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.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Text for June 29th, 2014 - the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost

Note: June 29th can also be celebrated as St Peter and St Paul this year as the festival has its day on June 30th. I chose not to do that. My partners did otherwise so there is only one commentary for you today. Here is the regular text for the day.

First Reading: Jeremiah 28:5–9

5Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the LORD;  6and the prophet Jeremiah said, "Amen! May the LORD do so; may the LORD fulfill the words that you have prophesied, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the LORD, and all the exiles.  7But listen now to this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people.  8The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms.  9As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the LORD has truly sent the prophet." 

Second Reading: Romans 6:12–23

12Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions.  13No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness.  14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
15What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!  16Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?  17But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted,  18and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.  19I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
20When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  21So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death.  22But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life.  23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Gospel: Matthew 10:40–42

40Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.  41Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous;  42and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple — truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward."

Follow the Spirit - Pr. Kruse

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me,”  OK, I play, Matthew, I have read the Gospel of John, I know how this string thinking works. So, If someone welcomes the disciple in mission, they welcome Jesus. Got that.
“and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.”  In good Gospel of John fashion, “I and the Father are one” so welcoming Jesus is equal to welcoming the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Trinity works. Got it.
“ Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward; “ So, if you welcome what the prophet has to say, assuming the prophet is not Ezekiel after he saw the vision of God — wheels with in wheels and all — and is mute for the three weeks as he stays at your house by the Kabar River, then you will benefit from what the prophet has to say. Got it. 
“and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; “  So, if you welcome a good person you might learn something from them concerning living according to God’s holy will from them as you are in their presence. Got it.
“ and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple — truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” So, what is that reward? In the first saying it was Jesus, the second, if it is a second since it really seems to be a single phrase with the previous saying, it was the totality of God, the third it was a word from on high, the third it was the encouragement of right living. But what is the reward here? And who are the “least” or “little” ones? And who is the disciple? The giver or the receiver of the cup of cold water? 
We are still in a continuous speech of Jesus. Our text is part of the missionary discourse. Here, the disciples have been sent to heal and proclaim. Matthew lists the names and calls them ”disciples” in 10:1. Jesus has told them they are to not acquire pay or supplies as they go about their duties. (10:8b-10) They are therefore without cold water or the cup to drink it from. The context suggests that the disciples might be the recipients of the kindness of others here. The parallel in Mark 9:41 is much clearer here: “For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.”
Somehow, being part of advancing the mission of the disciples, even though it is not clear whether the givers are recipients of the mission at the time of their extension of kindness, will not be forgotten in heaven. Some will gain favor in heaven though they will not know it. That also is the subject of Matthew 25: The sheep and the goats. The difference between the two chapters is that one uses: “These Little ones,” and the other uses: “The least.” 
In a way, this is a commissioning akin to that of Abraham: “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:3) The presence to the church in mission is a blessing to the world not just because it proclaims salvation but because simple hospitable interaction with it shall bring blessing. “Ah,” you say,” but there are no condemnations.” Well, yes there are. They are in 10:15. The Sodom and Gomorrah stuff. And again, the matter is about receiving the disciples and not receiving the disciples, just as it is here. Hospitality matters. 

I am very much aware that the last verse about the cold water has been turned around in meaning by years of use. It is used as encouragement to be in action, social action, if only in the simplest of ways. That use is not inappropriate in the sense of Matthew since chapter 25 encourages simple action not just on disciples or the church but on everyone. As a matter of fact, it insists that judgement in heaven is based on how people behave with the least of society and how they behave when no one is watching and no reward is sought or promised. “Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks,” says Jesus “By your careless words you shall be known.” (12:33-37)
No matter what tack one takes with verse 42, in Matthew it is a matter of the one with the cup held out to the stranger being a good tree. The cup is merely evidence that a good heart, a hospitable heart, is beating within them. The question in either case ought to be: What heart beats within us? How can a heart be changed? Can it be done at all? The story of the rich young man asks that question bluntly: Who then can be saved? (19:16-26) Both chapter 12 and 19 give hint that God indeed can effect that change. Only God can do so. (19:26) God can clean evil spirits and replace them with the Holy Spirit. As a matter of fact, it must happen. (12:43-45)
You see, it never was the church’s mission in the first place. It was and is the mission of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Being received as missionaries is a prerequisite that only the Holy Spirit can accomplish. In other words, the ground that the missionary walks on is prepared by heaven itself. If the missionary is not received hospitably, it is merely a matter of the place not being ready. Jesus warns the disciples of this when he tells them not to go among the Samaritans or Gentiles. (10:5) Those places are just not prepared — yet. Time will come.

