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.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Texts for Sunday, February 2nd, 2014; the Fourth Sunday of Epiphany

First Reading: Micah 6:1–8

Hear what the LORD says:
Rise, plead your case before the mountains,
and let the hills hear your voice.
  2Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the LORD,
and you enduring foundations of the earth;
for the LORD has a controversy with his people,
and he will contend with Israel.
  3"O my people, what have I done to you?
In what have I wearied you? Answer me!
  4For I brought you up from the land of Egypt,
and redeemed you from the house of slavery;
and I sent before you Moses,
Aaron, and Miriam.
  5O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised,
what Balaam son of Beor answered him,
and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal,
that you may know the saving acts of the LORD."
  6"With what shall I come before the LORD,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
  7Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?"
  8He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?\

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:18–31

18For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  19For it is written,
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."
  20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.  22For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom,  23but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,  24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  25For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength.
26Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;  28God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are,  29so that no one might boast in the presence of God.  30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption,  31in order that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

Gospel: Matthew 5:1–12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.  2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11"Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account  12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

hat the Text Says Matthew 5:1-12 - Pr. Fourman

Matthew: 5:1-12

The Sermon on the Mount serves as a covenant renewal document; about half the material is found in Luke, less in Mark. Some is identical to the other synoptic gospels, some similar. Although these chapters are clearly a compilation of Jesus' teachings by Matthew, they likely record an actual covenant renewal proclamation, perhaps a sermon by Jesus. As a covenant renewal document it reflects the format of Deuteronomy, alluding to the delivery of the Mosaic covenant on Sinai (ανεβη εις το ορος, "he went up to the mountain"). Its delivery is to the new Israel, the disciples, rather than τους οχλους, "the crowds."
In the New Testament the gospel (ευαγγελιον, literally "important news") encapsulates the restatement of the covenant, "I will be your God, you shall be my people". At first sight the Sermon on the Mount bears little resemblance to a proclamation of gospel, but it is Matthew's selection and arrangement of the tradition in chapters 5-7 that serves to reveal gospel. By his arrangement of Jesus' teachings Matthew reveals the mystery of grace, namely that a person's standing in the sight of God is gift and not by works of the law (Dumbrell The Logic of the Role of the Law in Matthew, Novum Testamentum, 23/1, 1981.)
The beatitudes are arranged in two groups of four, four look inward, four look outward. It is sometimes argued that they are ethical requirements for the present or eschatological blessings for the future but it is more likely they are statements of present fact that identify the qualities of a child of God living in the consequences of that relationship; and the disciples, representing a “New Israel” are μαρκαριοσ (fortunate) for being who they are. 

v1 καθισαντος (καθιζω) aor. part. they "sat down" – usually the teacher sits down to teach and οι μαθηταισ "the disciples" would stand, here it is the reverse.  (Every action has meaning in Matthew.)  So some argue that given the context, the beatitudes are for the disciples opnly; "blessed are you, the poor in spirit...." but the Greek does not spurt such specificity (although v11-12 does move to "you", meaning "you disciples" and not the generic ‘you’).

v2 ανοιξας το στομα aor. part. “opening the mouth” expressing action accompanying the verb "teach"; "he opened his mouth " εδιδασκεν (διδασκω) imperf. "to teach" them.

v3 makarioi adj. "blessed" - not the best translation; "fortunate" or "well off", possibly "happy” seem to be better – although Robert Schuller has forever destroyed any positive content for that word for the foreseeable future. Jesus is telling his disciples they are fortunate to be this way, fortunate to possess these qualities of life, because in possessing them they inherit God's promised kingdom. 
οι πτωχοι adj. "the poor" - those in total poverty, possessing nothing and with no means to earn a living other than through receiving alms – utterly dependent.  This in the conetx of God’s grace as Matthew refers to the poor τω πνευματι (α ατος) dat. "in spirit" - The dative is local – defining the kind of poverty - to be poor in spirit is to recognize one’s need for God. This beatitude has nothing to do with actual poverty (although the Lukan version may.)

v4 οι πενθουντες (πενθεω) part. "the mourning ones” serves as a substantive. It is possible that mourning is over sin is the intent, hence; "fortunate are those who are broken before God."
παρακληθησονται (παρακαλεω) fut. pas. "will be comforted" not the form, “are, will be”

v5 οι πραεις (πραυς) adj. "the humble, gentle, the self-effaced”. Those whoa re not ‘full of themselves”- the sense of not demanding from God but "submissive to His will.
κληρονομησουσιν την γην "[for they] will inherit the earth" and not from their own  meekness but God’s actions.  "They will receive what God has promised" TEV like in the ‘promised land’ or the ‘promised Messiah’.

