Friday, August 27, 2010

Proper 17, Ordinary Time, Year C

David Lose, Dear Working Preacher, 2010.

"If there was ever a gospel reading that invited a polite yawn, this might be it.

I mean, goodness, but Jesus comes off in this scene

as a sort of a progressive Miss Manners...

Except I think there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye.

Etiquette, after all, is not simply about manners in the ancient world;

it's about honor and shame and social position and political standing..."

http://www.workingpreacher.org/dear_wp.aspx?article_id=392


Luke 14:1-14

14On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. 2Just then, in front of him, there was a man who had dropsy. 3And Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, “Is it lawful to cure people on the sabbath, or not?” 4But they were silent. So Jesus took him and healed him, and sent him away. 5Then he said to them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a sabbath day?” 6And they could not reply to this.

7When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 12He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Print by Albrecht Durer

A Little Bit for Everyone

Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+14:1-14&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/properc17.htm

Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk14a.htm

Some interesting articles on this passage:

Dr. William Long: http://www.drbilllong.com/LectionaryII/Lk14.html

Diane Komp, Theology Today article:

http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/jan1993/v49-4-article3.htm

William Loader’s thoughts:

http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost14.htm


Commentary by Chris Haslam

http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/cpr22l.shtml
Great treasures website: http://greattreasures.org/gnt/main.do

Prayer

Not for a place of honor did your Son come among us, O god of the lowly, but to invite to the wedding feast the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. Let such humility grace our table and lead us to renounce the quest for power and privilege. Taking our place with other sinners, we may share the banquet your Son has prepared for those who place their trust in your grace alone. 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

I have a friend who likes to say, “The reason Jesus was killed is he ate with sinners.” It always strikes me as a shocking thing to say. I believe it challenges me because I don’t like to think on a day to day basis that in America we have a class system. I was listening to a podcast interview this summer on the Economist and these two British citizens and business men were commenting on this very thing. They engaged in a conversation about how in America there does not seem to be a class system and there is a lot of discussion about an egalitarian society. However, they said there is, it is just difficult to see. I mentioned this to a friend and priest and we had a long discussion about the matter and he said something I had not thought of before. He commented on the fact that Americans are able to purchase anything. A member of the middle or lower middle class, even some of the lower classes can wear the clothes the rich wear; they can eat at the restaurants the rich eat in. He said this gives the false idea of a level playing field and makes money the central commodity in the system that moves you up and down. Therefore your class is established essentially based upon your longevity to afford any particular lifestyle; whether you can afford it for an hour at a fine dining establishment or a weekend in a posh resort.

Jesus has some different ideas about how the system should work. He is challenging and teaching a very radical thing; radical enough that they killed him for it and perhaps so radical that it is hard for us to reconcile ourselves to his lifestyle.

So our passage begins with Jesus at meal with the Pharisees. We might remember that this sect within the Jewish household has a number of boundaries and policies if you are to be a member; chiefly among these is the rule governing who you can be seated at table with.

A man appears who is suffering from what we call today edema, or the swelling caused by excess fluid. Jesus has been really at odds with the establishment regarding healing on the Sabbath and he brings it up here in relationship to this man. So, first we note it is the Sabbath. Second we must see that this man who is obviously a sinner because of his illness has entered into the midst of their supper and threatens to contaminate them all. The Pharisees are silent.

Jesus teaches on the importance of the Godly commandment to love neighbor and we can easily see the themes of the Abrahamic family running through his thoughts on the child or an ox. We are reminded perhaps of the untying of the mule last week and the daughter of Abraham. Jesus continues in Luke to teach that they are hypocritical when they publicly hold one doctrine clearly for the use of power and authority and separation and division of the family when privately they allow or make room for behavior which contradicts their public word and action.

We are then told a short illustration, almost a parabolic type of teaching, about being invited to the wedding feast.

Jesus says to invite the poor with the knowledge they can never repay what is given. Is this not another way of describing the grace we receive from God. Are we not the poor who receive everything from the grace of Jesus Christ which makes us rich? Instead of class, or money, or any other system defining us we are defined purely by the gift of life and the gift of reconciliation to God and one another by Jesus Christ.

As Luke Timothy Johnson points out, Jesus is challenging all of our conventional patterns of reciprocity. (Luke, 227)

We might typically see this passage as a call to change our service and outreach to the poor. Indeed it certainly is that. However, it is also a challenge to see more deeply the gap which lies between those we believe are ok to go to church with and those Jesus is inviting into community, in point of fact inviting to come to table with us and full members of the family of Abraham.