If one was to be in a church in mission one might hear this as encouragement. The ground is prepared for you. Follow the hospitality for there God has surely made ready for you to be. You are not alone. You’re not Smokey the Evangelist. It is not true that only you can save the heathen. God does that. But, and this is important, you have a part to play. Do it confidently. The soil preparation, the seed, and harvest are all God’s. All you are asked to, please, do is toss seed where they receive you. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Texts for Sunday June 22, 2014

First Reading: Jeremiah 20:7–13

7O LORD, you have enticed me,
and I was enticed;
you have overpowered me,
and you have prevailed.
I have become a laughingstock all day long;
everyone mocks me.
  8For whenever I speak, I must cry out,
I must shout, "Violence and destruction!"
For the word of the LORD has become for me
a reproach and derision all day long.
  9If I say, "I will not mention him,
or speak any more in his name,"
then within me there is something like a burning fire
shut up in my bones;
I am weary with holding it in,
and I cannot.
  10For I hear many whispering:
"Terror is all around!
Denounce him! Let us denounce him!"
All my close friends
are watching for me to stumble.
"Perhaps he can be enticed,
and we can prevail against him,
and take our revenge on him."
  11But the LORD is with me like a dread warrior;
therefore my persecutors will stumble,
and they will not prevail.
They will be greatly shamed,
for they will not succeed.
Their eternal dishonor
will never be forgotten.
  12O LORD of hosts, you test the righteous,
you see the heart and the mind;
let me see your retribution upon them,
for to you I have committed my cause.
  13Sing to the LORD;
praise the LORD!
For he has delivered the life of the needy
from the hands of evildoers.

Second Reading: Romans 6:1b–11

bShould we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?  2By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it?  3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  4Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.  6We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.  7For whoever has died is freed from sin.  8But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.  10The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.  11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Gospel: Matthew 10:24–39

24A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master;  25it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!
26So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.  27What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.  28Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  30And even the hairs of your head are all counted.  31So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
32Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven;  33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.
34Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
35For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
  36and one's foes will be members of one's own household.
  37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;  38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