v6 οι πεινωντες (πειναω) pres. part. "the hungering ones" as with "the thirsting ones" the participle as a substantive and they hunger not for food but for την δικαιοσυνην (η) "the righteousness/will of God”. Jesus is not speaking of social justice, but those who hunger to be set right before God. Jesus is speaking the Pauline language of "justification"in rteh forensic sense. Usually Jesus came at justification through parables, but the Sermon is an perfect example of how Jesus introduces righteousness apart from obedience to the law through teaching. 
χορτασθησονται (χορταζω) fut. pas. "will be satisfied to the full".

v7 οι ελεημονες (ων ονος) "the merciful ones" - the reciprocal nature of mercy is stressed in the New and the Old Testaments- the Lord's Prayer (which follows) is the classic example of this positive reciprocity, and this sets the beatitudes apart from the Deuteronomic mindset. 

v8 τη καρδια/ (α) dat. "[the pure] in heart" – a dative of location, the heart is the seat of the intellect.  Thoughts and actiosn were not disconnect in Jesus’ day as they aften are in oru own; which is why ouo will never hear jesu say, “thin k about it” – that is pure 20-th century,  He says “do this”. In order that they "will see [God]" an idiom meaning to "find oneself in God's presence."

v9 οι ειρηνοποιοι (ος) "peacemakers" - one who makes peace between warring sides. This is a hapax legomenon, clearly, Jesus is not thinking of those who into conflict resolution nor pacifists. In the end, it is likely Jesus is speaking of those who are no longer at war with God and His will. Such shall be called θεου (ος) gen. "[those] of God" – the genitive is relational; so “members of God's family”. For Matthew a baptismal allusion.

v10 οι δεδιωγμενοι (διωκω) perf. pas. part. "the persecuted ones" - persecuted. The perfect 
tense indicates persecution began in the past the consequences of which continue into the present. The meaning of the word is translated "persecute" in the NT actually means "to put to flight" or "to drive away" and comes from a military context.  But it also carries a positive sense, "to follow with haste or intensity of effort in order to catch up” so “to run after, chase after, pursue. hasten, press forward, press on ". 

v11 blessed are you οταν + subj. "when" - whenever - an indefinite temporal clause expressing 
general time ονειδισωσιν (ονειδιζω) aor. subj. "people insult/reproach”
ψευδομενοι (ψευδομαι) part. "falsely" – i.e. when they tell lies about you. The word is not present in many manuscripts and so may have been added to reinforce the evil nature of the slander. ενεκεν + gen. "because of /for the sake of [me]”. because of their testimony to Christ or more likely because of their identification with Christ.

v12 αγαλλιασθε (αγαλλιαω) imp. "be glad" οτι "because" a causal clause explaining why the disciples should rejoice and be glad ο μισθος "reward" i.e. divine approval. ουτως adv. "in the same way" - thus, so; a comparative, i,e, a persecuted believer stands in good company.

A Contemplative's Journey - Pr. Kruse

People are often unreasonable and self centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. 
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.  - Teresa of Calcutta

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for God will give them the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for God will comfort them.
"Blessed are the meek, for God has made them inheritors of the earth.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for God will 
  show it to them.
"Blessed are the merciful, for God will show them mercy.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for God will call them HIS children.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for God builds the kingdom of heaven through the work of the likes of them as was done in times past through the prophets.

Yes, I left one out - I conflated it into the last one - and, yes, I resolved the passive voice into an active voice and I identify the actor: God who through Jesus is mending creation. 

