Proper 7A


225: June 25, 2017

68: June 22, 2014

Exegetical Notes

Matthew 10:24-39

Initial Thoughts

  • Glad this wasn’t the Father’s Day text - or maybe too bad it wasn’t.

  • Picking up from where we left off last week, which is an important part of this passage.

Bible Study

  • Context is key: Missionary Discourse

    • This passage really starts in v 5 with the sending of the disciples and the foretold persecutions

    • Think of this as a “Dear disciples, the S@%t is about to hit the fan. You have been warned. <3 xoxo JC”

    • 10:21-22 “Brothers and sisters will hand each other over to be executed. A father will turn his child in. Children will defy their parents and have them executed. Everyone will hate you on account of my name. But whoever stands firm until the end will be saved.”

    • Perhaps this is the message we as the church need to hear now more than ever

  • Charles Cousar:

    • “In a condensed version of the Bible, [texts like this about the coming suffering and persecution of the early Jesus-followers] would be the first part to eliminate. They have historical value to tell us how dangerous it must have been to follow Jesus in the environment of the first century, but we do not live in the first century, and we sense an enormous gap between the readers Matthew addresses and ourselves. We find it hard to imagine ourselves as ‘sheep sent into the midst of wolves.’

“At the same time we dare not dismiss a text like Matthew 10 too quickly. It speaks a pointed message to the particular readers the evangelist projects, we do well to listen in on that conversation, to eavesdrop as Matthew conveys Jesus’ charge to the disciples. The texts says a lot about fidelity and fear, about the present and the future. In the particularity of the text may be a needed word for modern disciples.” (Texts for Preaching, Year A. p. 377)

  • Discipleship - What does it mean to be like Jesus?

    • Power: Slaves and masters, students and teachers - power relationships

    • Disciple: student or learner

    • Apostle - to be sent out

      • To be devoted to Jesus above all else

    • Life as a Disciple includes being rejected.

    • Following Jesus means that they will follow him in all ways.

    • If they call Jesus “Beelzebul,” of course they will call them that too.

  • Anti-prosperity Gospel

    • If survival and prosperity isn’t the good news - then what is? Love

  • Family: Jesus is more important than family

    • “Jesus is no champion of family values. He has kingdom values, and these are often not the same thing.” Lance Pape

    • CONTEXT: Family was your social status, your 401K, your social security, your job, your education, your neighbors and housemates. Family = security (religiously, socially, commercially and economically)

    • I have come to separate you from your security, from your 401Ks, from your cultural ignorance, from your privilege, from your justifications.

  • Jesus is NOT ANTI-FAMILY

    • Jesus is about restoring and purifying relationships. But when forced to choose between God

    • It is not an “unequivocal reinforcement of family cohesiveness. It does not suggest that the sticking together of families necessarily reflects faithfulness… Jesus calls into question an idolatry of family and warns that the gospel may divide rather than unite the home.” (Cousar, p. 379)

  • Quote Micah 7:6

    • Part of Micah’s lament that there is no one to hear his words.

    • “Micah 7:6 had already been interpreted in Judaism as the prelude to the messianic times.” (Eugene Boring, New Interpreter’s Bible, volume VIII, p. 262)

  • Survival: To be afraid or not to be afraid?

    • It is better to be killed for the sake of the Gospel than to live denying it.

    • "To give one's life away in the name of Christ is to be given all that makes life free, holy and good." Thomas G. Long, Matthew, Westminster Bible Companion (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997), 120-22

    • “The ends justify the means” does not seem to compel Jesus who leads us to the cross

    • Perhaps we, the church need to stop fearing the things which will damage our buildings and programs and instead focus on our souls.

    • “To forsake lesser loyalties is to risk social death in hope of a new kind of life.” Lance Pape

Preaching Thoughts

  • How do we deny Jesus? Why do we deny Jesus?

  • What does it mean to love Jesus more than family?

  • Where do our true devotions lie? Are we willing to die for the sake of love? Including love for our enemies?

Genesis 21:8-21 

Initial Thoughts

  • Listener Comment from 2014, Suz Cate said:

“About the Abraham/Sarah/Hagar triangle: It's important to note how Haggar came to be part of the household. See Genesis 10:12-30, in which Abram passes Sarai off as his sister, and she is taken by Pharaoh. When Pharaoh realizes what's going on, he sends Abram away with money and slaves, including Guess Who. Hagar is "bought" with Sarai's being put into a dangerous situation. Resentment much?

“Consider also how casting Hagar out takes on echoes of Exodus and the freedom of Israel obtained from Egypt. Might be interesting to reflect on the feelings of the Israelites in the wilderness: cosmic justice for the suffering inflicted upon Hagar? Wandering in the wilderness, provision of water, encounters with God. (with a tip of the biretta to Walter Brueggemann's commentary in New Interpreter's Bible).”

  • Sub-heading says a lot about the passage.

    • Is it “Haggar and Ishmael Sent Away,” or is it “God protects Haggar”

    • Paired next week with “Binding of Isaac” start thinking about how they go together.

  • Incredibly important in inter-faith conversations

Bible Study

"Perhaps Ishmael's "play" was what we might term "rough housing," and Sarah was afraid for her young son's safety. This makes Sarah's "solution" of driving mother and son into the wilderness, probably to die, even more appalling. Some hear sexual overtones in the word "playing." Was 15-year-old Ishmael abusing little Isaac? The NRSV has added the words "with her son Isaac" on the basis of some ancient texts (but not the Hebrew Bible), possibly as a result of such an interpretation. Without these added words, Ishmael might be engaging in sexual activity ("playing around") with other members of the extended household."

