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.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Texts for Sunday, December 20th, the 4th Sunday in Advent, 2015

First Reading: Micah 5:2-5a

2But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
  who are one of the little clans of Judah,
 from you shall come forth for me
  one who is to rule in Israel,
 whose origin is from of old,
  from ancient days.
3Therefore he shall give them up until the time
  when she who is in labor has brought forth;
 then the rest of his kindred shall return
  to the people of Israel.
4And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
  in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
 And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
  to the ends of the earth;
5aand he shall be the one of peace.

The Word of the Lord

 Psalm 80:1-7

1Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock;
  shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim.
2In the presence of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh,
  stir up your strength and come to help us. 
3Restore us, O God;
  let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved.
4O Lord| God of hosts,
  how long will your anger fume when your people pray?
5You have fed them with the bread of tears;
  you have given them bowls of tears to drink.
6You have made us the derision of our neighbors,
  and our enemies laugh us to scorn.
7Restore us, O God of hosts;
  let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved. 

Second Reading: Hebrews 10:5-10

5Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, 
 “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
  but a body you have prepared for me;
6in burnt offerings and sin offerings
  you have taken no pleasure.
7Then I said, ‘See, God, I have come to do your will, O God’
  (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).”
8When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

The Word of the Lord

Gospel: Luke 1:39-45 [46-55]

39In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” 
46And Mary said, 
 “My soul magnifies the Lord,
  47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
  Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
  and holy is his name.
50His mercy is for those who fear him
  from generation to generation.
51He has shown strength with his arm;
  he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
  and lifted up the lowly;
53he has filled the hungry with good things,
  and sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
  in remembrance of his mercy,
55according to the promise he made to our ancestors,

  to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Luke 1:39-55 Greek Studies

Greek Study Luke 1:39-56

v39 Luke recounts this story with an eye toward the Old Testament, which is, of itself a bit unusual as Luke’s audience is obviously Gentile, and so likely not well versed in OT theology.  Is this perhaps part of the “borrowed” material that Luke received?  The three months may allude to Numbers 10:35, but the story of Hannah more likely runs in the background (2 Sam.6 ff).  Of course, the baby leaping in the womb may allude to Rebekah's experience of Gen.25:22 as the same Gk. word is used in the LXX translation.
αναστασα (ανιστημι) aor. part. "got ready" (having arisen). This word is often used to express the commencement of an ongoing action.
μετα σπουδησ + gen. "with haste” Adverbial use expressing manner, so "eagerly".
Ιουδα (ας ου) gen. "[to a town in the hill country] of Judea" The destination is unknown. Some suggest reference is to an actual town but the text was corrupted.
v41 ηκουσεν (ακουω) aor. + acc. "she/he heard [Mary's greeting]
εσκιρτησεν (σκιρταω) aor. "leaped" - nothing unusual in a baby moving, it’s the timing that is considered miraculous (another OT view, most miracles in the OT - especially those connected to the Exodus, were miracles of timing not content, i.e. while they were unusual, they could be explained away naturally (which explains Pharaoh hardened heart – he was both stubborn and pragmatic!)
επλησθη (πιμπλημι) aor. pas πνευματος αγιου gen. "was filled with the Holy Spirit" the aorist verb indicates immediate action; typical of Luke/Acts, a person filled with the Spirit proclaims and preaches, this once again reflects OT theology, the Judges were “filled by the spirit” in much this same way.  

v42 κραυγη μεγαλη dat. "in a loud voice [she cried out] often portrayed as a hymn, more likely an enthusiastic (and loud) response – she ululates.  
ευλογημενη  perf. pas. part. "blessed" may express a wish but more likely a fact. 
της κοιλιας (α) gen. "[the one you] will bear" an ablative of source (a rather unusual grammatical construct, even for Luke).
v43 τοθεν "why" - interrogative particle introduces a question or expresses surprise.
ου κυριου (ος) gen. "[my] Lord" genitive is adjectival, relational, while μου,"of me", is possessive, "my Lord" or of subordination, "Lord over me." Expressing respect, not status.
προς εμε "to me?" - emphatic by position.
v44 ιδου behold. Idiom, "I tell you ως "as soon as" - temporal conjunction.
του ασπασμου (ος) gen. "[the sound] of [your] greeting" - Mary's voice stirs the fetus, not the greeting itself.
εν αγαλλιασει (ις εως) "for joy" - exultation – not that this emotion is attributed to the fetus, not than the mother. 

