Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Burl

This Week's Lectionary

Recommended Posts

1 hour ago, thormas said:

.........and that's the parables, I was referring broadly to the scriptures

I was commenting on this weeks lectionary selection.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

November 19, 2017

Matthew 25:14-30The Message (MSG)

The Story About Investment

14-18 “It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.

19-21 “After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

22-23 “The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

24-25 “The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’

26-27 “The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

28-30 “‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sharing my thoughts, if you'll indulge me:

Quote

"I was afraid I might disappoint you..." (Matthew 25:25)

Fear can prevent us from taking action to fulfill our life's potential. But God has given us in life only what we are capable of handling - both in ability and responsibility.

We can spend so much of our lives 'buried' in the ground, protected from anything that might risk this precious, mortal life we have been given. We are so afraid of losing or squandering it that in the end we do so little with it.

Jesus also said:

Quote

"For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it." (Luke 9:24)

So it isn't the physical mortality of my life that I should be holding onto - I think that's apparent in the example Jesus set for us. Instead I am called to use this brief existence and potential as 'me' in the fullest way possible to help bring about God's plan.

Personally, I have found that it is only in connecting with others that I can have any real and lasting impact on life beyond my own physical existence. So I am starting there, and working on developing the courage to risk embarrassment, humiliation, all my physical possessions, my professional and personal reputation, and possibly even pain, torture and death in order to achieve what 'my' unique combination of abilities, interests and life experiences have laid out for me in terms of living as close to my understanding of Jesus' example as I can manage.

It's a work in progress, I'll admit. In the end I believe it's only fear - that unique human awareness of a precious 'self' participating all too briefly in the cycle of life - that keeps me from risking 'my' one temporary, physical life (and its connections to loved ones and family) for the sake of a spiritual connection to all life.

How valuable is my life? Was I given one thousand, two or five? Do I understand its full potential? Am I willing to use what was given to me to increase my impact on the eternity of life, and earn a place as 'partner' in this grand scheme? Or is it all I can manage to return this untapped potential, safe and sound, for another life to put to better use?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, possibility said:

But God has given us in life only what we are capable of handling - both in ability and responsibility.

So it isn't the physical mortality of my life that I should be holding onto - I think that's apparent in the example Jesus set for us. Instead I am called to use this brief existence and potential as 'me' in the fullest way possible to help bring about God's plan.

Perhaps I misunderstand you but the idea that God gives us only what we are capable of handling in ability and responsibility seems to take too literally the power and role of God in human affairs. A child suffering cancer seems less 'capable' than many an adult (generally speaking) to deal with the devastation and perhaps even the reality of death that is coming her way. Also, if one believes God is 'giving' us such things, it is fair to ask why God would do such a thing. Seemingly, people throughout history have been given much, too much to handle and it has broken many. Why not give people, especially little children or the most vulnerable a pass?

So too, one can ask if Luke, writing 50+ years after Jesus, is quoting him or giving his own take on Jesus. Beyond that, even it we take it as the words of Jesus, should it be tied to saving and losing physical life or is it about giving oneself (in love) rather than being concerned primarily for one's self (selfishness) at the expense of others. If one loses selfishness for the sake of love, they find and become their truest self that not even physical death, when it comes, can hold.

I don't disagree with your comments on fear or the other insights but I do disagree (if I understand you correctly) with the literal take on the above issues.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi thormas,

Thanks for your comments. You make a couple of excellent points.

Quote

Perhaps I misunderstand you but the idea that God gives us only what we are capable of handling in ability and responsibility seems to take too literally the power and role of God in human affairs.

You're right, and I didn't explain myself very well. My use of 'given' comes from the text itself, and in hindsight I should have placed it in inverted commas, because I think the wording of the parable is aimed at the perspective of God that was prevalent at the time. I don't believe that God is up there dealing out pain and suffering to specific people according to their ability to handle it.

From our adult point of view, yes, a child suffering cancer does seem particularly ill-equipped to deal with the devastation and possible death, and it certainly doesn't seem fair for their young shoulders to bear it. It's tragic and heartbreaking and collectively we should work towards eliminating this kind of suffering. But to question why a particular child has to suffer while others don't assumes that a healthy, long and pain free life is somehow a birthright. In every species of nature, some lives are short and painful while others are long and prosperous. Humans are no exception in this respect. Faith, prayer and even science cannot fully eliminate this terrible reality that is a part of the natural world.  

