Yesterday one of the setup crew asked what color day it was. Being Trinity, it was white. I mentioned that after yesterday, we were green until Advent with the exception of Reformation. Forgot All Saints (white) and Christ the King (Green or white), but you get the point. Some traditions, particularly the Roman Catholic, call this “Ordinary Time”, since it isn’t a season itself (After Pentecost as opposed to x sunday after x festival). But that doesn’t make it ‘unimportant’. In fact, this is the season where we generally get to focus on one Gospel and get into it’s narrative. We’ll be headed from Matthew 10 up to Matthew 25… Starting with Jesus’ sending on the missionary journey, and going through alternating patterns of narrative (stories of what Jesus and those around him did) and discourses (sermons). I also am going to take the ‘semi-continuous’ track for Old Testament lessons, since they walk through Genesis and Exodus. I’m liking focusing on a book… preaching through Acts after Easter convinced me that a weakness of the lectionary is how we jump around. So we’ll run it that way. 10 years into ministry, not to mention a different setting, is time to tweak some things.
Genesis 22:1-14 http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=175586990
This story is a tough one… the Hebrew name for this narrative is “Akedah”, or “Binding”. The tradition I grew up with as a Christian called it the Sacrifice. I think I like the Hebrew name… After all, it is their story that we borrow. So what exactly is the point of it? Is this a story of God testing Isaac, a traditional Jewish interpretation? Other rabbinic traditions focus on it as a lesson in the abhorrent nature of child or any human sacrifice, which was common in that period. Lots of questions… ones that stick in our mind in wrestling with it. There is a picture here of faith in God… to be willing to kill ones only son, the son of the promise is a huge sign of commitment.
Romans 6:12–23 http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=175587033
Here we have a clear refutation of the idea that sin isn’t important… the idea that we can do whatever we wish without regard to the law because we will be “forgiven anyway”. The fancy term is “anti-nomianism”. Instead, Paul clearly states that a life of sin leads only to death, and that baptism is not simplistic freedom as “I can do what I want”, but is to be a slave of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 10:40-42 http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=175587059
Here we have Jesus sending the disciples out to proclaim the kingdom of God. I’m thinking I’ll add parts of chapter 10 to the lesson, because it would have usually been read in the last two weeks, except for Easter being so late this year and not being on the ‘ordinary time’ readings because of that. What does it mean to proclaim the kindgom? At the heart of my understanding of the mission of the church isn’t so much to make the kingdom happen as it is to find where God is at work and how we can both point to it AND get involved. This goes to our idea of partnership at LMS – that we will build cooperative ministries rather than a ‘Come to us” model. By partnering with others, we can reach into the community in far more ways, and by doing it overtly as part of our faith, we will become a witness to what God is doing. It is far more powerful to say “God is at work in you and what you do…” than to say “If you come to our church, God can sure use you”.
Hope everyone has a great week. Pray for some rain. Maybe this nasty high pressure that has kept the wind like a furnace fan and dried out everything around will finally move on?