Sunday, June 16, 2019

2 Pentecost 2019 (Proper 7C) Readings & Commentaries

Jesus decides then to cross the Sea of Galilee to the country of the Gerasenes. This is Gentile territory, an odd place for a Jewish teacher to be going. 

1st Reading (Track 1):  1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a
The prophet Elijah has just defeated and destroyed the prophets of Baal, the God whom King Ahab of Israel and Jezebel, his queen, worship. Jezebel promises revenge, so Elijah flees into the wilderness and is miraculously fed, the Lord ignoring his fear and his plea for death. What happens to Elijah in the wilderness and on the mountain is meant to parallel things that happen to Moses, raising Elijah’s status among the prophets of the Lord (see the Transfiguration story in the gospels, such as Luke 9:28-26). The Hebrew in verse 12 is very difficult, hence some translations read “still small voice.” Silence is probably more correct. Elijah reiterates his despair, which the Lord again ignores, saying only, “Go back.” Mission trumps fear.

19:1 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.”
[Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.”]
He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus.

Psalms 42 & 43 (Track 1)
Many ancient Hebrew manuscripts have these two psalms as one. Roman Catholic English translations tend to do the same. That they are a unit is testified to by the common refrain at 42:6-7, 14-15 & 43:5-6. Together they form a prayer by a person in some kind of crisis. The refrain is unique in that it is a dialogue with the self. Psalms 42 & 43 also have a clear liturgical context. The movement is from private grief to communal hope.

1 As the deer longs for the water-brooks, *
                 so longs my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God; *
                 when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night, *
                 while all day long they say to me, “Where now is your God?”
4 I pour out my soul when I think on these things: *
                 how I went with the multitude and led them into the house of God,
5 With the voice of praise and thanksgiving, *
                 among those who keep holy-day.
6 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? *
                 and why are you so disquieted within me?
7 Put your trust in God; *
                 for I will yet give thanks to him,
                 who is the help of my countenance, and my God.
8 My soul is heavy within me; *
                 therefore I will remember you from the land of Jordan,
                 and from the peak of Mizar among the heights of Hermon.
9 One deep calls to another in the noise of your cataracts; *
                 all your rapids and floods have gone over me.
10 The Lord grants his loving-kindness in the daytime; *
                 in the night season his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
11 I will say to the God of my strength, “Why have you forgotten me? *
                 and why do I go so heavily while the enemy oppresses me?”
12 While my bones are being broken, *
                 my enemies mock me to my face;
13 All day long they mock me *
                 and say to me, “Where now is your God?”
14 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? *
                 and why are you so disquieted within me?
15 Put your trust in God; *
                 for I will yet give thanks to him,
                 who is the help of my countenance, and my God.
1 Give judgment for me, O God,
    and defend my cause against an ungodly people; *
                 deliver me from the deceitful and the wicked.
2 For you are the God of my strength; why have you put me from you? *
                 and why do I go so heavily while the enemy oppresses me?
3 Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, *
                 and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling;
4 That I may go to the altar of God, to the God of my joy and gladness; *
                 and on the harp I will give thanks to you, O God my God.
5 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? *
                 and why are you so disquieted within me?
6 Put your trust in God; *
                 for I will yet give thanks to him,
                 who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

1st Reading (Track 2):  Isaiah 65:1-9
Chapters 56-66 of Isaiah are sometimes called “Third Isaiah,” because they come from a time distinct from the earlier chapters (“First Isaiah:”  chapters 1-39 are prior to the Babylonian exile; “Second Isaiah:” 40-55, are toward the end of the exile; “Third Isaiah” is after the return).  Chapter 64 was a plea for God to reveal himself in power as in the days of old (64:1:  “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down”).  Our passage this morning is God’s answer.  It is not God who has been silent, but the people, with their backs turned toward him as they worship other gods.  Yet God is prepared to bless a remnant.