I do believe, however, that human beings in general have a capacity and potential far greater than most of us will ever realise. That is what we have been 'given' through evolution in terms of ability and responsibility. In many ways children facing terminal illness or permanent disability gain a clearer understanding of this capacity and potential than most adults, because they're not yet conditioned to expect certain things out of life. It seems we have to confront the limitations of our all too brief physical life before most of us ask ourselves what we're doing with this opportunity of human consciousness beyond 'go to school, grow up, get a job, get married, have kids, make money, buy a house, etc....'

Quote

So too, one can ask if Luke, writing 50+ years after Jesus, is quoting him or giving his own take on Jesus. 

I'm not under the illusion that what Jesus is reported to have said in the Bible is what was actually said in real life, and I probably should have pointed that out. All we have is a collection of writings, each offering their own take on Jesus. And by 'the example Jesus set for us' I didn't mean what Jesus is reported to have said in the quote (although I can see how you could have read it that way), but the sum expression of his life and death. His example reminds us that much can be achieved in a short lifespan, without formal education, without money, prestige or power, and without avoiding pain, humiliation, suffering or death.

I also agree that the quote from Luke doesn't always need to be taken quite as literally as I have. Interpreting 'life' as 'selfishness' seems to me like it's saying the same thing, only not as strongly. Being willing to give your life up for love is the ultimate in selflessness, but I think the message loses something in this interpretation. Why water it down to mean 'selfishness'? Why convince ourselves that Jesus didn't really mean our physical life, when the example he set for us to follow clearly shows that he did? Is it impossible when interpreted as our physical life, or just too frightening to contemplate - too much to ask? I'm not suggesting that we all go out and become human shields. But when faced with choices and opportunities in our own life where our discipleship - following Jesus - carries a risk, what risk is too great? Interpreting it as selfishness and NOT physical life gives us permission to stop well short of the potential that Jesus showed us, because of our fear. I'm not saying that's wrong - it's part of being human - but we can't pretend the shortfall isn't an issue to work on.

I think what matters is not whether we overcome pain and suffering, oppression or poverty to live a long, healthy or prosperous life, but how we make use of the brief time we have as a conscious human being, including, despite or because of what we have to go through, to build on our collective awareness of this interconnection between all life and all matter that transcends the apparent limitations of nature.

I think that's what Jesus taught. But, again, it's only my opinion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"........to question why a particular child has to suffer while others don't assumes that a healthy, long and pain free life is somehow a birthright."

Does this mean we cannot question on a macro level (if you will) why this happens? Also, many, believing in a loving, all-powerful God, do assume it is a birthright or at least what such a God would want for humanity. Not sure I agree with you on the young terminal child and conditioning. Plus it is not so much about limitations; they are part and the package of being mortal. What people question is what some call 'tragic suffering' that is sufferimg above and beyond what could/would be expected for mortal beings - again, especially in light of what is believed about God.

Selfishness (did you mean selflessness?) as a "watered down?" Regardless, selflessness is the living out of the great commandments; it is the opposite of selfishness which is the very definition of sin. Plus, there is a continuum: giving one’s physical life for another is part and parcel of the same selflessness (Love) that holds a door for a stranger, refuses to cheat on a test, refuses to bully another (and on and on). There is attempt to convince ourselves that Jesus didn't mean literally giving up physical life (however when we die with Jesus in baptism and rise with him to new life we don’t take that death as literal, physical death), merely the recognition that his death was a piece with his life of selflessness. 'His example' shows that he did not turn from the inevitable when 'they came for him' and it demonstrates what others do in similar circumstances - but it is also something he never desired (if we take the story of the Garden to heart) nor is it something that is to be desired by others. If it happens, as it does for many, those many don't want it but are willing, in the worst circumstances, to risk all for another - but that does not 'water down' the lives they lived up to that point or the lives others live daily. No Christian, nobody should look for physical death to demonstrate his/her devotion to Jesus.  It is the life of selflessness, the life of love that is asked/demanded of those who accept this way.

And, there is no permission given (or asked) to stop short: it is not easy to love, to be compassionately concerned for others: there is a cost demanded and willingly given - and I suspect that many, even most, who live this life, would if circumstances demanded it, pause in the garden with Jesus, and then continue, as did he, the life they had always lived – even unto death.

Jesus/God does not demand sacrifice (physical death), he desires Love and sometimes Loves chooses/gives itself unto death. Such a life is not for the weak, not for the fear filled (found difficult, it is often not really tried); it does not ask for permission to stop but has the courage to go - forward. There is no shortfall. 