v45 μακαρια adj. "blessed" – happy, favored, fortunate.
η πιστευσασα aor. part. "she who has believed" - participle serves as a substantive, refers to Mary's response as an example of faith for taking God at His word.
τοις λαλαλημενοις perf. pas. part. "has said [to her]/[his] promises [to her]" to the things having been spoken - participle serves as a dative of reference; "with respect to the things that have been spoken…” 
τελειωσις (ις εως) "[will be] accomplished" as in the execution of a plan, completion as in nothing need be added.

v46 The Magnificat, v46-55. This Song of Mary is in the form of a hymn and is directed to God for his kindness toward her with particular reference to sh’er sh’uvremnant Israel”. 
μεγαλυνει η ψυχη μου "my soul glorifies" – a technical term expressing an act of praise that emerges from deep within one’s being. Following Hebrew parallelism, the thought is repeated in v47. 
v47 ηγαλλιασεν (αγαλλιαω) aor. "rejoices" - unlike "glorifies" in v46 which uses the present tense, the verb here is aorist and therefore ingressive - the emphasis falls on the beginning of the action; "my spirit has begun to delight".

v48 επεβλεψεν (επιβλεπω) aor. "he has been mindful" – a phrase used as a loving preference toward another, so another way of saying that God has favored Mary.
την ταπεινωσιν (ις εως) "humiliation, lowliness, afflicted state likely referring to Mary's low social position - she is favored in spite of her social position and her difficult social circumstances.. 
της δουλης (ος) gen. "[his] servant" - bondmaid - further underlining Mary's lowliness. 
μακαριουσιν (μακαριζω) fut. "will call me blessed" - because of the "great things" God is about to do through her (which at this point are all proleptic!)
v49 μεγαλα ο δυνατος "the Mighty One" – literally "the one who enacts great power".
αγιον το ονομα αυτου "holy is his name" – the set-apart God – another OT allusion to the second commandment.

v50 Here an allusion to Psalm 103:17. το ελεος (ος) "mercy" – reflects the Old Testament idea of God's covenant loyalty, his hesed or “everlasting love”.
τοις φοβουμενοις (φοβεω) dat. pres. pas. part. "to those who fear" -  a dative of advantage - "fear" here does not mean fright  but rather those who acknowledge God's position and authority, so ‘reverence”.
εις γενεας και γενεας "from generation to generation" – idiom; God’s fidelity is forever; i.e. historically timeless. 
v51 εποιησεν (ποιεω) aor. "he has performed" - gnomic, expressing a universal truth.  
βραχιονι (ων ονος) "[his] arm" – an anthropomorphism to state that he "performs mighty deeds" as would be expected of any king.
διεσκορπισεν (διασκορπιζω) aor. "scattered" - refers to the scattering of Israel's enemies (over and against the ingathering of Israel – sh’uv).
υπερηφανους adj. "those who are proud" - presumptuous.
διανοια (α) dat. "in [their inmost] thoughts" – a dative of reference; - so “deep seated thoughts, an ingrained arrogance?
v52 καθειλεν (καθαιρεω) aor. "he has brought down" - verb expresses vigorous action.
υψωσεν (υψοω) aor. "has lifted up" - "Exalted" the ταπεινους (ος) "humble" - those of low estate; once again remnant Israel is the subject.

v53 πεινωντας (πειναω) pres. part. "the hungry" - αναρτηρουσ (the participle) serves as a substantive. Is this an actual or spiritual reversal? Probably we have a typical Jewish motif of national reversal realized in the blessings of the Promised Land, which Jesus reinterprets in eschatological terms (cf. Danker).
πλουτουντας (πλουτεω) pres. part. "the rich" – lit. the ones who are already full. 
κενους acc. adj. "empty" - accusative complement of "rich."

v54 αντελαβετο (αντιλαμβανω) aor. "he has helped" - in the sense of to lay hold of to assist or support. 
μνησθηναι (μιμνησκομαι) aor. pas. inf. "remembering" – the infinitive is verbal, forming a result clause, - i.e. the divine action is motivated by the divine love.
ελεους (ος) gen. "to be merciful" - genitive of direct object after the infinitive; the content of the divine action.

v55 τω Αβρααμ dat. "to Abraham" – a dative of indirect object. The Lord remembers his remnant, He remembers Abraham, He remembers his servant Israel, and we share in that merciful remembering through Christ (do this in remembrance of me…).
εις τον αιωνα "forever" – a temporal phrase for common to Matthew than to Luke.
v56 ως "about" – idiom; "approximately three month” indicating Mary stayed until the birth of John, although Luke doesn't confirm this.


