Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sermon Notes Proper 22 Luke 17:5-10

“Next Jesus momentarily offends our (revolutionary) sensibilities by appealing to what seems like the conventional social structure. Slaves should humbly serve their masters?”

Debbie Blue offers a weekly, earthy take on the lessons at http://thehardestquestion.org/yearc/ordinary27gospel/

Information about the site: The Hardest Question is intended to be much more than a blog that asks tough questions of the Bible text and allows the Bible text to ask tough questions of us. THQ is also envisioned as a unique kind of Christian community, a community not unlike that which is found in Jewish midrash.

Luke 17:5-10
5The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 7“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”


A Little Bit for Everyone
Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+17:5-10&vnum=yes&version=nrsv
Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/properc22.htm
Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk17a.htm

Some interesting articles on this passage
Sermon by John Wesley:
http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umhistory/wesley/sermons/112/
William Loader’s thoughts:
http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost19.htm
Commentary by Chris Haslam
http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/cpr27l.shtml
Some thoughts from Working Preacher:
http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?lect_date=10/3/2010
Mark Harris, an Episcopal priest, is executive director of the Global Episcopal Mission
Network: http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=2127
Great treasures website: http://greattreasures.org/gnt/main.do



Prayer
You hear, O God, the prayer of those whose faith is the size of a mustard seed. Give us humility of heart, that we may work with all our strength for the growth of your kingdom, yet recognize that we are yours, “doing what we were supposed to do”. You have called us in order to reveal to all the wonders your love has accomplished.

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

Some Thoughts
In the parable of Lazarus last week we heard that how we live matters to God and it matters to Jesus. In this reading we learn we are to do what has been given to us to do. Let’s begin by looking closely at the text as our conversation with Jesus and his disciples continues to develop in this 17th chapter of Luke.

We cannot guess why the “apostles” ask Jesus to add to their faith. He has been teaching some very tough messages about stumbling blocks on the journey of faith and he’s been very direct with the religious leaders of the day. I can only imagine, especially after the message of accountability, that I, in their shoes, would ask the same thing. I might say, “Jesus what you say is hard. It is actually REALLY difficult. Give me faith to do these things … add to my faith.”

Jesus then gives the apostles and us the image of “faith as a mustard seed” with which to face the challenges of discipleship. If we had faith “like” a mustard seed the mulberry bush would obey us. Here we believe that it is about the size of the seed and not about the nature of the mustard seed.

The mustard plant is an aggressive weed which will take over and push out other crops if not carefully removed or contained within a garden. If you are not careful that tiny seed will grow and generate a whole garden of mustard. The rural people of Jesus’ time would have understood this immediately.

What Jesus means is if we had just a little faith it would spread and all of creation would obey us. In fact we might lean into the parabolic teaching a little here to believe that Jesus is saying we could, with just a little faith, be at work restoring one another and all of creation into the reign of God. Our work is to proclaim the Gospel of Salvation and the unique person of Jesus Christ and emulate his actions in the world, transforming and changing the world.

Like the “slave” or “servant” (both of which are unsuitable images in our modern context) we are bound or tethered to the work of God. As creatures of God we have been created to reflect the glory of God. Jesus’ death and resurrection provides the grace needed to overcome the obstacles to our work with God in creation; those obstacles are sin and death. Now that we have received the good news of Christ, we are to do as God has invited us: participate in the work of the divine trinity. We are to be a community in healthy relationship with one another, transforming the world around us that it may better serve God as was intended.

I am not talking about a return to some false Constantinian model of Christendom here. But we must meet the needs of the hungry, poor, oppressed and voiceless ones with whom Christ has a special relationship. We must return to a sustainable model of creation. These are stewardship themes that should rattle our cages at the very least.
 It is at this point that we must recall the verses that come before in order to have greater clarity about God’s expectations of our faith and ministry:
 We are not to be involved in scandal and if so we are to repent


We are not to cause others to stumble and if so we are to change our ways


Be accountable one to another and offer or seek out forgiveness



Luke Timothy Johnson describes this overall section in this way:


“First the reader has been schooled by this point to identify with ‘the poor’ who are called into the kingdom. The reader’s natural temptation is to assume that one is ‘Lazarus’ to the enemy’s ‘rich man.’ The rich man of the story ‘stumbled’ over the demand to share possessions, and did not repent. The community of the poor can easily see itself as pure victim. But the saying on the scandal and repentance turn the ethical demand on this community as well. Even in the kingdom there is opportunity for scandal and the need for repentance and forgiveness. The demand placed by Jesus on his followers is that they are themselves responsible for both; they cannot plead innocence because they are oppressed by others. If they cause scandal, they will be punished for it. If they are sinned against, they must forgive.” (Luke, 261)
How often do we spend our time on one topic or another? We either devote a lot of time on our own needs and wants and how they are not met by others; or we spend time giving clarity to our perception of the problems outside in our culture or in the lives of others. Christians are called to live between the reign of God and the world of today. We are called to work on God’s behalf. I pray, “Heavenly father give us faith, add to our faith for the work God gives us to do is demanding. Give us some comfort Lord that we may repent when we need amendment of life and forgive when we are bound too tightly to the sin of others.” Like the pilgrims in the dessert waiting outside the caves, hoping for a word from the dessert monks, we shout, “Abba, Father, give us a Word.”

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, September 24, 2010

Proper 21, Ordinary Time, Year C

"Some outcomes cannot be influenced. Some chasms cannot be crossed. Some things harden. There is a point of no return. Even Abraham cuts no ice with a God determined to be just."

http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=624
by J. Mary Luti, a freelance writer, is former associate dean at Andover Newton Theological School. This article appeared in the Christian Century, September 9-16, 1998, page 819; copyright by the Christian Century Foundation and used by permission. Current articles and subscription information can be found at www.christiancentury.org . This text was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.

Luke 16:19-31

19“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. 24He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ 25But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. 26Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ 27He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— 28for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 29Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

A Little Bit for Everyone

Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+16:19-31&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/properc21.htm

Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk16b.htm


Some interesting articles on this passage:

Sermon by John Wesley:
http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umhistory/wesley/sermons/112/

William Loader’s thoughts:
http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost18.htm

Commentary by Chris Haslam
http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/cpr26l.shtml

Some thoughts from Working Preacher:
http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?lect_date=9/26/2010

A study guide by Robert B. Kruschwitz:
http://www.baylor.edu/christianethics/ParablesStudyGuide1.pdf

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

Prayer

To the poor man of the parable, O God, your Son gave the name Lazarus, while the rich man’s only identity begins and ends with his wealth. Do justice for all who are oppressed. Put an end to humanity’s unbridled thoughtlessness. Let us cling to your word in Moses, the prophets and the gospels, so that we may be convinced that Christ is risen from the dead and be welcomed by you into your kingdom.

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

Some Thoughts

I cannot begin my reflection upon the story of Lazarus without pointing out the several verses that begin this pericope; without which I believe the context may indeed be lost. Luke tells us that the “Pharisees were money lovers.” They were disdainful of Jesus and of his teachings about wealth and stewardship. Jesus tells them that while they may justify their lives and manner of living in front of the people that God knows their hearts. No matter how society treats the privileged God will see that they truly serve wealth and not God alone. Jesus also is clear that the reign of God, the kingdom, is now being proclaimed and all are being urged to enter it. Jesus then gives the words on divorce and how in God’s eyes it is adultery.

Scholars point out that “idolatry, money, and divorce are joined in the law by the term bdelygma.” (Luke Timothy Johnson, Luke, 255) The word is translated from Greek into English with the meaning abomination, or abuse. Fornication is added to the list in the Qumran writings. (LTJ, 255) Jesus brings us all up short reminding us with these words of the singular focus upon God that is called for in the work of discipleship and how we cannot pretend piety when we also live a life of abuse.

I am not going to enter into the debate between Palagian and Augustine on the responsibility or depravity of human beings though this passage clearly touches on this theological theme. Nevertheless, these first words of the passage tell us that Jesus understands that his followers are to enter into virtuous living. The reign of God has a particular life that is lived and that life is one focused upon God. Those who reject the prophet will in turn be rejected by God.