The Beatitudes are merely an introduction to the sermon on the mount. What is that sermon for? Based on where it is preached, right after the call of the disciples, it would seem that the point of it is to introduce to the newly formed group around Jesus how they will work and “be the light” that will accomplish Jesus’ and the Father’s purpose so they will cause glory to be given to the Father by their work. ( Matt 5:16)
Maybe calling them “merely” an introduction is not fair, but they are a summary of the Jesus way of doing the church’s work, and, yes, in Matthew, Jesus did come to establish a church to carry on for him. (Mark Powell) As such, along with the sermon they introduce, they are glimpse into doing church, or at least they ought to be. 
So what is the church to be? “Poor in Spirit” meaning not of high rank in clout or as one who has lost honorable status. She must not have clout of her own. Why? Because she must be dependent on the one who is her benefactor. She never argues her own case. She always argues Heaven’s case with God standing by her as guarantor of her words. His honor carries the argument and day, not the church’s. Prophets do the same thing It is not their words but the Lord’s that they speak for which they are persecuted. Of and for these two, the kingdom of Heaven is forged. 
In her work, which will bring her sufficient hardship to “mourn” her existence,the church is to have only one consolation or comfort: God. She shall, as the sermon later says, seek the kingdom of God and in doing that she shall have all. (Matt 6:33)
Mother Church must be obedient, pliable, and unresisting to the will of her master. She has no power or influence inherent in herself. She cannot conquer the earth. She has no standing todo that. Unless the Lord works this in here. The spread of the Faith is not the church’s source of pride. It is the Father’s glory, not hers. (Matt 5:16) She will see the conquest of the world by the Faith when she does the will of her master.
The church has seen the sin of the world and longs for the day that something be done about it. She hungers for a resolution. That resolution can only be found in one place and can only have one source: God and Heaven. Only there will it be seen and only from there will come the display of it: Jesus.
She will also be changed, this church. Powerless, beset by peril, surrendered to the Father’s will, and longing for better, she will see change, but first in herself. The result of her discipleship to Jesus, God with us, is that she will become merciful. God is showing her mercy and she will learn it from the life of Jesus, echoed in her own travels. She knows the sins of the world and her own. (Matt 7:3-5) She knows that God’s will is mercy because she has seen Jesus who came not to condemn or destroy but to show mercy and save.
She will also find that her heart will, in daily living, be purified. How will she see God? Maybe in a number of ways: First, she will come to see God in Jesus. She becomes church in seeing him for what he is: Surely, this is the Son of God. (Matt 27:54) But she will also come to see that very Jesus in the world after he ascends. She will expect him in the poor, the sick, and the persecuted or she will prove herself un-leadable by her own master. (Matt 25:33ff)  Having learned mercy, by showing mercy without reservation, she will find her Lord in unexpected places, without knowing that she has seen. Yet her longing will keep her going and she will, finally, see Heaven. 
She will find herself standing in apocalyptic circumstances holding nothing but a cross, her feet planted on a pavement strewn with stones thrown in anger, Molotov Cocktails at the ready in front of her, riot guns pointed at her back holding warring parties apart in hope of fostering peace. She will and can do that because she is on no side but God’s, expects no mercy or consolation but from God should things go badly, and she will be recognized as God’s true representative, God’s children. 
She also expects no reward but from God and neither is her peacemaking limited to worldly matter. She will contend for peace on earth but her call is to baptize and teach and ear the world to peace with God by showing it Jesus and by giving glory to God. (Matt 28:18)

They are prayed at Lent, these Beatitudes, as part of Morning prayer. How fitting, for it is in being drawn into the heart of God that we find ourselves. It is in this journey that we realize our place in the universe, that we gather what actually has value, over what we actually have sway. Lent is to be that journey into the Heart of God. Regrettable, many would take that trip and stay. But that is not  choice for a disciple, like the ones who sit at Jesus’ feet as he speaks the sermon on the mound. Contemplatives and Mystics know the danger of longing for union. Luther knew it. The happy exchange Luther speaks of in Freedom of a Christian is not a goal in itself. The last part of “Freedom” is what the result of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost should be. Luther concludes that once the Holy Spirt has brought the exchange of sin for righteousness, Christians will naturally be drawn to serve the neighbor. God has been their salvation and God will be their cause. He already is their Lord. They do not labour to become his subjects. Now, meek as they are, they labour. 

