Saturday, August 09, 2014

Highlighting the Bible, Part XX, Reflections on highlighting the revised common lectionary

A. Hanson, Minneapolis 2014
Over the last two and a half months I have been "highlighting the Bible".  I have been looking through the revised common lectionary readings and physically highlighting the passages that appear as assigned readings.  Then I have been making posts with what does not appear in these assigned readings, or if there is very little assigned, just making notes of what actually appears.

The Gospels attempt to tell the story of Jesus' life in a more or less consistent way each year.  The readings selected from the epistles (Letters) tend to support these re-tellings based on the year.  The Hebrew Bible readings are more sporadic.  Readings selected from these books tend to foretell the coming of Jesus or point to God's faithfulness in the midst of suffering.

One thing that has long bothered me is the use of Hebrew scriptures only to prove Christian belief.  In the course of this summer project (and several classes in my theological formation), I have come to believe that this part of the canon is rich and full and has stories to tell on its own.  As Christians, we profess that Jesus is Lord and the salvation of the whole world, and God's son.  So the God of the Hebrew scriptures is also our God, not some outdated figure that belongs to another people of another time and place. The Hebrew scriptures are tough to read at times, but they are definitely worth wrestling with.

As I prepare for my next adventure, a Chaplain residency at a Level I Trauma Center, I will be spending lots of time wondering about the presence and activity of God in the midst of suffering, pain, grief, and death.  So my next blog series will likely explore this, and I believe that the Hebrew scriptures are the place to begin.

Highlighting the Bible, Part XIX, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi

A.Hanson, Montana 2008
This final group of the Hebrew Bible Prophets tells the story of the Israelites.  The prophet Micah warns both kingdoms of God's coming judgment and offers words of hope for those without power who remained faithful to the covenant. The prophet Nahum writes of the destruction of Ninevah, the Assyrian capital, and how this fall of a powerful city was God's judgment against the oppressive Assyrian superpower. The prophet Habakkuk lived in Judah, stuck between Babylon and Egypt. He cries out for God to rescue God's faithful people.  Habakkuk questions God for allowing so much suffering to last for so long. The prophet Zephaniah writes during the rule of a King, and makes the case for the people to trust in God instead of in earthly powers. The prophet Haggai writes of the return of the Israelites from Exile and the slow rebuilding of the temple.  Zechariah was a contemporary of Haggai, and also writes of the restoration of the temple.

A. The following passages from the book of Micah appear in the lectionary:

Micah 3:5-13 (judgment against wicked rulers and prophets)

Micah 5:2-5 (the ruler from Bethlehem)

Micah 6:1-8 (God challenges Israel; What God requires)

B. No passages from the book of Nahum appear in the lectionary

C. The following passages from the book of Habakkuk appear in the lectionary:

Hab 1:1-4 (The prophet's complaint)

Hab 2:1-4 (God's reply to the prophet's complaint)

D. The following passages from the book of Zephaniah appear in the lectionary:

Zeph 1:7, 12-18 (the coming judgment on Judah; the great day of the Lord)

Zeph 3:14-20 (A song of Joy)

E. No passages from the book of Haggai appear in the lectionary

F. The following passages of the book of Zechariah appear in the lectionary:

Zech 9:9-12 (the coming ruler of God's people)

G. The following passages from the book of Malachi appear in the lectionary:

Mal 3:1-4 (The coming messenger)

Mal 4:1-2b (The great day of the LORD)

Highlighting the Bible, part XVIII, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah and Jonah

A.Hanson, Minneapolis, 2010
Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah and Jonah are other prophetic books that are read at times in the revised common lectionary.

Daniel focuses specifically on three people, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and their interactions with kings.  The book is a commentary on the rule of kings and how they interact with God's people. Hosea also is writing during the time of the ruling of the kings and includes harsh accusations of the people of God.  The prophet Joel writes of God using power in the natural world and God acting in the world on behalf of God's people.  The prophet Amos urged the divided kingdoms of the north and the south to return to union with one another and also writes of God's concern for justice.  The prophet Obadiah is concerned with hope and justice, and he writes to the country of Edom.  Finally, the book of Jonah is one that is fairly well-known.  It is not quite a prophecy, but rather a short story.  The message of this book is that the love and mercy of God are available not only to the Israelites, but to others as well.

