Proper 13C (OT18)


335: August 4, 2019

178: July 31, 2016


Psalmist: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Voice in the Wilderness: Anita Ford

Featured Musician - My Anchor Holds

Psalmist Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Luke 12:13-21

Initial Thoughts

  • What have we skipped?

    • Beware the hypocrisy of the Pharisees

    • Do not fear- you are loved!

    • Do not fear for your physical safety- be faithful in all things

  • Overall focus on publically living out personal faith- preparing for the coming judgement (Luke 12:2-3)

Bible Study

  • Shift from personal safety to hypocrisy to material possessions

    • 12:1-12 - “Meanwhile the crowd grew until thousands and thousands…”

      • Teaches his disciples: Beware the hypocrisy of the Pharisees

      • Turns to crowd and teaches about personal safety and God’s provision.

      •  Finding personal worth and value in what others think and personal, physical safety

    • 12:13-21 - Interrupted by someone with a personal case - right after Jesus had been teaching about not to worry so much, someone intrudes with a question about personal finances and inheritance.

    • 12:22-31 - (Skipped in Lectionary) don’t worry about this life, God will provide. 

  • Initial request:

    • Triangulation - When someone tells someone to tell someone else what to do

      • Sometimes ok-intervention in domestic abuse, victim unable to speak out, etc

      • Usually not good

      • Reminiscent of Mary and Martha where Jesus again refuses to be the arbiter, judge or rescuer

    • Motivation behind the request: Greed

      • Valuing possessions over relationship

      • We traditionally love things and use people (recipe for unhappiness) instead of loving people and using things (recipe for happiness)

  • Rich Fool:

    • The Rich fool is inward focused on building up his own wealth

      • Note the pronouns: “I, I, I, my barn, I, my grain, my goods, my soul”

      • Not a choice between rich or poor- the man was rich before the parable begins - it is a question of what we do with our wealth

    • Not a message against saving or celebrating

      • God speaks through Joseph to urge Pharaoh to save up for the famine (Gen 41:17-36)

      • Multiple stories of celebration when the time is right

      • Neither at the expense of others or only for the sake of me, myself and I

    • Our lives are defined as loved children of God, not our wealth

      • Wealth is measured in love and forgiveness

    • Need for balance

      • Balance proper stewardship with caring for those most in need

        • Gleanings of the field

    • Ignorance of solo self-determination (i.e. I did it all by myself)

      • None of us does it all by ourselves

      • Wealth is not the problem- but wealth for oneself is incompatible with love of God

    • Death is a part of life – our only true legacy are the relationships we have made and lives we have transformed for the better

  • Five Lessons from R. Alan Culpepper of NIB 9: Luke and John

    • Preoccupation with possessions

    • Security in self-sufficiency

    • Grasp of Greed

    • Hollowness of Hedonism

    • Practical Atheism

Thoughts and Questions

  • Where do we look for personal value and worth? Worship, confession, baptism and eucharist do not reveal our unworthiness but our incredible worthiness as beloved children of God and recipients of grace. If we see ourselves as inherently unworthy in the eyes of God then we are easily seduced and tempted to look to other things for our worth: appearance, power, wealth, etc.

  • Do we truly value people over possessions? How might you reflect this in your church? What is the most valuable possession of the church? What would happen if you gave it away?

    • Do we use our wealth and possessions to be a blessing or agent of transformation within our community?

  • Do we live as though there is a God or is not a God (practical atheism)? What is the evidence?

Hosea 11:1-11

Initial Thoughts

  • Most of Hosea a story (metaphor) of marriage and infidelity. Here, the metaphor shifts to wounded parent. Interpretation of this passage varies widely:

    • “And clearly, this metaphor too is full of poignancy and power. As Walter Brueggemann observes, Hosea 11 is "among the most remarkable oracles in the entire prophetic literature."1 But perhaps this assessment is too modest; according to H. D. Beeby, having arrived at Hosea 11, "we penetrate deeper into the heart and mind of God than anywhere in the Old Testament."2 In a word, what the prophet finds in God's innermost mind and heart is grace.” (Clint McCann, Working Preacher)

    • “Most may not receive this as “good news” at first in the traditional sense, but rather more along the lines of spinach and colonoscopies, things we need and which will improve us, but which we may not like.”  (Timothy Simpson, Politics of Scripture)

    • Carol Howard Merritt, who wishes it wasn’t in the Lectionary (Christian Century)

      • “The backstory of Hosea is that he is a prophet who wants to illustrate God’s love. He marries Gomer, a sex worker. She is unfaithful, so he buys her back. The prophet Hosea is concerned with loyalty, particularly in this passage….

The hardest questions for me are: How do we lift up the reality that our scriptures are filled with proprietary notions regarding women? Is it ever good to preach texts in which humans are bought and sold? How do we speak of “redemption” with our history of slavery and human trafficking? How can we preach Hosea and struggle faithfully with the larger framework of the book?” (Carol Howard Merritt, The Hardest Question)

Bible Study

  • God as mother of Israel. Tender expressions of love and nurturing. “It was I who:” 

    • Taught him to walk

    • Took him in arms. 

    • Healed him. 

    • Cords of love

    • “Treated them like those who lift infants to their cheek” - a motherly embrace

    • Bent down to them and fed them.

