Friday, June 25, 2010

Proper 8, Ordinary Time, C

"As ploughing requires an eye intent on the furrow to be made, and is marred the instant one turns about, so will they come short of salvation who prosecute the work of God with a distracted attention, a divided heart. Though the reference seems chiefly to ministers, the application is general."

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, 1871 Commentary: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/jamieson/jfb.xi.iii.x.html

Luke 9:51-62

51When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; 53but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55But he turned and rebuked them. 56Then they went on to another village.

57As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

A Little Bit for Everyone

Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+9:51-62&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/properc8.htm

Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk9b.htm

Some interesting articles on this passage:

Working Preacher: http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?lect_date=6/27/2010

William Loader’s thoughts:
http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost5.htm

Commentary by Chris Haslam
http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/cpr13l.shtml

Preacher, Dr. William Long’s commentary: http://www.drbilllong.com/LectionaryII/Lk9.html

Prayer

Sustain us in our decision to follow where Jesus leads, and by the power of your own love, at once both strong and gentle, keep us faithful to Christ and compassionate in serving others. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen

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

We begin this Gospel lesson with two striking images. The first is the use of the words: “for his being taken up.” This is the only place in the New Testament where this phrase is used. Hearkening back to Elijah, we can see that Luke intends for his narrative focus to be upon the ascension. (Luke Timothy Johnson, Luke, Sacra Pagina, 162) What is interesting to me here is how much we focus on so many other things in Luke’s Gospel. Nevertheless, there is seemingly a continued focus on the reign of God into which Jesus is taken. There is also a great sense in these first words of our passage of an urgency that surrounds the events that follow. This is the second striking image of the first words from our passage. Jesus is setting his face like a flint towards Jerusalem. The time is now and he is going there now! We must follow now! Come on lets get going.

Perhaps it is the elongated waiting for Jesus’ return that makes us loose the urgency of Jesus mission? Yet the call is before us again in this passage.

To help get the people ready Jesus sends messengers with the purpose of making ready. Again we see that Jesus is in the land of Samaritans, and not in the land of the faithful. This paradox continues to reflect Jesus’ focus on those outside the faithful community and for the church today returns our attention on the people outside our Christian communities. Are we being sent out into the world to prepare the way of the Lord? And, are we answering the call on our lives to do so?

Luke Timothy Johnson gives us some history on the differences between the Samaritan and the Temple worship in Jerusalem. It appears that not unlike our disputes in the church today it was about who is a true believer.
“The ancestral antipathy between Judeans and Samaritans is reflected in this verse. It was based on the rivalry between shrines of Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Zion, and on a whole cluster of disputes concerning the right way to read the sacred books, messianism and above all, who was a real Israelite. See e.g., Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 20:119-138; John 4:9-20).” (LTJ, Luke, 162)

The disciples’ response finding that the Samaritans are not receptive is not unlike the complaints of why we shouldn’t bother reaching out to our communities. Why bother? Let the dice fall how they fall…let fire be cast down on them. They aren’t like us at all. They really don’t belong. This lack of vision for the mission of God is as wrongly placed today as it was when those first messengers returned to Jesus. Jesus’ response is clear, he is here to save and not to destroy.

So we get the message. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. He is prophetically breaking into the world and bringing with him the reign of God. His mission is urgent and he is here to save and not to destroy. Old divisions are set aside for the Gospel of Christ. We are offered again the vision of how God sees us and that is a vision of potentiality and a vision of hope that we will see our salvation and join Jesus in the proclamation work, the messenger work. And, so we are told a few hear, a few recognized, a few see who this Jesus really is and what he is up to. So they are eager to follow.