The Text in Greek - Pr. Fourman

 Matthew 10:26-39

26Μὴ οὖν φοβηθῆτε αὐτούς: οὐδὲν γάρ ἐστιν κεκαλυμμένον ὃ οὐκἀποκαλυφθήσεται, καὶ κρυπτὸν ὃ οὐ γνωσθήσεται. 27ὃ λέγω ὑμῖν ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ, εἴπατε ἐν τῷ φωτί: καὶ ὃεἰς τὸ οὖς ἀκούετε, κηρύξατε ἐπὶ τῶν δωμάτων. 28καὶ μὴ φοβεῖσθε ἀπὸ τῶν ἀποκτεννόντων τὸ σῶμα, τὴνδὲ ψυχὴν μὴ δυναμένων ἀποκτεῖναι: φοβεῖσθε δὲ μᾶλλον τὸν δυνάμενον καὶ ψυχὴν καὶ σῶμα ἀπολέσαιἐν γεέννῃ. 29οὐχὶ δύο στρουθία ἀσσαρίου πωλεῖται; καὶ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν οὐ πεσεῖται ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ἄνευ τοῦπατρὸς ὑμῶν. 30ὑμῶν δὲ καὶ αἱ τρίχες τῆς κεφαλῆς πᾶσαι ἠριθμημέναι εἰσίν. 31μὴ οὖν φοβεῖσθε: πολλῶνστρουθίων διαφέρετε ὑμεῖς. 32Πᾶς οὖν ὅστις ὁμολογήσει ἐν ἐμοὶ ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὁμολογήσωκἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν [τοῖς] οὐρανοῖς: 33ὅστις δ' ἂν ἀρνήσηταί με ἔμπροσθεντῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἀρνήσομαι κἀγὼ αὐτὸν ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν [τοῖς] οὐρανοῖς. 34Μὴ νομίσητεὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν: οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν. 35ἦλθον γὰρ διχάσαιἄνθρωπον κατὰ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ καὶ θυγατέρα κατὰ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτῆς καὶ νύμφην κατὰ τῆς πενθερᾶςαὐτῆς, 36καὶ ἐχθροὶ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οἱ οἰκιακοὶ αὐτοῦ. 37Ὁ φιλῶν πατέρα ἢ μητέρα ὑπὲρ ἐμὲ οὐκ ἔστιν μουἄξιος: καὶ ὁ φιλῶν υἱὸν ἢ θυγατέρα ὑπὲρ ἐμὲ οὐκ ἔστιν μου ἄξιος: 38καὶ ὃς οὐ λαμβάνει τὸν σταυρὸναὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκολουθεῖ ὀπίσω μου, οὐκ ἔστιν μου ἄξιος. 39ὁ εὑρὼν τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἀπολέσει αὐτήν, καὶ ὁἀπολέσας τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ εὑρήσει αὐτήν

26“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.34“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. 37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

v26 μη ... φοβηθητε (φοβεομαι) aor. subj. "do not be afraid of" - a subjunctive of prohibition.
αυτους pro. "them" - Within the context likely the religious authorities (Pharisees, etc.)
εστιν κεκαλυμμενον (καλυπτω) perf. pas. part. "concealed/veiled” an adverbial, concessive; so "there is nothing so carefully hidden that it: ο ουκ αποκαλυφθησεται (αποκαλυπτω) fut. pas. "will not be disclosed" – a theological passive indicating that God is the one who will reveal.

v27 υμιν dat. pro. "[what I tell] you" – a dative of indirect object εν σκοτια + dat. "in the dark" i.e. in private τω/ φωτι (ως ωτος) "[in] the light" i.e. in public.
ο εις το ους ακουετε "what is whispered in our ear" - the singular supports the one-to-one nature of the message, so "whispered" is best. Unlike the persecutors who hide their evil motivations behind a cloak of self-righteousness, disciples must proclaim the message from a public pulpit.

v28 των αποκτεννοντων (αποκτεινω) gen. part. "the ones killing” 
μη δυναμενων "the ones who has no power
αποκτειναι (αποκτεινω) aor. inf. "to kill”.
δε μαλλον "rather" – a preferred alternative 
τον δυναμενον (δυναμαι) " One who HAS power" –God the final judge, not humans, is to be feared, (al la Luther: obeyed, respected, trusted).
απολεσαι (απολλυμι) aor. inf. "to destroy" - completing the verbal sense of "being able." "Destroy" here in the sense of "cast into hell" a power reserved to God, casting a person into ‘outer darkness” not a “soul”.
ψυχην (η)  literally “life or inner life” referring to the divine spark only God can extinguish.
γεεννη (α) "rubbish pit" the valley outside of the walls of Jerusalem which served as the city dump where trash and occasionally the dead body of one too poor to have a family tomb were dumped and burned.  Matthew’s exact reference here is unclear; it could be ‘hades’ or ‘sheol’ (abode of the dead) or least likely “hell” (some place of punishment) Matthew’s intent is unclear and our subsequent translations unhelpful!

v29 ουχι "[are] not" - used for a question expecting a positive answer.
πωλειται (πωλεω) pres. pas. "sold" - offered for sale.
ασσαριου (ον) gen. "for a penny" – the Roman ασ was one sixteenth of a drachma the normal pay for a day laborer.
ανευ + gen. "apart from [your Father's care]" - probably in a less direct sense "knowledge". The sparrow is the cheapest bird sold in the market - poultry of the poor.