A. The following passages from the book of Daniel appear in the lectionary:

Dan 7:1-4 (Visions of the four beasts)

Dan 7:9-10, 13-14 (Judgment before the ancient one)

Dan 7:15-18 (Daniel's visions interpreted)

Dan 10:10-14 (An angel speaks to Daniel)

Dan 12:1-3 (The resurrection of the dead)

B. No passages from the book of Hosea appear in the lectionary

C. The following passages from the book of Joel appear in the lectionary:

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 ("blow the trumpet in Zion, sound the alarm on my holy mountain!…Return to me with all your heart") This is a text read on Ash Wednesday

Joel 2:21-27 ("do not fear, O Soil…be glad and rejoice for the Lord has done great things!)

D. The following passages from the book of Amos appear in the lectionary:

Amos 5:6-7, 10-25 (Seek the Lord and live…Seek good and not evil, that you may live.")

Amos 5:18-24 (The day of the LORD a Dark Day)

Amos 6:1, 4-7 (Complacent self-indulgence will be punished)

Amos 7:7-15 (the plumb line; Amaziah complains to the King)

Amos 8:4-7 ("hear this, you that trample on the needy and bring to ruin the poor of the land…Surely I will never forget any of their deeds")

E. No passages from the book of Obadiah appear in the lectionary

F. The following passages from the book of Jonah appear in the lectionary:

Jonah 3:1-5 (the conversion of Ninevah)

Jonah 3:10-4:1-11 (Jonah's anger; Jonah is reproved)

Highlighting the Bible, Part XVII, Jeremiah, Lamentations, and Ezekiel

A.Hanson, Taize 2009
The book of Jeremiah is set in a time of disaster and uncertainty.  This prophet spoke of God's destruction on the world because of the unfaithfulness of the people of Judah.  This makes it hard to read at times, particularly given the metaphors the that the prophet chooses to use.  But Jeremiah points continually again and again to the activity of God.

The Book of Lamentations is a series of five poems mourning the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.

The Book of Ezekiel is also a prophetic telling of the events leading up to the exile, promises of restoration and a vision for healing and hope in the future.  Ezekiel is a wild and rich book full of fantastic imagery and is quite fun to read.

Because these three books are not used frequently in the lectionary, it suits the purposes of this series to cite what actually appears in the lectionary.

A. The following texts from the book of Jeremiah appear in the lectionary:

Jer 1:4-10 (Jeremiah's call and commission)

Jer 11:18-20 (Jeremiah's life threatened)

Jer 14:7-10 (The Great Drought)

Jer 14:19-22 (The people plead for mercy)

Jer 15:15-21 (Jeremiah complains again and is reassured)

Jer 20:7-13 (Jeremiah denounces his persecutors)

Jer 23:1-6 (restoration after Exile; the righteous branch of David)

Jer 23:23-29 ("Am I a God nearby?…Who can hide in secret places that I cannot see them?")

Jer 29:5-9 (Jeremiah's letter of hope to the exiles in Babylon)

Jer 31:1-14 (The joyful return of the exiles)

Jer 31:31-34 (A new covenant)

Jer 33:14-16 (The righteous branch and the covenant with David)

B. The following passages from the book of Lamentations appear in the lectionary:

Lam 3:22-33 ("The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases")

C. The following passages from the book of Ezekiel appear in the lectionary:

Eze 2:1-5 (The vision of the scroll)

Eze 17:22-24 (Israel exalted at last)

Eze 18:1-4 (Individual retribution)

Eze 18:25-32 ("Hear now, O House of Israel: Is my way unfair?")

Eze 33:7-11 (God's justice and mercy)

Eze 34:11-16, 20-24 (God, the True Shepherd)

Eze 37:1-14 (The Valley of the Dry Bones)

Highlighting the Bible, Part XVI, Isaiah

A.Hanson, Paris, 2009
The book of Isaiah is the Hebrew bible book most often quoted by Christians and used by the Gospel writers.  It is divided into three parts, the first part of Isaiah (chap 1-33) is attributed to Isaiah, son of Ahoz, who preached in Judah.  Chapters 34-39 likely date from a later time and their authorship is unknown. The second part of Isaiah (chap 40-55) was written while the Israelites were in exile in Babylonia.  The third part of Isaiah (chap 56-66) was written in the post-exilic period. This book is beloved by Christians because of its use of Messianic imagery.  It is often read during the time of Advent and during Epiphany to celebrate the coming of Jesus.

