On Tuesday morning the pastors of Lutheran Saints in Ministry gather in Fairborn Ohio to discuss the texts for Sunday.

These are the contributions that are brought to the table.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Texts for December 28th, The First Sunday of Christmas

Isaiah 61:10-62:3
61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

61:11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

62:1 For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch.

62:2 The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give.

62:3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 

Psalm 148
148:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights!

148:2 Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host!

148:3 Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars!

148:4 Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!

148:5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.

148:6 He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

148:7 Praise the LORD from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps,

148:8 fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!

148:9 Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!

148:10 Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!

148:11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!

148:12 Young men and women alike, old and young together!

148:13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.

148:14 He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful, for the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the LORD!

Galatians 4:4-7
4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,

4:5 in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.

4:6 And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"

4:7 So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

Luke 2:22-40
2:22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord

2:23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord"),

2:24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons."

2:25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him.

2:26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Messiah.

2:27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law,

2:28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

2:29 "Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word;

2:30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,

2:31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

2:32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."

2:33 And the child's father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him.

2:34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, "This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed

2:35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed--and a sword will pierce your own soul too."

2:36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,

2:37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day.

2:38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

2:39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.

2:40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Luke 2:22-40 Greek Study - Pr. Fourman

Luke 2:22-40

v22 του καθαρισμου (ος) gen. "purification" - genitive is epexegetic; "the days which consist of the cleansing of them." A woman is ceremonially cleansed 40 days after the birth of a boy child, and 80 days after a girl. Meanwhile, she must not touch anything holy or enter the temple, cf. Lev.12.
παραστησαι (παριστημι) aor. inf. "to present" - the infinitive is adverbial, forming a purpose clause. Some argue no tradition existed in Israel, cf Neh.10:35-36  (redeeming a child) so also Ex.13:15 and 1Sam.1-2.
τω κυριω dat. "to the Lord" - Dative of indirect object. The presentation of Jesus has nothing to do with the purification of Mary, to which v24 applies.
v23 κυριου (ος) gen. "of the Lord" - genitive is ablative of source/origin.
διανοιγον (διανοιγω) pres. part. "[every] firstborn [male]" literally [every male] opening [womb] κληθησεται (καλεω) fut. pas. "will be calledαγιον adj. "holy
τω κυριω (ος) "to the Lord" (dative of interest) – so  lit. "every male opening the womb, shall be called holy to the Lord

v24 του δουναι (διδωμι) aor. inf. "to give” – a genitive articular infinitive forming a purpose clause. This offering is most likely for the postnatal purification service (Lev.12:8). 
τρυγονων (ων ονος) gen. "[a pair] of doves
περιστερων (α) gen. "[two young] pigeons" - The use of pigeons was a concession to the poor.
v25 ω ονομα (α) "named [Simeon]
δικαιος adj. "righteous" Luke uses this word of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Joseph of Arimathea and Cornelius, in the general sense of "good", "honorable", "just", rather than "right before God".
ευλαβης adj. "[and] reverent”  literally conscientiously observant to emphasize the proper piety of Simeon.
προσδεχομενος (προσδεχομαι) pres. part. "expecting” –not passive but an "expectant waiting". The impression is that there is a group around Anna waiting for the παρακλησιν "consolation /redemption" of Israel, along the lines of Is.40:1, 49:13.
πνευμα ην αγιον επ αυτον "the Holy Spirit was upon him". Unlike Elizabeth and Zechariah who are "filled" in the Old Testament sense of the Spirit coming upon a person to achieve a specific end, here the Spirit is "upon" Simeon. There is no sense Simeon is given the Spirit in response to faith. 
v26 κεχρηματισμενον (χρηματιζω) perf. pas. part. "it had been revealed" – A perfect participle, with the imperfect of the verb "to be" forms a periphrastic pluperfect; a construct used to emphasize a durative, often used of divine revelation.
μη ιδειν (ειδον) aor. inf. "that he would not see" - the infinitive forms an object clause expressing what the Holy Spirit revealed.
πριν αν ιδη/ (ειδον) aor. subj. "before he might see. - an indefinite temporal clause. κυριου (ος) gen. "[the] Lord's [Messiah]" - probably ablative, so “whose status as the messiah comes from the Lord cf. 1Sam.24:6, 10. 