I think it does matters that we work to overcome pain and suffering, oppression and poverty - not in order to selfishly live a long, healthy or prosperous life, but to make the life of the world, the lives of the children of God better (on earth as it is in 'heaven'). For me, my opinion, is that as Christianity has sometimes been (rightly) accused of looking beyond this world while keeping its eye on the next, so too we should not be concerned with the 'grand sacrifice' but the slow, painful work of incarnation; when we love, we are the embodiment of mercy, compassion, empathy that looks to overcome the 'tragic suffering' that none deserve, to make easier the suffering (and death) that is inevitable for mortal beings and to enable the ‘Kingdom’ to begin here and now. This is how we make use of the brief time - not merely to build our collective awareness but to better all life - to create it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nov 26, 2017

Matthew 25:31-46The Message (MSG)

The Sheep and the Goats

31-33 “When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

41-43 “Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

44 “Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’

45 “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’

46 “Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dec. 3, 2017

Mark 13:24-37The Message (MSG)

24-25 “Following those hard times,

Sun will fade out,
    moon cloud over,
Stars fall out of the sky,
    cosmic powers tremble.

26-27 “And then they’ll see the Son of Man enter in grand style, his Arrival filling the sky—no one will miss it! He’ll dispatch the angels; they will pull in the chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole.

28-31 “Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer’s just around the corner. And so it is with you. When you see all these things, you know he is at the door. Don’t take this lightly. I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for this one, too—these things will happen. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out.

32-37 “But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father. So keep a sharp lookout, for you don’t know the timetable. It’s like a man who takes a trip, leaving home and putting his servants in charge, each assigned a task, and commanding the gatekeeper to stand watch. So, stay at your post, watching. You have no idea when the homeowner is returning, whether evening, midnight, cockcrow, or morning. You don’t want him showing up unannounced, with you asleep on the job. I say it to you, and I’m saying it to all: Stay at your post. Keep watch.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dec. 10, 2017

Mark 1:1-8The Message (MSG)

John the Baptizer

1-3 The good news of Jesus Christ—the Message!—begins here, following to the letter the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.

Watch closely: I’m sending my preacher ahead of you;
He’ll make the road smooth for you.
Thunder in the desert!
Prepare for God’s arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!

4-6 John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.

7-8 As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

December 24-25, 2017

Luke 2:1-20The Message (MSG)

The Birth of Jesus

1-5 About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

6-7 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

An Event for Everyone

8-12 There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

13-14 At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

15-18 As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

19-20 Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

December 31, 2017

Luke 2:22-40The Message (MSG)

22-24 Then when the days stipulated by Moses for purification were complete, they took him up to Jerusalem to offer him to God as commanded in God’s Law: “Every male who opens the womb shall be a holy offering to God,” and also to sacrifice the “pair of doves or two young pigeons” prescribed in God’s Law.

25-32 In Jerusalem at the time, there was a man, Simeon by name, a good man, a man who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him. The Holy Spirit had shown him that he would see the Messiah of God before he died. Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple. As the parents of the child Jesus brought him in to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God:

God, you can now release your servant;
    release me in peace as you promised.
With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation;
    it’s now out in the open for everyone to see:
A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations,
    and of glory for your people Israel.

33-35 Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. Simeon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother,

This child marks both the failure and
    the recovery of many in Israel,
A figure misunderstood and contradicted—
    the pain of a sword-thrust through you—
But the rejection will force honesty,
    as God reveals who they really are.

36-38 Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fastings and prayers. At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem.

39-40 When they finished everything required by God in the Law, they returned to Galilee and their own town, Nazareth. There the child grew strong in body and wise in spirit. And the grace of God was on him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jan 14, 2017

John 1:43-51The Message (MSG)

43-44 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. When he got there, he ran across Philip and said, “Come, follow me.” (Philip’s hometown was Bethsaida, the same as Andrew and Peter.)

45-46 Philip went and found Nathanael and told him, “We’ve found the One Moses wrote of in the Law, the One preached by the prophets. It’s Jesus, Joseph’s son, the one from Nazareth!” Nathanael said, “Nazareth? You’ve got to be kidding.”

But Philip said, “Come, see for yourself.”

47 When Jesus saw him coming he said, “There’s a real Israelite, not a false bone in his body.”

48 Nathanael said, “Where did you get that idea? You don’t know me.”

Jesus answered, “One day, long before Philip called you here, I saw you under the fig tree.”

49 Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi! You are the Son of God, the King of Israel!”

50-51 Jesus said, “You’ve become a believer simply because I say I saw you one day sitting under the fig tree? You haven’t seen anything yet! Before this is over you’re going to see heaven open and God’s angels descending to the Son of Man and ascending again.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×