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, November 24, 2015

The Readings for Advent 1, November 29th, 2015

First Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16

14The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

Psalm 25:1-10

1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;
my God, I put my trust in you; 
    let me not be humiliated,
    nor let my enemies triumph over me.

2 Let none who look to you be put to shame; 
    let the treacherous be disappointed in their schemes.

3 Show me your ways, O LORD, 
    and teach me your paths.

4 Lead me in your truth and teach me, 
     for you are the God of my salvation;
    in you have I trusted all the day long.

5 Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love, 
    for they are from everlasting.

6 Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions; 
    remember me according to your love
    and for the sake of your goodness, O LORD.

7 Gracious and upright is the LORD; 
     therefore he teaches sinners in his way.

8 He guides the humble in doing right 
    and teaches his way to the lowly.

9 All the paths of the LORD are love and faithfulness 
    to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

10 For your Name's sake, O LORD, 
    forgive my sin, for it is great.

11 Who are they who fear the LORD? 
    he will teach them the way that they should choose.

12 They shall dwell in prosperity, 
    and their offspring shall inherit the land.

Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

9How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 10Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.
11Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Gospel: Luke 21:25-36

[Jesus said:] 25“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

34“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Luke 21 Greek Studies

Greek Study Luke 21:25-38

v 25 της γης "the earth" - "The whole world." εθνων (ος) gen. "nations" - [anguish] of nations, Gentiles, peoples - the word can describe geopolitical, language groupings or tribes, so "all the people will be in…" της συνοχη (η) "anguish
θαλασσης και σαλου gen. "[at the roaring] and tossing of the sea" - probably ablative denoting origin, the sound that comes from the sea an allusion to Psalm 46:3. 
v26 αποψυχοντων (αποψυχω) gen. pres. part. "will faint" – idiom: a Hapax legomenon, literally, to stop breathing from φοβου και προσδοκιας (α) "terror, [apprehensive of what is coming]" - Possibly a hendiadys (a single idea is being expressed in two words joined by και).
των ουρανων (ος) gen. "the heavenly bodies" - NIV understands "powers" as referring to the stars but in the Greek this word usually refers to earthly authorities, yet here cosmic bodies (planets, stars) seems more likely. For the ancients, the stars of the night sky were associated with heavenly powers and authorities which is why in the NRSV it is rendered. "The powers of the heavens.”
  σαλευθησονται (σαλευω) fut. pas. "will be shaken

v27 οψονται (οραω) fut. "they will see" του ανθρωπου (ος) gen. "[the Son] of Man" ερχομενον (ερχομαι) pres. part. "coming" πολλης adj. "[power and] great [glory]" - This description of the coming of the Son of Man is expanded in 9:26 where we are told "he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." Unlike Luke, who uses the genitive "of the holy angels" Mark uses the preposition "with". 
v28 αρχομενων (αρχων) pres. part. "when [these things] begin" a temporal clause.
γινεσθαι (γινομαι) pres. inf. "take place
ανακυψατε (ανακυπτω) aor. imp. "stand up" διοτι "because" υμων gen. pro. "your απολυτρωσις (ις εως) "redemption"- released by the payment of a price, therefore deliverance. If we take v35 literally, the "redemption" is from the persecution of the Jewish rebels by the Roman armies around 70. If, on the other hand, we regard that v25 and following is about the future return of Christ, then either we are looking at "deliverance" from the great tribulation, or "redemption" in eternal terms. εγγιζει (εγγιζω) pres. "is palpable" – within reach. 
v29 παραβολην (η) "this parable" - in the sense of illustration, rather than a riddle - this is a teaching not a kingdom parable. The "lesson" supports Jesus' teaching that the signs of the coming "desolation" will be easily understood, namely Jerusalem under siege. 
ιδετε (ειδον) aor. imp. "look at"  Mark has "learn from".
v30 βλεποντες (βλεπω) pres. part. "you can see" - with the adverb "already", untranslated, "as soon as you see."

v31 οταν + subj. "when you see" ταυτα "these things" – i.e. the events associated with the destruction of the temple, particularly the siege of Jerusalem.
γινομενα (γινομαι) pres. part. "happening" - 
εγγυς adv. "near" – spatially; literally “at hand, within reach”.
v32 η γενεα αυτη "this generation" – i.e. Jesus' contemporaries.
παντα "all these things" - "these things" is assumed, and properly so since Mark has "all these things", but we are again left wondering what makes up the "all". Presumably it is again the events associated with the destruction of the temple, but there are other possibilities, eg. the "dreadful commotions" "before the end of the age."
v34 προσεχετε (προσεχω) pres. imp. "be careful" - the present tense expressing the idea of a constant state of alertness.
βαρηθωσιν (βαρεω) aor. pas. subj. "will be burdened” a futuristic subjunctive. The sense is of our minds ("hearts") becoming insensitive, such that spiritual insight is dulled. μεριμναις (α) "the anxieties" - the worries of βιωτικαις adj. "of life"
αιφνιδιος adj. "suddenly" - Best in the sense of "unexpectedly".