Be not afraid, you have found favor with God.

“She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin—something exceedingly great. For God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil.” – Martin Luther’s Little Prayer Book, 1522

The Gospel of Luke has a sequel: Acts of the Apostles. Some say that the title: Acts of the Holy Spirit is more appropriate a title and they might well be right. The first book also might deserve its own title: Acts of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Indeed, was one to search for the term “Holy Spirit” in an electronic concordance one would discover that it only appears in the Gospel (13) times. In Acts it is attested 42 times, not counting the occurrences of Luke using the shorthand “Spirit.” In the Gospel, very few are filled with or speak in the Holy Spirit. The unimpressively short list is: John (1:15), Mary (1:35, 46-53- implied), Elizabeth (1:41), Zechariah (1:67), Simeon (2:25-26, Anna by extension and narrative), and, naturally, Jesus (3:22, 4:1, 10:21). The remaining occurrences of “Holy Spirit” are in Jesus’ teaching. 
I noted on Advent 2 that the beginning of Luke is filled with canticles that people, filled with the Holy Spirit, and angels just sort of break into spontaneously. There and here, the canticles set the stage for what will come next. The canticles sung also harken back to the holy word of God in all their verses, not only in message but also in actual word. For example: Mary’s Song, the Magnificat is an echo of the following: Gen. 17:19; 1 Sam. 2:7– 8; Ps. 138:6; 71:19; 126:2– 3; 111:9; 103:17; 98:1; 118:15; Isa. 41:8; Hab. 3:18.
Mary and Zechariah’s songs are songs of fulfillment, not of a radical new thing, no they are about an old promise, a promise all the way back to Abraham, all the way back the Spirit pondering over the deep, that is now coming to be filled. 
The Spirit also speaks blessings today: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Lk 1:42) “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord” (Lk 1:45) The first made it into Christian spirituality through the. Dominicans and the Rosary prayers the latter did not far that well, regrettably. But, the council of Trent (1566) wrote about the first sentence: 
"we render to God the highest praise and return Him most gracious thanks, because He has bestowed all His heavenly gifts on the most holy Virgin ... the Church of God has wisely added prayers and an invocation addressed to the most holy Mother of God ... we should earnestly implore her help and assistance; for that she possesses exalted merits with God, and that she is most desirous to assist us by her prayers, no one can doubt without impiety and wickedness."

Protestants might ought to remember that Luther thought highly of the Hail Mary, though the second portion of it, imploring Mary to pray for us, was not added until 1555 and would probably bother old Martin.
Yet, Elizabeth’s second blessing might interest us. We might think about it this way: Mary ventured out for a three day trip to the Judean hill country. Did she go by herself? A single young woman traveling by herself would certainly have been foolish if not madness in her days, unacceptable even. Where there no protectors with her? Was no one found to vouch for her safety on the road? She is pregnant already, by traveling alone would she not seal the case on the opinion that her pregnancy was merely loose living?
Luke, regrettably, is silent about how the trip was arranged or guarded. Maybe it was indeed and unchaperoned trip. Was Mary’s commitment to the cause so large that not only did she agree to bear the Son of the Most High into the world but so large that she had such trust in the message of Gabriel and truly believed that the Lord was with her on her journey and remained with her on the journey and was her escort and protector on that journey? 
“Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord” Elizabeth sees Mary’s presence as proof that Mary believes all that the angel has said to her. She heard and acted fearless as a result, trusting that God would protect her because she, Mary, was carrying his Word to the world. 
In many a pageant and movie we have made her a somewhat frightened girl. In popular song we have doubted her understanding. Yes, Kenny Rogers, Clay Aiken, Mary did know that her baby boy was the Great I am and that he would save her ”sons and daughter,” but more about them later. It is not by accident that she will soon sing of Abraham and his children. The faith she displays as the result of the visit of Gabriel is alike that of Abram when the word of the Lord came to him and demanded that he depart Ur and become a nomad. Total commitment to the promise is rendered. Yes, I know about Abraham’s follies. They follow a beginning that is total faith.
Hans Urs von Balthesar and Arthur Carl Piepkorn both have published articles with such a monumental title as: Mary, Archetype of the Church. I must admit, since reading them, I have never been able to read any reference to Mary without automatically thinking about the Church. It is good for the church to sing Mary’s song. She has traditionally done so daily since the 8th century, and probably longer but Bede reports it as common practice then. 
More important, the Mother of Faith needs to remember that blessing that the Mother of the last Prophet blessed the Mother of the Lord, saying: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” 
Church, Mother of Faith: Do you believe what the Lord has spoken about you? That even the gates of Hades will be no mach for you? That the Lord is with you? That the Holy Spirit will sing from within you? 
Yes, blessed is your proclamation for it is what you bear to the world. But will you, like the mother of the Lord be brave and venture undaunted by the turbulence of life and misfortunes of fate, into a world that is full of both marvels but also peril and insult, and assault on, not only your proclamation, but you? One might leave the answer of whether it is possible to live that way until the feast of Stephen, but few of us celebrate it as it is December 26th and seldom observed as such. 
The Mother of our Lord ventured out on the journey, apparently protected by nothing more than the presence of the Lord, promised by the Angel: The Lord is with you. The Sons and Daughters — here you go Clay Aiken — of her in the faith, the sons and daughter of the Mother of Faith, ought to consider carefully what is promised and act in good courage always as they wait for the coming of the Holy One of God. 