This is the point of the flow of the Beatitudes as well. We are drawn in so we might be sent. In that way maybe they deserve to be prayed and contemplated. They are a Christian’s journey. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Texts for Sunday, January 26th, 2014

First Reading: Isaiah 9:1–4

But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
2The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness — 
on them light has shined.
  3You have multiplied the nation,
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
  4For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.\

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10–18

10Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.  11For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters.  12What I mean is that each of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ."  13Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?  14I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,  15so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name.  16(I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)  17For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.
18For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Gospel: Matthew 4:12–23

12Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.  13He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali,  14so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
15"Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles — 
  16the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned."
  17From that time Jesus began to proclaim, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." 
18As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea — for they were fishermen.  19And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people."  20Immediately they left their nets and followed him.  21As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them.  22Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

hat the text says; Matt 4:12-23 - Pr. Fourman

Matthew 4:12-23

4:12  Jesus commences his ministry, v12-25: 
ακουσας (ακουω) aor. part. "when [Jesus] heard" - adverbial, probably temporal, as NIV. The time lag between Jesus' temptation and the commencement of his ministry in Galilee could well be around one year, but Matthew makes no attempt to fill it out.
παρεδοθη (παραδιδωμι) aor. pas. "had been put in prison" = arrested.
ανεχωρησεν (αναχωρεω) aor. "he returned" [into Galilee]. Presumably the move is political, Jesus could be confused as one of John's disciples, although Galilee, as is Perea where John was arrested, is in the territory ruled by Herod Antipas.

v13 καταλιπων (καταλειπω) aor. part. "leaving [Nazareth]". This participle, as with ελθων, "having come", is attendant circumstance expressing action accompanying the verb κατωκησεν, "he settled." Jesus moved to establish his headquarters in Capernaum, a larger and more significant town with a large Gentile population..
ελθων (ερχομαι) aor. part. "he went" - having come to. Attendant circumstance participle, "he then left Nazareth and came to Capernaum."
την παραθαλασσιαν adj. "which was by the lake" - although it might mean "the way to the sea", v15, means "on the way to the Great Sea" = the Mediterranean. These little historical throw aways fascinate me.  Why does Mt. feel a need to set Capernaum apart from some other Capernaum?  God only knows, but the need to do so and illustrates the kind of inferential authenticity of such texts. 
ινα + subj. "to [fulfill]" - forming a purpose clause, "he did this so that ...", 
το ηηθεν (λεγω) aor. pas. part. "what was said" serves as a substantive.
v15 Isaiah 9:1-2: Matthew follows the LXX in structure but reflects a particular Hebrew text 
known to him. Isaiah 8:23-9:2 addresses Israel's exile under Assyrian rule and speaks of a coming descendent of David who will serve as a sign of the people's liberation. As far as Matthew is concerned this liberation has already been realized in Christ.
θαλασσης (α ης) "[the way] of the sea" - an objective genitive i.e. "a thoroughfare that leads to the great sea." Blomberg notes that this construct reflects the perspective of foreigners from the north east heading through Israel to the Mediterranean  - as with the Assyrians' invasion Isaiah predicted.
περαν + gen. "along, across" the Jordan = "east of the Jordan" i.e. Galilee, "on the way to the Mediterranean sea.
των εθνων (ος) gen. "[Galilee] of the Gentiles" adjectival, = "Heathen Galilee". Jews only made up some 50% of the population of Galilee, but this may not be why he quotes Isaiah. Jesus may be working primarily in the mixed population area, but his ministry is to Israel. 

v16 ο λαος "the people" - understood as Israel in exile, scattered among the Gentiles, lost.
ο καθημενος (καθημαι) pres. part. "living" sitting, residing, settling; viz."the people who live in σκοτει (ος) "darkness" - Possibly moral bankruptcy, a common image, but more likely the darkness of living outside God's grace.
ειδεν (οραω) aor. "have seen" - use here of a punctiliar aorist indicates the people have already witnessed the realization of Isaiah's prophecy in Christ.
ανετειλεν (ανατελλω) aor. "has dawned" rather than the LXX's "shine" = Matthew's way of pointing to Jesus as the sign of Israel's coming liberation.