v35 επεισελευσεται (επεισερχομαι) fut. "it will come [upon]" ους καθημενους (καθημαι) pres. part. "[all] those who live
v36 αγρυπνειτε (αγρυπνεω) pres. imp. "be [always] on the watch" - be alert, stay awake, be watchful, be vigilant. Along with the phrase "in every moment (always)" underlines the idea of "constant watchfulness", in the sense of a sentry on guard in a watchtower being always alert. 
δεομενοι (δεομαι) pres. pas. part. "praying" – participle is expressing manner, how a person should keep alert; or possibly expressing purpose, "stay awake in order to pray".
κατισχυσητε (κατισχυω) aor. subj. "you may be able [to escape]" - have strength [to pass through safely. 
τα μελλοντα γινεσθαι "that is about to happen
σταθηναι (ιστημι) aor. pas. inf. "[that you may be able] to stand" - aorist is ingressive, so the emphasis is on the beginning of the action, so "take a stand" a la Luther (Here I stand!)

εμπροσθεν "before/in front of" - often viewed as a negative image, i.e. like standing in the docket ready to be judged, but the image can also be a positive one denoting a believer's "successful negotiation of the trials.

The Night is Almost Over Now

“What I see around me would drive me insane, if I did not know that no matter what happens, God will have the last word.” — Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain

I am, by my children’s evaluation an analog dad in a digital world. Actually, I still know as much as they do but I just happen to prefer to do thing a bit “analog.” Watches and writing implements are the dead giveaway here. I like old watch faces, two hands, circular faces, preferably without any other distracting dials. I live nowhere close to the ocean and I have no need to know the phases of the moon. I am also a lover of ink pens. Yes, the ones where, periodically, one has to find ones way to a little bottle of ink and replenish ones supply if one wants to keep on writing.
Analog watches and their modern day rival, the digital watch — which has not won the battle for supremacy by any stretch of the imagination — tell time differently. Maybe it is correct to say they mark and define time differently. I can “see” 8:19 on an analog watch even though it is only 8:18. On a digital watches face it is 8:18 right now until, suddenly, 8:19 “befalls” me and the rest of the world staring its digits. I can “see” the time between 8:19 and 8:45, the time I will leave the house this morning. On the digital watch that time span is a concept that is left to my head to interpret and understand. Using an analog watch, I will probably rise, mindful of “space” on the dial, at about 8:40 and get ready. Using the digital little set of numbers in the corner of my computer screen, I will probably notice at 8:43 that,  O my, I need to go! 
But more about ink pens: It seems somehow efficient that I can sit down at a keyboard and just type away. Convenience rules the day — unless there is a tech problem. The ink pen and its friend the piece of paper have different demands and those demands are not technical emergencies, they are a normal part of the interaction and process of writing. They are the interface between me and the sharing of the thoughts in my head. As I use them, I must always remain “deliberate.”  
The pen is also not disposable. The plastic writing stick in my satchel will quit writing one day and that day it will go to the landfill for which it has been destined by design. The fountain pen at my desk will get serviced and brought back to use — yes, I know how to do that. The plastic job is neat and tidy even without care on my part. The fountain pen wants a certain amount of caution be paid. 
Advent waits for the coming of the Kingdom of God in its fullest. Messiah, Jesus, will bring all things to resolution, to judgment — yes — and to redemption. There is an end in sight. That can be good news. That can be bad news. The end can be anticipated. The end can be dreaded. Its coming can be awaited faithfully. Its coming can be driven from consciousness. 
The realities we live in can be treated like a plastic ballpoint pen — disposable and dispensable and therefore of little meaning past the present. They can be tended like an ink pen — carefully and deliberately tended and valued.
Time can be treated as a surprise — a sudden moment that just shows up but has not been awaited. Time can be treated as the slow swing of the hands on the dial — a space anticipated to end in orderly fashion by orderly movement.
There is always the temptation to play off the world of hope against our world, to talk only of the “not yet” or only of the “here and now.” Redemption is always present and also coming as is judgement. (Bethel Declaration) Believers know that they are tending to both worlds at all times. They see the space between now and not yet as if on a watch-dial. They tend the things of life not as disposable but worthy of care though both, steward and creation are finite. 
In the words of the Bethel Declaration:
In view of God, all history is history of the end; for He is the end, that is, the cancellation of history. This is why every moment is a last moment for the believer and an incomprehensibly great gift of the patience of God who once more gives room for the decision.
In view of the world, every moment is at the same time end and beginning, result and cause, and therefore a call to shape the future anew. This is why every moment is a gift of the grace of God for the believer which orders the creatureliness, by which he is called to work and act.
Only where both are fully present – the total devotion to the historical moment and the total detachment from it – can the individual as well as the church speak and act rightly.
The end of history is not brought about by human effort, but is established by God in the return of Christ and in his judgment.
This was written into a time when the German government was held hostage to the apocalyptic utopian visions of a mad man while the church was all too happy to speak of the “here and now,” a phrase that actually occurs in the Ansbacher Consultation, the statement of German theologians welcoming the rise of history’s number one bad boy.
To live Christian is to live as a one traveling Advent. We “see”  time as a definite space before us that ends in God’s eternity. We are not surprised by its end, the fig tree will give its lesson. (Lk 21:31) We steward creation around us with deliberate care in the memory of the ever lessening space on the dial. We tend it in a state of calm, not being terrorized by the news around us because Faith tells us that at the end we raise our heads to see our salvation. (Lk 21:28) We steward it for the sake of the one who gives every atom, every electron of it and hopes to loose none of it. (Ro 8:19-20)
More important, Faith has no demands on the kingdom that will come. It will receive it as salvation allowing only God to give it shape. It will receive it as God’s doing, as yet unseen and unimagined here on earth but with its blueprint firmly established in the heart of the Holy Trinity. Faith longs for no less than a Kingdom all of God’s design. Its coming will not surprise us but its grace will because it will be the disclosure of the depth of love in the heart of the Almighty. 