“Behold,” Jesus says, “here is ____________. Are you willing to help me get his life out of the ditch?” Wow! I am challenged by this idea in more ways than one can imagine. I wonder what name or type of person I might put in this blank. Until the church can answer Jesus’ challenge honestly, then do the opposite of what is expected we will forever be limited in our mission, in our evangelism, in discerning God’s imagination, and in see the kingdom of God for what it is!
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, August 20, 2010

Proper 16, Ordinary Time, Year C

"God’s focus is not self-aggrandizement as it is with so many who have power and wealth and want to keep it, but generosity and giving, restoration and healing, encouraging and renewing."

William Loader: http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost13.htm


Luke 13:10-17

10Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” 13When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the Sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?” 17When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

A Little Bit for Everyone

Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+13:10-17&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/properc16.htm

Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk13b.htm

Some interesting articles on this passage:

Teresa Berger of Duke Divinity School commentary: http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=3117

William Loader’s thoughts:

http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost13.htm

Commentary by Chris Haslam

http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/cpr21l.shtml


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

Prayer

O God, the source of all health: So fill my heart with faith in your love, that with calm expectancy I may make room for your power to possess me, and gracefully accept your healing; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer, 461
Some Thoughts

It is an easy thing to read this passage and to wander off into the strong political imagery of the woman in relationship to those who have power over her. I think we cannot help but wonder about the relationship between the woman and the ruler of the synagogue. Indeed, as I read many commentaries I was struck by the emotional and convicting imagery of the bent over woman, possessed by powers, struggling for 18 years and the knowledge that one of the powers that kept her down must have been the hard fist of the religious system of the day. It would not have favored her and in fact in her healing begins to work against Jesus who frees her from the oppression. As I reread the passage, I began to ask myself am I missing something?

The first piece of information that seems central to this passage is that our reading does not include the whole pericope. We begin this section of Jesus’ teachings with warnings to repent. We see that Jesus is answering the age old question about God and the manner in which God works in the world. The question: Did God make the tower fall on the eighteen people at Siloam? The answer is no, but it is also that everyone should be ready for the coming of the kingdom. We know that Jesus believe the reign of God was imminent; if not already present as he himself was present. So, Jesus is being clear: be ready. The time to follow is now!

Jesus then gives the parable of the man who saves the fig tree but for a little longer seeking to care for it and to nurture it into bearing fruit. This is an important image because it helps us to understand perhaps how Jesus sees his own ministry. He is the one, spare them but a little longer, let us fertilize and tend to our creation.

So, we come to our text for this Sunday. Here we are told that there is a woman present who has weak. She is possessed according to the Greek. She has been this way for 18 years; notice the connection between her years of possession and the number of people in Siloam that died. Jesus sees her and he frees her. This is done as are all the works of Christ to glorify God.

We are told that the ruler of the synagogue was irritated. Instead of addressing Jesus directly he triangulates the crowd to his cause and raises their ire against the prophet.

Jesus reacts promptly. He tells them that everyone frees even their work animals on the Sabbath and that humans, especially this woman who has been as tied up by the devil, surely deserves her freedom – Sabbath or not.

Notice though too that he calls her a “daughter of Abraham.” She is neighbor. Like Zacchaeus who is called “son of Abraham” she is part of the family; part of the deuteronomistic family of God. Paul calls those in Antioch “sons of the family of Abraham (Acts 13:26). Our prayer book describes the church as the family of God. We are the all the inheritors of this designation and as such are freed from bondage.

Jesus is connecting clearly the freedom of Israel with the freedom of this woman from her possession. Jesus is offering us a very key understanding of the work of the reign of God and that is to free those who are imprisoned, to proclaim release of the captives. To bring the family of Abraham out of the bondage this keeps it from bearing fruit into a new era of mission. Sabbath here is intimately connected with the work, and by the work, of freedom making. The Sabbath is a day of rest; it is a day of proclamatory rest from the bondage of evil, sin, and death.

The crowd rejoices and the opponents are put to shame says the scripture.

