Monday, October 15, 2018

Proper 24B (22 Pentecost 2018) Readings & Commentaries

Jesus has just taught the disciples that “the first will be last and the last will be first.” Clearly at least James and John did not understand him, as they ask rather brazenly for the right to sit at his right and left hand. 

The 22nd Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 24B)

1st Reading (Track 1):  Job 38:1-7, [35-41]
After 35 chapters of back and forth dialogue between Job and his friends, and a stranger named Elihu, Job gets his answer from God.  It is not an answer about the cause of his suffering, but a reminder that the world God has created is bigger than any one individual life.  Some see this response as being directly related to Job’s curse of his birth in chapter 3.  Others see it as God defending the mystery of life.  If the latter is correct, there is no answer to Job’s question, just the freedom of creation and the God who made it.

38:1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:  2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. 4 Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?
[35 Can you send forth lightnings, so that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’? 36 Who has put wisdom in the inward parts, or given understanding to the mind? 37 Who has the wisdom to number the clouds? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens, 38 when the dust runs into a mass and the clods cling together? 39 Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, 40 when they crouch in their dens, or lie in wait in their covert? 41 Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God, and wander about for lack of food?]

Psalm 104:1-9, 25, 37b (Track 1)
Psalm 104 is a hymn of creation, praising God as its sole creator.  There is a sense of a storm in these opening verses of the psalm, similar to the opening of our reading from Job today.  Verses 5-9 extol God’s mastery of the waters of chaos, with an echo of the story of the Flood from Genesis.

1     Bless the Lord, O my soul; *
              O Lord my God, how excellent is your greatness!
              you are clothed with majesty and splendor.
2     You wrap yourself with light as with a cloak *
              and spread out the heavens like a curtain.
3     You lay the beams of your chambers in the waters above; *
              you make the clouds your chariot;
              you ride on the wings of the wind.
4     You make the winds your messengers *
              and flames of fire your servants.
5     You have set the earth upon its foundations; *
              so that it never shall move at any time.
6     You covered it with the Deep as with a mantle; *
              the waters stood higher than the mountains.
7     At your rebuke they fled; *
              at the voice of your thunder they hastened away.
8     They went up into the hills and down to the valleys beneath, *
              to the places you had appointed for them.
9     You set the limits that they should not pass; *
              they shall not again cover the earth.
25   O Lord, how manifold are your works! *
              in wisdom you have made them all;
              the earth is full of your creatures.
37b       Hallelujah!

1st Reading (Track 2):  Isaiah 53:4-12
Our first reading is from one of the Songs of the Suffering Servant from the latter portion of the Book of Isaiah.  The last line of today’s Gospel is more or less a quote of 53:11.  Without the necessity of taking this passage as a word-for-word understanding of how the death and resurrection of Jesus saves us, Mark is saying that Jesus’ witness can be understood through the lens of the Suffering Servant, who offers his life as an atonement for the sins of others and is exalted by God.

53:4 Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By a perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people. 9 They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the Lord shall prosper. 11 Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Psalm 91:9-16 (Track 2)
Psalm 91 is a prayer of great confidence by one who has faith in God.  It promises ultimate security for one who trusts in “the Most High.”  Like many of the psalms it is idealistic.  God’s people do suffer, and Christians follow One who suffered in solidarity with us, as both the Old Testament reading and Gospel reading for today testify.

9     Because you have made the Lord your refuge, *
              and the Most High your habitation,
10   There shall no evil happen to you *
              neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.
11   For he shall give his angels charge of you, *
              to keep you in all your ways.
12   They shall bear you in their hands, *
              lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13   You shall tread upon the lion and the adder; *
              you shall trample the young lion and the serpent
                                          under your feet.
14   Because he is bound to me in love,
       therefore will I deliver him; *
              I will protect him, because he knows my Name.
15   He shall call upon me, and I shall answer him; *
              I am with him in trouble;
              I will rescue him and bring him to honor.
16   With long life will I satisfy him, *
              and show him my salvation.

2nd Reading:  Hebrews 5:1-10
Hebrews 5 continues the image of Jesus as our eternal high priest, designated by God, who is able to relate to us because he shared our life and our death.  Verses 5 and 6 first quote Psalm 2:7 and then Psalm 110:4.  Melchizedek is a mysterious figure who appears in Genesis 14:17-20.  The author of Hebrews uses this figure, who comes out of nowhere in the Abraham story, and who is given no story, i.e., no beginning and no end, to pre-figure the priesthood of Christ, which is greater than the priesthood of Aaron because it is eternal.

5:1 Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; 3 and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. 4 And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you;” 6 as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” 7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9 and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10 having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Gospel Reading:  Mark 10:35-45
Jesus has just taught the disciples that “the first will be last and the last will be first.” Clearly at least James and John did not understand him, as they ask rather brazenly for the right to sit at his right and left hand.  Despite their bravado that they “are able” to bear what Jesus will bear, they still do not understand that he is talking about his suffering and death.  The rest of the disciples are angry at their presumption, but Jesus uses the occasion to make even plainer his understanding that in the Kingdom of God the rules of power are upside down.