I want to now remind us that Jesus is clear that John’s prophetic Gospel which begins with repentance and turning to the Lord are essential. Jesus says in this passage “the law and the prophets continue through John.” Luke Timothy Johnson believes that Jesus in the polemical speech may be challenging those who listen, and may be rhetorically asking, “Can those who love wealth even hear the law, the prophets, and the proclamation of the Gospel?” (255)

The way in which we might read the parable now of Lazarus is through the lens of these polemical teachings about life lived in the reign of God. It is in fact a teaching which illustrates the beatitudes themselves.

6:20 "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 "Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. "Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 "Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. 24 "But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 "Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. "Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 "Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

The blessings and the woes are clearly illustrated in the characters of Lazarus and the wealthy man.

The parable continues past the result of lives lived and rewards received in Heaven. The rich man still wants Lazarus to serve him to serve his brothers. We then discover that the rich man was more than wealthy he was a hard hearted man for he did not pay any attention to Lazarus in their life together. Luke Timothy Johnson reminds us of the law laid out in the Talmud: “Whoever turns away his eyes from one who appeals for charity is considered as if he were serving idols.” (256).

I have over time heard a lot of sermons on this passage. Most of them shy away from the issue of rejection. Jesus is clear though if one rejects God in this life, if one rejects living in the reign of God in this life, if one rejects the work of the reign of God in this life one will be rejected in the life to come.

In some way I want to chart a clear path for the Christian response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are charged to live a virtuous life. We humans have a very difficult life living such a life devoted to others and to God. It is natural for us to be selfish and to seek our own desires over the desires of others. Yet we are in the end also responsible for our life and our living.

I am convinced that how we live our lives today affects how we live our lives in the reign of God (realized in this world and in the age to come). The blessing of the cross and the resurrection is not our free ticket out of jail, but rather the removal of the stumbling block of sin that we may serve others and God in the name of Jesus Christ. We are to live a glorious life of caring and service. This is the greatest narrative to be told, and the living of the tale is what will ultimately be what attracts others into relationship with Jesus Christ.

Like the Pharisees we must recognize and name all that separates us from the love of God, claim our own abominations and the chasm we have dug for ourselves. After the repentance of John is undertaken in response to the message of Christ then we must realize the life we have been given is for living. We must live our lives in Christ and live them for the Lazarus dwelling at our own city gate..

Now that you have accepted your redemption and promised to live a life of Christ open your eyes to those sitting at the gates around you. See their faces. Know their names. Change their lives. We are to do nothing less than bring into this world the reign of God that the Lazarus at our gates may begin life in the bosom of Abraham today.

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…”

Proper 20, Ordinary Time, Year C

"Does Luke mean for us to relate the parables
of the Prodigal Son and the Dishonest Steward
for anything more than the fact that
they exist in his text side-by-side?"

Girardian Reflections on the Lectionary,
Proper 20, by Paul Nuechterlein & Friends.



Luke 16:1-13

16Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ 3Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ 5So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ 7Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’ 8And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. 10“Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

A Little Bit for Everyone

Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+16:1-13&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/properc20.htm

Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk16a.htm

Some interesting articles on this passage:

William Loader’s thoughts:
http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost17.htm

Commentary by Chris Haslam
http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/cpr25l.shtml

Some thoughts from Working Preacher:
http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?lect_date=9/19/2010

Thoughts from the Rev. Clint Schnekloth, ELCA:
http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Journal-of-Lutheran-Ethics/Issues/September-2010/The-Return-of-Eschatological-Economics.aspx

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


Prayer

Let the sincerity of our worship be matched by the dept of our commitment to justice. In a world where money rules supreme, may you alone be our master, and may we find our delight in serving each other.

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


Some Thoughts

This Sunday’s lesson is directed not at the crowds who are following Jesus and not at his detractors but rather at his disciples. This is clearly a discussion with those who have already chosen to follow Jesus and are searching for an understanding of expectations and the work that lies before them.

Clarity in expectations is very important. However, I would venture to guess that most of lean on our forgiveness of such expectations more than we do live into the expectations of the reign of God. This is perhaps the reason why this Sunday’s Gospel is difficult to hear and difficult to preach.

As scholars point out there are a number of difficult issues. Luke Timothy Johnson lays before us a couple of issues to be dealt with:
1. Where does the parable end and the moral lesson begin?

2. What is the nature of the steward’s action? Did he sacrifice something in his actions or is he continuing his same old dishonest ways?