v30 υμων gen. pro. "you” emphatic- "as for you",
της κεφαλης (η) gen. "the hairs of your head".
ηριθμημεναι (αριθμεω) perf. pas. part. "[are all] numbered/counted” and really - who ouldgoto all that trouble?  (Although for some this is easier than for others!)

v31 φοβεισθε (φοβεω) imp. "don't be afraid" a second time.
διαφερετε (διαφερω) pres. "worth more" – literally to “differentiate” carries the sense of “worth more than”.
πολλων στρουθιων (ον) gen. " many sparrows" - ablative expressing comparison.

v32 ομολογησει (ομολογεω) fut. "acknowledge/confess/promise” literally to “publicly declare allegiance" although the word allows for something softer like "if anyone should declare himself for me". Given the context, the situation may be the "acknowledgement" in a court case or in the face of a hostile crowd although a more modern “soft acceptance" cannot be ruled out as in the public affirmation of a Creed.
εν εμοι "in me” – a Semeticism, a dative of advantage, "whoever declares themselves for me".
εμπροσθεν + gen. "in front of” special in the sense of a confession before legal authorities or in public worship.

v33 αρνησηται (αρνεομαι) aor. subj. "disowns" – literally to shun (the Amish solution at last!).

v34 μη νομισητε (νομιζω) aor. subj. "do not suppose" – a subjunctive of prohibition.
ηλθον (ερχομαι) aor. "I have come" – curiously Jesus does not use the more common Semitic formulation “I was born” cf. John.
βαλειν (βαλλω) aor. inf. "throw, cast, put, place” the infinitive here expresses purpose; "in order to bring." The context defines the meaning, given that the word doesn't really mean "bring" although this may be a bit light applied to "sword". So perhaps "I did not come to bring peace, but to wield a μαχαιραν (a) "sword" an idiom for strife.

v35 διχασαι (διχαζω) aor. inf.  literally "to cut into two” – an act of overt violence. There is no subtlety intended here. . Division is a consequence of Jesus' coming. It is interesting to note that in Rabbinic tradition division was an evil that served as a sign of the coming messiah.

v36 του ανθρωπου (ος) gen. "a man's" εχθροι (ος) "enemies" normally used of being at odds with someone, expressed strongly, "enemy", more softly, "opponent". 
οι οικιακοι (ος) "will be the members of [his own] household" – i.e. the extended household including servants and hangers on – a rather important distinction.  The more modern translation might be ‘neighborhood, church, workplace, community”

v37 ο φιλων (φιλεω) part. "anyone who loves" A distinction is often drawn between the more common New Testament word αγαπαω  (to show compassion) and  φιλεω (to show affection). But in truth in Κοινε there is little difference; it seems the point loyalty, familial relationships are important, but must not be idolized
αξιος adj. "worthy [of me]" - show oneself to be fit.
v38 ου λαμβανει (λαμβανω) pres. "[whoever] does not take up/receive”. While most translators are inclined toward taking up rather than receiving (a remove from legalism) one cannot escape the obvious that no one volunteers for crucifixion - no one (including Jesus).  One might be willing to risk it as an abstract consequence, but this is no Monty Python movie where everyone ends up on a cross singing “Always look on the bright side of life”.
σταυρον (ος) "cross" –  the upright pole upon which the horizontal member was hung. This must be used in a figurative sense as it is a very strong image, given that people at the time would have seen criminals picking up a timber cross-member and carrying it to the place of their execution. It is an image of the one-way road to death but wow, it seems so much outside the experience of most of those hearing (and given Matthew’s community – Antioch - not normative). While crucifixion was a Roman practice, I was not common to all locations, usually only in those places where brigands were common, like Judea or Southern Italy during the slave revolt, or Rome itself when Nero was in charge.  So this comment makes most sense as a post resurrection gloss, so I would argue first that this is either not an authentic Jesus saying or it does not mean what we think it means, so we need to be very clear and careful in its use.  Assuming it si an authentic Jesus saying, this hearers would have been scandalized by the content and so would have disregarded or puzzled over it.  Out modern hearers will trivialize or redefine it. In either event the hearer misses Jesus’ point.  Discipleship is an all or nothing proposition, it is not a hobby, or a political conviction that can be put on like a suit of clothes and stored in the closet at night.  It is a lifestyle, a radical realignment of priorities and values.  It is more than a head trip, more than an emotional response, more than a conviction – it is the answering of a call. It begins with two acts of the will, first with God’s perfect will and second with our imperfect response.  But discipleship requires BOTH.  This is not about salvation we do a disservice to God when we equate the two.  Discipleship is a life altering reconstruction and reclamation project head to toe, past to future, top to bottom.  Bonhoeffer ‘s experience is illustrative. One wonders if he would have written “when he calls a man to discipleship, he bids him to come and die” in 1945 as he awaited death in Dachau with the same meaning and intenisty as he did when it was first published in 1936 as he was still teaching at Union Seminary?
και  BDF suggests that this second "and" is actually equivalent to και ουδε, "and yet", "and yet follows me", "following" in the sense of serving as a disciple. The disciple who doesn't take up their cross, but still performs the role of a disciple, is no disciple of Jesus. - somewhat concerning if true and to the point of above.
ακολουθει απισω "follow after/behind, in the way of”  μου gen. pro. me" Jesus is modeling a lifestyle, not a religion, although the two are not incompatible= again to the point of above. This is the heart of this text.

