One of the interesting features of Year A in the Revised Common Lectionary, is that Ash Wednesday’s traditional year-after-year Gospel lesson comes after five Sundays in Epiphanytide of Gospel lessons from The Sermon on the Mount.Continue Reading..
The mission of the Church is to be a vessel where transformation can happen. Where lives may be changed by the Presence of God. Where people are reconciled to God in Christ, and to each other as neighbors.
That transformation isn’t a small thing. It’s not a fresh coat of paint. It’s not even an upgraded operating system.
It’s metamorphosis. It’s wholesale change. From the bottom up. From the inside out.
And, to be honest…it’s not always something that I want.Continue Reading..
It is to be noted that the semantic parallel of “low-grade” with imbecile is far closer than might have been expected. (The Anchor Bible Commentary: Matthew by W. F. Albright and C. S. Mann. Page 55.)
That is, quite possibly, the funniest statement that I’ve ever read in a biblical commentary. Had I been enjoying a beverage whilst reading that statement, I would have soiled the book.
Albright and Mann have a quite different translation in their Anchor Bible Commentary than the NRSV of Matthew 5:13. The salt hasn’t “lost it’s saltiness,” but it’s “low-grade” salt. The Greek word here translated as “low-grade” is “moraino”.
Etymologically related to: moron. Imbecile.
Salt can’t “lose it’s saltiness.” There’s no “sell by” date on salt. It’s salt for goodness sakes.
But, salt can be diluted. Or it can be contaminated by other materials which make it taste bad.
And, if that’s the case, it’s time to throw the salt out. It’s useless. There’s no going back.
Jesus in in the opening stanzas of the Sermon on the Mount here, and he’s talking about us. “You are the salt of the earth” he proclaims to the disciples, and to us. Great things are expected of us, and great things can we do in the name of God and God’s Kingdom.
But, there is another way to go. We can do great things…or we can be morons.
This is literally Jesus’ big speech where he turns to his followers and tells them/ us not to be an embarrassment.
I love Bishop Michael Curry’s push to create more “crazy Christians.” I love the holy fools who throughout Christian history have given up their material goods, their freedom, and their lives to live out the values of the Kingdom.
But, there is a line, and if you cross it, you go from “crazy Christian” to imbecile pretty quickly. It’s hard to define where that line is…but we all know it when we see it. We all know it when we stand squarely on the other side of the line, and looking back we see Jesus standing there shaking his head. We all know it when we turn on the TV and another yay-hoo with “Rev.” in front of their name is proclaiming why this tornado or that hurricane struck a particular area.
So, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
But, quit being a moron.
See the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare. Isaiah 42:9
Our faith stretches back into history like the roots of a mighty oak stretch into the earth, grabbing at the earth and clutching onto the bedrock beneath.
But, our faith is not just a lesson in history.Continue Reading..
The following is a reflection on 24:36-44, the Gospel Lesson appointed for the 1st Sunday of Advent, Year A.
I was sitting on the couch. Watching TV. Who knows what great and inspiring programming I was zoning out to…
My wife yelled from upstairs: “Rick…RICK!”
“Yes?” I said, rather annoyed that she hadn’t had the grace to wait for a commercial break.
“My water broke.”Continue Reading..
The following is a reflection on Luke 17:5-10, the Gospel lesson appointed for Proper 22C according to the Revised Common Lectionary.
The apostles ask Jesus to “increase” their faith.
For me, when a parishioner walks into my office and asks for help increasing and deepening their faith, I’m thrilled! I break out some good books, talk about their prayer life, get them signed up to serve Communion on Sunday…
But Jesus? He brushes the disciples off.Continue Reading..
The following is a reflection on Luke 16:1-13, the Gospel lesson appointed for Proper 20 C, of the Revised Common Lectionary.
What’s the fastest way to make God laugh? Tell Him your long-range plans.
Almost every year I plan this Sunday as a ‘welcome back’ Sunday where we have all the kids in church, and we have them come up and get involved in the sermon… I always envision a tear in every mother’s eye, and the fall program year being be kicked off successfully.
And every Year C I check the Gospel lesson.
Nothing like telling a bunch of kids to make friends by dishonest wealth this year.Continue Reading..
The following is a reflection on Luke 15:1-10, the Gospel lesson appointed for Proper 19C of of the Revised Common Lectionary.
Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?
Nobody. No one does this. No one would ever do that.Continue Reading..
The following is a reflection on Luke 14:25-33, the Gospel lesson appointed for Proper 18C according to the Revised Common Lectionary.
First of all, if anyone can get me the address of the lectionary compiler whose great idea it was to have the “hate your father and mother” and “give away your possessions” Gospel lesson hit on the first Sunday of the fall…that’d be great.
I mean, for real?
“Welcome back everybody, and especially welcome to all our newcomers today…now on to hating your parents…
…See you next week?”
Second of all, this lesson is amazing, because Jesus nails it.Continue Reading..
The following is a reflection on Luke 10:38-42, the Gospel Lesson appointed for Proper 11C, according to the Revised Common Lectionary.
Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things…
Oh, man… The only thing that would make this verse any more uncomfortable would be for Jesus to substitute “Martha, Martha” for my own name.
Because, when it comes to being worried and distracted, I am guilty as sin.Continue Reading..