Isaiah is a fascinating book and in taking it piecemeal at only certain times of the year misses the overarching story.  The first part of the story traces the turbulent history of God's people, which would lead to their exile to Babylon.  The second part of Isaiah speaks more words of comfort than of condemnation.  Finally, the third portion of Isaiah describes the return to Jerusalem.

The following are passages from the book of Isaiah that do not appear in the revised common lectionary:

Isaiah 1:1-9 (The wickedness of Judah)

Isaiah 1:19-31 (The Degenerate City)

Isaiah 2:6-22 (Judgment pronounced on arrogance)

Isaiah 3-4 (more judgment pronounced; Future glory of the survivors in Zion)

Isaiah 5:8-30 (Social injustice announced; Foreign invasion predicted)

Isaiah 6:9-13 (a portion of a vision of God in the temple)

Isaiah 7:1-9 (Isaiah reassures King Ahaz)

Isaiah 7:17-8:22 (Isaiah gives Ahaz the sign of Immanuel; Isaiah's son a sign of the Assyrian invasion; disciples of Isaiah)

Isaiah 9:8-21 (Judgment on arrogance and oppression)

Isaiah 10 (Arrogant Assyria also judged; the repentant remnant of Israel)

Isaiah 11:10-16 (Return of the remnant of Israel and Judah)

Isaiah 12-24 (Thanksgiving and Praise; Oracles against the nations)

Isaiah 25:10-12 (comments about the Moabites)

Isaiah 26-34 (Judah's song of victory; Israel's redemption; Judgment on corrupt rulers; the Siege of Jerusalem; Hope for the future; futility of reliance on Egypt; God's promise to Zion; Judgment on Assyria; Government with justice predicted; peace of God's reign; A prophecy of deliverance from Foes; Judgment on the nations)

Isaiah 36-39 (Sennacherib threatens Jerusalem; Hezekiah consults Isaiah; Hezekiah's prayer; Sennacherib's defeat; Hezekiah's illness; envoys from Babylon warned)

Isaiah 40:12-20 (a poem about the activity of God)

Isaiah 41 (Israel assured of God's help; the futility of idols)

Isaiah 42:10-25 (a hymn of praise; Israel's disobedience)

Isaiah 43:8-15 (God speaks, "bring forth the people who are blind…let all nations gather together")

Isaiah 43:22-28 (God speaks "yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob; I am He who blots out your transgressions)

Isaiah 44:1-5 (God's blessing on Israel)

Isaiah 44:9-28 (the absurdity of idol worship; Israel is not forgotten)

Isaiah 45:8-25 (God speaks, "Who to you who strive with your maker"; idols cannot save Babylon)

Isaiah 46-48 (Idols cannot save; the humiliation of Babylon; God the creator and redeemer)

Isaiah 49:8-50:3 (Zion's children to be brought home)

Isaiah 50:9b-11 ("who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant")

Isaiah 51:7-23 (blessings in store for God's people)

Isaiah 52:1-6 ("awake, awake, put on your strength O Zion!)

Isaiah 52:11-12 ("depart, depart…touch no unclean thing!)

Isaiah 54 (The eternal covenant of peace)

Isaiah 56:2-5 (The covenant extended to all who obey)

Isaiah 56:9-12 (the corruption of Israel's rulers)

Isaiah 57 (Israel's futile idolatry; a promise of help and healing)

Isaiah 59 (Injustice and Oppression to be punished)

Isaiah 60:7-22 (Ingathering of the dispersed; God the glory of Zion)

Isaiah 62:5-7 ("you shall be called priests of the Lord")

Isaiah 63:1-6 (Vengeance on Edom)

Isaiah 63:10-19 (God's mercy remembered; a prayer of penitence)

Isaiah 64:10-12 ("your holy cities have become a wilderness")

Isaiah 65:10-16 (a portion of the righteousness of God's judgment)

Isaiah 66:1-9 (the worship that God demands; The LORD vindicates Zion)

Isaiah 66:15-24 (The reign and indignation of God)

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Highlighting the Bible, Part XV, Wisdom Books (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon)

A.Hanson, Paris, 2009
The wisdom books include Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.  The book of Psalms was already addressed in part VI of this series , so in this post we will explore what portions of the remaining wisdom books appear in the lectionary.  The Christian lectionary picks and chooses portions of these wisdom books that emphasize God's promises or the work of the Spirit of God.