For now, we pray that we for endurance to see all these things, not falling despair on the way there or surrendering the thirst for God to a sip of the world’s potions that only lead to dissipation and stupor, leaving us too blind to see the King. Our salvation is at hand.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Texts for Sunday, November 22nd, 2015: Christ the King

First Reading: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

9As I watched,
 thrones were set in place,
  and an Ancient One took his throne,
 his clothing was white as snow,
  and the hair of his head like pure wool;
 his throne was fiery flames,
  and its wheels were burning fire.
10A stream of fire issued
  and flowed out from his presence.
 A thousand thousands served him,
  and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.
 The court sat in judgment,
  and the books were opened.
13As I watched in the night visions, 
 I saw one like a human being
  coming with the clouds of heaven.
 And he came to the Ancient One
  and was presented before him.
14To him was given dominion
  and glory and kingship,
 that all peoples, nations, and languages
  should serve him.
 His dominion is an everlasting dominion
  that shall not pass away,
 and his kingship is one
  that shall never be destroyed.

The Word of the Lord

Psalm: Psalm 93

1 The LORD is King;
he has put on splendid apparel; 
    the LORD has put on his apparel
    and girded himself with strength.

2 He has made the whole world so sure 
    that it cannot be moved;

3 Ever since the world began, your throne has been established; 
    you are from everlasting.

4 The waters have lifted up, O LORD,
the waters have lifted up their voice; 
    the waters have lifted up their pounding waves.

5 Mightier than the sound of many waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea, 
    mightier is the LORD who dwells on high.

6 Your testimonies are very sure, 
    and holiness adorns your house, O LORD,
    for ever and for evermore.

Second Reading: Revelation 1:4b-8

4bGrace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. 
  To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
7Look! He is coming with the clouds;
  every eye will see him,
 even those who pierced him;
  and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to be. Amen.
8“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

The Word of the Lord

Gospel: John 18:33-37

33Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 37Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Christ the King B Texts, Greek Studies

Greek Study Revelation 1:4b-8 and John 18:33-37 – Christ the King Sunday


v4b απο ο ων "from he who is" - present participle of the verb “to-be” functions as a substantive. The Greek is emasculated here due to the Jewish desire not to mention “the name” so John treats the divine name as indeclinable, since απο, "from", should be followed by a genitive rather than the nominative case. 
ο ερχομενος (ερχομαι) pres. part. "[and] the one who is to come" - participle functions as a substantive. There is nothing unusual in the descriptive title for God,  but the third descriptor is somewhat unexpected. We would expect, "the one who will ever be (eternal one)" but this is not what John says. John seems to be describing God in the terms of the one who is about to bring all things to their end, so he is "coming" in the sense of judgment. We witness God's power active in the past and present, and will witness it in the future; a Trinitarian formula.

v5 ο μαρτυς ο πιστος "the faithful witness" - it is possible these two separate words standing in apposition, i.e. "the witness, the faithful one", although the adjective "faithful" takes an article and is in the nominative case (rather than genitive) it is likely that it functions as an adjective. Jesus is "the faithful witness", and here the word "witness" moves toward the meaning "martyr" in Revelation.
ο πρωτοτοκος adj. "the firstborn [from the dead]" – a nominative in apposition to "faithful witness." If John is alluding to Psalm 89:27, firstborn is used in the sense of sovereignty, so "firstborn over death", but if the common NT sense is used then Jesus is "the firstborn from the dead", i.e. the first of a resurrected community. Both senses may be intended.
των Βασιλεων (ευς εως) gen. "of the kings [of the earth]" - genitive is adjectival, probably subordination, "ruler over the kings of the earth." The genitive της γης, "of the earth" is possessive; so "belonging to the earth." These kings are the enemies of Christ.
v5b τω αγαπωντι (αγαπαω) pres. part. "to him who loves [us]" – as with "having freed" λυσαντι (λυω) aor. part. (or loosed). 