v17 απο τοτε "from that time on" – a temporal prepositional phrase signifying an important division in the gospel.
κηρυσσειν (κηρυσσω) pres. inf. "to preach" - as with λεγειν,  a complementary infinitive, completing the sense of the verb "began". The impression is that Jesus takes over John's preaching work, including the message, and this is a summary of that message. On the other hand, some argue that "began" is an Semeticism suggesting either the beginning of a continuous action or a fresh start. So choose either" then Jesus continued preaching" or "Jesus set about his preaching mission for real."
μετανοειτε (μετανοεω) pres. imp. "repent". This Greek word comes from the agricultural arena, and it means, literally, to turn a team of oxen from one path to another.  Much can be made of this image, but the one aspect often overlooked is that a team of oxen tends not to turn itself – like sheep, the image of an ox is not meant to be flattering!
των ουρανων (ος) gen. "[the kingdom] of heaven" Matthew's designation is used out of respect for the divine name, the genitive would be classified as adjectival, possessive, since the kingdom belongs to God. The kingdom is God's promised eschatological rule, (though not "fulfilled" as in Mark) that brings with it blessing upon the repentant and curses to the unrepentant (cf. Isa.24:23, 52:7).
ηγγικεν (εγγιζω) perf. "is near"  as sense of "nearness" is best, possibly "inaugurated", but Matthew sees the kingdom as future in time in the narrative. The best English translation for this word is “palpable” – but hardly anyone uses this word anymore; so... 

v18 Matthew records the call of some of Jesus' disciples (18-22). These disciples/laborers are called to prepare the world for the coming kingdom. Interestingly, a disciple would usually chose their own teacher and not the other way around.
περιπατων (περιπατεω) pres. part. "as Jesus was walking" – i.e. "while walking beside της Γαλιλαιας (α) gen. "[the sea] which is called Galilee" although often called "the Sea of Tiberius" so maybe "the sea located in Galilee."
τον λεγομενον (λεγω) pres. pas. part. "called".
βαλλοντας (βαλλω) pres. part. "they were casting" serves as an object complement to Peter and Andrew, so "he saw Peter an Andrew making a cast into the lake". In other words they were (idiomatically) minding their own business.

v19 δευτε adv. "come" - used as an imperative by Matthew 6 times, lots of imperatives in this section.
οπισω μου "follow me" - [come] after me, literally come ‘behind me”.
λεγει (λεγω) pres. "[Jesus] said" - says. Mark uses the aorist but Matthew underlines the ongoing action of the disciples mending their nets and Jesus speaking to them.
ποιησω (ποιεω) fut. "I will make" the first use of the future tense, so this points beyond the story, or at least to the end (28:16-20)
ανθρωπων (ος) gen. "[fishers] of men" – yes, I know the intent is people, but substituting our cultural arrogance for another’s is not better. The idiomatic translation is "I will teach you how to cast out and bring in people instead of fish", it is meant as a promotion of action, and it is meant as Jesus using the life circumstances of these men to impress upon them that in following him, they are already equipped to do the work he is asking of them.  And it must have been understood it in this that way, as there is no mystical regeneration, they simply drop what they are doing and follow him.  In their world it is the same thing as saying; “Okay, this makes sense to me.”

v20 ευθεως "at once" – immediately; one of the few places Matthew imports Mark’s sense of urgency. Commentators will read more into this action than is stated in the text: discipleship involves leaving all and following Jesus, but while the action is immediate, the text does not support abandonment. And the evidence is that those who owned property, including nest and boats, retained that property (cf., John 21 and Acts 5:4). 
αφεντες (αφιημι) aor. part. "they left" - possibly (and to be fair the least likely) they "abandoned", but best they just "left what they were doing... and 
ηκολουθησαν (ακολουθεω) "followed" possibly "accompanied", but obviously "joined him as a disciple". This word derives from the Greek ακυο meaning “to hear” – so literally they ‘heard and responded” to the invitation. 
v21 probaV (probainw) aor. part. "going on".
τον του Ζεβεδαιου (ος) gen. "[James] son of Zebedee" another interesting historical tidbit, why the qualifier?  Perhaps, and likely, at that time Zebedee was more widely known than either of his two sons; likely a local business man of some means.
καταρτιζοντας (καταρτιζω) pres. part. "preparing [their nets]" - repairing, mending, equipping.

v22 αφεντες "they left" – literally ‘remitted’ – it comes form legal lexicon, meaning “to renounce your claim”- attendant circumstance expressing action accompanying the main verb "followed". Mark softens the leaving in that the brothers leave their father with the hired help, none-the-less, leaving the security of a family business illustrates one cost of following.

