy Spirit. It is about the prophetic voice of Jerusalem foretelling through the power of the Holy Spirit the coming of the Messiah, the Son of Man. It is the story of how the Holy Spirit brings about the history of Jesus, who himself will be a great prophet of the Kingdom of God, and who will provide the Holy Spirit that those who follow him may work for the realization of the Kingdom of God in this world.

The apostles are seen as prophetic, these first followers of Jesus are men of the Holy Spirit, filled and empowered to be bold in their proclamation of the Good news and the Word of God. They are witnesses. They work signs and wonders themselves. They preach and perform these wonders among the people.

Jesus is a prophet like Moses. Luke makes major changes in the Joel quote from Peter in Acts (Acts 2:17-21). The changes he makes to Joel 2:28-32 in Peter’s speech. These changes are: after these things in Joel to in these last days. This appears to define the Pentecost moment as an eschatological event in and of itself. He adds the words, “and they shall prophesy” in verse 18, accentuating the prophetic character of the Spirit. And, he adds the words “sings on the earth below” in verse 19, tapping in to the signs and wonder imagery of Luke and in keeping with the idea that with Jesus’ birth a major event occurs that begins the revelation and realization of the kingdom of God in this world.

Luke hangs a great deal of this idea that Jesus himself was a great prophet upon the a passage from Deut 34:10-12. For Luke he believes that this particular passage reveals to the faithful that the the Holy Spirit is speaking specifically of Jesus. There has not arisen a prophet since, or in Israel, like Moses, whom the lord knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt…and for all the mighty power and all the great and terrible deeds which Moses wrought in the sight of all the people.

The people of Luke's time were people in expectation. They believed that God was going to “raise up a great prophet.” Luke recognizes Jesus as the great prophet and his resurrection takes on even greater meaning in this light. We see Peter in Acts 2:22-24 referring to Jesus in just this way:

“Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst….this Jesus you crucified…but God raised him up.” (LTJ, Luke, 18)

If we hold on to this idea that Jesus is like Moses in the eyes of Luke and we turn again to Acts 7:35-37 we see perhaps a view of the parallel of lives lived.

“This Moses, whom they refused, saying “who made you ruler and judge?” God sent as both ruler and deliverer by the hand of the angel that appeared to him in the bush. He led them out, having performed wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea an in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, “God will raise up for you a prophet from your brethren as he raised me up.” (LTJ, Luke, 18ff)

We cannot know if Luke’s idea of who Jesus was informed his idea of Moses, or the other way around. What is clear is the powerful imagery being used in the telling of this Gospel story for the purpose and empowerment by the Holy Spirit of God’s church.

What is important is the reality that in the Gospel of Luke we have a pattern of authority rooted in the Holy Spirit that follows the succession pattern of Moses. Jesus is a prophet like Moses. Jesus was not simply raised up because he was chosen; Jesus for Luke is the Lord of the Resurrection. Moses received and gave the living words to the people, but Jesus receives the Holy Spirit from God and pours it out on his followers. (LTJ, Luke, 20).

Other Themes
The Prophetic theme is not the only theme in the Gospel. Luke has a positive understanding of the world and history, the lost, the word of God, and conversion.

Affirmation of the World
To affirm the world and culture is not to mean that everything goes. The prophetic imagery leads to very clear religious expectation on social values. We see this especially in the section on discipleship and teaching about how to live life as a prophet of Jesus. (Third and fourth section described above.) Luke pays attention to women, outsiders of all kinds, the poor, and those in need.

The Lost
The prophetic work of the kingdom and its partners in ministry, their lives, and discipleship living in Luke is not given for the destruction of the wicked – but for the saving of the lost. Luke amplifies more than any other gospel the sense that this is Good News. Jesus is philosopher and king, he is savior too, bringing salvation, through signs and saving acts. This theme of salvation, the saving of the lost, is the theme of parables after the teachings on discipleship and daily living. Why do we do these things? To find the lost, comes the answer.

Word of God leads to Conversion
The Word of God is powerful in Luke’s Gospel. It is alive in the people and in their prophetic actions, and in the prophetic actions of Jesus.

Conversion and the disciples’ response are the last two major themes. “God’s restored people answer the challenge of his visitation with fruits worthy of repentance (Luke 3:8, Acts 26:20. People who hear the word are converted, by their turning around, their metanoia, literally their facing a different direction (away from worldly values to kingdom values). The followers of Jesus respond with faith, which for Luke is defined by hearing the word and patient endurance. It is not a momentary decision but a journey, it is a response daily. This is nurtured by faith in Luke’s Gospel. And, this work changes the way we live our lives. Following Jesus means that we change our social behavior to imitate God. Luke Timothy Johnson writes, “The opening of home and heart to the stranger is explicitly connected to the theme of accepting or rejecting the prophet. Luke provides concrete examples of the proper response of hospitality in Luke 10:38 and Acts 16. In the same way, as the Messiah showed leadership as a kind o table-service, so is leadership in the messianic community to be on of service spelled out in the simple gestures of practical aid.

The Road Map to the Gospel of Luke

When preparing to read through a Gospel it is good to see the landscape of the text. Here is a great road map to see the journey of Jesus and his followers through the Gospel of Luke.

The sections are according to Luke Timothy Johnson (Luke, Sacra Pagina, 1991.)
Descriptions by Werner George K├╝mmel (Introduction to New Testament, trans. Kee, 1973.)