Luke Timothy Johnson reminds us that the threefold call and offer are similar to the threefold willingness of Elisha to follow Elijah in the period just before his ascension, again bringing into focus the great prophetic work of Jesus. (LTJ, Luke, 162)

The problem is that while these want-to-be followers of Jesus get the invitation and they get the vision, they do not get the urgency or understand the cost. This is a prophet who is homeless until he returns home to heaven. This is a prophet who will not rest till rest is won for all. Jesus’ proclamation of the reign of God and his mission sees the potential future of the restoration of God’s world as the highest goal and makes clear the consequences of following.

When we choose to follow we must be attentive like the ploughman. We cannot take our eye off the work and the mission -- to do so is to risk wondering aimlessly and destroying the good work and labor already performed.

Luke Timothy Johnson writes the following about Jesus’ challenge to his audiences and how he calls each into action:

Luke is very careful to note Jesus’ audience in every instance. To each group, furthermore, Jesus speaks quite different sorts of words: to the crowd, he issues warnings and calls to conversion. To those who convert and become disciples, he gives positive instructions on discipleship. Finally, to those who resist his prophetic call, he tells parables of rejection.

Luke gives dramatic structure to these sayings by carefully alternating the audiences. Throughout the journey (as the notes will indicate), Luke has Jesus turn form one group to the other, form cord to disciples to Pharisees. The narrative that results form this “arrangement” is therefore filled with unexpected tension: the Prophet makes his way to Jerusalem, to his death and “lifting up.” As he goes, he speaks the word of God to those around him. Some hear and become part of the people. Others reject the word and are themselves in process of being rejected from the people. The climax is reached with Jesus reaches the city and is greeted, now not by a handful o followers (cf. 8:1-3) but by a “whole multitude of disciples” (19:37) prepared to hear the teaching of the Prophet in the precincts of the Temple. (165)

Several questions come to mind for the preacher. Do we know to whom we are talking? Can we, like Jesus, direct our words in accordance with the challenge needed to be heard by those listening? Are we actually able to proclaim the word of God in different contexts, clearly being aware of the challenge before the one’s in front of us?

Another set of questions arises as I reflect on the particular passage and wonder are we giving positive messages and instruction that help those within our church be better disciples? What does that look like in today’s American church context?

Do we have the sense of urgency needed to motivate our congregation to action?

Are our people ready to hear the teaching of Jesus? Or are our churches filled with individuals who have more in line with the crowd in Luke’s Gospel?

Missionary context and the wisdom to navigate it with solid teaching is an essential ingredient for the modern day priest. Today people are out there in the world soaking up religious and spiritual information from the internet, and the book store, and at the water cooler. They come to church on any given Sunday or during the week and they turn to the leaders of our churches and expect us to have a message. Like the pilgrims who entered the dessert seeking out the solitaries: Abba, give us a word.

Church life today is manifestly different from the pilgrim journey to Jerusalem with Jesus. There are bills to pay, metrics to reach, and leadership groups to contend with – all this is true. But the message of Jesus, the message of the possibility of the reign of God, is no less urgent. The people who live out in the world are turning to their leaders and asking for a word. We must be ready to give it to them. We must reclaim our preaching and teaching office as clergy in the church of God. And, I would argue that we must raise up around us others who also can teach and share in the discipleship and mentoring needed to transform our church into the vision that we had when we joined; a vision that offered hope for the future, and plenty of labor for the laborer. We must recapture and reclaim our churches as places, along the road with Jesus, where those who journey with Him can find words which warn and convert, which instruct and offer positive reinforcement for the journey, which talk about division clearly and work towards unity.

What are my excuses to Jesus for why I cannot come and follow? For why I cannot do what is asked?

Fear of the other: They are not like us. They believe differently. They should have fire brought down on their heads.

Fear for my needs: The journey itself looks too difficult. I might find myself homeless.

Fear for of all the things I have to do….

