Proper 9C (OT14)

image: pixabay


331: July 7, 2019

174: July 3, 2016

Psalmist: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Voice in the Wilderness: Chris Strickland

Psalmist Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Initial Thoughts

  • Lectionary note: Sanitizes the scripture - Your call

  • Continues the message of being sent out (Luke 9 and 19)

Bible Study

  • Seventy

    • Even Jesus and the disciples needed help - DON’T BE A LONE RANGER

  • See Genesis 6-10

    • Gen 6: Sent out in pairs (like the remnant of animals to be saved)

    • Gen. 10: Seventy implies all the nations of the world

      • Salvation/ Good news is for everyone

      • Similar to Exodus 24:1-3 and Numbers 11:16-17 (gathering the 70 elders)

      • Allusion to Acts 2:5 - “persons gathered from every nation”

    • Gen. 9: Go forth and multiply, God’s command and covenant of peace

  • Hospitality

    • Receiving: 

      • “Eat what is set before you” - challenges the cleanliness codes - precursor to Acts 10

      • Be with those whom you are bringing the good news (v. 7), don’t try to find the best place to stay

    • Giving:Wrath for those that do not welcome the disciples is a matter of proper hospitality.  

      • Punishment for inhospitable cities is same as punishment for Sodom, an inhospitable city.

      • The disciples are not called to bring down judgement or denounce those who are inhospitable, but simply to shake it off and move on

      • Judgement is the realm of God

  • Message:

    • Mission of 70 parallels Luke 4:18, Jesus’s first sermon and “mission statement”

      • Luke 4:18 - “The Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

      • Luke 10:8b - “Cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God has come near to you.’”

  • The Return of the 70

    • “I saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.”  Not a description of the past, or foretelling the future. Satan is defeated because the Kingdom of God is at hand.  

    • John Wesley’s note “That is, when the seventy went forth, I saw the kingdom of Satan, which was highly exalted, swiftly and suddenly cast down.”

    • Do not rejoice because of the cool things you did.  Rejoice because of the Kingdom.  

    • “Triumphalism is an inappropriate spirit among disciples.  Our chief joy should be, not that we have certain gifts and powers, but that God has received and accepted us, that our names are ‘written in heaven’” (Fred Craddock, Interpretation: Luke)

Thoughts and Questions

  • Evangelism - what is it to share the good news?

  • Harvest is great - this is good news to a declining church - the harvest has not changed, but perhaps we need to go out (be more apostolic) and leave our comfortable buildings behind

  • Hostile - Evangelism, sharing the good news was never meant to be easy or save, but would most likely cost you your a sheep amidst the wolves

  • Great work - the work of the small group is much greater than perceived - even the little they did will lead to the fall of evil (and presumably the coming of the Kingdom of God) - God does great things through us

    • like a small seed becoming a Great Oak

    • or a small pebble creating a ripple throughout the ocean

Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16

Initial Thoughts

  • Last Sunday in Galatians. Next week in Colossians. 

  • Interesting choice for the passage this week. It may have made more sense to begin at verse 11

    • Verse 10 is the end of the body of the letter

    • Verse 11 is the beginning of Paul’s own postscript

      • “To conclude the letter, Paul adds a postscript written in his own hand. This was a common practice in Hellenistic letter: A scribe would write out the body of the text, and the sender would add a final word of greeting or summary. In the case of Galatians this concluding paragraph is far more than a perfunctory sign off; it functions as the peroratio of the letter, a carefully crafted distillation of the message designed to drive home the central points one more time.” (Richard Hays, New Interpreters Bible, v. 11, p. 341)

Bible Study

  • Vs 1-10 The Conclusion

    • Many balances are in play: Faith vs Works, Grace vs Judgment, Personal Accountability vs Mutual Responsibility.

    • Richard Hays lays out several main themes of the letter are re-hashed in this passage

      • The Church as an extended family of mutual responsibility

        • Use caution when dealing with these verses. Many have been used for harm. 

        • This is not encouragement for interrogation of others, but a warning to all Christians on how to deal with fault. 

        • Important that Paul describes not only that you should deal with errors, but how to deal with errors, i.e. with gentleness

      • The Law of Christ and the imitation of Christ.

        • What is the Law of Christ? He just spent most of the letter talking about how the Law isn’t important. But that’s not really true - the Law is important, the heart of the law is above the letter of the law.

        • The Law of Christ was quoted last week (which was itself a quote from the Torah) “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

        • Following the Law of Christ is following the Way of Christ - the Way of compassion, kindness, forgiveness, joy - the fruits that we spoke of last week.

      • Renouncing rivalry and conflict in the Church.

      • Personal accountability and self-examination.

        • Mutual responsibility only works if we take care of our own hearts first.