v27 εν τω/ εισαγαγειν (εισαγω) aor. inf. "when [the parents] brought in" .
Ιησουν (ους) "[the child] Jesus. Standing in apposition to "child".
του ποιησαι (ποιεω) aor. inf. "to do" - to carry out to ειθισμενον (εθιζω) perf. pas. part. "the thing customaryτου νομου (ος) gen. "of the Law"- epexegetic, explaining what customs. Luke uses a ‘high’ Greek so he is explaining to those who have little understanding of the Jewish Customs of which he is writing.
v28 εδεξατο (δεχομαι) aor. mid. "took him" - the word meaning "received" implies a presentation i.e. the child is offered to God by presenting him to Simeon. 
ευλογησεν τον θεον (ευλογεω) aor. "praised God" - also "bless", in the sense of call down God's grace, although the Nunc Dimittis does not present as a blessing, but rather a psalm of praise. 

v29 Luke’s 3rd psalm of praise, the Nunc Dimittis uses much the same language as the Magnificat and the Benedictus. All three praise God for his intervention in human affairs. δεσποτα (ης ου) voc. "Sovereign Lord" – also a Roman/Greek political title.
νυν απολυεις (απολυω) pres. "you now release” nun is emphatic and with the present tense of "release " infers impending death. But it may also be saying Simeon is released from his role as the Lord's watchman for the coming messiah.
ειρηνη  "peacefully" here means "well-being" possessed by a person favored by God, cf. Gen.46:30.

v30 το σωτηριον adj. "salvation" not "savior" but "God's work.

v31 ο ητοιμασας (ετοιμαζω) "which you have prepared" – (established, exhibited) The salvation of v30 is not so much prepared as displayed for all to see (my eyes have seen…) in this child.
των λαων (ος) gen. pl. "[all] the people" - genitive is possessive in it belongs to all people. Normally the word means Israel, especially in the singular, here the plural means Gentiles.

v32 φως "a light" - " stands in apposition to "salvation" and indicates a revelation of God.
αποκαλυψιν (ις εως) + gen. "revelation" - disclosure, uncovering, taking out into the open, making fully known, unveiling.
εθνων (ος) gen. "to the nations" – i.e. Gentiles ".
δοξαν (α) "glory" - parallel to "light". 
λαου (ος) "of [your] people" Ισραηλ gen. "Israel".
v33 θαυμαζοντες (θαυμαζω) pres. part. "[they] wondered" - were amazed, a periphrastic imperfect construction emphasizing aspect. Joseph and Mary are viewed as a single unit - a married couple.
toiV λαλουμενοις (λαλεω) pres. pas. part. "the thing being said" - participle functions as a substantive; "they were astonished to hear what was said”.

v34 ευλογησεν (ευλογεω) aor. "blessed" κειται (καιμαι) "[this child] is destined". The image of the ‘stumbling-block’ is possibly behind this verse and therefore the word may be understood as "placed", like a stone placed during the building of a wall, cf. Isa.8:14-15. Simeon's words address the future of Israel where the self-righteous fall flat and the humble rise up at the coming of God’s messiah.
σημειον (ον) "a sign" - here meaning "ensign, banner."
αντιλεγομενον (αντιλεγω) perf. pas. part. "that will be spoken against". 

v35 διαλογισμοι (ος) "thoughts" – this word tends to have a negative sense, so this "sign opposed" will expose the hidden intent of those aligned against God’s will.
διελευσεται (διερχομαι) fut. mid. "will pierce" – an idiom, "And you Mary, will suffer as if you had been stabbed.

v36 προφητις (ις ιδος) "a prophetess" - female prophets in scripture is one indicator that the ‘simplistic’ approach to male authority in the church is wrong. 
προβεβηκυια (προβαινω) perf. part. "she was [very] old" - a sign of God's blessing and wisdom. Luke balances male and female roles in this passage as elsewhere.
ζησασα (ζαω) aor. part. "she had lived" - Anna is viewed as a woman of advanced years because from her puberty she lived with her husband 7 years prior to becoming a widow and then another 84, which makes her, 104 or older?