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, June 18, 2010

Proper 7, Ordinary Time, C

Proper 7, Ordinary Time, C
Those under Christ's government are sweetly led with the bands of love; those under the devil's government are furiously driven. Oh what a comfort it is to the believer, that all the powers of darkness are under the control of the Lord Jesus!"
From Matthew Henry’s Commentary: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc5.Luke.ix.html

Luke 8:26-39

26Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— 29for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. 32Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. 34When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

A Little Bit for Everyone


Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+8:26-39&vnum=yes&version=nrsv
Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/properc7.htm
Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk8.htm

Some interesting articles on this passage:
Working Preacher: http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?lect_date=6/20/2010'

William Loader’s thoughts:
http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost4.htm

Commentary by Chris Haslam
http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/cpr12l.shtml

A social science perspective by Dr. Jerome Neyrey of Notre Dame: http://www.nd.edu/~jneyrey1/miracles.html

Prayer


Not in power and not in vengeance, O Lord of the prophets, but in weakness and compassion did your Son come among us. Schooled in this unique wisdom, may we be prepared to conquer our fears and temptations, to take up our cross daily and to follow Jesus toward true life. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, god for ever and ever. Amen.

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

Some Thoughts

It is important to this week’s Gospel within the context of the pericope in which it resides. In verse 22 Jesus gets into a boat, a storm arises and Jesus calms the storm as well as the fears of his disciples. The end of this story leaves a question hanging in the air: “Who is this, then, that commands even the winds and the water and they obey him?”
As the question is asked, Jesus steps out of the boat into the land of the Gerasenes, which we are told is opposite of Galilee.

Jesus is met by a man from the city who lives near the tombs and is seen in torn clothes. It is “Legion” then that answers the disciples’ question as he cries out: “Son of the Most High God.”

The name of the demon implies that there are four or six thousand demons inside the man; this is the number in a Roman military legion. While Mark’s Gospel takes on a political tone in the retelling of this story, Luke stays with his thematic proposition that this is a great prophet of God who has tremendous power. So the focus in Luke’s Gospel is on the number of demons and the power given to Jesus by God to heal the world. Who Jesus is and the work he is to do remain the focus in our Lukan version.
The demons beg for mercy. They do not want to return to the abyss, the place of sea monsters. So that is exactly where Jesus sends them.
People gather around to witness the event and then go into the city to retell the story. What the pig keepers saw was the man restored: in his right mind, clothed and sitting at Jesus’ feet. While the people tell the story out of fear leading to Jesus’ dismissal, the man who has been healed is charged to go to the city and make the work of Jesus known.
In this passage a number of themes come together. There is the prophet healer, the revelation of the Son of God. We also see the gentile mission beginning to take shape. And, last of all, we see one way in which Luke provides us an understanding of discipleship.

The model proposed in this story is the individual healed by Jesus, sent to proclaim the good news into the gentile world. In this model discipleship is partly a response to the reception of Grace and is aimed at a mission of proclamation to the world, which has not yet heard the Good News of Christ.
The work of the reign of God is the work of salvation. We are healed not only for our sake, we are healed for the greater glory of God, which is manifested in the growing discipleship community. Faith, salvation and mission are united in the work of Jesus and in the work of those whose lives are “closely linked” with him.
Luke Timothy Johnson points this out in the last paragraph (Luke, Sacra Pagina, p 140) of his teaching on this chapter:
“Finally, in Luke’s terse reduction of Mark 5:16, ‘How the man was saved,’ we see his characteristic understanding of what the meaning of the story is: God’s visitation is for salvation. Now, when we see two stories (of the stilling and the demoniac), we perceive not only that they both demonstrate the power of the prophet over winds and spirits, but that they join the elements of ‘faith’ and ‘salvation,’ and thereby provide a link between Luke’s version of the parable of the sower, where hearing the word and doing it is ‘believing tha they might be saved’ (8:12), and the story of the two daughters in which saving faith is the entire point.” [8:40-56]

I sometimes wonder how many of us, including myself, ever get past the gratitude for grace into the mission field?