The book of Job is a story of theodicy, or explorations of God's actions in the face of suffering. It can be viewed as a meditation on the problem of underserved suffering. Proverbs provides practical insights and instructions for right living, and the Song of Solomon is about human love, so it often finds it way into the readings at weddings. As in the historical books, much of these wisdom books do not make it into the lectionary, so we will simply note what passages are presented.

A. The following passages from the book of Job are in the lectionary:

Job 19:23-27 ("For I know that my Redeemer lives")

Job 38:1-11 (The LORD answers Job)

B. The following passages from the book of Proverbs appear in the lectionary:

Prov 8:1-4 (The gifts of Wisdom)

Prov 8:22-31 (Wisdom's part in creation)

Prov 9:1-6 (Wisdom's feast)

Prov 25:6-7 ("do not put yourself forward in the King's presence…for it is better to be told 'come up here' than to be put lower in the presence of a noble")

C. The following passages from the book of Ecclesiastes appear in the lectionary:

Ecc 1:2, 12-14 (The futility of seeking wisdom)

Ecc 2:18-23 (Wisdom and joy given to the one who pleases God)

D. No passages from Song of Solomon appear in the lectionary

Highlighting the Bible, Part XIV: The History Books (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther

A.Hanson, Paris, 2009
The history books of the Hebrew Bible serve as a historical record for the Israelites.  They are not a chronological record, but instead, records of the same event might appear in multiple books.  They tell the story of the time after Moses' leadership, through the time of the Kings and the divided kingdom, until the time of the Exile. Very little from these books appears in the revised common lectionary, so in the interests of a streamlined post, I will only list what actually appears in the lectionary and you can leave the rest for your own discovery.

A. The following passages from Joshua appear in the lectionary:

Joshua 5:9-12 (Passover at Gilgal)

Joshua 24:1-2, 14-18 ("Choose this day whom you will serve")

B. No passages from the book of Judges appear in the lectionary

C. No passages from the book of Ruth appear in the lectionary

D. The following passages from the book of 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel appear in the lectionary:

1 Sam 2:18-20, 26 (The child Samuel at Shiloh)

1 Sam 3 (Samuel's calling and Prophetic Activity)

1 Sam 16:1-13 (David Anointed as King)

2 Sam 7:1-11, 16 (God's covenant with David)

2 Sam 11:26-12:10, 13-15 (Nathan condemns David)

E. The following passages from 1 Kings and 2 Kings appear in the lectionary:

1 Kings 3:5-12 (Solomon's prayer for wisdom)

1 Kings 8:22-23 (Solomon's prayer of dedication)

1 Kings 8:41-43 (Welcome the foreigner in the temple)

1 Kings 17:8-16 (The widow of Zaraphath)

1 Kings 17:17-24 (Elijah revives the Widow's son)

1 Kings 19:4-21 (Elijah flees from Jezebel; Elijah meets God at Horeb; Elisha becomes Elijah's disciple)

2 Kings 2:1-12 (Elijah ascends to heaven)

2 Kings 4:42-44 (Elisha feeds one hundred men)

2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15 (The healing of Naaman from leprosy)

F. No passages from 1 and 2 Chronicles appear in the lectionary

G. No passages from Ezra appear in the lectionary

H. The following passages from the book of Nehemiah appear in the lectionary:

Neh 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10 (Ezra summons the people to obey the law)

I. No passages from the book of Esther appear in the lectionary

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Highlighting the Bible, part XIII: The Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)

A.Hanson, Amsterdam, 2009
Christians refer to the first five books of the Hebrew Bible as the Pentateuch. The Jewish community refers to these same books as the Torah. There are a variety of potential authors for these books, with very distinct writing styles, and much debate among scholars.

These books tell the story of God and God's people in the world.  These books of the Hebrew Bible (I am deliberately not describing this as the Old Testament, because that is taking a Christo-centric view) are important for Christians for they tell our story of creation and identity as God's people also, and tell of the faithfulness of God's promises in the midst of a broken world.