v37 του ιερου (ον) gen. "[she never left] the temple" - λατρευουσα (λατρευω) pres. part. "worshiped" - serving, ministering - participle expressing action accompanying the main verb "was departing", often used of service to God. This word is actually a ministry word, in Anna's case, ministry in the temple is expressed through prayer and fasting.
v38 επιστασα (επιστημι) aor. part. "coming up to them" - attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the main verb .
αυτη τη ωρα dat. "at that very moment" – a dative of time.
ανθωμολογειτο (ανθομολογεομαι) imperf. mid. "she gave thanks" -  durative, expressing ongoing praise and thanksgiving.
τοις προσδεχομενοις (προσδεχομαι) pres. mid. part. "who were looking forward" to
λυτρωσιν (ις εως) "the redemption" – literally ransom - today the word "liberation" would better express its sense.
v40 εκραταιουτο (κραταιοω) imperf. pas. "[grew and] became strong" - mental and moral growth, maturity, even vigor, not muscular strength.
πληρουμενον (πληροω) pres. pas. part. "he was filled" - attendant circumstance participle expressing action 
σοφια (α) dat. "with wisdom" - dative of content; "he advanced in wisdom". 

χαρις (ις ιτος) "the grace" – favor θεου (ος) gen. "of God" - genitive is ablative expressing source.

Living in the Temple - Pr. Kruse

God sets a father in honor over his children;
a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.
Whoever honors his father atones for sins,
and preserves himself from them. — SIR 3:2

A number of things go on in our Gospel text this Sunday. Jesus is taken the temple for the first time as his parents do what the faith demanded they do after the birth of a child. In a second part of the text, the prophets get to speak: Simeon and Anna.

Either one might give us a moment to think and ponder. About what? First, Jesus is taken to the Temple, the place he will in  a few years be at enmity with and the place that does ritual that he will be there replacement of. But, second, his parents, people of faith and commitment to the God of Abraham, do what the faith asks they do at this time. Third, the Holy Spirit makes a rare appearance. Rare, because in the Gospel of Luke —  note, the Gospel not Acts — the Holy Spirit works in and through but a few individuals. It is only later that Joel’s latter days will break out and the Spirit will be poured out on many and they will all see visions and prophecy, etc. (Acts 2)
Maybe these are connected. Already in the story of the visitation, John the Baptist, yet to be born but rich in the Holy Spirit, as foretold by Gabriel, has given witness to Jesus who had at the time been barely conceived. As Simeon and Anna now show us, those who are full of the Holy Spirit give praise when Jesus the Messiah is present. They know that he is with them. They praise God for his presence and give thanks. They also seem to have a different attitude toward life. Simeon and Anna spend their day in the temple. They, like Anna, seek the close proximity of God and the temple is the best place for it. All other things seem secondary. They, like Simeon, live contemplative lives that seek the signs of the presence of God before they die. And, in a Lukan twist of the tale, they break out into song. Zachariah does as he regains his town, Mary does as she hears the Angel voice confirmed, Simeon does so as well. Later, others, in thanksgiving for healing and miracle, will do so as well, but Simeon, John, and Zechariah do it at the mere presence of the Lord.
The Gospel of Luke begins and ends in the temple. At the beginning we find Zechariah in the temple and in the end we find the apostles praising God in the temple after the Ascension. Luke will say that: “they were continually in the temple blessing God,” much like Anna who we meet today. (Lk 24:53) In Acts, there is still a lot of traffic to the temple. Even towards the end of the book of Acts, St. Paul is going to the Temple and is eventually arrested there, accused of brining Trohimus, a Greek, into the temple, which he had not. (Acts 21:29-30) In a way, the old ways and the new ways meet in the Temple. Today, we contemplate a peaceful meeting, guided by the Holy Spirit. In other places the meetings are volatile and those on whom the Spirit does not rest tend to be the aggressors.
The old ways will eventually die. The Temple is no more after the 60’s. Yet, even in the story of Paul’s arrest there is a foreshadowing of departures to come: The door of the Temple are shut when the altercation begins. (Acts 21:30) It is as if Luke is saying: “This was the end of our travels to the Temple. We were no longer welcome.”
Where then shall one go now, to fulfill all righteousness as Mary and Joseph did on the day described in our Gospel lesson? Where will Simeon and Anna await the salvation God has prepared for every people?
Incarnation is tricky bizzness. It, along with history’s destructive presence, has left Christians, and to some extent Jews as well, without this “Holy Place” of pilgrimage. We arrange Holiday in the Holy land in order to understand the scripture better but not to be in the presence of the Holy. Yet, there is “Holy Things” that are considered the very presence we seek. The Holy Spirit somehow knows and recognizes these and calls to them and from them to hearts inhabited by the very same Spirit.
Would Simeon, kidnapped by Dr. Who in the Tardis and transported to our time and place, recognize the light that reveals the God of Abraham to the nations and the Glory of God’s people Israel in Mass celebrated at our altars? Will Anna, as she walks the earth find herself drawn to a peculiar place, action, or person and there realize that she stands in the presence of the Most High? Will they break into song?
There is a bit of a contemplative in every Christian, at least there ought to be. We train at the altar and pulpits of the church where we know the presence is real. We walk the earth longing for that presence to be revealed to the nations as well, ready to see it wherever it discloses itself. The Spirit will recognize it. Once incarnation is real the whole world might be packed with wonder.  Those who live seeking will not be disappointed.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Readings for December 21st, Advent 4 2014