The Lambeth (Indaba) 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…”

Proper 7, Ordinary Time, C

Those under Christ's government are sweetly led with the bands of love; those under the devil's government are furiously driven. Oh what a comfort it is to the believer, that all the powers of darkness are under the control of the Lord Jesus!"

From Matthew Henry’s Commentary: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc5.Luke.ix.html


Luke 8:26-39

26Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— 29for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. 32Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. 34When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

A Little Bit for Everyone

Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+8:26-39&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/properc7.htm

Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk8.htm

Some interesting articles on this passage:

Working Preacher: http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?lect_date=6/20/2010

William Loader’s thoughts:

http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost4.htm

Commentary by Chris Haslam

http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/cpr12l.shtml

A social science perspective by Dr. Jerome Neyrey of Notre Dame: http://www.nd.edu/~jneyrey1/miracles.html

Prayer

Not in power and not in vengeance, O Lord of the prophets, but in weakness and compassion did your Son come among us. Schooled in this unique wisdom, may we be prepared to conquer our fears and temptations, to take up our cross daily and to follow Jesus toward true life. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, god for ever and ever. Amen.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.
Some Thoughts

As we begin to think about and reflect upon our Gospel today it is important to see it within the context of the pericope in which it resides. We begin in verse 22 with Jesus getting into a boat, a storm arising and Jesus calming the storm and the fears of his disciples. This is important because the end of this story leaves a question hanging in the air: “Who is this, then, that commands even the winds and the water and they obey him?”

As the question is asked, Jesus steps out of the boat into the land of the Gerasenes which we are told is opposite of Galilee.

Jesus is met by a man from the city who lives near the tombs and is see in torn clothes. It is legion then that answers the disciples question as it cries out: “Son of God Most High.”

The name of the demon implies that there are four or six thousand demons inside the man; this is the number in a Roman military legion. While Mark’s Gospel takes on a political tone in the retelling of this story, Luke stays with his thematic proposition that this is a great prophet of God who has tremendous power. So the focus in Luke’s Gospel is on the number of demons and the power given to Jesus by God to heal the world. Who Jesus is and the work he is to do remain the focus in our Lukan version.

The demons are begging for mercy. They do not want to return to the abyss, which is where they are from; the place of sea monsters. So that is exactly where Jesus sends them.

People gathered around to witness the event and then they go into the city to tell the story. What the pig keepers saw was the man restored: in his right mind, at the feet of Jesus, and clothed. While the people do this out of fear leading to Jesus’ dismissal, the man who has been healed is charged to go to the city and make the work of Jesus known.

In this passage a number of themes are coming together. We see the theme of the prophet healer. We see the theme of the revelation of the Son of God. We also see the gentile mission beginning to take shape. And, last of all, we see one way in which Luke provides us an understanding of discipleship.

The model proposed in this story is one where the individual healed by Jesus is sent to proclaim the good news into the gentile world. In this model discipleship is partly a response to the reception of Grace and is aimed at a mission of proclamation to the world which has not yet heard the Good News of Christ.

The work of the reign of God is the work of salvation. We are not healed only for our sake, we are healed for the greater glory of God which is manifested in the growing discipleship community. Faith, salvation, and mission are united in the work of Jesus and in the work of those whose lives are “closely linked” with him.

Luke Timothy Johnson points this out in the last paragraph (Luke, Sacra Pagina, p 140) of his teaching on this chapter:
“Finally, in Luke’s terse reduction of mark 5:16, ‘How the man was saved,’ we see his characteristic understanding of what the meaning of the story is: god’s visitation is for salvation. Now, when we see two stories (of the stilling and the demoniac), we perceive not only that they both demonstrate the power of the prophet over winds and spirits, but that they join the elements of ‘faith’ and ‘salvation,’ and thereby provide a link between Luke’s version of the parable of the sower, where hearing the word and doing it is ‘believing tha they might be saved’ (8:12), and the story of the two daughters in which saving faith is the entire point.” [8:40-56]
I sometimes wonder how many of us, including myself, ever get past the gratitude for grace into the mission field?

