165: May 1, 2016
325: May 26, 2019
Voice in the Wilderness:Susan Presley and MaxHazell
authors of the great book, Hezekiah: Buried in the bowels of the Earth for centuries, recently unearthed by a team of hearty explorers
Featured Musician: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan
“The River of God” (Psalm 17) From his newest album Trust which is available now here!
Featured Musician: Christopher Grundy
Lectionary alternate - John 14 or John 5:1-9
Second week in a row we have dealt with a text that is a part of the UM (and UCC) Funeral liturgy. I believe I have read excerpts from John 14 in every funeral I’ve ever done.
Whenever ‘I read it, I frame it like this: “When Jesus knew that his time on earth was coming to a close; when he knew that his life and teachings were leading him to the cross, he gathered with his closest friends and shared these words. He knew that when he was gone, there would be much pain, much sadness, and much confusion. Knowing this, he gave them this promise. Here today we gather in sadness, mourning, and perhaps confusion, and we can hear this promise again.” The words of the liturgy end with “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Do not let them be afraid.” At this point, I’m almost always looking directly at the closest kin of the deceased.
Part of the “Farewell Discourse,” which is chapters 13-17. Within this section, there are a few repeated themes. I am leaving, I am not really leaving. Love each other. Common English Bible subheadings:
Announcement of betrayal
Love commandment (last week)
Announcement of Peter’s denial
The way, the truth, and the life (part of Pentecost reading)
I won’t leave you as orphans (First part is Pentecost. Second part is this week)
I am the true vine
If the world hates you
I go away
I still have many things to say
I will see you again
I have conquered this world.
Just before this, Jesus just said “Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
Then the good Judas asks, “Lord, why are you about to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?”
Rough answer: Because you love me. I am telling you this stuff now, because it will all make sense once I’m gone. Then you’ll be able to see.
Cuts off verse 30 “I won’t say much more to you because this world’s ruler is coming. He has nothing on me. Rather, he comes so that the world will know that I love the Father and do just as the Father has commanded me. Get up. We’re leaving this place.” (and then talks for two more chapters)
Difference between a Disciple and the World
The world does not know, does not understand, does not love, and does not give selflessly.
A Disciple does know, does follow, does love, and gives out of themself.
The world is troubled and afraid when someone dies.
A Disciple knows that death is not the end.
The world forgets Jesus.
A Disciple remembers - because of the power of the Holy Spirit.
Father and Son are tied together in love. Holy Spirit is presence after Jesus is gone. All tied together in love.
V. 28: “The Father is greater than me.”
“This declaration of implied origin is consonant with everything said about Jesus and God in John’s Gospel, including the full divinity of the Word. It became a problem only with the Arian challenge. There, Jesus was seen as “less than the Father,” by being a creature, although the firstborn of creation. Arius was neither the first nor the last to seize on this phrase for support in what he already believed. It happened that the church had already come to believe otherwise on the basis of the whole Gospel but it could not express itself swiftly or easily. The debates of Nicea and the aftermath of the next century and a half were needed to consolidate this as the faith of the East and the West.” (Gerard Sloyan, Interpretation: John, p. 184)
For a great primer on Arianism, go to Encyclopedia Brittanica (yes, that’s still a thing). There’s a lot about the history of the creeds and their exact words.
“Not home alone”
“Abide (meno) and its cognates show up forty times in John's Gospel. Abide signifies to stay, to remain, to dwell, to lodge, to last, to persist, and/or to continue. It can have negative associations. Wrath can abide (3:36); guilt can abide (9:41). And not abiding can have negative consequences (15:6).
Abide can have a literal meaning of staying in one place (4:40, 7:9, 10:40, 11:6, 54, 12:34, 14:25, 15:4-5). At the spiritual level, it describes what God does in our lives. God abides in Jesus and Jesus abides in God (14:10). Jesus abides in and with us (6:56). We cannot bear fruit unless Jesus abides in us (15:5). Jesus' words abide (15:7). The Holy Spirit abides with Jesus (1:32-33). Therefore disciples abide with or in Jesus (8:31, 35, 12:46, 15:4-5, 7, 9-10).