First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1–11, 16

Now when the king was settled in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him,  2the king said to the prophet Nathan, "See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent."  3Nathan said to the king, "Go, do all that you have in mind; for the LORD is with you."
4But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan:  5Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the LORD: Are you the one to build me a house to live in?  6I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle.  7Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, "Why have you not built me a house of cedar?"  8Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the LORD of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel;  9and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.  10And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly,  11from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house.  16Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

Second Reading: Romans 16:25–27

25Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages  26but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith —  27to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

Gospel: Luke 1:26–38

26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,  27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary.  28And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."  29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.  30The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.  32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.  33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."  34Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"  35The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.  36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.  37For nothing will be impossible with God."  38Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.

Luke 1: 26-38 in Greek - Pr. Fourman

Greek Study Luke 1:26-38

v26 Γαβριηλ "Gabriel" - This angel does not fit Hebrew usage, Raphael is the closest, Tob.5:4
απεσταλη (αποστελω) aor. "sent" - echoes of Daniel 10:11-12.

v27 παρθενον (ος) "virgin" - Mary's virginity is noted by Luke, not because virginity is worthy in or that she was spiritually deserving but to emphasize miracle. Elizabeth was barren, Mary was a virgin. The Gk. word does not actually mean “virgin” but unmarried woman who may or may not be a virgin. Isaiah 7:14, states "a maiden shall conceive", again unclear, but early believers never wavered on the issue of the virgin birth. It was, in fact, the origin of the first great internecine war, “θεοτοκοσ”.
εμνηστευμενην (μνηστευω) perf. pas. part. "pledged to be married" - participle is attributive limiting "virgin". The custom was betrothal at 13 marriage at 14.
ανδρι (ηρ δρος) dat. "to a man" - ex "from [a descendant of David]" expressing origin. Establishing Jesus' Davidic heritage - that Joseph was not the genetic father is of small matter to the Jewish mind as an adopted child was accorded the same rights as a natural child.
της παρθενου (ος) gen. "the virgin's [name]" – was Μαριαμ "Mary" – meaning "excellence". Luke’s habit of providing specifics(like names) attests to his historian’s POV.

v28 εισελθων (εισερχομαι) aor. part. "went [to her]" - an attendant circumstance participle,. The verb is used mainly of entering into an area, rather than approaching, so "He went in to her".
χαιρε (α) pres. imp. "Greetings" (joy! Delight!) possibly an imperative, a call to joy. 
καχαριτωμενη (χαριτοω) perf. pas. part. "you who are highly favored" - not because of who she is, but because of the child she carries- so graced.

v29 διεταραχθη (διαταρασσω) aor. pas. "was greatly perplexed”. by the angel's words, not so much his presence; the words terrify her, hence the the angel tells her not to be afraid.
διελογιζετο (διαλογιζομαι) imperf. "wondered" debated(?)imperfect carries a durative sense, so an ongoing, continuing ‘pondering”. Idiomatically, “she gave it a lot of thought”.
ποταπος pro. "what kind of" - an interrogative adjective forming an indirect question. 
ο ασπασμος (ος) "greeting" - the salutation.
ει[η (ειμι) opt. "[this] might be" - a subjunctive verb to-be normally is used, Luke uses the optative in indirect questions.
v30 μη φοβου (φοβεομαι) pres. imp. "do not be afraid" - literally "stop being anxious." Fear is a normal response to divine visitation. 
γαρ for. conjunction serves to introduce a causal clause explaining why Mary should stop being anxious.
ευρες (ευισκω) aor. "found" - Mary found, in the sense of received grace; the idea is of the bestowal of favors from a superior to an inferior, apart from any worthiness in the inferior to receive them. This to emphasize the grace of God.
παρα + dat. "with [God]" - not expressing association but in the sense of "a participant whose viewpoint is relevant to an event", so " God has chosen you for a very precious privilege".
v31 και ιδου "and behold.
συλλημψη εν γαστρι "you will be with child" - the language implies nothing abnormal which is in line with Luke's playing down of the virgin birth. The language reflects Old Testament usage, eg. Gen.16:11, Isa.7:14. "You are going to be the mother of a son".
καλεσεις (καλεω) fut. "you are to give" - the future tense here carries the imperative.
αυτου gen. pro. "him - genitive is possessive.
Ιησουν (Ιησους) acc. Joshua (Yahweh is savior). 

