Proper 8C (OT13)
330: June 30, 2019
173: June 26, 2016
Major shift from Galilee to the next 10 chapters - the journey to Jerusalem - which is the largest portion of Luke (2 chapters on birth, 7 chapters in Galilee, 10 chapters journeying to Jerusalem, 5 chapters in Jerusalem and post-resurrection)
Just had the Transfiguration 9:28-36
Followed by the disciples not being able to cast our demons and being jealous of others who could.
2 Passion predictions (v. 21-22 and 44) followed by the Disciples not “getting it”
Bringing the Good News to “outsiders”
James and John want wrath- “our way or the fire & brimstone way!”
Jesus has just said, “whoever is not against you is for you.” (v.50)
They still don’t get it
A call back to Sodom and Gomorrah - lack of hospitality?
Jesus never condemns the Samaritan village- the rebuke is against the the disciples not the Samaritans.
Jesus told them to shake the dust from their feet as testimony against those who do not welcome you (Luke 9:5)
Vengeance and judgment do not belong to the disciples, but only God alone
Lessons on Discipleship
Human One has no Place:
To follow Jesus is to put the Way of Jesus and the Good News above all things- even a roof over your head.
Love, mercy and grace must come before all- that is what it means to follow Jesus
Jesus pulls no punches and doesn’t ask much- just your heart, soul, mind and strength
BEWARE ABSOLUTES: Not about asceticism or dualism- remember Jesus is a glutton and a drunkard (7:34), but everything is secondary to the missio dei
Let the Dead Bury the Dead
Same theme and line as the previous story- missio dei comes before even family and propriety (i.e. what is proper).
Not about Jesus hating family, but Jesus challenging the status quo
Let me say good-bye - same time of reasoning- Follow Jesus, NOW, do not let anything stop you
Clear connection to Elisha’s call (1 Kings 19:19-20)
Invitation to join Jesus on the Journey
Invitations to the Journey of Faith- there will be many excuses not to join Jesus on the Journey to Jerusalem
Missio dei comes first
Will lead to death (v.51)
“those who would embrace and be embraced by the radical love of God made known in Jesus and his cross must necessarily see that this love is contrary to all human conceptions of love. Everything—friendship, familial connections, piety, discipleship—looks different when viewed through the lens of God's sacrificial love.” ~David Lose, Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary - Feasting on the Word – Year C, Volume 3: Pentecost and Season After Pentecost 1 (Propers 3-16).
Thoughts and Questions
How do we respond when the Good News is rejected? How should we respond? What is the balance between faithful prophetic witness and angry retaliation?
Are we ready to give up everything for the sake of love, forgiveness and grace? Homes? Security? Education? Family? What are you not willing to give up for the sake of Jesus?
Perhaps following the way of Jesus is not about giving up, but using our gifts- homes, family, education, security, power, etc to serve Jesus. Sometimes this may mean giving up power and privilege, sometimes it may mean using them for God’s will instead of our own.
Three weeks in Galatians
June 23 - Galatians 3:23-39, Neither Jew nor Greek… you are heirs to Abraham’s promise
June 30 - Galatians 5:1, 13-25 The fruit of the flesh vs fruit of the spirit.
July 7 - Galatians 6:(1-6) 7-16 Let us work for the good of all.
After this, four weeks in Colossians
“Many commentators consider this verse to be the beginning of the final major section of the letter, taking v. 2-11 as the closing of the central argument, and treating 5:13-6:10 as a unit of moral exhortation appended to the main body of the discussion.” (Richard Hays, New Interpreters Bible, v. 11, p. 321)
Paul has gone to great lengths to express the need for freedom from the Law.
As evidenced largely in circumcision, Paul makes the argument that there is no need to be “slave” to the Law, which only convicts.
Verses 2-12 summarizes his argument against circumcision
V. 6“Being circumcised or not being circumcised doesn’t matter in Christ Jesus, but faith working through love does matter.”
Freedom with limits
Freedom does not mean “anything goes.”
Freedom does not mean the American concept of individuality, autonomy, and self determination.
Freedom in Christ is set against being bonded to the Law.
This language makes sense when considering a culture where slavery and freedom were fluid states. One person could go back and forth between slavery and freedom, and slavery bound to another, and back again.
`”Paul understands that all human beings are free in some sense and enslaved in some sense. The question is from what or whom they are free and to what or whom are they enslaved. In Galatians, he urges freedom from the law, but that same freedom carries with it enslavement to Christ as liberator, and also to others who belong to Christ.” (Charles Cousar, Texts for Preaching, Year C, p. 407)
Freedom in this sense is not about freedom from obligation, but instead considers to whom the obligation is owed.
The obligation in one sense is to Christ, but practically it is to each other.
Slaves to one another means that all of the freedom we gain from Christ is simply to be rendered to service to each other.
“The constraints are the responsibility and commitment to the welfare of others in the community. While Paul had invoked the social reality of slavery to help describe in 3:28 the new life in the new community in Christ, saying that in the Christian community “there is no longer slave or free,” he does not hesitate to use the same language positively -- recycled, reimagined, repurposed, reused -- here to describe the relationship and mutual commitment of the members of the community to one another.” (Alicia Vargas, Working Preacher)
“The freedom Paul envisions here is freedom from the law, but equally important is his insistence on the One who does the calling…” (Charles Cousar, Texts for Preaching, Year C, p. 407)
Ironically, Paul’s insistence on “Freedom from the Law” is supported by quoting from the Law: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Spirit vs The Flesh
Common English translates “The flesh” as “selfish motives”
The choice that Paul presents is not “holiness” or “sinfulness” as it is often presented, at least not in the traditional sense.