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, June 11, 2010

Proper 6, Ordinary Time, C

"Let the candour with which our Lord accepted this invitation, and his gentleness and prudence at this ensnaring entertainment, teach us to mingle the wisdom of the serpent, with the innocence and sweetness of the dove. Let us neither absolutely refuse all favours, nor resent all neglects, from those whose friendship is at best very doubtful, and their intimacy by no means safe."
John Wesley, Wesley’s Notes, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/notes.i.iv.viii.html

Luke 7:36 - 8:3

36One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. 38She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. 39Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” 40Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “Speak.” 41“A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” 43Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” 48Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

8Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, 2as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

A Little Bit for Everyone

Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+7:36+-+8:3&vnum=yes&version=nrsv
Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/properc6.htm

Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk7_8.htm
Some interesting articles on this passage:
Lectionary at Lunch site: http://www.csl.edu/Resources_AudioVideo_LectionaryatLunch.aspx

William Loader’s thoughts:
http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost3.htm

http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/Tassels.html
Amy Erickson: http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?lect_date=6/13/2010

Commentary by Chris Haslam

http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/cpr11m.shtml

Essay on the context of the proclamation of the reign of God by David Batstone: http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/oct1992/v49-3-article9.htm

Prayer

Your mercies, O God, cannot be counted, nor do you tire of offering us forgiveness. Grant us, then, a heart both faithful and repenant, ready to respond to your great love, so that along all the pathways of life, and to everyone far and wide, we may be able to proclaim the gospel’s message of reconciliation and peace. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

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

Some Thoughts

Today we have a lesson that teaches us about hospitality and forgiveness in the reign of God.
We have a dinner party in the home of one of the Pharisees where guests are eating Hellenistic style -- laying back. One can imagine that they were probably laying back on pillows and or couches. Most likely, they would have been facing one another and the table with their feet tucked behind them, making them accessible to the woman. (Luke Timothy Johnson, Luke, 127)
The woman is obviously known as a sinner and her reason for being present is unknown. We might recall the anointing of Jesus in the readings prior to Easter. Here in Luke, this lesson carries none of the same imagery regarding the oil being similar to oils used at burial or that it is expensive oil. This is important so as not to confuse the two stories. Here, Jesus is teaching carefully about the everyday work of living in the reign of God.
I love the next verse. It is as if our narrator is playing or joking with us -- jabbing at the Pharisee. The Pharisee says, “If this fellow were a prophet he would know who and what kind of woman it is who touches him, that she is a sinner.” Jesus of course is a prophet; we have been reading about his prophetic powers in the chapters that precede this one. So we are on the inside and know the Pharisee is wrong. Moreover, we see that Jesus does know her heart and in fact also knows the Pharisee.
Jesus begins and he is quickly cut off by his host who jabs a little himself by cynically saying, “Teacher speak.” Jesus gives us a parable.
Jesus’ parable causes us and his host to think. Who loves the moneylender more? The one who is forgiven a little or a lot?
Luke Timothy Johnson points out that this is a gracious act and that the forgiveness of debt is seen as a gift. The word used for love means gratitude. So a debt is owed, a gift of forgiveness is made, and there is gratitude. (LTJ, Luke, 127)
Jesus then uses the opportunity, having revealed the woman’s gratefulness for her Lord’s forgiveness, to highlight the lack of hospitality by Simon. Jesus uses the phrase, “you did not give to me,” each time he challenges Simon. Simon did not give water for cleansing, a kiss of greeting or oil for anointing. Johnson writes, “by the logic of the parable, the woman’s actions showed her state of forgiveness. Simon’s refusal, likewise, indicates a lack of forgiveness. There is the edge.” (127)
The woman has reacted with great gratitude because her sins were forgiven and the manner in which she illustrates her gratitude shows, not the reason for the forgiveness but, the level of the forgiveness that was received. God has forgiven her much. One can see this by her expression of faith and gratitude.
He then says, “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.” Johnson points out that this is the first time that faith and the act of saving have been put together. Peace comes to the one who lives in the reign of God, forgiven and free. (128)
Luke Timothy Johnson writes:

“In 7:29-30, the people were divided between sinners and tax-agents who accepted prophets and justified God, and the lawyers and the Pharisees who rejected prophets and also God’s plan. In 7:34, furthermore, Jesus was pilloried as a “friend of sinners” and one who “ate and drank.” Here we find him eating and drinking at table, showing himself a friend to a sinner, who in turn accepts him as a prophet, while the Pharisee rejects him. The ending of this story, in turn, prepares for the next development, in which Luke will show more fully how ‘faith saves.’”
As I sit and write and reflect on preaching this weekend, I wonder how I am in different situations, as different people in the Gospel.
How often do I act like Simon, oblivious to my own behavior, while very clear and willing to speak out about another person’s behavior?
How often am I like or unlike Jesus, willing to stand up to the power in the room and offer kindness and hospitality to someone so clearly outside the normal social construct of our own time?
How often do I give back to God a level of gratitude commensurate with my feelings of grace and provision? In other words, do I return to God in keeping with my feelings of forgiveness by God? Or, do I give back based on what I feel I am able to give?
There seem to be three pretty powerful themes this week: forgiveness, hospitality and stewardship. Each has the power to inspire for the community gathered in a counter-cultural way of responding and being in relationship with God.
The Indaba 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, June 4, 2010

Luke 7:11-17

"Last week, on Trinity Sunday we wrestled with a God that is so big and mysterious that we have great difficulty comprehending how He even exists. God's very existence is a struggle for us. And that is troubling to the soul and mind. But, here, we wrestle with the closeness of God."
RMC Morley, a garden path, 2010.

Luke 7:11-17

11Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. 12As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. 13When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” 15The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!” 17This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.

A Little Bit for Everyone

Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+7:11-17&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/properc5.htm

Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk7b.htm

Some interesting articles on this passage:

Facebook page, have you seen this? http://www.facebook.com/textweek

Lectionary at Lunch site: http://www.csl.edu/Resources_AudioVideo_LectionaryatLunch.aspx

William Loader’s thoughts:

http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost2.htm

Amy Erickson: http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?lect_date=6/6/2010

Krista Tippitt’s Speaking on Faith podcast with Dr. Mehmet Oz:

http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/heartandsoul/


Some Thoughts
We are in a unique section of the Gospel of Luke. This story of Jesus’ healing of the widow’s son from Nain is pure Lukan and comes straight out of his community. The general trajectory of the narrative appears to be a raising up of Jesus as the “prophetic proclaimer of good news to the poor” which is one of the primary images of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel. (Luke Timothy Johnson, Luke, Sacra Pagina, 119)

As we think back through our scripture we can see some resemblance to the story of the prophet Elijah who raises the widow of Sarepta’s son from the dead in 1 Kings 17:20-24. Certainly as Luke is telling the story of Jesus, he is verbally echoing the king's story in an effort to bring to the listener's mind the power of Elijah, multiplied in the power of Jesus. We might remember that for Luke Jesus is not a prophet, or a great prophet, but THE prophet who not only proclaims the reign of God but himself ushers it into reality.

Jesus has been at work, illustrating his particular care for the poor and for the outcast. This is work proclaimed in the sermon on the plain. Jesus is modeling for his disciples the kingdom work and he models it for those who would call themselves disciples today. He has entered Capernaum, and healed a slave – not a member of the Temple faith though he goes to synagogue. Jeus marvels at the centurion’s faith, which is shown as an example of Gentile faith and the slave is made well. It is after this healing that Jesus leaves Capernaum and goes to the next town over called Nain.