v32 ουτος demonstrative pro. "he" - this one μεγας adj. "[will be] great" - Possibly just "he will grow up".
κληθησεται (καλεω) fut. pas. "will be called" - "recognized to be".
υιος (ος) "the Son" accusative case would be expected, but here functioning as a subject complement, see Culy.
υψιστου gen. adj. "of the Most High" - genitive is adjectival, relational. The context indicates that here it refers to God as a proper noun without a definite article. Likely a messianic title.
δωσει (διδωμι) fut. "will give" - "αυτω dat. pro. "him" τον θρονον "the throne" - Probably idiomatic; "ruling authority". 

v33 βασιλευσει (βασιλευω) fut. "he will serve as a king, reign. (Luke understands something most Americans forget, that Christ's kingdom transcends nationalism). επι + acc. "over" - Used here of exercising control or authority, "over, with responsibility for."
εις τους αιωνας "forever" – a common phrase meaning "forever." 
αυτου gen. pro. "his" - genitive is possessive της βασιλειας (α) gen. "kingdom" - of the kingdom [of him] a genitive of reference, serves to tie this clause into the preceding clause and thus its central idea of the kingship of Christ. Although the word rightly refers to the domain of Christ's reign, his lordship remains the focus. Note the parallelism between "house of Jacob", a traditional term for the house of Israel and "kingdom [of God]". 

v34 πως ad. "how [will this be]επει "since" ου γινωσκω pres. "I am a virgin" - [a man I do not know]. Idiom; "I have not had sexual intercourse with a man", the present tense, being durative, carries the idea "I am not having, ie. she has had and continues to have no intercourse man. This usage of the word "know" is Semitic and Hellenistic. Mary's response raises a problem. Why would she stress her present virginity given that the promised conception is future and she will "know" Joseph soon, following the period of engagement? Some commentators suggest a Luken literary device to emphasize her virginity but it is also possible that she has misunderstood the time frame, or understood her conception to be an immediate occurrence.

v35 αποκριθεις (αποκρινομαι) aor. pas. part. "answered" - Semitic construction.
επελευσεται (επερχομαι) fut. "will come" - maybe from Isaiah 32:15, of the Spirit coming upon the wilderness such that the desert blooms, blooming spiritually in the realization of the kingdom, or even of the Spirit coming upon someone to prophecy or perform the will of God in a certain situation. There are no references of the Spirit coming upon someone to conceive a child.
δυναμις (ις εως) "power" - can function as an equivalent expression to spirit; "the (holy) spirit of God is a term for God himself as operating with effect in the world.
υψιστου gen. adj. " the Most High" - επισκιασει (επισκιαζω) fut. "will overshadow" There is a possible sexual image here, but it may not be intended. The presence and power of God will tabernacle with Mary, she will experience the Shekinah, the presence of the divine in the cloud that covers a faithful Israel. Here the Spirit is depicted as life-giving. 
διο και "therefore” with και introducing a logical conclusion.
το ... αγιον adj. "the holy one" = child - adjective functions as a substantive.
το γεννωμενον (γενναω) pres. pas. part. "to be born" - εκ σου, "out of you." the total phrase stands as the subject of "will be called." substantive with αγιον as its complement, "the child to be born will be called holy."
κληθησεται (καλεω) fut. pas. "will be called" -will be recognized to be  is better "Son of God" as the predicate of the verb "called", but it is possibly a secondary predicate, with the primary predicate being the adjective "holy".
θεου (ος) gen. "[Son] of God" - genitive of relationship. This is the first usage of the title "Son of God" in Luke.