Be not afraid, you have found favor with God.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Texts for Advent 3, December 13th, 2015

First Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-20

14Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
  shout, O Israel!
 Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
  O daughter Jerusalem!
15The Lord has taken away the judgments against you,
  he has turned away your enemies.
 The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
  you shall fear disaster no more.
16On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
 Do not fear, O Zion;
  do not let your hands grow weak.
17The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
  a warrior who gives victory;
 he will rejoice over you with gladness,
  he will renew you in his love;
 he will exult over you with loud singing
  18as on a day of festival.
 I will remove disaster from you,
  so that you will not bear reproach for it.
19I will deal with all your oppressors
  at that time.
 And I will save the lame
  and gather the outcast,
 and I will change their shame into praise
  and renown in all the earth.
20At that time I will bring you home,
  at the time when I gather you;
 for I will make you renowned and praised
  among all the peoples of the earth,
 when I restore your fortunes
  before your eyes, says the Lord.

Psalm: Isaiah 12:2-6

2Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid,
  for the Lord God is my strength and my might, and has become my salvation.
3With joy you will draw water
  from the wells of salvation. 
4And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call on God’s name;
  make known the deeds of the Lord among the nations; proclaim that this name is exalted.
5Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
  let this be known in all the earth.
6Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion,
  for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. 

Second Reading: Philippians 4:4-7

4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Gospel: Luke 3:7-18

7John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” 11In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” 12Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” 14Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”
15As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

18So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

Luke 3: 7-18 Greek Text Studies

Greek Study Luke 3:7-18
v7 ελεγεν (λεγω) imperf. "John said" τοις οχλοις (ος) dat. "to the crowds" – a dative of indirect object. In Matthew and Mark, John addresses the religious leaders, in Luke these rather harsh words are addressed to the crowd.
γεννηματα (α ατος) "offspring” εχιδνων (α) gen. "of snakes” a likely allusion to the Devil. These Israelites, who should be sons of God, are instead sons of the Devil, i.e. lost and facing judgment.
υπεδειξεν (υποδεικνυμι) aor. "warned" With an infinitive, "warned", but the more general "informed" fits better. It seems likely John is reacting to a superficial response to his preaching
φυγειν (φευγω) aor. inf. "to flee" - infinitive forms a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what they were warned to do.
της μελλουσης οργης "the coming wrath" the day of judgment, an important element in John's preaching.
v8 ποιησατε (ποιεω) aor. imp. "produce" do – a strange expression, possibly a Semeticism "let your lives prove your change of heart".
μη αρξησθε (αρχω) aor. subj. "do not begin" – a negated subjunctive expressing prohibition, "do not even begin to say…", 
υμιν dat. "[I tell] you" οτι "that" – a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what the Baptist tells them.
εκ + gen. "from [these stones]" - source/origin- the allusion is unclear; possibly Isaiah 51:1-2 where Abraham is referred to as a rock from which God cuts the stones who seek him. 
τω Αβρααμ dat. "for Abraham" - Dative of interest.
v9 ηδη adv. "already" - emphasizing the urgent nature of John's message.
των δενδρων (ον) gen. "of the trees" - partitive.
μη ποιουν (ποιεω) pres. part. "does not produce" - present tense, as with "cut down", is gnomic, expressing a timeless fact. 
εκκοπτεται (εκκοπτω) pres. "will be cut down" – a futuristic  present tense.
v10 ποιησωμεν (ποιεω) aor. subj. "should we do" – a deliberative subjunctive "What is the action that reflects repentance?" 

