Sunday, June 26, 2022

4 Pentecost (Proper 9C) Readings with Commentary

The Collect of the Day

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1st Reading (Track 1):  2 Kings 5:1-14

Elisha has taken the place of Elijah as the preeminent prophet in Israel (2 Kings 2). The prophet is involved with regional political and military affairs (ch. 3), and personal healings (ch. 4). Now he finds himself involved  in international affairs, with a commander from Syria (Aram), Israel’s greatest enemy at the time. What follows is an amusing story, but one also rich in scriptural themes. First, the Lord is implicated in Syria’s victory over Israel! Second, leprosy (which in biblical terms refers to any skin disease and results in social censure) is healed. Third, the prophet is not impressed with Naaman’s status; the latter is healed by what amounts to an Israelite folk remedy. Last, the great man must humble himself to the word of the Lord.

5:1 Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. 2 Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said. 5 And the king of Aram said, “Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.” He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. 6 He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.” 8 But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.

Psalm 30 (Track 1)

Psalm 30 is identified in its title as being for “the dedication of the Temple.”  That means not only the original dedication but the yearly Festival of Dedication (the roots of modern-day Hanukkah).  Interestingly enough, the psalm never mentions the Temple, but is a psalm of thanksgiving by an individual. Perhaps its place was as a defining summary of the Jewish relationship with God.

1 I will exalt you, O Lord, because you have lifted me up *
        and have not let my enemies triumph over me.

2 O Lord my God, I cried out to you, *
        and you restored me to health.

3 You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead; *
        you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.

4 Sing to the Lord, you servants of his; *
        give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.

5 For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye, *
        his favor for a lifetime.

6 Weeping may spend the night, *
        but joy comes in the morning.

7 While I felt secure, I said, “I shall never be disturbed. *
        You, Lord, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains.”

8 Then you hid your face, *
        and I was filled with fear.

9 I cried to you, O Lord; *
        I pleaded with the Lord, saying,

10 “What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit? *
        will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?

11 Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me; *
        O Lord, be my helper.”

12 You have turned my wailing into dancing; *
        you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.

13 Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing; *
        O Lord my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

1st Reading (Track 2):  Isaiah 66:10-14

The Book of Isaiah ends with words assuring salvation and comfort for Israel.  This remarkable passage uses female imagery both for Jerusalem and then for God.  This would have been an extraordinary thing in such a heavily patriarchal culture.  The Mother God promises care and comfort for her children.

66:10 Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her—11 that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom. 12 For thus says the Lord: I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm, and dandled on her knees. 13 As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. 14 You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bodies shall flourish like the grass; and it shall be known that the hand of the Lord is with his servants, and his indignation is against his enemies.

Psalm 66:1-8 (Track 2)

Psalm 66 is a psalm of thanksgiving for God’s mighty deeds.  The whole world (“all you lands”) is called to join Israel in this song of gratitude. 

1 Be joyful in God, all you lands; *
        sing the glory of his Name;
        sing the glory of his praise.

2 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!” *
        because of your great strength your enemies cringe before you.

3 All the earth bows down before you, *
        sings to you, sings out your Name.”

4 Come now and see the works of God, *
        how wonderful he is in his doing toward all people.

5 He turned the sea into dry land,
    so that they went through the water on foot, *
        and there we rejoiced in him.

6 In his might he rules for ever;
    his eyes keep watch over the nations; *
        let no rebel rise up against him.

7 Bless our God, you peoples; *
        make the voice of his praise to be heard;

8 Who holds our souls in life, *
        and will not allow our feet to slip.

2nd Reading:  Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16

Paul’s final words of the Letter to the Galatians include a series of instructions concerning life together as a Christian community.  Bear one another’s burdens (the message of vv. 1-6).  Beware of self-indulgence and pride.  Practice generosity.  And then he goes back to the controversy that had been the impetus for the letter. The summary line of the whole letter is:  For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!” “See what large letters” reveals that Paul used a scribe.