3. Is this parable connected by a loose list of moral teachings or is there one overarching theme? (LTJ, Luke, 247)
If we go back to the text and set these difficult textual and critical issues aside for a moment we might gain some clarity. So, reread the text, and lets begin again.

We are to be stewards this is clear and a perennial theme throughout Jesus’ message, especially in the Gospel of Luke. This seems simple enough.

Jesus has turned his attention from the Pharisees and scribes to his disciples. Jesus seems to imply that the trouble with his detractors is the same with this steward – they have misused what is entrusted to them: the community of God.

Jesus offers then an understanding of what his followers should be doing. They should be proactively responsible and not squander. They should be proactive in lessening the burden of their neighbors.

When we hold on to, squander, or misuse what is given to us as God’s stewards in this world then we separate ourselves from God through the misuse of “mammon.”

If we give away, loosen the burden of others, care and tend what is given to us then we build up and strengthen our relationship with God and secure our place in the reign of God.

The other day I read a headline, “The earth does not care what we do with it.” This is true in a very real sense. The earth does not have feelings and in fact will regenerate itself if we wipe out civilization through human ineptitude. However, as Christians we understand that God does care. God does have expectations of us. I know these are human words to describe our relationship with God, but they are Jesus’ words. We are given as stewards all of creation and a tremendous number of relationships. What we do with them does matter.

How we are stewards matters for us and our lives in this world. And, it matters in our lives in the world to come – this is Jesus’ message in Luke’s Gospel.

The story of the dishonest steward gives us each an opportunity to look at how we use what is given to us. How do we use creation? How do we use the Gospel? How do we use the revelation of God in Jesus Christ? How do we use our lives? How do we use our bodies? How do we use our relationships? How do we greet people who are God’s own? How do we treat one another? How do we lessen the burden of others? Or heap on the burden of others? What we say, what we write, what we spend, how we act matters to God and it matters in the reign of God.

You and I like the disciples are already confronted with the “visitation of our Lord.” We know the expectations and today we are called to make an account. Are we ready?

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…”

Proper 19, Ordinary Time, Year C

From Matthew Henry’s Commentary:

"The parable of the prodigal son shows the nature of repentance, and the Lord's readiness to welcome and bless all who return to him."

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc5.Luke.xvi.html


Luke 15:1-32

15Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3So he told them this parable: 4“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. 8“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

11Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. 25“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

A Little Bit for Everyone

Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+15:1-32&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/properc19.htm

Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk15.htm

Some interesting articles on this passage:

Brian McGowen, Anglican Priest in Australia
http://www.angelfire.com/journal2/laterallyluke/LLK15110PENT15.htm

William Loader’s thoughts:
http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost16.htm

Commentary by Chris Haslam
http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/cpr22l.shtml

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



Prayer

So in Jesus you have come searching for us. May we never forget how much we are loved. May we never refuse to love others as much.

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

We find Jesus again in the midst of preaching the lost and the found.

After last week’s thoughts I want to go straight to the meat of this text. I find Jesus’ words in verse 32 to be paramount. The words are left out of many translations but essential to the text: “It was necessary…” According to Luke Timothy Johnson (Luke, 239) this verse begins with these words. This is the literal translation. Bringing all of the stories of the past few weeks together in the mind of the reader and listener, Jesus is saying, “It was necessary.”

“The first part of this is pure Gospel,” says Luke Timothy Johnson, “…the lost are being found, the dead rising, the sinners are repenting.” (242) The mood quickly shifts as the reader becomes aware that the established religion of the day are not eager to accept the message of good news. It is clear that they (the powers) understand their faith as a “slavery” to God and religion. They resent grace being offered on the boundaries of the institution to those who do not follow the law as they do.

Many times we read the passage about those left outside the banquet as judgemental and as mean. But the passage is clear, God has offered, God has gone out of his way to invite and find and heal, God welcomes them. Today, I am reading this passage with sadness.

Those religious who have decided to shut this miracle working, prophetic, and powerful new king of the reign of God out, have instead kept themselves from enjoying the banquet feast.

Again, our passage which is filled with the good news, challenges us to see where is it that we in keeping others outside of the kingdom, are instead keeping ourselves from rejoicing. After all, don’t we see that “It is necessary.”