v11 ο εξων (εχω) pres. part. "the man with [two tunics]" μεταδοτω (μεταδιδωμι) aor. imp. "should share with" - note how John defines the fruit of repentance in the terms of radical generosity. He neither calls for the abandonment of nor reformation of society; only that mercy (generosity, kindness) is the primary fruit of repentance.

v12 ελωναι (ης ου) "tax collectors" - in the service of the Roman Government often used their franchise, under the authority of Rome to collect duties on the sale and transport of goods, over and above their normal commission.
βαπτισθηναι (βαπτιζω) aor. pas. inf. "to be baptized" - infinitive used to express purpose.
ποιησωμεν (ποιεω) aor. subj. "[what] should we do?"
v13 μηδεν .... πρασσετε (πρασσω) pres. imp. "don't collect" -.
παρα + acc. "[any more] than" – a comparative genitive.
το διατεταγμενον (διατασσω) perf. pas. part. "required" i.e. the "fixed rate".
v14 στρατευομενοι (στρατευω) pres. part. "some soldiers" - participle serves as a substantive, either Jewish mercenaries in Roman service or members of Antipas' guard.
ενηρωτων (επερωταω) imperf. "asked" – (repeated asking although the imperfect is 
often used of speech.
μηδενα διασεισητε (διασειω) aor. subj. "don't shake down” by violence.
μηδε συκοφαντησητε (συκοφαντεω) aor. subj. "don't accuse people falsely" a subjunctive of prohibition so probably, "don't seek bribes."
τοις οψωνιοις (ον) dat. "with [your] wages” 

v15 προσδοκωντος (προσδοκαω) gen. pres. part. "[the people] were waiting expectantly" The participle with the noun του λαου, "the people",  form a temporal clause; "while the people were in suspense".
διαλογιζομενων (διαλογιζομαι) gen. pres. part. "were [all] wondering" - a genitive absolute formed with "everyone" - possibly temporal .so, "when they were all debating in their minds".
εν "in [their hearts]" - expressing sphere.
μηποτε "might" - perhaps, lest, maybe. expecting a negative conclusion, i.e. the people knew John was not the messiah. Yet, it seems more likely that here the conjunction expresses doubt, particularly with the optative of the verb to-be. "Whether perhaps he might be…” ο χριστος (ος) "the Christ".

v16 λεγων (λεγω) pres. part. πασιν "answered them all" - i.e. all Israel ", John is addressing all in the crowd about to be baptized. 
εγω "I" - Emphatic βαπτιζω pres. "I baptize" - ongoing action; "I am baptizing with…"
υδατι (ωρ ατος) dat. "water" - dative is instrumental, but locative "in" is possible. The position is emphatic, so, "only with water" is the most likely translation.
ο ισχυροτερος comp. adj. "one stronger μου gen. pro. "than I" - ablative of comparison.
ικανος adj. "[I am not] worthycompetent λυσαι (λυω) aor. inf. "to loose” - infinitive is epexegetic, explaining what John is not worthy to do.
των υποδηματων (α ατος) gen. "[the straps] of [whose] sandals" - genitive is adjectival.
πνευματι αγιω και πυρι "the Holy Spirit and fire" - The meaning of these words has prompted endless debate. A singular sense is possible, .eg. "a purging (cleansing) Spirit", but it is likely the messiah "immerses/overwhelms" with both Spirit (cleansing through regeneration) and fire (cleansing through tribulation). 
v17 το πτυον (ον) "[his] winnowing fork" - agricultural implement used to separate chaff from grain by casting both into the air on a windy day. 
διακαθαραι (διακαθαιρω) aor. inf. "so to clear" - infinitive expressing purpose.
συναγαγειν (συναγω) aor. inf. "to gather" - call together- infinitive expressing purpose.
κατακαυσει (κατακαιω) fut. "he will burn up" - consume.
πυρι ασβεστω dat. "with unquenchable fire" – an instrumental dative, meaning a fire that "cannot be put out"- likely alluding to the rubbish dump outside Jerusalem which was constantly burning 

v18 πολλα .... ετερα "many other words" - many other. "Word's" assumed, although possibly "ways". The point is that the previous verses is but a summary of John's preaching. 
παρακαλων (παρακαλεω) pres. part. "John preached" ‘admonished” (?) reflecting John's stern message. 
ευηγγελιζετο (ευαγγελιζω) imperf. "the good news" - Usually a technical term referring to gospel preaching, so "evangelizing", but here likely his message to the people about God’s intent.