[6:1 My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. 4 All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor’s work, will become a cause for pride. 5 For all must carry their own loads. 6 Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher.]

7 Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. 8 If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 9 So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. 10 So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. 11 See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand! 12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh. 14 May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! 6 As for those who will follow this rule—peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

Gospel Reading:  Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

This report is peculiar to Luke, especially in that a larger group of disciples is mentioned and given apostolic work.  Luke may have in mind one of several mentions of seventy in the Old Testament:  Seventy nations reported in Genesis 10, Moses’ selection of seventy elders to be his helpers (Numbers 11:16-25), or the non-biblical story of the seventy translators who worked seventy days to translate the Old Testament into Greek (the Septuagint), the language of the Gentiles.  Note the message is the same to those who want to hear and those who do not:  “The Kingdom of God is near” (or “at hand”).

10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2 He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ 6 And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ 16 Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” 18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

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.  All rights reserved.  The Collect of the Day and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2022 Epiphany ESources, 67. E. Main St., Hornell, NY  14843, All rights reserved.  Permission is given to copy for group study.

Monday, June 20, 2022

3 Pentecost 2022 (Proper 8C) Readings with Commentary

 The Collect of the Day

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1st Reading (Track 1):  2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14

Elijah’s struggle with King Ahab of Israel (the northern kingdom) has ended with Ahab’s death (1 Kings 22:29-40), which occurred as Elijah had prophesied. Elijah’s service is now done and we are told he is to be taken “up to heaven.” No other figure in the Hebrew Scriptures merits this kind of ascension, although tradition held that it had happened to Moses, since no one knew where his burial had taken place (Deuteronomy 34:1-8). Elijah had taken on Elisha as a protégé (1 Kings 19:19-21), and here the prophetic mantle is passed to him. Elisha asks for a double share of Elijah’s spirit (rûach), giving accreditation to this new mouthpiece of the Lord.

2:1 Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. 7 Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. 8 Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground. 9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” 10 He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” 11 As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. 12 Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13 He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.

Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20 (Track 1)

Psalm 77 begins as an individual complaint “in the day of my trouble.” The resolution of this trouble is first and foremost to remember the “mighty deeds” of God. The song of God’s mighty acts in the parting of the waters and in great, stormy, theophany recalls today’s first reading.

1 I will cry aloud to God; *
        I will cry aloud, and he will hear me.

2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; *
        my hands were stretched out by night and did not tire;
        I refused to be comforted.

11 I will remember the works of the Lord, *
        and call to mind your wonders of old time.

12 I will meditate on all your acts *
        and ponder your mighty deeds.

13 Your way, O God, is holy; *
        who is so great a god as our God?

14 You are the God who works wonders *
        and have declared your power among the peoples.

15 By your strength you have redeemed your people, *
        the children of Jacob and Joseph.

16 The waters saw you, O God; the waters saw you and trembled; *
        the very depths were shaken.

17 The clouds poured out water; the skies thundered; *
        your arrows flashed to and fro;

18 The sound of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
    your lightnings lit up the world; *
        the earth trembled and shook.

19 Your way was in the sea, and your paths in the great waters, *
        yet your footsteps were not seen.

20 You led your people like a flock *
        by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

1st Reading (Track 2):  1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21

Our first reading begins at the end of a great revelation to Elijah on Mount Horeb.  He has escaped there from the wrath of Queen Jezebel, and, at first, he meets God in “the sound of sheer silence.”  Elijah confesses his fear in verse 14: “they are seeking my life, to take it away.”  God says, “Go, return…” and gives him prophetic work to do, including the anointing of his eventual successor, Elisha. It is Elisha who will eventually “anoint” Jehu, king of Israel, putting an end to the Omric dynasty that included Ahab and Jezebel. The anointing of Hazael of Syria is not recorded in Scripture, but the overall command shows the reach of the prophet—and of God—into the political.