We note that the crowd (ochlos - a word that means the group of individuals, motley in nature, that follows a military garrison around and provides food and supplies for the support of the mission of the army) is gathered around and following Jesus and his disciples as they go about their work teaching and making miracles. We see though that Jesus has now pulled the disciples out and he teaches to them directly. Luke separates them and distinguishes them from the crowd.

The widow has lost her son. The consequences of this would have been obvious to the person in the first century who hears this news. She would have no obvious means of support. Her wealth, her property, everything would have been handed over to the Pharisees to hold in trust for her. This is a very bad situation and the woman who already has so little going for her as a widow now stands to loose everything else. We might remember the special focus on ministry to the widows that the disciples carry out in electing deacons to take care of this special group of people.

Luke identifies Jesus as Lord. This is the first time he is mentioned as Lord in the narrative. Luke will use this title a great deal. We might remember that it is used very late in John and sparingly in others. However, Jesus is for Luke the resurrected Lord. We might reflect on how the eyes of faith are looking back and retelling the story in order to instruct future followers. (Luke 1.1ff)

Jesus feels compassion, he has mercy. He tells her not to fear, not to weep. He touches the coffin and says, “Young man….arise.” These are the same words used for the paralytic, and the man with the withered hand. The reality and power of this event though hits the thematic statement from Isaiah’s prophesy that the dead will be raised. The young man is presented to his mother with an almost exact quote from the 1 Kings narrative. (LTJ, Luke, 119)

The event prompts fear in the witnesses and they give glory to God. And they say, “A great prophet has been raised up among us!” And “God has visited his people!” Here is the exclamation point to Luke’s purpose in telling the story. Jesus is the great prophet. He has proclaimed God’s special attention to the poor and to the widows. He has gone out into the countryside to heal and raise the dead. He is a prophet of both word and deeds. He is a prophet who will also proclaim the reign of God and bring that to fruition as well.

The church can be a great prophet of the reign of God to the world, but the question is are we simply a prophetic voice or are we prophetic in action?

Walter Brueggeman made a wonderful point in his address to the House of Bishops gathered at Kanuga in 2009. He showed how the prophetic work of the people of Israel was directed internally and towards one another when the nation was at its greatest power. When the nation of Israel was in Babylon or imprisoned by occupying forces, it did not direct its prophetic power on itself but upon the occupying forces. Brueggeman went on to explain that the Christian Church is currently dwelling within a hostile and occupying culture, and rather than following the ancient tradition of unifying ourselves for the proclamation and work of the kingdom, we are instead aiding the occupying forces to dismantle our unity by directing our assaults and actions against one another. I was struck at how unbiblical we were actually being.

Is it possible for the Church, in the midst of its great conflicts, to look up and see that we have work to do outside of ourselves? We have work to do in Capernaum and in Nain. We have work to do in our local communities. God’s people who do not participate in Sunday worship with us today exist outside our tent, as did the Gentiles of Jesus’ day, and we have an opportunity to make a prophetic witness to the world and back it up with actions and deeds.

Until the Church is able to recognize the missionary frontier in which it is living, and seek unity in the midst of diversity for the sake of mission and truly embrace the prophetic work of Christianity for the sake of the poor and the widow of our day, we will not fully be living into the call Jesus Christ has on us.

While we have been in our theological heads for the season between Easter and Pentecost Sunday speaking of the Trinity, we might pause to see the divine community at work. Remember the work of Christ is to glorify God. The work of the divine Trinity is the glorification of God’s self. Here in today’s lesson we see the power of the divine economy in the world, working and healing and raising the dead. The response of the people who experience the divine community at work in the world: “They gave glory to God.”

We are to be the apostolic community out in the world, the living examples of God’s healing hands. We are to be doing the work that brings glory to God.

I cannot help but wonder in my prayer this week the following, “Perhaps it is in this prophetic work that our church itself might be raised from the dead and God glorified?”
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).