v36 Ελισαβετ "Elizabeth" – a hanging nominative later picked up by the pronoun αυτη; "Elizabeth your relative, she also has conceived." Used in the Gk. to "introduce the topic of what follows".
σου gen. pro. "your" - The genitive is adjectival, relational η συγγενις (ις ιδος) "relative" - The kinship is unstated except to say that Jesus and John are related through their mothers. 
εν + dat. "in [her old age]" preposition here forms a temporal phrase.
αυτη τη καλουμενη (καλεω) dat. pres. pas. part. "she who was said [to be barren]" - the one called [barren]. a relative clause. Mary has not asked for a sign, but she is given one (as is Ahaz in Isaiah).
στειρα dat. adj. "barren" - the participle is passive and thus the subject, τη, "the one" (in apposition to αυτη, "her") receives the action.

v37 οτι "for" - ουκ .... παν ρημα (a atoV) "nothing" – lit. no word promise  αδυνατησει (αδυνατεω) fut. "is impossible". possibly alluding to Gen.18:14, but also possibly Jer.32:17. The words probably relate directly to Elizabeth's pregnancy, rather than Mary's, but obviously apply to Mary as well. This should not be used to imply God will do the impossible things of our imagination, it is best to translate the phrase as "no promise from God is devoid of power".

v38 ιδου "behold” κυριου (ος) gen. "[I am] the Lord's" - adjectival expressing relationship.
η δουλη "slave girl"; idiomatic: I belong to the Lord body and soul.
γενοιτο (γινομαι) aor. opt. "may it be" optative serving to express a wish. Mary here is behaving as a servant of the Lord by submitting to his will. 
μοι dat. pro. "to meκατα + acc. "as" σου gen. pro. "you [have said]" i.e. "the promise given by you."

απο + gen. " departed] from [her] separation, "away from."