The prologue
1:5-4:13
Chs. 1-2: names and places of origin of Jesus; genealogy of Jesus (1:1¬17); birth and naming of Jesus (1:18-25); homage of the Magi in Bethlehem (2: 1-12); flight to Egypt (2: 13-15); slaughter of the children in Bethlehem (2: 16-18 ); return from Egypt and residence in Nazareth (2: 19-23). 3: 1-4: 16: preparation for the activity of Jesus: John the Baptist (3 :1-12); baptism of Jesus (3:13-17); temptation of Jesus and residence in Capernaurn (4:1¬3) .

The second section
4:14-9:50
4:17-16:20. After the account of the call of Jesus' first disciples (4: 18-22) and his first teaching and healing activity (4:23-25), portrayal of his action through word (5-7: sermon on the mount) and act (8-9): ten miracles, interrupted by conversations (8: 18¬22; 9:9-17): healing of the leper (8:1-4); healing of the servant of the official from Capernaum (8: 5-13), of Peter's mother-in-law and of many sick (8: 14-17); dismissal of unsuitable followers; stilling the storm (8 :23-27); healing the Gadarene demoniac (8:28-34), of a lame man (9:9-13); question of fasting (9:14-17); healing of Jairus' daughter and of the hemorrhaging woman (9:18-26), of two blind men (9:27-31), and of a mute demoniac (9:32-34).


The third section
9:51-13:30
Conversations follow in Chs. 11 and 12, framed by the discourses of Chs. 10 and 13 and introduced by a new description of the teaching and healing work of Jesus (9:35-38). Sending out of the twelve and address to the disciples: instructions for the mission; words concerning the fate of the disciples; warning about fearless confession and suffering (10: 1-11:1); Jesus and the Baptist (11: 2-19); pronouncement of woe on the cities of Galilee (11:20-24); shout of joy and summons of the Savior (11:25-30); conflict conversations with the Pharisees (Sabbath conflict; defama¬tion of Jesus as being in league with Beelzebub, demand for signs) 12:1-45; the true relatives of Jesus 12:46-50; seven parables of the kingdom of God (Sower, with explanation; mustard seed, leaven; treasure; pearl; fishnet) 13 :1-30.

The fourth section
13:31-19:27
Jesus’ rejection in Nazareth is found in (13:31-58). Then follows a series of reports which show Jesus as itinerant, beginning and ending with the question who Jesus is (14: 1-16 :20) : Herod's opinion about Jesus (14: 1-2); arrest of the Baptist (14:3-12); feeding of the five thousand (14:13-21); Jesus' walking on the lake and Peter's sinking (14:22-23); healings in Gennesaret (14: 34-36); discourse on clean and unclean (15: 1¬20) ; Jesus and the Canaanite woman (1 5:21-28); healings of the sick (15:29-31); feeding of the four thousand (15:32-39); de¬mand for signs (16:1-4); warning about the leaven of the Phari¬sees (16: 5-12); Peter's confession at Caesarea Philippi (16: 13 -20) . 16:21-25:46. First prediction of the passion (16:21-23) ; sayings about the sufferings of the disciples and the coming of the Son of man (16:24-28); transfiguration and conversation about the return of Elijah (17:1-13); healing of the epileptic boy (17:14-21); second passion prediction (17:22-23); question about the temple tax (17:24-27); discourse on discipleship (sayings about behavior toward the "little ones," about offenses, about behavior within the community, parable of the roguish servant, 18:1-35); conversations about marriage and divorce (19: 1-12); blessing of children (19:13-15); the rich young man (19:16-26);

The fifth section
19:28-24
We begin this last section with a teaching on the reward for following Jesus (19:27-30); parable of the workers in the vineyard (20:1-16); third passion prediction (20:17-19); Jesus and the sons of Zebedee (20:20-28); healing of the two blind men near Jericho (20:29-34); procession toward Jerusalem (21:1¬11); cleansing the temple (21:12 f); homage of the children in the temple (21:14-17); cursing of the fig tree (21:18-22); ques¬tion of authority (21:23-27); parable of the dissimilar sons (21:28¬32), of the evil vineyard-workers (21:33-46), and of the royal marriage (22:1-14); question of the Pharisees about the tribute money (22:15-22) ; question of the Sadducees concerning the resurrection (22:23-33); question of the Pharisees about David's son as Messiah (22 :41-46); discourse against the Pharisees and scribes, including seven woes (23:1-36); lament over Jerusalem
(23:37-39). Eschatological chapters: 24-25; destruction of the temple (24:1f); warning signs of the End (24:3-14); the great tribulation (24:15-28); the parousia of the Son of man (24:29¬31); determining the End (24:32-36); parables of the flood, of the watchful master of the household, of the faithful and slothful servants, of the ten maidens, of the entrusted talents (24:37-25: 30); prediction of the judgment of the world by the Son of man (25:31-46).

Conclusion: Passion Narrative and Resurrection Report 26:1¬
28:20. Passion narrative (26:1-27:56): decree of death (26:1-5); anointing in Bethany (26:6-13); Judas' betrayal (26:14-16); preparation of the Passover (26:17-19); identification of the be¬trayer and institution of the Lord's Supper (26:20-30); prediction of the denial, Gethsemane, capture of Jesus, hearing before the high council, denial of Peter (26: 31-75); handing over Jesus to Pilate, death of Judas, proceedings before Pilate, condemnation, mocking, way to Golgotha, crucifixion and death of Jesus (27:1¬56); burial (27:57-61); guard at the tomb (27:62-66). Resur¬rection report (28: 1-20): message of the resurrection at the empty tomb (28:1-8); appearance of the risen Lord to the women (28:9 f); the Jewish lie about the theft of the body of Jesus (28 :11-1 5); final word of the risen Lord to his disciples on a mountain in Galilee: command to evangelize and to baptize (28: 16¬-20).