And Peace to God's People on Earth

Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances. — C. S. Lewis 

There is a simple and beautiful symmetry in the writings of Luke. “What shall we do?” asks the crowd and Peter answers: “Be baptized all of you into the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sin. And you will receive the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)
Where have we heard those words: “Repent and be baptized,” before? In Luke 3, in the exhortations of St. John the Baptist. Not only that but the prolog to those invitations are symmetric as well. In both cases, the preachers leave little doubt: You are NOT alright.
Both preacher also have peculiar crowds in front of them. Peter has a festival crowd of devout Jews from many places hearing him. John has a crowd of devout people as well. He is preaching in the wilderness. It takes a determined soul to put down the day’s  necessary chores to go seek out the prophet. 
John’s crowd is further peculiar that it contains what are, for lack of a better term, “Henchmen.” Both soldiers and tax collectors. The soldiers were most likely Herod’s minions since it is not likely that the Romans would have sought him and besides that, the Roman’s had signed Herod the duty to keep order anyway. The tax collectors probably were the local “muscle” for the chief tax collectors like Zacchaeus, which made them “legalized” bandits, but wandering ruffians none-the-less. Like Herod’s soldiers, the tax collectors were underpaid. It was just part of doing business at the time that one had to deal with demands from both groups now again that were simply extortion. 

We can and ought to look at the way John deals with the questions the crowd asks of him. Unlike Matthew, Luke chose to report that John did not leave his proclamation at the point of calling everyone vipers. No, John has concrete things to say about the living of these days. 
To the crowd John directs a picture of community in charitable unity: “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” Having in excess of what the day demanded was questionable in Luke’s time. Later in the Gospel of Luke we meet those who have to the excess, like the man who builds more barns to hoard his harvest or Dives who has rich foods in excess. These are used as warnings to say: “The excess you are living is depriving Lazarus. This will not stand. This will be judged.” Riches were suspicious in the 1st century. They might have been given by the Almighty, but if so, why are you not sharing the blessings? Were they maybe not a blessing from God but the fruit of exploitive dealings? In a place where there are poor people that are landless, that question will very naturally be asked.
The tax collectors are told that honesty was to be valued. Toll stations had their set quota but a bit of cheating with the scales could net the henchmen a bit of extra income. 
Herod’s minions are told not to terrorize people for personal gain. In other words, they are to live without being a threat to their neighbors. 
In the words of Mary, Mother of God:  “He has scattered the proud and haughty ones. He has brought down princes from their throne  and exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.” 
If one was to be rich and read this with 1st century eyes Mary’s words are a warning. Yet, reading on, those same eyes would now read about John starting at the bottom, the root, (3:9) Even here a new mind is demanded. Here the bottom of society is invited to live honest, just, and charitable lives. 
The rich will get plenty of warning later in the Gospel of Luke. Their lot will be to prove with what they have that God is good by being the providence of God to others. 
Here, however, a group that seems to be of much lesser status is invited to live in peace, peace the likes of which is not found but on God’s holy mountain. 
“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off.” The words Peter at Pentecost. It is for all because it is needed by all and it must and will be lived by all. 
It is Gaudate Sunday this week. The name is taken from the words of Paul in Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always.“ (Phil 4:4) True rejoicing will and does come really only when strength no longer devours that which is weak and when all flesh lives gently upon the face of the earth. 
Fiji Yoshikawa retells and adapts the story of the great last samurai Mitamoyo Musashi, a man who lives by the sword and therefor, in good buddhist fashion, has to live down a bunch of bad “Karma” due to the many dead swordsmen and relationships that his quest has left in its wake. He walks on the earth, says the old master at Hoinu, with such strength and ferocity that he can be sensed approaching for half a mile away. The rest of the story from there on is a quest to walk gently, in the words of the old priest, “weaker.” Not merely that, but to walk gently for the sake of others. 

Such is the call on Christians from the time of John and following: Walk peacefully for your neighbor. Be a gentle presence. Be a charitable energy in the world. Above all, a force of joy even in, and perhaps especially in, dark places, a force that proves that weakness is stronger than power. The babe of Bethlehem will prove it.