v39 ο ευρων (ευρισκω) aor. part. "whoever finds/discovers" - the aorist is proleptic – indicating an action that has not yet occurred – crucifixion and resurrection make discipleship possible (although as praxis would bear out, not bloody likely)
ψυχην (η) "life" - The word can refer to inner life or the divine spark only God can extinguish. Many commentators argue that, particularly here, it just means "self." 

ο οπολεσας (απολλυμι) aor. part. "whoever loses/destroys” - conveys the idea, so one gives up inner life ενεκεν + gen. "for [my] sake" - "on my account".

No Veto Power

 "Tell the students to give up their small ambitions and come eastward to preach the gospel of Christ." – Francis Xavier, missionary to India, the Philippines, and Japan
"The best remedy for a sick church is to put it on a missionary diet." – Unknown
"If the Great Commission is true, our plans are not too big; they are too small." – Pat Morley

A chiastic structure has the form A- B- C- B’- A’  A and A’ have similar wording or deal with similar subjects, sometimes they contain similar catch phrases. Chiasmus is a favorite structure in the writing of Jesus’ time and is found frequently in the bible. Some scholars suggest that the entire book of Hebrews is a large, carefully constructed Chiasmus.

The great missionary sermon in Matthew 10 may well be such a chiastic structure with A= 5 -15, B= 16- 25, C 26- 33, B’= 34-39, and A’ =40-42. Today, we are read 24- 39. There should therefore not be any surprise that is seems that more than one thing is discussed in the text and that two or maybe three subjects offer themselves for discussion. 
For the time being, let us grab on to “C,” verses 26-33. This part of the speech concerns itself with the apostles themselves and with their attitude.
On the surface it is about being fearless in mission. It begins with a call to confidence of Jesus’ teaching. Jesus is confident in what he has told his disciples and is not ashamed of what they will tell others he is teaching. He is not afraid of the arguments and divisions that will be brought on by what he says. He is not afraid of being known. 
John Pilch points out that this is not a normal thing in Mideast society. One kept a number of things back from the public. It was not good for one’s standing or honor to have no mystery about oneself or about one’s inner circle. Jesus might be seen as demolishing that sort of thinking but that is not what the texts here shows. Rather, the one who is the center of the circle is God in Heaven and not Jesus. From God comes protection. God vouches for the disciples of Jesus and for Jesus himself as seen at his baptism. God bestows honor and defends it as is seen in the Resurrection. God also retains mystery and therefore awe. The idea that the hair on one’s head are numbered is meant to point to the transcendent omniscience and splendor of God as much as they are meant to assure irresistible protection. (10:31)
We might note that Jesus does explain things not to crowds but to the disciples in private. (ex 13:36ff) Yet, at the end of Matthew’s Gospel this very teaching is again opened to the whole world as Jesus commands that the disciples “teach it all.” (28:20)
To be dishonored by the world means nothing here. Those who have done what Jesus, the one acclaimed at baptism and at Transfiguration is acclaimed “the Son” and therefore the agent of God and of God’s holy honor, has asked of them have a place with God and will be honored by God even thought he world ridicules or even persecutes them. 
This is a missionary exhortation. We must not forget this. The words and assurances here are meant for those who hear Jesus words to go and proclaim, letting the chips fall where they may. This pericope is not meant plenary. The invitation to “come and enter my rest,” which is meant to those downtrodden and lost, will come later (11:28). Here, the protection and reassurance is directed solely at the missionaries. 
These missionaries, like Jesus, will see their mission be controversial and they will see it fail. Some of those whom they will interact with will love family more than the word of God. (10:37) By this time, in the story, the disciples have already witnessed this happening to Jesus himself. (8:18-22) Some will love their family’s riches more than the word of God. (19:16-24) It did not discourage Jesus and it should not discourage the disciples. 

