Lent 2C

image: “Woodcut for "Die Bibel in Bildern", 1860. by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (wikimedia)


154: February 21, 2016

314: March 17, 2019

Featured Musician: Amy Cox

Psalmist: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Voice in the Wilderness: Mason Parks

Psalmist: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Luke 13:31-35

Initial Thoughts

  • Pharisees are not the ‘Bad-Guys’

    • Jesus eats with Pharisees three other times in Luke (7:36-50, 11:37-54, 14:1-21).

    • Some of Jesus’ most important teachings happened at the table of a Pharisee - often in opposition with them, but always in conversation.

    • In Acts 15:5, Pharisees are among the first believers. Still considered Pharisees even though they are a part of the Jerusalem Council

Bible Study

  • Literary Context

    • Luke 13:22-30, “Jesus traveled through the cities and villages, making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, ‘Lord, will only a few be saved?’”

      • Make every effort to enter the narrow gate, but some will be left outside the gate.

      • Jesus claims that people from the North, South, East, and West will ‘sit down to eat in God’s Kingdom.’

      • “Those who are last will be first and those who are first will be last.”

    • Luke 9:9 - Herod, who had already killed John, heard about what Jesus was doing, and decided he wanted to see Jesus for questioning.

    • Immediately after (14:1) Jesus is eating at the home of one of the leaders of the Pharisees, and Jesus challenges them about humility, generosity, and healing on the Sabbath.

  • Pharisees warn Jesus not to go to Jerusalem because “Herod wants to kill you.”

    • Jesus response: “Tell that fox that I’m throwing out demons and healing people.”

      • Fox - In OT: destructive pest. In Greek: clever and cunning.

    • When questioned by John’s followers, Jesus response, “Go report to John what you have seen and heard. Those who were blind are able to see. Those who were crippled now walk. People with skin diseases are cleansed. Those who were deaf now hear. Those who were dead are raised up. And good news is preached to the poor.” (Luke 7:22).

    • Jesus ignores their warning. If death is where he is going, then so be it.

    • On Palm Sunday people are shouting, and again it is the Pharisees who try to keep them quiet. (Luke 19:39)

  • Jesus’s mission

    • “I am going to keep doing my thing. On the third day I will complete my work”

      • Completed work on the third day is a clear allusion to Easter. Also an important understanding above and beyond substitutionary atonement. Jesus’ mission is not to die. It is resurrection. This inevitably includes death, but death comes because the people cannot accept him, not because it is his mission to die.

      • “Impossible for a prophet to be killed outside Jerusalem”

  • Jerusalem

    • Rejection of the people brings sorrow, not punishment.

    • “Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord”

      • This is what the people will say upon Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem in chap 19.

    • Jerusalem is a central theme in Luke. It is the central place of the ministry - as seen in Acts, and as told by Jesus just prior to ascension. It starts with Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria, then the ends of the earth.

    • Told as if the rejection has already happened. Fred Craddock, in the Interpretation commentary, points out 5 possibilities for this strange language.

  1. The events are accomplished facts, and can be talked about as such.

  2. Jesus’s prophecy of the future is so certain it can be past-tense.

  3. Jesus had an earlier ministry in Jerusalem which Luke fails to mention.

  4. Jesus is not referring to himself, but to God who has been rejected.

  5. “By this ‘premature’ location of the lament, Luke is saying that there is yet time to repent, receive pardon for sin, and to welcome the reign of God. That offer, in fact, will continue to be made following Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, an offer not only in Jerusalem but to the entire world.” (p. 175)

Thoughts and Questions:

  • It’s going to be a common refrain throughout Lent. There is a lot of dangerous water on which to tread in dealing with “The Jews” or Jerusalem. Jesus is not rejecting Jerusalem. He is yearning to embrace the people of Jerusalem, but knows that he too will be rejected. There is no condemnation for what the people have, only sorrow that they cannot see another way of being.

  • Jesus compares himself - and thus God - to a mother hen. Such explicitly feminine imagery can be very powerful. As David Lose says, “All of which brings me to yet a third question: when we only describe God with the typical male language of king and father, etc., do we run the risk of limiting our imagination? I’m particularly concerned with finding images that make God more accessible to women, but frankly I think we are all impoverished when we can only imagine God in the narrowest of terms.” (Working Preacher)

  • It is right, even inevitable, when dealing with this text, to ask about the present. Who or what is the 'Jerusalem' of the day in which one lives? Is it the political and civic sphere? Is it the religious sphere? Or is it both? (Arland Hultgren)

Philippians 3:17-4:1

Initial Thoughts

  • I feel like a bad Methodist because I don’t think I’ve read Resident Aliens

    • Resident Aliens discusses the nature of the church and its relationship to surrounding culture. It argues that churches should focus on developing Christian life and community rather than attempting to reform secular culture. Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon reject the idea that America is a Christian nation; instead, Christians should see themselves as "resident aliens" in a foreign land. According to Hauerwas and Willimon, the role of Christians is not to transform government but to live lives that model the love of Christ. Rather than try to convince others to change their ethics, Christians should model a new set of ethics that are grounded in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.”