19:15 Then the Lord said to Elijah, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. 16 Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. 19 So he set out from there, and found Elisha son of Shaphat, who was plowing. There were twelve yoke of oxen ahead of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him. 20 He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” Then Elijah said to him, “Go back again; for what have I done to you?” 21 He returned from following him, took the yoke of oxen, and slaughtered them; using the equipment from the oxen, he boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out and followed Elijah, and became his servant.

Psalm 16 (Track 2)

Psalm 16 is a song of trust in the power of God to save. Verses 9-11 are used in The Book of Common Prayer at the Committal at the gravesite.

1 Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you; *
        I have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord,
        my good above all other.”

2 All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land, *
        upon those who are noble among the people.

3 But those who run after other gods *
        shall have their troubles multiplied.

4 Their libations of blood I will not offer, *
        nor take the names of their gods upon my lips.

5 O Lord, you are my portion and my cup; *
        it is you who uphold my lot.

6 My boundaries enclose a pleasant land; *
        indeed, I have a goodly heritage.

7 I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel; *
        my heart teaches me, night after night.

8 I have set the Lord always before me; *
        because he is at my right hand I shall not fall.

9 My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices; *
        my body also shall rest in hope.

10 For you will not abandon me to the grave, *
        nor let your holy one see the Pit.

11 You will show me the path of life; *
        in your presence there is fullness of joy,
        and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

2nd Reading:  Galatians 5:1, 13-25

Paul continues his plea to the Galatians to embrace the freedom of the Gospel and reject the necessity of following the law (including being circumcised).  His anger shows in the portion we skip.  “I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!”  He is careful to say, however, that freedom and self-indulgence are not the same thing.  For freedom to work for all, love must also be practiced, love that produces the “fruits of the Spirit.” Paul’s frequent use of “flesh” should not be taken literally. Paul is not an enemy of our bodies. “The flesh” for him is that impulse to self-indulgence with which all of us struggle.

5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. 14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. 16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.

Gospel Reading:  Luke 9:51-62

Verse 9:51 begins a new section of Luke’s Gospel. Jesus has been going about in Galilee, now he heads south to Jerusalem.  It is a good place to be reminded that the chapter and verse divisions of the Bible were not original to the writers.  They did not come about until the early 13th century, under the hand of Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton.  He did not always get the sense of the text right!  The mood of the text turns serious here as well, witnessed by Jesus insisting on total loyalty and devotion to the mission (the kingdom). The sayings at the end of the text are hard, but they are very much in line with others of Jesus’ sayings. For him, obligation to family does not take precedence over testimony to the kingdom.

9:51 When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; 53 but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 Then they went on to another village. 57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

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.  All rights reserved.  The Collect of the Day and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2022 Epiphany ESources, 67. E. Main St., Hornell, NY  14843, All rights reserved.  Permission is given to copy for group study.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

2 Pentecost 2022 (Proper 7C) Readings with Commentary

 The Collect of the Day

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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 parallels things that happened 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. 2 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.” 3 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. 4 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.”

[5 Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” 6 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. 7 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.”]

8 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. 9 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 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 often 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 from 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 to 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. 2 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; 3 a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and offering incense on bricks; 4 who sit inside tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat swine’s flesh, with broth of abominable things in their vessels; 5 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. 6 See, it is written before me:  I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will indeed repay into their laps 7 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. 8 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. 9 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 inheritors of the promise to Abraham.

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, including 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 destination for a Jewish teacher.  What happens there is also 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.

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. The Collect of the Day and the translation of the Psalm are from The Book of Common Prayer. Commentaries are copyright © 2022 Epiphany Esources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY  14843, All rights reserved. Permission is with subscription given to copy for group study.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Trinity Sunday Readings with Commentary

 The First Sunday after Pentecost

 The Collect of the Day

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity:  Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 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 ancient Israel’s later 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? 2 On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; 3 beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out:  4 “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:  The Song of the Three Young Men 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 (#13, p. 90).  “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 (Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael) sing 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 fathers; *

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, 2 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. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 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, interceder and sender; the Holy Spirit, glorifier and teacher.  This passage is an important one 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 Anticle and Psalm translations are 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 group study.