65:1 [The Lord spoke,] I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that did not call on my name. I held out my hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and offering incense on bricks; who sit inside tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat swine’s flesh, with broth of abominable things in their vessels; who say, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.” These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all day long. See, it is written before me:  I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will indeed repay into their laps their iniquities and their ancestors’ iniquities together, says the Lord; because they offered incense on the mountains and reviled me on the hills, I will measure into their laps full payment for their actions. Thus says the Lord:  As the wine is found in the cluster, and they say, “Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,” so I will do for my servants’ sake, and not destroy them all. I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah inheritors of my mountains; my chosen shall inherit it, and my servants shall settle there.

Psalm 22:18-27 (Track 2)
Psalm 22 is a lament, a cry for help.  Because of its beginning (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) it has long been associated with Good Friday.  In this section, the psalmist speaks of the depths of his illness and promises to offer prayers of thanks in the Temple upon his recovery.

18 Be not far away, O Lord; *
you are my strength; hasten to help me.
19 Save me from the sword, *
my life from the power of the dog.
20 Save me from the lion’s mouth, *
my wretched body from the horns of wild bulls.
21 I will declare your Name to my brethren; *
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.
22 Praise the Lord, you that fear him; *
stand in awe of him, O offspring of Israel;
all you of Jacob’s line, give glory.
23 For he does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty;
     neither does he hide his face from them; *
but when they cry to him he hears them.
24 My praise is of him in the great assembly; *
              I will perform my vows in the presence
                            of those who worship him.
25 The poor shall eat and be satisfied,
     and those who seek the Lord shall praise him: *
“May your heart live for ever!”
26 All the ends of the earth shall remember        and turn to the Lord, *
and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.
27 For kingship belongs to the Lord; *
              he rules over the nations.

2nd Reading:  Galatians 3:23-29
In the portion of chapter 3 that proceeds these verses, Paul speaks quite harshly to the Galatians (v. 1:  “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?”) and presses his argument that justification by faith is not a new doctrine, but one as old as Abraham.  The law cannot make people righteous but acts like a disciplinarian.  Without the law we could not recognize our transgressions.  But now our faith, sealed in baptism, makes all one in Christ Jesus and the promise to Abraham and his heirs.

3:23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

Gospel Reading:  Luke 8:26-39
In chapter 8, Jesus has been teaching from town to town in Galilee, teaching that includes the Parable of the Sower (8:4-15), a saying about letting your light shine (16-18) and a pronouncement that Jesus’ “mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (19-21). He decides then to cross the Sea of Galilee to the country of the Gerasenes. This is Gentile territory, an odd place for a Jewish teacher to be going.  The scene that happens when he gets there is just as odd.  There are demons who call themselves “Legion” (a word, of course, used by the Roman occupiers), pigs (an animal unclean for Jews), and a man returned to sanity who wishes to follow Jesus but is sent away, as is Jesus, after causing economic instability.  Back to Galilee they go, the disciples no doubt quite gladly.

8:26 [Jesus and his disciples] arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”—29 for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31 They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. 32 Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. 34 When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

The Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. The translation of the Psalm is from The Book of Common Prayer. Commentaries are copyright © 2019 Epiphany Esources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY  14843, All rights reserved.  Bulletin inserts are available. For more information, go to our website.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Trinity Sunday C Readings & Commentaries

1st Reading:  Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
The Book of Proverbs proclaims that a reasonable God has made a reasonable world.  It makes that case sometimes in logical prose, but sometimes, like in our reading this morning, in poetry.  In later ancient Israel’s life, “Wisdom” came to be a personification of the divine will. The word “wisdom” is a feminine word in Hebrew, so this figure is usually referred to as “she.”  Many of her attributes are picked up in the New Testament to speak of the eternal Son and his work, particularly in creation.

8:1 Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out:  “To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live. 22 The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago. 23 Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. 24 When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth—26 when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world's first bits of soil. 27 When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, 28 when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, 29 when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, 30 then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, 31 rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.

Canticle 13:  Song of the Three Jews 29-34
In place of a psalm today we have a passage from the Apocrypha which serves as one of the canticles in The Book of Common Prayer.  “The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men” are additions to the book of Daniel (a section that appears in Greek versions of the text, but not in the original Hebrew).  This passage is the beginning of a long song that the three men sing (Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael), from inside the fiery furnace, where they are unharmed. The final verse is a doxology added to the canticle.