      • The community under God’s eschatological judgment

        • “In the concluding verses of this discussion of ethics Paul connects Christian behavior with eschatological judgment. A review of his other letters will demonstrate that this is typical of his reasoning. Unlike the moral philosophers of his day who extolled good behavior as a means to the improvement of the individual’s character, Paul places good behavior in an eschatological context. Simply put, the time has grown short, and how one lives is a matter of urgency.” (Charles Cousar, Texts for Preaching, Year C, p. 415)

      • The importance of teaching

      • Sowing our trust in the Spirit

  • Vs 11-16 Paul’s Summary

    • Circumcision debate

      • “Paul’s chief objection to the Missionaries’ message was that it sought to superimpose their Jewish religious culture upon Gentiles who had already encountered the gospel through Paul’s Law-free preaching. Their insistence on circumcision had the effect of making Gentiles jump through a Jewish hoop in order to participate fully in the new community of the people of God. This sort of cultural imperialism was anathema to Paul” (Richard Hays, New Interpreters Bible, v. 11, p. 347)

    • Boasting in the Cross

      • “Death on the cross carried with it the kind of shame we might associate with death in the electric chair. To boast in nothing ‘except the cross’ literally makes no sense. It makes sense only because God has used the cross itself to reveal God’s Son, God’s wisdom, God’s power.”  (Charles Cousar, Texts for Preaching, Year C, p. 415)

      • The Cross is the object of transformation. It is the method God used to turn shame into glory.

      • For those who think they are going to rise to prominence or status through the Church must be reminded that it only happens through The Cross - and not the gold one hanging from our necks or the high exalted brass ones in our churches, but the battered, bloody, shameful one on the highway to the place of the dead.

    • New Creation

      • Recall the opening verse of the letter: (1:1-2) “From Paul, an apostle who is sent not from human authority or commissioned through human agency, but sent through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead; and from all the brothers and sisters with me.”

      • From the very beginning of the letter, the idea of transformation through Christ is the heart of the letter. Paul was transformed. Christ was resurrected

        • The next paragraphs detail Paul’s own conversion from one who harassed the church into the apostle of Christ.

      • Transformation happens with God and in community (brothers and sisters with me).

Thoughts and Questions

  • How does “you reap what you sow” align with the concept of God’s grace and forgiveness? Often, “you reap what you sow” is used as a slogan for those hoping for the comeuppance of others. It is little more than a philosophical hope for revenge. This is not what Paul is describing, but the relationship between grace and reaping what you sow is an important one to examine.

  • Does the kind of mutuality that Paul describes make you uncomfortable? This kind of community, mutual accountability, and intense relationship is not something easily achieved. Loneliness is a pandemic that grips much of the United States. Does this sort of community feel like an antidote or a nightmare? Struggling with this question of what a faith community should look like is important. And we should not assume that the people of Galatia were any more comfortable with it than we are. If they were, Paul wouldn’t have to be telling them to act this way.

  • The circumcision debate feels ancient and foreign. Today’s debates about circumcision can be heated, but are totally unrelated to what Paul is talking about. What is a closer modern analogy? What are the litmus tests that we use to place some in and others out? Circumcision does not have the same theological weight, but do our proper dogmas, rules, and liturgies do the same thing as circumcision once did? The function of circumcision - as Paul saw it - was to divide the community into those who were in and out. Is the modern debate on LGBT inclusion our version of circumcision? Maybe it is something else in your community.

Initial Thoughts

  • include verse 15

Bible Study

  • Slave Girl

    • a non-person (no name or title) simply the servant of the wife of a servant..

    • She is the bearer of good news!

    • Mutuality of mission, we do not simply bring people the good news from the a place of power but need to hear it as well

    • What could she have to offer?

      • Salvation

    • Slave girl has faith where the King of Israel or even Naaman does not...

  • Revelation

    • Slave girl offers salvation, but does not require conversion

    • She does not abandon or neutralize her faith and culture in order to deliver the good news, but offers them from her faith and culture

    • Interfaith relations/dialogue

      • Importance of speaking authentically from one’s faith

      • Sharing the good news of one’s special revelation, does not mean ignoring another’s special revelation or overcoming general revelation

        • special revelation - revelation of God in a specific culture of context (e.g. Christianity, Islam, etc)

        • General revelation - revelation of God in the natural world and order of life (e.g. God in nature, in general human community, see Psalm 19 or Romans 1:20)

  • Courage and healing

    • Girl has the courage to share her knowledge about Elisha

    • Naaman has the courage to go to Israel

    • Courage of Israel to accept Naaman- enemy of Israel

  • The work of God

    • incarnate in the river Jordan, in Elisha and in the servant girl

    • Not aloof or transcendent but incarnate

    • Not to convert Naaman, but to show the goodness and glory of God.

Thoughts and Questions

  • How might we reclaim evangelism as a way of showing God’s goodness and not about getting more members?

  • Are we willing to accept the strangeness of the Gospel in order to be healed?

    • Are we too proud or arrogant to accept healing?

    • Are we too skeptical of God’s messengers?

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.