A. The following portions from Genesis do not appear in the lectionary:

Gen 2:4b-14 (Another account of creation)

Gen 3:16-24 (more comment about the first sin)

Gen 4-8 (Cain murders Abel;  Beginnings of Civilization; Adam's descendants; the wickedness of humankind; Noah pleases God; The Great Flood; The flood subsides; God's promise to Noah)

Gen 9:1-7 (a portion of the covenant with Noah)

Gen 9:18-28 (Noah and his sons)

Gen 10 (Nations descended from Noah)

Gen 11:10-32 (Descendants of Shem; Descendants of Terah)

Gen 12:4b-20 (Abram and Sarai in Egypt)

Gen 13-14 (Abram and Lot Separate; Lot's captivity and rescue; Abram blessed by Melchizedek)

Gen 16 (Birth of Ishmael)

Gen 17:8-14 (discussion of covenant with Abraham)

Gen 17:18-27 (announcement that Sarah will bear a son and he shall be named Isaac)

Gen 18:11-19 (Sarah laughs; Judgment pronounced on Sodom)

Gen 19-31 (Depravity of Sodom; Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed; Shameful origin of Moab and Ammon; Abraham and Sarah at Gerar; The birth of Isaac; Hagar and Ishamael sent away; Abraham and Abimelech make a covenant; The command to sacrifice Isaac; Sarah's death and burial; Marriage of Isaac and Rebekah; Abraham marries Keturah; Death of Abraham; Ishmael's descendants; Birth and youth of Esau and Jacob; Esau sells his birthright; Isaac and Abimelech; Isaac blesses Jacob; Esau's lost blessing; Jacob escapes Esau's fury; Esau marries Ishmael's daughter; Jacob's dream at Bethel; Jacob meets Rachel; Jacob marries Laban's daughters; Jacob prospers at Laban's expense; Jacob flees with family and flocks; Laban overtakes Jacob; Laban and Jacob make a covenant)

Gen 32:1-21 (Jacob sends presents to appease Esau)

Gen 33-49 (Jacob and Esau meet; rape of Dinah; Jacob returns to Bethel; many records of descendants; the story of Joseph; Judah and Tamar; Joseph interpreting dreams; Joseph's brothers in Egypt; Joseph reveals himself to his brothers; Joseph brings his family to Egypt)

Gen 50:1-14 (death of Jacob)

Gen 50:22-26 (death of Joseph)

B. The following passages from Exodus do not appear in the lectionary:

Exodus 1-11 (Moses' birth and youth; Moses and the burning bush; God reveals God's name; Moses' power revealed; Moses goes to Egypt; hard working conditions in Egypt; Israel's delivery assured; Moses and Aaron; the plagues)

Exodus 12:15-51; 13(death of the firstborn; Exodus to Succoth; festival of unleavened bread; consecration of firstborn; pillars of cloud and fire)

Exod 14-15 (Crossing the red sea; Song of Moses; Song of Miriam)

Exod 16:16-36 (Manna in the desert)

Exod 17:8-16 (Amalek attacks Israel and is defeated)

Exod 18-19 (Jethro's advice; Israelites reach Mt Sinai)

Exod 20:22-26 (law concerning the altar)

Exod 21-24:1-11 (a variety of laws)

Exod 25-31 (description of the tabernacle and priesthood)

Exod 32:1-6 (the making of the golden calf)

Exod 32:15-35 (Moses gets angry and breaks the stone tablets)

Exod 33-Exod 34:1-27 (Command to leave Sinai; Moses makes new tablets; Covenant renewed)

Exod 35-40 (more discussion about the construction of the tabernacle)

C. The following passage is the ONLY passage from Leviticus that appears in the lectionary:

Lev 19:1-2, 9-18 (Ritual and moral holiness)

D. The following passages are the ONLY passages from Numbers that appear in the lectionary:

Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16 (the people complaining in the desert

Numbers 11:24-30 (the spirit of God anoints 70 elders of the people)

Numbers 21:4-9 (Moses and the bronze serpent)

E. The following passages from Deuteronomy do not appear in the lectionary:

Deut 1-3 (events in Horeb; the desert years; defeat of King Og)

Deut 4:10-49 (more discussion of Moses commanding obedience)

Deut 5 (the 10 commandments; Moses the mediator of God's will)

Deut 6:10-25 (Caution against disobedience)

Deut 7 (A chosen people; blessings for obedience)

Deut 8:1-6 (a warning not to forget God in prosperity)

Deut 9-17 (Consequences of rebelling against God; Second pair of tablets; Essence of the law; rewards for obedience; Pagan shrines to be destroyed; prescribed place of worship; warning against idolatry; a variety of laws; passover revisited)

Deut 18:1-14 (privileges of priests; child sacrifice, divination and magic prohibited

Deut 19-25 (various laws)

Deut 26:12-19 (discussion of first fruits and tithes; concluding exhortation)

Deut 27-29 (blessings and warnings for disobedience)

Deut 30:1-8 (God's fidelity assured)

Deut 31-24 (Joshua chosen to succeed Moses; Song of Moses; Moses' final blessing; Moses' death and burial)

Monday, August 04, 2014

Highlighting the Bible, Part XII: Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation

A. Hanson, Amsterdam, 2009
The remaining books of the New Testament, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, Jude and Revelation are an interesting collection of literature.  They cannot be attributed to Paul and their authorship is unknown.