How are you doing in the abiding department? What's your hospitality quotient? Have you prepared your inner life to be a hospitable home for Jesus? One in which he will find faith and love and bountiful fruit?”
Thoughts and Questions
Love and action are as inseparable as Jesus and the Father. To love God is to love Jesus. To love Jesus is to follow him. To follow him is to do as he commanded. To do as he commanded is to love one another as Jesus loved us. Therefore, to love God, we must love one another. The Companion (which means literally, one with whom we break bread) helps us do it.
We’re getting close to Pentecost, so a little Holy Spirit primer is probably a good idea. We are in the season of Easter, reminded of the presence of the Resurrected Christ, but here we recall not his resurrection, but the words he shared before it. Resurrection only matters if we pay attention to what he did before his death.
How do we make room for Jesus? What do we do when we prepare for a guest? Do we get out the nice towels? What is our attitude toward expected guests, and unwelcome visitors? To Jesus, who would be unwelcome?
Eschatological vision of what is to come for both the world and the church
Echo of Revelation 4
Challenges the traditional view of Heaven or the Kingdom of God
Not one set of pearly gates- but 12 gates
Not closed, but are always opened
The gates are not there to keep people out but to welcome people in
The New Jerusalem as the church
Culminating- now but not yet
How the church is meant to be:
Open Gates - a place of safety and inclusion
Shining with the light of God - a beacon of hope to all people
All people come not to receive but to offer
Every person is valuable (not just young families with kids)
Illuminated by the light of God
Cities are often places of dark alleyways and corners subject to come and corruption
This city is full of light- not from without, but from within
God with us- the temple (the center of life) is no longer a building but Godself
The promise of Emmanuel is made eternal and concrete
This is a mountaintop from which we do not have to descend
Recreation of the world as it was meant to be- does not necessitate the destruction of the “old world”
The world is created as a garden and ends in a city - more complex, more populous, no less filled with the glory of God
The trees of life is present offering abundance, healing and reconciliation
Waters is no longer a barrier to be crossed but a fountain of life
The tree of life exists on both sides of the water
There is no longer us and them (Egypt and Israel; Wilderness and Promised Land; Jew and Gentile; Pre-Baptism and post-Baptism) Life is abundant on both sides of the river.
Political, social and economic divisions are washed away in the river of life
Thoughts and Questions
God is the focal point in this eschatological vision. Not a temple or a church or a program or a budget- only God. Are we living into this vision?
How can our churches and lives live into this vision of the New Jerusalem?
What does it mean to open our gates (literally and figuratively)?
How can we be a beacon of hope in our community?
What does it mean to welcome the gifts of all peoples?
Water is traditionally a barrier or boundary- here water unites the world. Do we use the waters of our baptism as a boundary or a uniting force?
There is no longer a need for a temple- for the people become the temple. Do we work for the survival of the church or for the moment when the church, like the temple, is no longer needed?
The call of God is not specific
Apostolic – going to the people, not waiting for them to come to you.
Be open to the calling of the spirit- being open to new ways – even women
Lydia the first European Christian?
Willimon, in Interpretation Commentary points to three things to remember:
Conversion is the work of God, not Paul
Lydia was a woman.
Lifting up the importance of a woman convert is consistent with Luke/Acts narrative, which highlights the role of women (women were the first evangelists at the tomb, )
Reminder of the radical treatment of women in the Greco-Roman world. This is a liberating movement for women, despite some mixed-messages in other “Pauline” writings. The fact there was struggle with women’s rights shows how radical the teachings really were.
Lydia was Rich
Evidence of class mixing, not class warfare
Very unusual for Rome where classes did not mix
Lydia is a home church?
Reaching out to a new thing- open to new people, ways to see God
Thoughts and Questions
Purple paraments – honor Lydia- purple decorations
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 (“Miserlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Bryan Odeen for our closing music.