As the quotes that begin this reflection suggest, the church has done her planning all wrong. Ok, that is an overstatement but it gets at the truth. We plan for what we can do and settle for what that limited vision, further diminished by natural entropy and failure, can accomplish and we leave it at that. Our limitations are real. Resistance is real. The problem is not that they are real. The problem is rather, that we give them the right to veto God’s command that we be in mission. 
So, you are shy. If the hair on your head is numbered, then is it perhaps a possibility that God already knows this? So, you are among a stiff necked people who have resisted the work of missionaries for decades? If the hairs on their heads are numbered is it perhaps a possibility that God already knew that? Do not prophets get to go into places that God and prophet both know will be unreceptive, yet, God does not back off and the prophet is denied veto right over God’s holy call to prophecy? (ex: Is 6:1-9; Jer 1:6)
To quote St. Paul: You are without excuse; we are without excuse. We are a missionary faith. We have been summoned by God himself to go and tell all we know, all that Jesus has taught and commanded us. (28:10, 10:7) Any objection to actually doing that is an attempt to have a veto. No heavenly constitution has given us that veto power. Woe indeed to any of us if we do not preach the Gospel. (1Cor 9:16)
It is a good day for us to ask ourselves the simple question: “Is all we do as church still directed to the proposition that all may know Jesus Christ and him crucified?” “Are all our members set to that goal?” “Are all our energies pointed there?” 

Now at the beginning of the Pentecost season those might be pregnant questions to ask.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Readings for Trinity Sunday, June 15th, 2014

First Reading: Genesis 1:1—2:4a

Chapter 1

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,  2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.  3Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.  4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.  5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
6And God said, "Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."  7So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so.  8God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
9And God said, "Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so.  10God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.  11Then God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it." And it was so.  12The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good.  13And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
14And God said, "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years,  15and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth." And it was so.  16God made the two great lights — the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night — and the stars.  17God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth,  18to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.  19And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
20And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky."  21So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good.  22God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth."  23And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
24And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so.  25God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
26Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."
27So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
  28God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."  29God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.  30And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so.  31God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Chapter 2

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude.  2And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.  3So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.
4These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 13:11–13

11Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.  12Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.
13The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

Gospel: Matthew 28:16–20

16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  18And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Matthew 28 in Greek - Pr. Fourman

Matthew 28:16-20

v16 οι ... ενδεκα "the eleven [disciples]" - minus Judas.
το ορος "[to] the mountain" - can mean "into the hills” though we don't really know what mountain. The presence of the article may be particular, possibly alluding to a Moses type mountain where the new Israel meets with their God. Tradition identifies Tabor but symbolism is Matthew's intention not geography.
εταξατο (τασσω) aor. "had told [them] to go" a rather unrecorded conversation between Jesus and his discipels!

v17 ιδοντες (οραω) aor. part. "when they saw [him]" - having seen. 
προσεκυνησαν (προσκυνεω) aor. "they worshiped”  i.e. they fell down, the word is used to describe an act of adoration, so probably "they did homage to him", Cassirer.
εδιστασαν (δισταζω) aor. "doubted" - hesitated, were uncertain. the word implies a lack of faith, but it is better to understand the response as one of uncertainty.