Could Have, Would Have, Should Have - Pr. Kruse

  1. Russ Salzmann, who once upon the time wrote a monthly newsletter and still writes for First Things, once spun a delightful tale called: “Angels and BMV(latin abbreviation of Blessed Virgin Mary; english abbreviation of Bureau of Motor Vehicles).” In it, Gabriel comes to visit Zachariah and, in a bureaucrat worthy fit of officious exasperation over Zachariah questioning his proclamation, pulls a pompous apparatchik stunt on Zach that leaves him mute. By the time Gabe heads to Bethlehem, the matter has reached the highest level of the administration and Gabe has been chastised sufficiently. He still bristles at Mary’s: “but how can that be,” but, recalling his uncomfortable 20 minutes before the throne of the Ancient of Days, choses to let it be this time. He merely stutters  the famous line: “Nothing is impossible with God.”
  2. It is ever so easy to make this a preview of Christmas. The text just invites this. Yet, we are, for a few days still navigating Advent: God will bring in the kingdom, take heart. Nothing is lost. It is still all worth it. The things God has promised and spoken they will come to pass. St. John the Baptist visited us last week. In his story from John 1 and 3 we see that God says and then does. It will come to pass. There was one on whom the Spirit came to rest. (John 3) John has seen that what he has preached has come to be. We are invited to similar trust that what we speak and do on conviction of the Holy Spirit will be vouched for in heaven and done in God’s time.
  3. Mary has a similar story, though a longer and more arduous one. She, according to Luke the Evangelist, gets to witness Jesus’ entire earthly life, including his Ascension and the Pentecost miracle. She gets to begin Jesus’ life with a warning that it will not be easy to watch. (Lk 2:35) She begins the journey with this encounter that, as is customary to observe, plunges her into risk and  peril. She is betrothed and is not supposed to show up pregnant quite yet. (Num 5:11-21; Deut 22:13-21; Sir 42:9-11)  Yet, in spite of all the troubles that the scriptures suggest she could get into, none of them are reported. The closest thing is Joseph contemplating to break off the betrothal so that the real father can take possession of the child. ( Matt 1:19-20) Luke reports none of this and neither do the rest of the Gospels. That may be odd. There should have been trouble but there was not. Perhaps we do well not to dwell on all the things that could have, or might have, or even should have happened to her. As far as Luke is concerned, the Holy Spirit will empower her and the Glory of God will protect her, and, if the story of Luke is considered, that is how it was.
  4. When dealing with John last week, I noted that Arthur John Piepkorn considered Mary the archetype of the church. In this season, Advent, and in this pericope this might again be a good reminder. The Gospels do not dwell on all the could haves, should haves, would haves. The Gospels tell of Mary as one who bears the Christ to the world. In the Eastern Church she is the “God Bearer” (theotokos). After his birth she has limited roles to play. She intercedes for need in John 2. She comes to keep him safe from himself in Mark 3:22 only to be rebuffed. She has to learn that she must now let him increase and do the work for which he came and for which she bore him. She is present at the crucifixion. She is present at the Pentecost. 
  5. What is the church to learn from this? Once she, with mother Mary, has said: “I am the servant of the Most High, let it be as you say,” she is no longer in control. Something much greater has been set in motion and she needs to observe, ponder, and follow the very Christ that she is charged to bring to the world. The Holy Spirit calls through the Gospel, the Gospel that is preached aright in her, mother church — Mother Mary —, the sound of her voice makes those called by the Holy Sprit jump for joy. (Lk 1:39-45, The Visitation story) Yet, once she has done her work, in word and sacrament bearing the Christ to the world, she no longer has any control. Sure, she beseeches the Father for the sake of the world in the name of the one she has brought forth but that is it. She watches and marvels what will happen next. 
  6. Yes, that all sounds heavily Catholic — Roman that is — but maybe they have a point. As Lutheran we made the church anywhere that the Gospel and Sacraments are properly administered. (AC VII) Very minimalist and very functional. It has a downside to look at it that way. If the church herself has no “God-bearing” function then she really is a voluntary association of like minded Christians and the mission of teaching and baptizing laid upon the apostles happens more by accident than by the very nature of the church. She must learn about herself from Mary and embrace the idea that she has a secret duty as a willing servant of the Lord. Once she has realized she is the servant of the Most High there really are no more could haves, would haves, or should haves. She is safe under the protection of the Lord, as are her children.
  7. We might also look at it from the side of each of us, the little sisters and brothers of Jesus that Church has born. In the Holy Eucharist we as Christians take in the Body and Blood of the Lord of the Church, the Christ. We too bear him with us as we depart to bring him to the places we roam. Yes, this Mary is somehow all of us as well. 
  8. A great sin lies before the church at all times. It lies before the individual as well. Russ had his finger on it some years back. What if the Gospel bearers become officious bureaucrats about the work that has been set before them? I deal with the members of the local Kingdom Hall on occasion. I think that that is what it would look like on a personal level. A transaction with a script that is playing itself out on my front porch. An agenda carefully developed and coached, presented while a supervisor stands behind to observe that it was done right. Yes, what becomes of church and Gospel when dealing with us becomes an exercise in dealing with the phone company where the clerk on the other side is judged not by how the customer is affected (negatively! I tell you that for nothing. Especially after 2 hours on the phone) but by how well the official screen script was read? There is a dehumanized character about these people who answer the phone or who come with pamphlet in hand to my porch unswayed by my often brilliant interjections that should have them change tack. They do not want to hear me. If they read me rightly, they still remain antiseptic about the interaction. It is the program that counts in the end, not me. 
  9. Mary had an encounter with an angel. That angel, more importantly the God behind that angel as Gabriel is merely the voice of God, had to take Mary serious when she objected. That angel gave both Mary and Zechariah a sign for the frailty of their souls to hold to. Our faith, active in evangelizing or passive in trusting receivership of God’s grace is always personal, somewhat organic, and personable. God seems to care for those who suffer his presence and call, so should his people. Yes, God choses to “let it be to Him,” as well. The crucifixion would not have happened otherwise. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Texts for Sunday, December 14th, 2014 Advent 3

First Reading: Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
  2to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
  3to provide for those who mourn in Zion — 
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, to display his glory.
  4They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
  8For I the LORD love justice,
I hate robbery and wrongdoing; 
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
  9Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
that they are a people whom the LORD has blessed.
  10I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
  11For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.

Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:16–24

16Rejoice always,  17pray without ceasing,  18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  19Do not quench the Spirit.  20Do not despise the words of prophets,  21but test everything; hold fast to what is good;  22abstain from every form of evil.
23May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  24The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

Gospel: John 1:6–8, 19–28

6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.  8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.  19This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"  20He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, "I am not the Messiah."  21And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" He answered, "No."  22Then they said to him, "Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"  23He said,
"I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
'Make straight the way of the Lord,'"
as the prophet Isaiah said.
  24Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.  25They asked him, "Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?"  26John answered them, "I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know,  27the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal."  28This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.