10:35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39 They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

The Scripture readings (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 © 2018 Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843. All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for group study with this attribution. Bulletin inserts are available by subscription. Visit our website for more information.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Proper 23B (21 Pentecost 2018) Readings & Commentaries

In our Gospel reading Jesus is asked a sincere question and gives a forthright answer.  If the questioner is to follow Jesus, he must give up control over his wealth.  He proves unable to do so.  The disciples are amazed because they assume wealth as a sign of God’s favor.

1st Reading (Track 1):  Job 23:1-9, 16-17
Job has been in a dialogue with three friends—Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz—since the beginning of chapter 3.  They have tried to convince him that he has done something wrong, something to deserve the disaster that has come upon him.  Job continues his lament. In today’s passage, Job brings his complaint to God, whom he knows he cannot see.  But he trusts that if he could bring his case to God, he would be vindicated.  Yet God remains hidden, and in despair Job wishes he could disappear also.

23:1 Job answered: 2 Today also my complaint is bitter; his hand is heavy despite my groaning. 3 Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his dwelling! 4 I would lay my case before him, and fill my mouth with arguments. 5 I would learn what he would answer me, and understand what he would say to me. 6 Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? No; but he would give heed to me. 7 There an upright person could reason with him, and I should be acquitted forever by my judge. 8 If I go forward, he is not there; or backward, I cannot perceive him; 9 on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him; I turn to the right, but I cannot see him. 16 God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me; 17 If only I could vanish in darkness, and thick darkness would cover my face!

Psalm 22:1-15 (Track 1)
Psalm 22 is the quintessential psalm of lament.  The writer is blunt:  God, you have forgotten me.  He cites reasons why he should trust, but finally declares himself “a worm and no man,” forgotten, despised.  The psalms of lament and/or complaint are important because they speak to the human experience of a God hidden in mystery.  They validate being honest with God; God can take our complaints.

1     My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? *
              and are so far from my cry
              and from the words of my distress?
2     O my God, I cry in the daytime, but you do not answer; *
              by night as well, but I find no rest.
3     Yet you are the Holy One, *
              enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
4     Our forebears put their trust in you; *
              they trusted, and you delivered them.
5     They cried out to you and were delivered; *
              they trusted in you and were not put to shame.
6     But as for me, I am a worm and no man, *
              scorned by all and despised by the people.
7     All who see me laugh me to scorn; *
              they curl their lips and wag their heads, saying,
8     “He trusted in the Lord; let him deliver him; *
              let him rescue him, if he delights in him.”
9     Yet you are he who took me out of the womb, *
              and kept me safe upon my mother’s breast.
10   I have been entrusted to you ever since I was born; *
              you were my God when I was still in my mother’s womb.
11   Be not far from me, for trouble is near, *
              and there is none to help.
12   Many young bulls encircle me; *
              strong bulls of Bashan surround me.
13   They open wide their jaws at me, *
              like a ravening and a roaring lion.
14   I am poured out like water;
       all my bones are out of joint; *
              my heart within my breast is melting wax.
15   My mouth is dried out like a pot-sherd;
       my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; *
              and you have laid me in the dust of the grave.

1st Reading (Track 2):  Amos 5:6-7, 10-15
The prophet Amos was active during the long and peaceful reign of Jeroboam II of Israel (i.e., the Northern Kingdom). The people were no doubt satisfied that they were pleasing God because of their military dominance and prosperity. Amos is sent from his little village, Tekoa, where he was a shepherd. He is sent to speak harsh words in this prosperous season. The prosperity is built on the backs of the poor. There is no justice. This message brought Amos into conflict with the religious authorities and he was expelled from the royal sanctuary at Bethel.

5:6 Seek the Lord and live, or he will break out against the house of Joseph like fire, and it will devour Bethel, with no one to quench it. 7 Ah, you that turn justice to wormwood, and bring righteousness to the ground! 10 They hate the one who reproves in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks the truth. 11 Therefore because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not live in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. 12 For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins—you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and push aside the needy in the gate. 13 Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time; for it is an evil time. 14 Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, just as you have said. 15 Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Psalm 90:12-17 (Track 2)
Psalm 90 is said to be a Prayer of Moses.  It is a prayer that Israel may be delivered out of its difficulties and that God would reveal himself as the One who makes Israel prosper.

12   So teach us to number our days *
              that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
13   Return, O Lord; how long will you tarry? *
              be gracious to your servants.
14   Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning; *
              so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.
15   Make us glad by the measure of the days you afflicted us *
              and the years in which we suffered adversity.
16   Show your servants your works *
              and your splendor to their children.
17   May the graciousness of the Lord our God be upon us; *
              prosper the work of our hands;
              prosper our handiwork.

2nd Reading:  Hebrews 4:12-16
Our passage today begins with a reminder in vivid language that God sees all: “to whom all hearts are open, all desires known and from whom no secrets are hid.”  Given that we are “laid bare” it is significant that we have a great high priest who has been tested as we are tested, laid bare as we have been laid bare.  We can approach the throne of this high priest with confidence that we will receive mercy and grace in time of need. The image of Jesus as our eternal high priest is a major image in this letter.