v23 περιηγεν (περιαγω) imperf. "Jesus went about” expressing ongoing action. He was ‘on the move” – “set loose upon the world”.
διδασκων (διδασκω) pres. part. "teaching" – the purpose and content of his ministry – first to his disciples and then to others.  This along with "preaching and healing" is what he "went about" doing.  There is probably little difference between "teaching" and "preaching" as teaching is what a person would do in a synagogue, whereas "preaching" is what someone would do outdoors. There is little evidence Jesus ministry was synagogue-bound, but given that the synagogue is the natural place where spiritual matters were addressed, it is not unreasonable to assume that Jesus exercised his ministry in the local synagogue until he was barred from doing so. 
τον ευαγγελιον "the good news" - the important message a term borrowed from Greek military history, at the Battle of Marathon, the messenger ran 26 miles to Athens to halt the evacuation with the “τον ευαγγελιον" that the Greeks had defeated the Persians on land and sea.  Then, having delivered this astoundingly good news, he drops dead at the gates!  The term survived to Matthew’s day with lesser import, often as “important news” but not news that was necessarily good. The word was commonly used by Paul, but only 4 times by Matthew, so for Matthew, the “good news” was likely the preaching 
της βασιλειας (α) gen. "of the kingdom", i.e., the inauguration of the eschatological reign of God.

πασαν adj. "[healing] ALL [disease and sickness]" - as Jesus put it "if I by the finger of God cast out demons you know that the kingdom of God has come upon you." The overcoming of this world and its brokenness goes hand-in-hand with the realization of God's reign on earth εν τω/ λαω "among the people" or “in the people” as both would refer to Israel.

Matthew 4:12- 23 - Pr. Kruse

And at the Festivus dinner, you gather your family around, and tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year! - Frank Costanza:

You do not get to Galilee on a straight road from the river Jordan and from hearing the voice of God saying: “This is my Son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:17) Between those two places lies the desert. It is quiet and peaceful there but one has to deal with oneself and with all the voices that would question ones existence and place in the universe, ones purpose and value. 
I go to auctions now and again. It is a rural sort of past time. I like looking at workshops that have been given up for whatever reason. Many are well stocked with tools that have not seen use in a long time. Yes, some tool stocks are hoarded by people who have attended too many auctions themselves. Some, mine included, are stocked with multiples for a very embarrassing reason: I have not used a particular specialized tool for so long, that I have forgotten I own it and I managed to buy another one at a sale or auction. 
I doubt, from the looks of thing in some places, that the tools were ever used there. The workshop just does not suggest it. It was like a machine that just ran. It did not do anything. It was. Yes, that is the end of that sentence. The tools it contained were not bought with a purpose in mind. Their presence was the justification of their purchase that eventually makes it possible for the rest of us, auction number in hand, to make a similar mistake as they are offered to us to likewise store them until our estates auction off the stuff our heirs have as little use for as we did. Just being there, is not the definition of a tool. Is it the definition of a disciple? I note that tools do not do well just being - they rust. Disciples . . ?
What is a disciple and what is one good for and why should the Son of the Most High have any? American and Westerners in general tend to join groups or associations of various natures for personal reasons, often limited reasons and they leave when personal satisfaction with the contribution of the group to their interests or person (ego) wanes. (Pilch 1995, 99) First Century Middle Eastern coalitions or factions are more about loyalty to the central figure or, in looser coalition form, they are about common goals as in: Let us, the Jonah and Zebbedee clans, fish together. In the latter, just walking away from the coalition was still a betrayal that one did not undertake lest one be seen as an untrustworthy partner to future co venturists.  
To become a disciple of Jesus was a matter of saying: I agree with Jesus and his goals. His grievances are mine and I will help address them. To follow him, it was necessary to have grasped what he was about. As we saw in John 1 on Epiphany 2-A,  Andrew and the “other disciple” spent the day with Jesus before they became disciples of his. They came and they “saw” what his work was going to be and they were convinced. They also had been dismissed with their master’s blessing as he sent them after Jesus. 
So, we know a few things about the calling of the disciples here. They must have know Jesus and the “grievance” (Pilch’s term) he hoped to address and second, Jesus must have had a grievance to address, a program, that he was proposing in the first place. As he calls and as they follow, they are not merely “learners” though that goes on and is the meaning of the word for disciple. As soon as they set foot to follow Jesus they commit to act at his direction. The influence of the master over the disciples should be obvious in Jesus’ renaming of Simon. The relationship is of a nature that Simon becomes Peter and Levi becomes Matthew at his direction. We see the proper attitude of obedience owed the leader with John the Baptist’s disciples. He sends them after Jesus and they take the cue. We also see it in Matt 10 where Jesus, having done the needed explaining of the program in the Sermon on the Mount, and having modeled the content of the mission in his first healing and preaching  journey (Matt 8:1 - 9:34), now sends out the disciples to do likewise and address his “grievance” in the manner he has set out for them. Disciples “do” at the direction of the master, they never just hang out. The neo Fordean refrain: “What are you going to do now that you don’t have anything you have to do,” would probably be a total puzzle to Simon, James, and John. You “do” have something “to do: Exactly what the master told you to do.”
As we talk about discipleship this weekend, and we know we will, it might be interesting to see if we can recover the idea of “obedience” that the term originally entailed. 
But back to Frank Costanza: You do not get from the Judean wilderness to the shores of Capernaum without some time in the desert. We do not actually read the story of the Temptation of Jesus until the first Sunday in Lent but it matters in this story. In the desert, three temptations are transcended and dismissed by Jesus who does so by having perfectly appropriated (easily done if you are the author) the law and the prophets which he then uses as responses to the tempter’s overtures. He returns and preaches: “Repent! The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Note, the words: “believe the good news,” which could have been take in from Mark, are not added to Jesus’ sermon here. 
Jesus comes out of the desert, having seen the Father’s grievance against the people and now drafts disciples, a faction, a posse, to battle these. These disciples will help fight on Jesus’, and therefore on God’s, side to combat what the three temptations represent. The sermon on the mount will spell out how they will do this, as do the other four great discourses in Matthew. The power to accomplish it will only come from the resurrection of Jesus after which the disciples’ call will be repeated as he sends them to apply his program to all nations. (Matt 28:19) As the discourse in Matt 18 suggests, the work will be done by the church, the community of disciples where he is the focus and leader, the mediator of both truth and relationship, and the judge of actions taken or omitted. (Matt 25) 