The letter to the Hebrews is a favorite among the lectionary folks, because of its poetic language.

The letters of James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1,2, and 3 John and Jude are intended to be general letters written to the whole Christian community as both warning and exhortation to be faithful.

The book of Revelation is an interesting book.  This literature uses a tone of apocalypse, but this is more a style of writing than a road map for the end of times, like so many biblical literalists would claim.  It was written to support and encourage a group of seven churches who face persecution and struggle to faith faithfully.

A. The following passages from the book of Hebrews do not appear in the lectionary:

Heb 1:13-14 (questions about devotion to God)

Heb 2:1-4 (warning to pay attention)

Heb 3 (Moses a servant, Christ a son; warning against unbelief)

Heb 4:1-11 (The rest that God promised)

Heb 5:11-14 (Warning against falling away)

Heb 6 (The peril of falling away; the certainty of God's promise)

Heb 7:1-22 (the priestly order of Melchizedek; another priest, like Melchizedek)

Heb 8 (Mediator of a better covenant)

Heb 9:1-10 (the earthly and heavenly sanctuaries)

Heb 9:16-23 (the death of the will)

Heb 10:1-4 (the law cannot take away sin)

Heb 10:26-39 (a call to persevere in the midst of struggle)

Heb 11:4-7 (The examples of Abel, Enoch, and Noah)

Heb 11:17-28 (the faith of Abraham; the faith of Moses)

Heb 12:4-17 (The example of Jesus; warnings against rejecting God's grace)

Heb 13:9-14 (do not be carried away by strange teachings)

Heb 13:17-25 (call to obey leaders; benediction; final exhortation and greetings)

B. The following passages from James do not appear in the lectionary

James 1:1-16 (Salutation; faith and wisdom; poverty and riches; trial and temptation)

James 2:18-26 (more discussion on faith and works)

James 4:11-12 (warning against judging another)

James 5:1-6 (warning to rich oppressors)

James 5:11-12 (endure in faith)

C. The following passages from 1 and 2 Peter do not appear in the lectionary

1 Peter 1:1-2 (salutation)

1 Peter 1:10-16 (prophets testifying to the hope of Christ; a call to holy living)

1 Peter 1:24-25 (quoting a passage from Isaiah 40)

1 Peter 2:11-19 (live as servants of God; command to slaves to accept the authority of their masters)

1 Peter 3:1-12 (wives accept the authority of their husbands; do not repay evil for evil)

1 Peter 4:1-11 (good stewards of God's grace_

1 Peter 4:15-19 (do not view your suffering as a disgrace, but glorify God)

1 Peter 5:1-5 (Tending the flock of God)

1 Peter 5:12-14 (final greetings and benediction)

2 Peter 2 (false prophets and their punishment)

2 Peter 3:1-7 (The promise of the Lord's coming)

2 Peter 3:16-18 (final greetings and doxology)

D. The following passages from 1, 2, and 3 John do not appear in the lectionary

1 John 2:3-28 (we must obey Christ's commandments if we are to know him; a new commandment; warning against anti-Christs_

1 John 3:8-15 (The son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil; Love one another)

1 John 4:1-6 (Testing the Spirits)

1 John 5:7-8 (The spirit, the water and the blood testify that Jesus is the son of God)

1 John 5:14-21 (epilogue)

2 John (no part of this book appears in the lectionary) (salutation; truth and love; final greetings)

3 John (no part of this book appears in the lectionary) (salutation; Gaius commanded for his hospitality; Diotrephes and Demetrius; Final Greetings)

E. No passages from the book of Jude appear in the lectionary

Jude (Salutation; Occasion of the Letter; Judgment on false teachers; warnings and exhortations; Benediction

F. The following passages from the book of Revelation do not appear in the lectionary
 Rev 1:1-3 (Introduction and Salutation)