Glory to you, Lord God of our forebears; *
you are worthy of praise; glory to you.
Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name; *
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.
Glory to you in the splendor of your temple; *
on the throne of your majesty, glory to you.
Glory to you, seated between the Cherubim; *
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.
Glory to you, beholding the depths; *
in the high vault of heaven, glory to you.
Glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; *
              we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

Or this

Psalm 8
Psalm 8 is the first hymn of praise in the psalter.  It follows four psalms of lament (4-7), each of which call on people to praise. Psalm 8 is that praise. It begins and ends with a refrain.  “Governor” could be translated “ruler” or “sovereign.”  The primary reason given for praise is God’s creative work, including the making of humankind.

1 O Lord our Governor, *
              how exalted is your Name in all the world!
2 Out of the mouths of infants and children *
              your majesty is praised above the heavens.
3 You have set up a stronghold against your adversaries, *
              to quell the enemy and the avenger.
4 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, *
              the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,
5 What is man that you should be mindful of him? *
              the son of man that you should seek him out?
6 You have made him but little lower than the angels; *
              you adorn him with glory and honor;
7 You give him mastery over the works of your hands; *
              you put all things under his feet:
8 All sheep and oxen, *
              even the wild beasts of the field,
9 The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, *
              and whatsoever walks in the paths of the sea.
10 O Lord our Governor, *
              how exalted is your Name in all the world!

2nd Reading:  Romans 5:1-5
Paul has just finished arguing that we are justified by faith. In chapter 5 he begins to explore what it means to be so justified.  A new life is the result, one characterized by “peace.”  We are also able to live in hope despite our sufferings.  This is a reading for Trinity Sunday because all three persons of the Trinity are present in this short passage.  The Trinity is not proved by Scripture, but is evident in it.

5:1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Gospel Reading:  John 16:12-15
In this brief passage from John, a picture of the Trinity emerges:  The Father, creator and giver; Jesus, the interceder and sender; the Holy Spirit, glorifier and teacher.  This passage is important in that it suggests that divine revelation is not finished with Jesus’ time on earth, nor with the Scriptures.  The Holy Spirit is always leading us into truth, which the Gospel writer John understands to be living and personified in Jesus, not in any way static.

16:12 [Jesus said to the disciples,] “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

The Scripture quotations (except for the psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.  The Psalm translation is from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2019 Epiphany ESources, 67. E. Main St., Hornell, NY  14843, All rights reserved.  Permission is given to copy for congregational use.  Bulletin inserts are available. Go to our website for more information.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Day of Pentecost C Readings & Commentaries

The Day of Pentecost
Commonly called Whitsunday

1st Reading: Genesis 11:1-9
The story of the Tower of Babel accounts for the multiplicity of languages and peoples in God’s creation.  “Let us make a name for ourselves,” is the corrupting desire of the people. God confuses (in Hebrew balal) their language, and “Babel” becomes the city’s name (and a word meaning nonsense speech ever since).  This is a Pentecost story because the story of the Spirit from Acts is a kind of reversal of Babel.  What seems like nonsense becomes known.

11:1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” 5 The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another's speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

Or this

1st Reading:  Acts 2:1-21
Our second reading is the story of the Spirit’s manifestation on the Day of Pentecost.  Pentecost was a major Jewish festival which occurred 50 days after Passover.  It is also known as the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot. The Holy Spirit’s falling on everyone is a different phenomenon than the Spirit’s falling on individuals in the Hebrew Scriptures (and usually for a set period of time). Peter’s speech includes an extended quote from the prophet Joel (2:28-32).

2:1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. 5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:  17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. 21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”

Psalm 104:25-35, 37b
Psalm 104 as a whole is a hymn to God as creator and sustainer of all life. Our portion today concludes the psalm with a reference to God’s taming of the sea (seen by ancient peoples as the source of chaos represented here by the sea monster “Leviathan,” which is God’s plaything). It also includes a reference to the Spirit of God.  “Breath” in verse 30 and “Spirit” in verse 31 are the same Hebrew word ruaḥ.