  • Paul, following some rabbinic traditions, thinks Ishmael is "persecuting" Isaac (Galatians 4:29).
    • We are used to reading the verb translated "playing" in verse 9 as "laughing." This has been a key word in the Isaac stories because "Isaac" itself comes from this word. We might literally translate "playing," however; as "Isaacing," that is, Sarah saw Ishmael "playing the part of Isaac," pretending to take Isaac's place as heir of the promises.
  • Ineffectiveness of Abraham
    • Abraham in untenable position.

      • Understands Isaac as his son of promise

      • Does not want to abandon first born.

      • God encourages Abraham to keep Sarah content, and let God take care of the mess.

    • “Celebration of Isaac and Anguished settlement of Ishmael are set in juxtaposition.” (Walt Brueggeman, Interpretation: Genesis, p. 183).

      • Conflict between the “treasured” and the “elect” (Brueggeman, p. 183)

      • Conflict between the boy that was the result of Abraham’s plan, and the boy that was a part of God’s plan.

  • Resolve of Haggar

    • Her grief is described vividly, encouraging compassion and empathy from the reader.

    • Hagar is first called by name by the angel of the Lord (Ishmael is never named).

    • We should not be surprised when the ancient patriarchal culture produces text that ignores and subjugates women.  We should be shocked - and celebrate - when from this culture comes a story with a woman who is strong, named, and fully human.

  • Protection of God

    • Ishmael means “God hears.”

      • God hears the crying baby, and responds.

      • Centuries later God hears the moans of the Hebrews in slavery.

      • God hears the pleading of Moses

      • God hears the prayers of Elijah and the Prophets

      • God hears the song of Mary

Preaching Thoughts

  • Interpretation from Brueggeman: Ishmael is the product of human design and planning.  Isaac is the product of pure miracle - God’s intervention and wonder.  To live in a world purely by our own devices might be appealing to culture of the “self-made man,” but it runs contrary to the Gospel story of allowing God’s grace to be the driving force of life. (p. 184)

  • Abraham and Sarah are anti-heros in this story. Neither comes out looking very good.  Sarah is jealous and cruel.  Abraham is unable to lead the family, and abandons his son.  Hagar, the slave girl, is the one who is shaded with compassion and empathy.  It is to her that God promises protection and salvation.

    • “The story of Hagar is the story of the terrible jealousy of Sarah and the singular ineffectuality of Abraham and the way Hagar, who knew how to roll with the punches, managed to survive them both. Above and beyond that, however, it is the story of how in the midst of the whole unseemly affair the Lord, half tipsy with compassion, went around making marvelous promises and loving everybody and creating great nations like the last of the big-time spenders handing out hundred-dollar bills.” (Frederick Buechner)

    • What can we learn when the heroes prove to be the foils?  What can we learn about our God who takes the side of the slave-girl?  What can we learn about ourselves, and our tendency to allow power and comfort to corrupt the way we treat one another?

Romans 6:1-11

Initial Thoughts

Bible Study

  • Sin

    • Addressing sin straight on- probably not the norm for many of our churches- we all still sin, but don’t want to talk about it

    • Not sure if a unison confession counts as addressing it either- maybe we need a new ritual?

    • The gift of AA and other support groups- no pretending, accepting our flaws and working with and through them

  • Identity

    • Through Baptism we see the world and ourselves differently- we are a “new creation”

    • Being a new creation is both faith and action- Christianity is a lived faith that permeates every part of who we are because of whose we are

  • V.1

    • Paul addresses the logical concerns raised at the end of chapter 5: “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more..”

    • One of the most important questions of our faith

    • If God’s grace is SO abundant and offered to all people, then why stop sinning? Doesn’t greater sin invite greater grace?

    • Is the grace amazing if I am not wretched?

    • Shawnthea Monroe - When my son was in preschool, he accidentally spilled an entire carton of milk on the floor. He was devastated by his mistake. So as I mopped the floor, I reassured him that everything was going to be just fine. I said, "Look! Now the whole floor is nice and clean!" He turned to me and said brightly, "Hey! Maybe I should spill on the floor more often!" Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary - Feasting on the Word – Year A, Volume 3: Pentecost and Season After Pentecost 1 (Propers 3-16).

  • V.2-11 are the answer - not because to accept the Way of Jesus is to dramatically change your heart and mind (metanoia/repent)

    • Baptism- death to the old, and rebirth to the new

    • We no longer sin- or at least we no longer sin willingly because we choose the way of Christ

    • To accept the grace of God is to recognize the fallacy of sin

    • We cannot keep sinning without denying the grace of God and therefore denying who we have become.

  • Baptism

    • Paul is concerned with how we baptism but what baptism means

      • Most likely the thought of baptizing children was not even considered during Paul’s time

      • Baptism is a sacrament of one committing to the way of Jesus Christ

      • So then- why do we baptize children?

      • Is Baptism our action or Gods? Baptism is our response to God’s love and grace. The grace is God’s gift, the baptism is our response to that gift - a commitment

    • Baptism is a dying or drowning to the old life of sin - a painful experience and as Paul will explore- not an easy experience (the shackles of sin are pervasive, but through the strength of God in Christ we can overcome.

Preaching Thoughts

  • It is ironic that baptism has become a cultural or familial celebration when it is actually incorporation into the body of Christ which may draw you away (or even in opposition) to your family (Matthew 10:34-38; Luke 14:26)

  • Furthermore Baptism is not salvation from pain or suffering (like the Prosperity Gospel might claim), but rather calls us into crucifixion - both figurative and ,in the case of several of the early apostles , literal.


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 (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).