  • In response, Israel and Ephraim (the largest tribe within Israel):

    • Did not know

    • Refused to return

    • Bent on turning away

  • BUT, God will Rickroll

    • Not give you up

    • Grow in compassion

    • Won’t act on heat of anger

    • Won’t come in harsh judgment

  • Instead, 

    • “They will walk after the LORD, who roars like a lion. When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west.11 They will come trembling like a bird, and like a dove from the land of Assyria; and I will return them to their homes, says the LORD.”

  • “As with the marriage metaphor in chapters 1-3, the use of the Divine Parent metaphor here illustrates the depth of God’s emotional responses to the prodigal Israel. God is a tender and instructive parent, offering wisdom and healing to God’s children at every turn. But as the child rejects his parent, Hosea 11 reveals God’s deep anguish and anger. God’s conflicting emotional commitment churn within God’s heart, but ultimately God chooses to express salvific care to the nation of Israel, once again rescuing them from captivity and establishing them in their own land.” (David Garber, Jr., Working Preacher)

Thoughts and Questions

  • “In homiletics class in seminary, we were repeatedly challenged to answer the question “So what’s the good news about this text?” Obviously, I don’t think that is easily answered in this week’s text. It is true that, when compared with the other deities in the region in antiquity, Yahweh is far more humane, emotionally mature, as well as less arbitrary and less capricious than any of his competitors. That larger cultural landscape is not easily conveyed, however, in your average 20 minute sermon, and even if it can be done, the result is far from satisfying. We want happy endings, or at least tidy ones. We want all our questions answered, if not within the sixty minutes of the current episode, at least by next year’s season premiere. We can wait a bit for closure, maybe for a few months in order to find out “Who shot J.R.?” but not too long.” (Timothy Simpson, Politics of Scripture)

  • So, which is it? A beautiful look into the gracious heart of God, an unpleasant, but necessary story that we must choke down, or a too, little, too late try at saving an unsaveable metaphor of human trafficking?

Colossians 3:1-11

Initial Thoughts

  • The first half of a section on living into the Kingdom too often skipped over to get to the good stuff following in Colossians 3:12-17

Bible Study

  • Focus on what it means to living into the Kingdom of God as the Body of Christ

    • We are “raised with Christ” (v.1) in baptism

    • We seek the “things that are above” (v.2) or the Kingdom of God - the true and new reality as opposed to the Kingdom of the earth to which we have died in baptism

    • We are now “hidden in Christ” (v.3) becuase we have been incorporated into the body of Christ and are living into the Kingdom of God

    • Participationist model of salvation:

      • “sin, a cosmic power that enslaves human beings, is overcome, not through an atoning sacrifice, but through incorporation into a new reality, the body of Christ...This model, less vulnerable to individualistic distortions, is linked closely to a new way of life that anticipates God's ultimate future, when the kingdom will come in all of its glory. The transformation is gradual (note the present character of the perfect tense in v. 10), but baptized Christians are expected to live by new standards encapsulated in the catalogs of vices and virtues that follow.” John C. Shelley, Feasting on the Word – Year C, Volume 3: Pentecost and Season After Pentecost 1 (Propers 3-16).

  • Paul is responding to the extreme asceticism and self-denial imposed by the other religions of the time and place and re-framing it - what does true self-denial look like? (see more in Ralph Martin, Interpretation: Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon)

    • Being raised in Christ will create a transformation in the baptized - the old ways which lift up the self as the expense of the other: anger, wrath, malice, verbal abuse, greed, using another economically or sexually, and lying is dead.

    • “Christ is all in all” therefore we must treat ourselves and other as we would treat Christ himself.

  • The “Do Nots”

    • Be careful not to make these overly moralistic and miss the deeper implications regarding love, compassion, peace, and justice

    • “Do not lie” to one another has serious implications

      • One of the 10 commandments - don’t bear false witness

      • The importance of truth in an age of “fake news” and “alternative facts

      • Gets to the question of who we choose to place our trust in

      • Also gets at the backfire effect- when we refuse to listen to the truth of another because we are so sure of our own preconceived narrative.

      • Are we willing to tell the truth to ourselves?

        • “Reinhold Niebuhr reminds us that much of our ignorance is not simple ignorance; it is often willed ignorance, the refusal to face the truth that stares us in the face.” (Shelley)

    • Greed is more than a simple craving for money

      • Desire for security, wealth, social status, and privilege

      • Greed is often disguised idolatry - where do we place our time and energy - what do we think will satisfy our deepest longings? “Everything will be ok if I just have _________.”

      • Greed disguised as prudent planning - see the Gospel text

  • Constricting vision of the church - what is missing?

    • While meant to be all inclusive the phrase “no longer male or female” which appears in Galatians 3 is oddly absent - perhaps evident of the patriarchy present in the early church.

    • What might we add to the list today? “No longer gay or straight”?

Thoughts and Questions

  • “We face divisions today along ethnic, social, racial, gender, economic, political, military, familial, and geographic lines. Fortunately for us, the God who hides is still the God who guides us to the Christ inside us. "Christ is all and in all": that is a broad statement the Pauline writer makes. It makes all the difference. If Christ is in all of us, than we all are guided at some level by the same Spirit, larger than us. If Christ is in all of us, then our older way of relating can be superseded by our new way of trusting. If Christ is in all of us, then we are all searching for God's revealed direction together.” David Gray Feasting on the Word – Year C, Volume 3: Pentecost and Season After Pentecost 1 (Propers 3-16)

Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (,@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.