I think this week especially about our evangelism efforts and our efforts of welcoming newcomers to our church. How do we do the Gospel work without getting stuck? Can we receive the grace of God, and then turn to our neighbor and offer it?

I think sometimes I am so relieved to receive the good news and the grace of God that I want to keep it all for myself, it as if it were to scarce and precious to share. I love being the center of God’s love and grace. Don’t you?

But this passage like the others before it challenge me to understand that there is more than enough grace for everyone. By the grace of God go I, the same grace is given to all, and wouldn’t it be beautiful if we could all walk together into the banquet.

I was lost but am found. I was dead but now I am alive. Now, I am invited to be the shepherd, the woman, and the father. More often than not I think we find ourselves, in our missionary context and our foreign culture, to be the faithful son who stayed home and worked. It is difficult to see that it is necessary. It is. It is necessary.

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…”

Proper 18, Ordinary Time, Year C

"So at a minimum these sayings of Jesus ought to draw us up short. Cause us to reflect how much the choices we have already made are costing us - and our planet; and to consider whether the costs of following Jesus might be a better investment." David Ewart

http://www.holytextures.com/2010/08/luke-14-25-33-year-c-pentecost-september-4-september-10-proper-18-ordinary-time-23-sermon.html


Luke 14:25-33

25Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.

A Little Bit for Everyone

Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+14:25-33&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/properc18.htm

Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk14b.htm

Some interesting articles on this passage:

Patrick Wilson: http://theolog.org/2010/08/blogging-toward-sunday-fearful-and.html

William Loader’s thoughts:

http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost15.htm

Commentary by Chris Haslam
http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/cpr23l.shtml

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

Prayer

You have given us, O God, your only Son, our dearest treasure, and he has challenged us to give our all if we would be disciples. Let the extravagance of your gift call forth from us a love beyond cost or measure; let your Son’s self-sacrificing death urge us to carry our cross each day and follow in his footsteps.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.
Some Thoughts

We find Jesus in the midst of a large crowd. Crowds now seem to be following him in every lesson. Jesus is pressing forward towards Jerusalem and preaching a prophetic message of what it means to follow him.

We have just finished the wedding banquet parable. Again, as in last Sunday’s lesson we are challenged not to seek our own place at the table, but rather after having been welcomed and invited to the higher seat, Jesus is challenging us to be host in the reign of God.

The crowds here are the poor and a mixed company of people following and merchants selling their wares, all accompanied by the poor and those who are begging for alms.

Jesus speaks clearly about the nature of discipleship. When one embarks on discipleship and chooses to participate in building up the reign of God, restoring the world, changing lives, ministering to the outcasts, one is going themselves to become a dividing presence. When we choose to undertake the outlandish and over the top mission of helping Jesus transform the world through evangelism, mission, and outreach we will automatically begin to feel the pressure of being different.

Surely, we know this to be true as the first disciples and followers of Jesus found themselves in divided households. Jesus’ mission is unity! But there is a cross to be carried for striving for the kingdom.

When Jesus says we need to consider the cost to one’s own life, literally he means one’s own soul. We are to bear our own cross. We must personally accept our role as followers, personally count the cost (as in the tower builder) and set off on the journey.

As we near Jerusalem Jesus is challenging us to follow, but be clear and honest with your self about the cost of this journey.

Luke Timothy Johnson ends his review of this passage with a very clear picture of this Gospel passage:

The parable of the banquet and the demands of discipleship together make the same point: the call of God issued by the prophet must relativize all other claims on life. The parable shows how entanglement with persons and things can in effect be a refusal of the invitation. The demands make clear that the choice for discipleship demands precisely the choice against a complete involvement in possessions or people. There is little that is gentle or reassuring in this. But as the final saying on salt suggests, any mode of discipleship that tries to do both things, tries to be defined both by possessions and by the prophet’s call, will be like salt without savor, fit for nothing much. “It is tossed out.” (Luke, 233)

I cannot reflect on this passage without wondering: what are the financial, spiritual, and issues that we as a church spend our time on that are keeping us from the work of mission and evangelism? Have we gotten so tied to our own stuff that we are seeing our participation in the kingdom work slip away? Are we really ready to put down the saber aimed at one another for the sake of the Gospel? We have become so accustomed to transferring and projecting our individual angst and political agendas at one another we are missing Christ passing through our community offering us the opportunity to follow?