The choice is not “abstinence vs indulgence”
Paul is presenting a choice between selfishness and selflessness. Love is motivated by the well being of others. “The flesh” is motivated by only my own well being.
Paul’s list is not comprehensive, but the parts that are more ‘fleshed out’ are telling.
“The list is in some respects conventional. It begins with three terms identifying sexual offenses, continues with two words for idolatry and occult magical practices, and concludes with two terms for self-indulgent partying. The most interesting feature, however, occurs in the middle of the list: a lengthy catalog of eight words that highlight dissension and offenses against the unity of the community… Paul’s concentration on these community-destroying behaviors shows that his primary concern is for the unity and peace of the Galatian churches.” (Richard Hays, New Interpreters Bible, v. xi, p. 321)
“Flesh refers to a way of thinking or behaving that is confined to the human sphere, that operates without the guidance of the Spirit of God.” (Charles Cousar, Texts for Preaching, Year C, p. 407)
Thoughts and Questions
Taking this passage seriously is important - especially for progressives.The arguments Paul puts forth here are often used as conservative fodder for “slippery slope” logic (which is by nature faulty). It is easy to use this passage to become legalistic and show how some abuse their freedom. If we - as progressives - ignore this passage, we allow others to claim it and abuse it.
Some will claim that being LGBT affirming falls under the “anything goes” mentality of the “the flesh.” If needed in your context, speak to the lie of this. LGBT inclusion is not falling for the sins of the flesh, or capitulating to cultural norms, it is decisively declaring that the fruit of the Spirit is Love, and that love between two people is not a sin.
Just last week we were declaring “There is no slave or free.” And now we are declaring that we are in fact “slaves to one another.” Which is it Paul? We are all free to love, but love is bondage. To love someone is to not allow them to suffer, and to treat them with compassion, kindness, and grace. When you love someone, you do not have the freedom to sit idly by while they are harmed. If you exercise that freedom to do so, you can no longer claim to love that person.
“Chariots of Fire,” by Vangelis won the Oscar for best original score and was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May 1982.
NRSV uses “mantel” not “cloak.” What’s a mantel?
"short, loose, sleeveless cloak," variant of mantle (q.v.). Sense of "movable shelter for soldiers besieging a fort" is from 1520s. Meaning"timber or stone supporting masonry above a fireplace" first recorded 1510s, a shortened form of Middle English mantiltre "mantletree" (dictionary.com)
Could a mantel be a place of protection, shelter, in addition to a cloak? Clearly, the descriptive action only makes sense if it is a cloak, but the added definition offers some paths of interpretation.
Where did Elisha come from?
Introduced shortly after last week’s narrative, which ended at 19:15, God told Elijah to go back and anoint Hazael. The next verse says “Also anoint Jehu, Nimshi’s son, as king of Israel; and anoint Elisha from Abel-belohah, Shaphats son, to succeed you as prophet.”
This would have been nice to include last week. Sorry we didn’t tell you that.
Read the rest of chapter 19 to see their introduction, which is immediately affectionate.
Ahab continues to be a terrible King, worshiping Baal. His son, Ahaziah, is no different. He dies (which Elijah predicted) in chapter 1 of II Kings. At the same time, Judah’s King Jehosophat “did the right things in the Lord’s eyes.”
Chapter 1 of II Kings serves as a reminder that “thus sayeth the Lord” always takes precedence over “thus sayeth the King” (Richard Nelson, Interpretation: I and II Kings)
“The world of these narratives is certainly not the world of the modern reader… waters part… Chariots and horses of fire appear, and whirlwind takes Elijah ‘up’ to God. In other ways, however, the chapter sounds oddly modern.” (Richard Nelson, Interpretation: I and II Kings)
Loyalty to mentors
Trouble with changing leadership
Grief of loss - denial
Elisha’s denial or pursuit?
Read the parts that lectionary takes out.
Elisha doesn’t want to let Elijah go.
Elijah doesn’t want Elisha to have to follow him.
Wants ‘double the spirit’
This the inheritance of the first born. The first born gets the “double share”
He wants to be seen as Elijah’s son.
He wants to pick up Elijah’s ministry.
Elisha picks up the cloak (takes up the mantel)
Sees Elijah’s death.
Mourns - rips his clothes
Picks up the cloak, and does just as Elijah had done, striking the water to part it.
Elisha’s action bring healing
Moses has a mysterious death. No one knows where he is buried.
Elijah taken away - leaves his coming back open
Moses and Elijah cross over the parted waters
Only the successor is able to cross over the second time (Joshua over Jordan, Elisha back to the people)
Thoughts and Questions
Few are taken to heaven in a windstorm. Many go quietly in a bed with buttons on it. Sometimes surrounded by loved ones who have promised “As the Lord lives and as you live, I won’t leave you.” How to die a good death? Is it better to be able to say goodbye? To leave someone with a blessing, final words, a mantel to hold onto long after the deceased has departed. “Do you know that your master is going to be taken from you today?” Is knowing this a privilege or a curse? How do you live as if that were the case?
In many Methodist churches, this is the last Sunday for pastors - who switch on July 1. This is not just two leaders in isolation. There is a company of 50 other prophets as well. They are leaders as a part of a greater community.
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.