4:12 The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account. 14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Gospel Reading:  Mark 10:17-31
In our Gospel reading Jesus is asked a sincere question and gives a forthright answer.  If the questioner is to follow Jesus, he must give up control over his wealth.  He proves unable to do so.  The disciples are amazed because they assume wealth as a sign of God’s favor. On the contrary, Jesus is saying: it is an obstacle to the Kingdom, as great as the obstacle of the eye of a needle to a camel.  Yet all things are possible for God.  It is also, however, a defining characteristic of the Kingdom of God that “the first will be last and the last will be first.”

10:17 As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. 23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

The Scripture readings (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 © 2018 Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843. All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for congregational use with this attribution.  Bulletin inserts are available by subscription. For information and to sign up, go to our website.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Proper 22B (20 Pentecost 2018) Readings & Commentaries

We begin several weeks of reading through the first part of the Letter to the Hebrews.  It reads more like an extended sermon than a letter.  Who wrote it and to whom it was written remain a mystery.  The sermon begins with an exaltation of Jesus, 

1st Reading (Track 1):  Job 1:1; 2:1-10
The Book of Job is a witness to human suffering and a debate about its causes.  The central questions of Job are whether or not God causes human suffering and what role humans play in bringing it on.  The missing verses from chapter 1 in the reading below first testify to Job’s uprightness.  Then Satan (literally, “the accuser”) is allowed to test Job, and disaster follows including the loss of his home and children.  Then the story picks up again below with a second bad deal between the Lord and Satan for a further test.  This passage ends with the declaration that Job did not sin with his lips.  But the question remains for the rest of the book, can he continue to do so, or will his suffering break him?

1:1 There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. 2:1 One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. 2 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 3 The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.” 4 Then Satan answered the Lord, “Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives. 5 But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” 6 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life.” 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes. 9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Psalm 26 (Track 1)
Psalm 26 is a personal lament, a cry for justice.  It could easily have been on the lips of Job during his suffering (and indeed, the reading above and this psalm both contain the Hebrew word for “integrity”). Verses 6-8 may testify to some liturgical practices in ancient Israel.  The psalm ends with a plaintive cry to be spared the fate of sinners.

1     Give judgment for me, O Lord,
       for I have lived with integrity; *
              I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered.
2     Test me, O Lord, and try me; *
              examine my heart and my mind.
3     For your love is before my eyes; *
              I have walked faithfully with you.
4     I have not sat with the worthless, *
              nor do I consort with the deceitful.
5     I have hated the company of evildoers; *
              I will not sit down with the wicked.
6     I will wash my hands in innocence, O Lord, *
              that I may go in procession round your altar,
7     Singing aloud a song of thanksgiving *
              and recounting all your wonderful deeds.
8     Lord, I love the house in which you dwell *
              and the place where your glory abides.
9     Do not sweep me away with sinners, *
              nor my life with those who thirst for blood,
10   Whose hands are full of evil plots, *
              and their right hand full of bribes.
11   As for me, I will live with integrity; *
              redeem me, O Lord, and have pity on me.
12   My foot stands on level ground; *
              in the full assembly I will bless the Lord.

1st Reading (Track 2):  Genesis 2:18-24
Our first reading is part of the second Creation Story (2:4b-25), focusing on the creation of humanity. The major premise is that the man is alone and needs a true partner. Nothing that has been made will suffice, so a rib of the man is built up into a woman.  This creation can be a partner.  Now the text goes on to give the theological justification for marriage, remembering that its primary purpose is for human beings not to be alone.

2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” 19 So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.” 24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Psalm 8 (Track 2)
Psalm 8 is a celebration of God’s glory, particularly as found in the creation and in the dignity of human beings.  Unusually, it is not only a response to the first reading, but is related to the passages below from Hebrews and Mark.

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:  Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12
We begin several weeks of reading through the first part of the Letter to the Hebrews.  It reads more like an extended sermon than a letter.  Who wrote it and to whom it was written remain a mystery.  The sermon begins with an exaltation of Jesus, to whom all things are subject.  But this one to whom all things are subject is also the one who suffered for all and so is not ashamed to call us “brothers and sisters.”  This theme will continue through the first chapters of the letter.

1:1 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3 He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. 2:5 Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. 6 But someone has testified somewhere, “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals, that you care for them? 7 You have made them for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned them with glory and honor, 8 subjecting all things under their feet.” Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, 9 but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10 It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, 12 saying, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”

Gospel Reading:  Mark 10:2-16
This account of Jesus’ opposition to divorce is found only in Mark and Matthew.  What is set down here was certainly meant in Mark’s community to be the final word on the matter. Our branch of the Church many years ago decided this law was too rigid to follow and began to allow re-marriage on compassionate grounds.  In doing so, there was no intention to lessen the promise of life-long fidelity, only to recognize the reality that the promise is sometimes broken too much to repair.  The passage ends on a different note, with Jesus using a child as an example in how one should receive the kingdom of God.

10:2 Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 10 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” 13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” 16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

The Scripture readings (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 © 2018 Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843. All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for group study with this attribution.  Bulletin inserts are available by subscription. Go to our website for details.