This miracle of freedom is one of the signs that play on the great mosaic and messianic themes running through Luke’s Gospel. Jesus is not only the great prophet offering a vision of the reign of God; Jesus is the great deliverer who will bring us out of the land of suffering into a new life of freedom. Here in this story Luke is playing on the powerful images, showing his reader who Jesus is and what our response is to be. We are to see the great signs. Unlike last weeks scripture we are to know the signs of the seasons and the signs of the son of man. We are to see and respond. Luke Timothy Johnson reminds us (Luke, 215) that it is possible that “the woman’s standing to glorify God will remind us of the saying about the return of the Son of Man in 21:28: ‘when these things begin to happen, stand up straight, lift up your heads, for the time of your liberation has come.’”

I can see that in different contexts both messages (the justice and the missionary) will be important. So we might reflect and ask these questions of ourselves: On this Sunday will our proclamation be that the woman is freed and so we are free? Or, will we say “see this is the Christ, come and follow, bear fruit, and make way in the wilderness so that others may be free”?
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, August 12, 2010

Proper 15, Ordinary Time, C

"A UCC colleague pointed out that Garth Brooks' song, 'Standing Outside the Fire' is a appropriate commentary on this text. (The song is really an encouragement to "stand in the fire" -- a possible sermon title.)"
Brian Stoffregen at CrossMarks Christian Resources Commentary: http://www.crossmarks.com/brian/luke12x49.htmHere
Here is the song: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=921298412179627748#

Luke 12:49-56

49“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

54He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. 55And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. 56You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

A Little Bit for Everyone

Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+12:49-56&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/properc15.htm

Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk12c.htm

Some interesting articles on this passage:

Dr. William Long commentary: http://www.drbilllong.com/LectionaryII/Lk1248.html

William Loader’s thoughts:

http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost12.htm

Commentary by Chris Haslam

http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/cpr20l.shtml

Teresa Berger, The Christian Century, 2004 commentary: http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=3116

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

Prayer

Surrounded by your great cloud of witnesses, we look to Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of our faith. Let us be consumed in the fire he kindles, and immersed in the baptism of his death, that he may remember us when he comes into his kingdom.

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


Some Thoughts

As we begin the study of the passage for this week we are mindful of references to Elijah who drew down fire and to John the Baptist who foretold, “the tree not bearing fruit is to be thrown in the fire.” (Luke Timothy Johnson, Luke, 207). Jesus’ time is coming, and he is eager for the judgment and the eschaton – end time. He is also sure that his followers are not ready…that we are not ready. We are not ready to go through the baptism that he will go through.

Jesus continues prophetically by speaking of the peace and the division of families. Unlike Gabriel’s words in 1:17 where the heart of the father will be turned towards the son, Jesus promises a different outcome for those who choose to follow into the fire.

The listener shares the “blindness of the lawyers” previously discussed. (LTJ, Luke, 209) They are hypocrites like them and can’t see it is time to do what is right. Calling his followers and listeners hypocrites raises before them the concept that they can read the seasons but do not know that the Son of God is with them now! The time is now! Follow now! Live the life I give to you now!

I cannot help but connect the prophetic naming of hypocrite with the one who is more willing to bring the faults of others to the Godly throne. Do what is right and be careful of hauling your neighbor before the judge.

Jesus began this section of teaching by encouraging his followers. Jesus ends the teaching with a call to conversion. The reader must assume the conversion is meant for everyone.

There is a metaphorical connection between the reader/listener/follower and the parable of the two on the road to the judge. We are reading and on the way with Jesus. His listeners are standing on the road with Jesus. All of us are there on the way to Jerusalem, to the judgment seat (literally and figuratively and literally). Settling into life with Jesus now will be easier than later.

This is as if to say that our purpose is to live the life of Jesus in this world - to get to the work of restoration and glorification of God now, imitating our teacher and loving our neighbor. We may choose at the judgment seat in the next life to accept Christ, but it will be more difficult if not impossible. We may first, like the traveler along the road who rested in the comfort of his neighbor’s sure demise, be required to pay all that we owe. We may have to get all that is coming to us.

this reminds me of what my father-in-law used to say, “Would you like a piece of pie?” You would of course say, “Yes.” Then you would notice perhaps that a little crust was left in the pie plate from your piece. You might then say, “Now Paw Paw, I want all that is coming to me.” He would then smile and say, “Do you really want all that is coming to you?” Knowing immediately what he was thinking you say quickly, “Well…no…not ALL that is coming to me.”

When I think of Jesus and this passage  I am thinking of that piece of pie. How sure I sometimes am that I really want all that is coming to me and I want all that is coming to my neighbor too. But Jesus takes the focus off of the other and beckons us to be introspective and act first out of a sense of repentance to the grace we are being offered. Jesus is standing there before us, just at the time we are sure we are the one’s who have it all right, and he is saying, “Do you really want all that is coming to you?” Then Jesus is saying, “You can read the seasons and times, but you can't see the time is now. I am on the road with you right now, as you are trying to follow the way. You better get things right with me now. You better get to work living the life. You better be careful, because you don’t really want all that is coming to you.”