v18 προσελθων (προσερχομαι) aor. part. "then [Jesus] came" the participle is temporal. It is very rare for Jesus to do the coming, people usually come to him. 
λεγων pres. part. "and said" εξουσια (α) "[all] authority" - the word primarily means "freedom of choice", but extends to mean "absolute authority" here. The point of the statement is that Jesus has the authority to commission the mission to the nations.

v19 This verse has prompted endless debate, both in meaning and application. One translation would be; his assertion that he has authority to authorize and enable this mission, to make new disciples from the nations by immersing them in the gospel ("baptizing them in the name") and teaching them to commit themselves in faith. Or he may be reinstating his apostles after their failure to go forth to teach his law and baptize the nations to be a people of God's possession.
πορευθεντες (πορευω) aor. pas. part. "go/having departed”. probably temporal, "while you are going" the commission is to "make disciples” not to "go". The participle is sometimes treated as attendant circumstance, "go and make", but the going is secondary so; "while you are on your way, μαθητευσατε (μαθητευω) aor. imp. act. "make disciples" – or “disciple those you meet”. The two modifying participles explain how disciples are made, but as these notes indicate the how is anything but settled. "As you move through life, introduce everyone you meet, far and near, to this way of life."
βαπτιζοντες (βαπτιζω) "baptizing" - immersing. adverbial, possibly modal, expressing the manner or means by which disciples are made. It is quite misleading to transliterate the Greek wordβαπτιζω into English. Whenever we see the word "baptize" we think of water baptism but the actual meaning is "immerse", either literally in water, or figuratively as in to “overwhelm”, e.g. remember Greek is an idiomatic language, (by that I mean it doesn’t really rain cats and dogs in America) so “immersed” in the Spirit, or “immersed” into suffering seems more than likely especially with the modifying phase "in the name" which means to be placed under the authority of the divine. 
So it is likely on Matthew’s community that the water dunking or sprinkling is not the dominant part of the "immersing in the name" – for after all the Baptist came baptizing but Jesus came preaching. The tradition of water baptism is surely set early in the Christian church as a visible expression of repentance, but we need remember Jesus didn't perform baptisms, (Jn.4:2 notwithstanding). In the end, the making of disciples is not achieved by immersing a person in water but by immersing a person into the nature and character of God. This is achieved, not by rites but by words, the communication of the gospel.
εις "in" - το ονομα "in the name". It is unlikely that Jesus is dictating a formula here, but he is offering, al la Moses, a new name for the God who gives Him authority and claims the new community Jesus both envisions and creates.  So this theophany is like to that of Sinai and the burning bush –instead of a prophet, God sends the church.
πατροσ και του υοιυ και τουο αγιου πνυεματοσ − father and the son and the holy spirit; the new name for God the new Church will speak to provide authenticity and authority for her message and mission - hence its inclusion on this particular Sunday.

v20 διδασκοντες (διδασκω) pres. part. "teaching" – the second mode expressing how, or by what means, disciples are made. So, "immersing them in the gospel and teaching them."
τηρειν (τηρεω) pres. inf. "to obey" - keep guard.... better than observe or practice – an epexegetic expressing the content of the teaching, namely "that they obey." The word "obey" always leads to "obey the commandments." But the apostles are to instructed to instruct others to obey/keep/guard, the teachings of Jesus, ie., the κεριγμα, the apostolic preaching of the cross.
ενετειλαμην (εντελλομαι) aor. "I have commanded" - in the sense of emphatic or important instructions. 
ιδου (οραω) - behold/ take note/ pay attention.  εγω pro. "I" – an emphatic by position.
μεθ (μετα) + gen. "with [you]" -expressing association.
πασας τας ημερας "always" – literally all the days i.e. throughout all of recorded history, all of created time.
εως + gen.  until. A temporal preposition serving to introduce a temporal construction.

της συντελειας του αιωνος "the very end of the age" - the completion of the age = the completion of God's purposes for the world and humanity.