Bible Study

  • Literary context

    • According to Jerry Sumney, this passage opens the last part of the body of Paul’s letter.

      • Paul’s imprisonment

      • Call to follow Christ’s example

      • Good and bad examples of following Christ.

      • 3:17 begins what he calls the section called “Calls to living the Christian life”

    • This passage named “Call to imitate the faithful”

    • Verses 4-7 are worth reading (maybe including in reading) “Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people…”

  • Christian community should look different

    • Role models are important

    • Leadership matters

      • Good leaders  = Patient, humble, following good leaders.

      • Bad leaders = “Their god is their stomach… focus on earthly things.”

  • Paul and privilege

    • “Paul is eager to highlight Jesus' refusal to cling to any advantages that might have been his as God's own son. Jesus gives up the advantages of power to become God's call, God's wooing, if you will, of humankind (yet again!). When God exalts Jesus above all others after Jesus' death on a cross, Jesus' way of being in and among and for humankind is the light for us of God's love for us.

     Paul sees himself and other evangelists of God's love in Christ as living in this same way, that of eschewing privilege and power in order to woo others by and for God's love, not least for each other.” (Sarah Henrich, Working Preacher)

    • What privilege do we hold onto?

    • Privilege held by the Church seems to be slipping. Is this something to lament or an opportunity to become more authentic. Might it be easier to imitate Christ if we are no longer in such a position of power?

Thoughts and Questions

  • What does citizenship in heaven look like? Is this a proper time to discuss the flag in the sanctuary, the celebration of national holidays? Our cultural fascination with war, violence, and colonialism? If we are citizens of heaven first, what does that mean to our national citizenship? Do we have to renounce being American to embrace being Christian? Some would probably argue “yeah, at least a little.”

  • How can the church deal with privilege? By imitating Christ we are to set aside our privilege, our perceived advantages, and our worldly status. Yet, can’t these things be used for good?

    • When the Church wields its power, that is dangerous

    • The Church does not seem to have a good track record of getting into bed with civil power (Manifest Destiny, Support of slavery, capitulation to the Nazis

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

Initial Thoughts

  • Right after the introduction of tithing - nice opportunity to bring in year round stewardship

  • Read it all!

Bible Study

  • Turning point in Abraham’s relationship with God - Abraham voices his doubts

    • Daniel Debevoise, Feasting on the Word:

      1. God speaks: Abram listens

      2. God promises: Abram believes

      3. God commands: Abram obeys

    • Abraham questions: God listens and responds

    • Faithfulness is not blind acceptance- it is questioning, struggle, but remaining in relationship

      1. Abram clear doesn’t fully believe God because the who Hagar incident in imminent

  • The irrational grace of God meets the distrustful rationality of humanity

    • we know we don’t deserve it

    • we know we cannot “earn” it

    • we assume that it isn’t real

    • H. R. Niebuhr paraphrase: “The first response of humanity to God is mistrust”

  • Abraham’s “dream”

    • The path of Abram’s blessing will not be typical but will be filled with odd twists and turns

    • God is preparing Abram that God’s promises will be fulfilled but not necessarily in the timeline or way Abram expects

  • The Miraculous sign

    • God does not condemn Abraham for his doubt

    • God gives what Abraham asks for- a sign

  • Covenant

    • One sided- God makes a covenant with Abram- seems unconditional

      1. God - deliver Abram’s descendants to the Promised Land

      2. Abram - remains faithful, remains in relationship with God

Thoughts and Questions

  • God acknowledges and honors Abram’s questions- how too can we encourage and honor the questions of our church and community members?

  • What are the promises of God? Do you believe them? Does your church believe them? Why or why not?

  • Are we willing to ask God for signs? What are the signs that we are given of God’s faithfulness? Can we train our eyes to be opened to see God’s signs?

  • Are we open to the strange and seemingly impossible ways God’s grace works? Abram and his descents will be blessed, but through barrenness, old age, exile, slavery, wilderness and war. Not how we might expect.

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 Bryan Odeen for our closing music.