I think there is an even more personal question we must ask? Are we as individuals who minister on behalf of Christ spending our time on kingdom work?

This will be a challenging week for preachers. Yet it is a time to raise our heads and our voices, to pick up our personal cross (instead of showing others what cross they should be bearing) and follow Jesus.

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, September 3, 2010

Proper 17, Ordinary Time, Year C

"So at a minimum these sayings of Jesus ought to draw us up short. Cause us to reflect how much the choices we have already made are costing us - and our planet; and to consider whether the costs of following Jesus might be a better investment." David Ewart
http://www.holytextures.com/2010/08/luke-14-25-33-year-c-pentecost-september-4-september-10-proper-18-ordinary-time-23-sermon.html

Luke 14:25-33
25Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.

A Little Bit for Everyone
Oremus online text:
http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+14:25-33&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources:
http://www.textweek.com/yearc/properc18.htm

Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday:
http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk14b.htm



Some interesting articles on this passage:
Patrick Wilson:
http://theolog.org/2010/08/blogging-toward-sunday-fearful-and.html
William Loader’s thoughts:
http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkPentecost15.htm
Commentary by Chris Haslam:
http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/cpr23l.shtml
Great treasures website:
http://greattreasures.org/gnt/main.do

Prayer
You have given us, O God, your only Son, our dearest treasure, and he has challenged us to give our all if we would be disciples. Let the extravagance of your gift call forth from us a love beyond cost or measure; let your Son’s self-sacrificing death urge us to carry our cross each day and follow in his footsteps.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.


Some Thoughts

We find Jesus in the midst of a large crowd. Crowds now seem to be following him in every lesson. Jesus is pressing forward towards Jerusalem and preaching a prophetic message of what it means to follow him.
We have just finished the wedding banquet parable. Again, as in last Sunday’s lesson we are challenged - not to seek our own place at the table rather - after having been welcomed and invited to the higher seat, Jesus challenges us to be host in the reign of God.
The crowds here are the poor, a mixed company of followers and merchants selling their wares, accompanied by others begging for alms.
Jesus speaks clearly about the nature of discipleship. When one chooses to participate in building up the reign of God, restoring the world, changing lives, ministering to the outcasts, one is going to become a dividing presence. When we choose to undertake the outlandish and “over-the-top” mission of helping Jesus transform the world through evangelism, mission and outreach, we will automatically begin to feel the pressure of being different.
Surely, we know this to be true as the first disciples and followers of Jesus found themselves in divided households. Jesus’ mission is unity! But there is a cross to be carried for striving for the Kingdom.
When Jesus says we need to consider the cost to one’s own life, literally he means one’s own soul. We are to bear our own cross. We must personally accept our role as followers, personally count the cost (as in the tower builder) and set off on the journey.
As we near Jerusalem, Jesus is challenging us to follow. But be clear and honest with yourself about the cost of this journey.
Luke Timothy Johnson ends his review of this passage with a very clear picture of this Gospel:

The parable of the banquet and the demands of discipleship together make the same point: the call of God issued by the prophet must relativize all other claims on life. The parable shows how entanglement with persons and things can in effect be a refusal of the invitation. The demands make clear that the choice for discipleship demands precisely the choice against a complete involvement in possessions or people. There is little that is gentle or reassuring in this. But as the final saying on salt suggests, any mode of discipleship that tries to do both things, tries to be defined both by possessions and by the prophet’s call, will be like salt without savor, fit for nothing much. ‘It is tossed out.’ (Luke, 233)
I cannot reflect on this passage without wondering: what are the financial and spiritual issues that we, as a church, spend our time on that keep us from the work of mission and evangelism? Have we gotten so tied to our own stuff that we are seeing our participation in the kingdom work slip away? Are we really ready to put down the saber aimed at one another for the sake of the Gospel? Have we become so accustomed to transferring and projecting our individual angst and political agendas at one another that we miss Christ passing through our community offering us the opportunity to follow?
I think there is an even more personal question we must ask? Are we as individuals who minister on behalf of Christ spending our time on kingdom work?
This will be a challenging week for preachers. Yet it is a time to raise our heads and our voices, to pick up our personal cross (instead of showing others what cross they should be bearing) and follow Jesus.


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).