25 O Lord, how manifold are your works! *
in wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
26 Yonder is the great and wide sea
     with its living things too many to number, *
creatures both small and great.
27 There move the ships, and there is that Leviathan, *
which you have made for the sport of it.
28 All of them look to you *
to give them their food in due season.
29 You give it to them; they gather it; *
you open your hand, and they are filled with good things.
30 You hide your face, and they are terrified; *
you take away their breath,
and they die and return to their dust.
31 You send forth your Spirit, and they are created; *
and so you renew the face of the earth.
32 May the glory of the Lord endure for ever; *
may the Lord rejoice in all his works.
33 He looks at the earth and it trembles; *
he touches the mountains and they smoke.
34 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; *
I will praise my God while I have my being.
35 May these words of mine please him; *
                 I will rejoice in the Lord.  [37b] Hallelujah!

2nd Reading: Acts 2:1-21 (see above)

Or this

2nd Reading:  Romans 8:14-17
Romans 8 is Paul’s great discourse about life lived in the Spirit. We are adopted into that life by God, who is familiar to us as “Abba,” which in Aramaic is a familiar term rather than a title We are children of God as Christ is. As with Christ, this life is a tension between suffering and hope until we are glorified together.

8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

Gospel Reading: John 14:7-17, (25-27)
Jesus wrestles with his disciples over his relationship to him both now and when he has gone from them. It is clear he understands himself to be the human face of God. He will remain with them through his Spirit, “the Advocate” (a significant name, since the word satan means “the accuser”).

14:7 Jesus said, “If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. 15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. [25 I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.]

The Scripture quotations (except for the psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. The Psalm translation is from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2019 Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843. All rights reserved. Bulletin inserts are available. For more information go to our website.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Easter 7C Readings & Commentaries

1st Reading:  Acts 16:16-34

Our reading from the Acts of the Apostles comes from a section about the work of Paul and Silas in Philippi, the first missionary work on European soil.  Here they are put in prison after exorcising a slave girl, and then miraculously released (as happens several times in Acts).  This passage contains possible evidence of children or infants being baptized.  The jailer “and his entire family” are said to be baptized.

16:16 One day, as we (Paul and his companions) were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. 17 While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” 18 She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. 19 But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. 20 When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews 21 and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 23 After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. 34 He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.

Psalm 97
Psalm 97 is an enthronement psalm declaring the God of Israel to be King of all creation.  It is part of a set of psalms (93—99) which may have been used at the Jewish new year festival when the Lord was symbolically re-enthroned.

1 The Lord is King; let the earth rejoice; *
           let the multitude of the isles be glad.
2 Clouds and darkness are round about him, *
           righteousness and justice are the foundations of his throne.
3 A fire goes before him *
           and burns up his enemies on every side.
4 His lightnings light up the world; *
           the earth sees it and is afraid.
5 The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord, *
           at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
6 The heavens declare his righteousness, *
           and all the peoples see his glory.
7 Confounded be all who worship carved images
    and delight in false gods! *
           Bow down before him, all you gods.
8 Zion hears and is glad, and the cities of Judah rejoice, *
           because of your judgments, O Lord.
9 For you are the Lord, most high over all the earth; *
           you are exalted far above all gods.
10 The Lord loves those who hate evil; *
           he preserves the lives of his saints
           and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light has sprung up for the righteous, *
           and joyful gladness for those who are truehearted.
12 Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous, *
           and give thanks to his holy Name.

2nd Reading: Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
Our final reading from Revelation this Eastertide comes from the end of the book.  Several independent sayings reiterate the book’s themes.  The book ends with a plea for Jesus to come soon.  One of the early church’s cries was “Maranatha,” Aramaic for “Lord, come.”

22:12 [Jesus said,] “See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. 16 It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let everyone who hears say, “Come.” And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. 20 The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

Gospel Reading: John 17:20-26
The Sunday between Ascension Day and Pentecost we always read from the 17th chapter of John, sometimes called the “High Priestly Prayer.” It is indeed a prayer by Jesus for the disciples, those with him now and those who will come after them.  The great theme of the prayer is that they may remain one.

17:20 [Jesus continued to pray], “I ask not only on behalf of these [disciples], but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

The Scripture quotations (except for the psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. The Psalm translation is from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2019 Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY  14843. All rights reserved.  Bulletin inserts are available.  Go to our website for more information.