Phil Falk just turned 87 - I think. He says he can see 100 and wouldn’t mind getting there. He might. When Phil was ordained, a group of pastors gathered around him and, in ALC fashion, all had to say a blessing. One of them, the last one to speak - a tough spot in any  ordination since all the good biblical and traditional blessings have be used by all the others - made up an apt blessing: “May the Lord work you hard.” Phil reports that, it being a solemn occasion, the man spoke the words with much force and sincerity. Just imagine it for a moment. 
But are these words not true for all who would be baptized and be counted as disciples? Are they not true and applicable to all who show up and want to join the church? Our culture asks: “What is in it for me,” all too quickly. The idea that one would join a church to do work that the Lord commanded, commended and needs done, has faded into the background. “Will I be entrained,” “will I be spiritually enriched,” Will the people welcome and appreciate me,” “will I find enlightenment,” “will I be proud that I belong,” “will someone hold my hand when I am in trouble,” - do any of these sound familiar or must we go on? God might want to grab the Festivus pole and proclaim grievance with the world but, you know, “I have grievance with the church; it is just not . . relevant to my life.” What a terrible reversal of judgement this is. It misses the point that God’s workshop to address the ills of the world is relevant by virtue of the craftsman who established it. It is a denial that anything is actually wrong as longs we can find some “good life.”
Any student of Matthew would probably be able to pick out where and how the stories of the Temptation have their failed resistance exemplified in the above not so hypothetical dialog above. Matthew 25, 18, or 10 or the entire Sermon on the Mound might also give rich reply to such mutterings. To be called and added to the church is to be put to work in the ongoing work of God to address things gone grievously wrong through the sin of humanity. One has to eventually find ones place in God’s workshop as a well used and worn tool. 

So, what will you do now that you know that God will work you hard? Maybe that is a question all disciples ought to meditate upon. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Texts for January 12th, 2012 The Baptism of Jesus

First Reading: Isaiah 42:1–9

Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
  2He will not cry or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
  3a bruised reed he will not break,
and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
  4He will not grow faint or be crushed
until he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his teaching.
  5Thus says God, the LORD,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people upon it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
  6I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness,
I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people, 
a light to the nations,
  7to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
  8I am the LORD, that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to idols.
  9See, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth,
I tell you of them.

Psalm 29

Second Reading: Acts 10:34–43

34Then Peter began to speak to them: "I truly understand that God shows no partiality,  35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.  36You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ — he is Lord of all.  37That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced:  38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.  39We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree;  40but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear,  41not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.  42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead.  43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

Gospel: Matthew 3:13–17

13Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him.  14John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"  15But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented.  16And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.  17And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."