These are the uncomfortable words of Jesus. Have courage. Get right with Jesus before the judgment. Repent, and take a step into the fire.

I am mindful of the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abedinego, the three young men in the fire by Nebuchadnezzar’s hand. (Daniel 1.1ff).  The passage also made me think of Bob Marley and the Wailer’s song Survival.

Yeah, yeah, yeah!

How can you be sitting there
Telling me that you care -
That you care?
When every time I look around,
The people suffer in the suffering
In everyway, in everywhere.

Say: na-na-na-na-na (na-na, na-na!):
We're the survivors, yes: the Black survivors!
I tell you what: some people got everything;
Some people got nothing;
Some people got hopes and dreams;
Some people got ways and means…

We're the survivors, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego,
Thrown in the fire, but-a never get burn.
So brothren, sistren,
The preaching and talkin' is done;
We've gotta live up, wo now, wo now! -
'Cause the Father's time has come.
Some people put the best outside;
Some people keep the best inside;
Some people can't stand up strong;
Some people won't wait for long.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Proper 14, Ordinary Time, C

It is a foolish thing not to look for small things at the hands of him who freely gives us the greatest things."

Geneva Notes Commentary: http://www.ccel.org/g/geneva/notes/Luke/12.html

Luke 12:32-48

32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 35“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. 39“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

41Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?” 42And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? 43Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. 44Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. 45But if that slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. 47That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. 48But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.

Icon of the Second Coming

A Little Bit for Everyone

Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+12:32-48&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/properc14.htm

Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk12b.htm

Some interesting articles on this passage:

Martin E. Marty, The Christian Century 2001: http://www.wellsprings.org.uk/weekly_wellsprings/year_c/sunday_19.htm

William Loader’s thoughts:
http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost11.htm

Commentary by Chris Haslam
http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/cpr18l.shtml

Brian McGowan, Anglican priest in Western Australia: http://www.angelfire.com/journal2/laterallyluke/LLK123240PENT10.html

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


Prayer

Keep our lamps burning brightly, our hearts ever watchful for the hour of your Son’s return, that we may open the gate as soon as he knocks and be admitted by him to the eternal banquet.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.
Some Thoughts

Jesus in Luke’s Gospel is clear about our work. We are to share all that we have, just as God has shared all that he is. So we arrive at this Gospel for today prepared to hear Jesus tell us to be watchful and be prepared to serve.

We are ready. Our belts are cinched and we are waiting for the moment, just as a master of the house expecting a thief.

Unlike the rich man from last week’s Gospel reading, we are to be ready. We do not know when God is coming, but we are to be prepared as if it were now – this very moment.

What we discover is that Jesus is not only talking about the Day of Judgment. Jesus is also talking about the fact that we are judged in every moment. God sees us. God sees us all the time. There is never a time when we are alone – the existential and egotism of the modern era would be considered a lie to Jesus.

Notice Jesus and the work of the disciples are to be compared with the servant/slave who serves the table and household well. We get caught sometimes in the parables awful tale of woe for the lazy and unfaithful steward; perhaps because we automatically place ourselves in this secondary role. Jesus is offering, beckoning us to take the first role. We are called and invited to be like Jesus (who will after all serve at the last supper). We are to be the first servant. We are to be faithful managers of the household. We are to be sensible. We are to make sure everyone has food to eat and cares to see that the regularity of the day and its work is carried out.

Jesus is clearly offering not only a vision of discipleship as the “sensible” servant. He is also offering a vision of those who are currently keeping God’s house. Here is the work of the church today. We must take care not to become the second servant. We cannot become the one who abuses those who serve with us. We cannot be gluttonous desiring only our own worldly security. This will become clearer as we approach the parables of kingship and vineyard.

We as Christians, followers of Jesus, who believe in the divine household of God, given through God’s providence, know that with such a great gift comes a great responsibility for all of creation. It is this great responsibility and great task that we inherit the greater judgment and review of our stewardship.

We must be ready, for we do not know when the master of the house returns. But when he returns, even though we be servants in the household of God for only a short while, may he find here in the church a family of God, a temple of the Holy Spirit, a community of faithful, wise, and sensible servants.
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).