187: Proper 22C (Oct. 2, 2016)
Gospel Reading: Luke 17:5-10
Psalm Nugget: Psalm 137 Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist; Patreon)
- Gospel Reading: Luke 17:5-10
- Psalm Nugget: Psalm 137 Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist; Patreon)
Image: By the Rivers of Babylon, Gebhard Fugel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Gospel Reading: Luke 17:5-10 - Increase Our Faith
- Consider starting with verse 1, not verse 5
- 2 Parts: Miracles of Faith and Worthless Slaves
- Miracles - if you have enough faith then you should be able to do the miraculous (heal the sick, world peace, etc) and if you can’t do those things it is because you are not faithful enough
Used by atheists as a proof-text against faith.
- Used to proclaim a prosperity Gospel
- Churches are full of faithful people who are suffering: “twenty-five-year employee whose corporation has downsized him out; for the woman whose lump was malignant; for the boy whose spot on the varsity was supposed to resolve old feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and unpopularity.” - John Buchanan, Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary - Feasting on the Word – Year C, Volume 4: Season After Pentecost 2 (Propers 17-Reign of Christ).
Slaves - this has been used to keep oppressed peoples oppressed (women, African Americans, etc).
- Translation Issue: NIV uses the word “servant.” Is this helpful or does it sterilize the text?
Healthy- faithful interpretations:
Literary Context: Comes right after Jesus tells disciples to forgive seven times a day, which seems like an impossible task. In response to this, they say “Increase our faith”
- Faith is as important to forgiveness as it is to healing (see Matthew 17:20)
- Miracle is about moving hearts. Sometimes forgiveness is a miracle.
- Still careful though, not to rush people into forgiveness. Must be allowed space for anger (see Psalm 137) before forgiveness.
Try reading this with a different tone- loving, not judging
- Jesus is commending the disciples for the faith they have, knowing how difficult a task discipleship can be.
- Don’t use a “lack of faith” as an excuse not to forgive and love
- Literary Context: Comes right after Jesus tells disciples to forgive seven times a day, which seems like an impossible task. In response to this, they say “Increase our faith”
- It isn’t about you- it is about God
- Stop patting yourself on the back for being a decent person or doing what God asks of you - Love God, Live Well, Do Good
- Being faithful to get into heaven or receive a reward is not ethical or moral, it is a transaction
- Live faithfully out of what we have ALREADY received not what we hope to receive.
Faith is not a commodity to be gained or lost- it is a way of living
- Economy of Faith - not stored or stockpiled, lived out, we cannot exchange faith for blessings
Second Reading: Psalm 137
- One of the most disturbing passages in the Bible
- Frequently set to music
- Dated during the exile of 587-539 BCE, or very shortly thereafter.
- civil disobedience
How often do we demand people to “sing” for us
- It is about making us feel better and not allowing people to grieve or lament
- Rush to forgiveness or to “get over it”
- I had a CPE instructor tell me “never give someone a box of tissues.” Inadvertently, this is telling someone that their tears are troubling, and must be covered up.
Must remember - Hope in remembrance
- Pain in remembrance
- Hope in remembrance
- Future seen in remembrance
- The Old Testament stories of exile might be a resource, perhaps the only resource, to move us from denial and despair to possibility...From Israel the church can learn a better way to deal with grief and rage. It can learn to address these emotions to God, for it is God who is terminating our unjust privilege and deceptive certitude. Ancient Israel broke the pattern of denial by engaging in speeches of complaint and lamentation that dared to say how overwhelming was the loss, how great the anxiety, how deep the consequent fear. Lamentations expresses the sadness of this experience by describing a bereft Jerusalem: "She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has none to comfort her" (1:2). - Walter Brueggemann, “Conversations Among Exiles”, The Christian Century, July 2-9, 1997, pp. 630-632.
Horrible ending - often left out of the music
- “There is no evidence the Psalmist acted out of the expressed desire for revenge. Rather, it is offered to God, and apparently left with God. The cycle of violence is actually broken by the Psalmist’s brutally honest prayer,” Clint McCann in Texts for Preaching, Year C.
- In a world of platitudes, the brutal honesty of this Psalm is both shocking and therapeutic.
- Gives allowance to the kind of anger that comes in the face of injustice
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Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”, "Real Ride" and “Summertime”) and The Steel Wheels for our transition music(“Nola’s First Dance” from their album Lay Down, Lay Low) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).