Rev 1:9-20 (a vision of Christ)

Rev 2 (Message to Ephesus; Message to Smyrna; message to Pergamum; message to Thyatira)

Rev 3 (Message to Sardis; message to Philadelphia; message to Laodicea

Rev 4 (The heavenly worship)

Rev 5:1-10 (the scroll and the lamb)

Rev 6 (the seven seals)

Rev 7:1-8 (the 144,000 of Israel sealed)

Rev 8 (the seventh seal and the Golden censer; the seven trumpets)

Rev 9 (the seven trumpets continued)

Rev 10 (the angel with the little scroll)

Rev 11 (the two witnesses; the seventh trumpet)

Rev 12:1-6 (the woman and the dragon)

Rev 12:13-18 (the dragon fights again on earth)

Rev 13 (the first beast; the second beast)

Rev 14 (the Lamb and the 144,000; the messages of the three angels; reaping the earth's harvest)

Rev 15 (The angels with the seven last plagues)

Rev 16 (The bowls of God's wrath)

Rev 17 (The great whore and the beast)

Rev 18 (the fall of Babylon)

Rev 19 (the rejoicing in heaven; the rider on the white horse; the beast and its armies defeated)

Rev 20 (The thousand years; Satan's doom; the dead are judged)

Rev 21:7-9 (those who are cowardly and faithless will be punished; one of the seven angels appears to show the bride of the Lord)

Rev 21:11-21 (the vision of the new Jerusalem)

Rev 22:6-11 ("See!  I am coming soon!"; epilogue and benediction)

Highlighting the Bible, Part XI: 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon

A.Hanson, Minneapolis, 2014
2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon are letters that are often attributed to Paul, but they have a different style, tone, or message than the other Pauline letters, so their authorship is likely not from Paul himself.

A. The following passages from 2 Thessalonians do not appear in the lectionary:

2 Thess 1:5-10 (the judgment at Christ's coming)

2 Thess 2:6-12 (the coming of the lawless one)

2 Thess 3:1-5 (a request for prayer)

2 Thess 3:14-18 (a warning to those who do not obey; final greetings and benediction)

B. The following passages from 1 Timothy do not appear in the lectionary: 

1 Tim 1:1-11 (Salutation; warning against false teachers)

1 Tim 1:18-20 (the purpose for giving Timothy instructions, "so that they might learn not to blaspheme")

1 Tim 2:8-15 (more instructions for prayer, "women dressed modestly")

1 Tim 3 (Qualifications of Bishops; qualifications of deacons; The mystery of our religion)

1 Tim 4 (False asceticism; A good minister of Jesus Christ)

1 Tim 5 (Duties toward Believers)

1 Tim 6:1-5 ("let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor; False teaching and true riches)

1 Tim 6:20-21 (Personal instructions and Benedictions)

C. The following passages from 2 Timothy do not appear in the lectionary:

 2 Tim 1:15-18 (some personal notes to some people)

2 Tim 2:1-7 (A good soldier of Jesus Christ)

2 Tim 2:16-26 (a worker approved by God)

2 Tim 3:1-13 (Godlessness in the last days; Paul's charge to Timothy)

2 Tim 4:9-16 (personal instructions to Timothy)

2 Tim 4:19-22 (final greetings and benediction)

D. The following passages from Titus do not appear in the lectionary

Titus 1 (Salutation; Titus in Crete)

Titus 2:1-10 (Teach sound doctrine) 

Titus 2:15 (commentary on Titus 2:11-14)

Titus 3:1-3 (maintain good deeds)

Titus 3:8-15 (the followers of God devote themselves to good works that profit everyone; final messages and benediction)

E. The following passages from Philemon do not appear in the lectionary

Philemon 1:23-25 (Final greetings and benediction)

Sunday, August 03, 2014

What's a miracle, anyway?…A sermon on Matthew 14:13-21

A.Hanson, Santa Cruz, CA 2014
A sermon preached at First Lutheran Church of St Peter, MN. Matthew 14:13-21
Grace, peace and mercy are yours from the Triune God.  Amen

As a child in Sunday School, my favorite Sunday of the year was the day we learned about the feeding of the 5,000.  I was very impressed with this story.  But it wasn’t because Jesus fed over 5,000 people.  It wasn’t because the disciples only had five loaves and two fish, yet the crowd managed to eat until they were full. This was my favorite Sunday because the Sunday School curriculum had scratch and sniff stickers for the loaves of bread.  THIS was somehow the miracle for me in this whole story. A piece of paper could be made to smell JUST like a loaf of bread.  All joking aside, sometimes in the course of miracle stories, it really is the little things that matter, maybe not necessarily the big, impressive, miracle. So let’s open up this story a bit more.
The feeding of the 5,000 was an extremely important story for the Gospel writers, because it is the only miracle story that appears in all four Gospels.  Let’s put this story into context.  In Matthew’s Gospel, we hear that Jesus has withdrawn to a deserted place.  He gets into a boat and floats out into the water.  But this wasn’t just because he wanted a little peace and quiet.  Jesus had been rejected by his hometown and had just learned that his friend and fellow preacher, John the Baptist, had been brutally murdered by King Herod. The disciples had the unpleasant task of burying John’s body and then telling Jesus what had happened.   Nobody was in a particularly good mood, and to hear that massive crowds were gathered on the shore, awaiting a promise of hope and healing from an exhausted and grieving Jesus would have been overwhelming.
But instead of retreating, we hear that Jesus leaves his boat, goes into the crowd and has compassion for them.  This isn’t the sort of benevolent well-wishing and baby kissing that comes from politicians and celebrities.  We hear that Jesus cures their sick.  These were people who were the poorest of the poor, Jesus would have been their last hope.  Because people who had power and money and status were not going to be following a barefoot preacher into the middle of the desert. Jesus is getting his hands dirty doing the work of compassion.
The disciples tolerate this pretty well for awhile. But after a time, they seem to have had enough.  Evening is coming and they are ready for some peace and quiet.  They say to Jesus, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they can buy food for themselves.” But Jesus responds in the most unexpected way, saying, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”  The Greek text sets this scene in the wilderness.  It would have been far from any grocery store, fast food joint or seven-eleven. The disciples look at Jesus dumbfounded and say, “We have nothing here, but five loaves and two fish.”  When the disciples suggest to Jesus that the crowds be sent away, because they cannot feed them, they are confessing their powerlessness in the face of overwhelming human need.  How often do we also do this?  We feel ashamed of our own inability to make a difference in a world of need.  We want to send that need away so we don’t have to see it anymore.  But Jesus does the opposite.  He draws closer to those who are desperately in need. 
Jesus commands the disciples to bring the loaves and fish, blesses them, and hands them off. Just the few loaves and fishes were transformed to feed over 5,000 people, Jesus transforms our humble offerings into more abundance than we ever could have dreamed.  
  This miracle story shows that God is love.  This is not compassion and mercy in the abstract.  It is a compassion that cares deeply about actual physical human needs. The story is not too concerned with the logistics of the miracle, just stating that after the disciples gave the food to the crowds, all ate and were filled, and there were even leftovers.
This was a time of marked food insecurity. Those people who were gathered around Jesus would have never known what it was like to be full.  This is why so many of the parables and references to the coming kingdom of God refer to banquets and great feasts where all are welcome.  This miracle of feeding those who are hungry is SO IMPORTANT that Matthew repeats it again in the next chapter with the feeding of the 4,000.
Most of us, myself included, struggle with the miracle stories.  Many of us doubt miracles because we get bogged down in the particulars.  How could this have happened?  Did the bread just multiply?  Were the disciples secretly hiding lots of bread in their robes?  Did someone catch extra fish in the lake and just call it a miracle?
But what if the point is not about HOW the miracle occurred, but WHO is doing it? 
I would like to bring out one little thing from this parable that we often miss.  It is really easy to skim over this very tiny detail in our reading of this text. We know this story and we want to get to the miraculous part, but in doing so, we miss the detail that Jesus blesses the bread, and then physically hands it to the disciples who do the very hard work of distributing it to a massive crowd. Jesus feeds the twelve, but the twelve feed the 5,000. The disciples share in the birth of this miracle. It is not just Jesus caring for the hungry crowds.

What if we are commanded to do the same?  What if the miracle itself is not the point at all, but rather, the feeding of God’s people and showing compassion to those in need?  This miracle story is about trusting that God provides in abundance, even in the midst of impossible situations, and uses all of us, even disciples who can’t believe that five loaves and two fish could ever be enough, and you and me who think we might never be good enough or qualified enough to do the work of the kingdom. How is Jesus transforming your humble offerings in the world into miracles for your neighbors?  How are you participating in miracles of compassion?