v6 εποιησεν (ποιεω) aor. "has made" - he probably best in the sense of "appointed"  ημας acc. "us" - dative variant exists implying that believers are not the kings and priests, but are given a kingdom where priests serve them
βασιλειαν, ιϑρεις "a kingdom and priests" - possibly in apposition conveying the sense that priestly service (mediation) is part of the business of reigning. The word "kingdom" here is probably not referring to a place but a role, ie. the saints will participate with Christ in ruling his kingdom. In fact, "kingdom" is plural, so "kings and priests" -"He lets us rule as kings and serve God his Father as priests".
v7 ιδου "look" – a demonstrative particle.
ερχεται (ερχομαι) pres. "he is coming" - present tense indicating ongoing action, but not necessarily future action, but as it is coordinated with οψεται (which is future) it is what we call a futuristic present - the "now/not yet". It is important to note that Christ's "coming" is to the Ancient of Days to take up his authoritative role as Lord of the universe (Dan.7:13). It is possible to speak of an act of divine judgment as the "coming" of Christ so, for example, the destruction of Jerusalem was such a "coming." None-the-less, here Christ's "coming" is not to the world but to his heavenly throne.
των νεφελων (η) "the clouds" - in the gospels Jesus is "on" or "in" the clouds. The cloud is not an earthly cloud but the mist associated with the shekinah of the divine is presence in the Temple as represented by the temple menorahs. 
οψεται αυτον πας οφθαλμος "every eye will see him" – an allusion from Zechariah that is not to suggest every human will see Jesus coming (since his "coming" is to heaven) nor that all participants in this cosmic event will see. The "every" implies "universal significance" in the "coming" of the Son of Man to take up his eternal reign and to bring all things into subjection to himself.
οιτινες rel. pro. "those" - a particular class of persons; "the ones who..." referring to rebellious Israel and others who persecuted the prophets and the Christ.
κοψονται (κοπτω) "will mourn" – literally “will beat themselves with remorse” "weeping" over the destruction of Babylon (and Jerusalem?).

v8 το αλφα και το ω∴ "[I am] the Alpha and the Omega" - the statement of opposites serving to emphasize everything between, here used to underline God's omnipotence.. Note the addition exegesis of "alpha and omega" - "beginning and end." "I am the beginning and end of all history." Note also omega is not spelled out as the word ωμεγα did not exist until the seventh century.
κυριος (ος) "Lord" - the divine title given to Jesus, but here of God used instead of the divine name, Yahweh.
ο ων "who is" - as with ο ερχομενος, "who is to come" serves as a substantive.
ο παντοκρατωρ "the Almighty" – a reference to the omnipotent one used eight times in Revelation but only one other time in the NT (2 Cor.6:18)!

v33 παλιν adv. "again" - There are a number of textual variants here indicating that there is confusion as to where Jesus is and what Pilate's movements are.
των Ιουδαιων gen. adj. "[are you the king] of the Jews?" - adjective serves as a substantive, the genitive is adjectival, expressing subordination (king over the Jews) – clearly a political charge although it seems unlikely the term "king of the Jews" would refer to an existing royal rule in Israel. It is possible that the "you" is emphatic and Pilate is employing sarcasm. It is likely the term was the popular jargon used of the Messiah as the national Jewish aspiration the Roman authorities would have been well aware of.

v34 απο + gen. "[is that your own idea]" - expressing origin. This answer to Pilate's question is the limit of Jesus' response in the synoptics, interestingly the NIV translation makes the answer a direct one, it is not direct in the Greek so "whatever you think" is probably a better way to capture the sense of it. If Pilate genuinely wants to know the truth about Jesus, Jesus is willing to tell him, but if it's just a matter of legal games, then Jesus is not interested. So the response is probably snarky; "So did you work this out for yourself, or are you just mouthing what others have told you?"

v35 εγω Ιουδαιος ειμι "Am I a Jew?" - Possibly an indignant or contemptuous response, indicating Pilate has no interest in such an absurd claim. Of course Pilate's response is factual, he is not in fact a Jew nor is he religious.  He has no knowledge of Jesus' identification with a Messiah other than what the Jewish authorities told him and its ramifications on Roman peacekeeping. If this is the case, Pilate is genuinely asking Jesus to defend himself, but is this likely? 

v36 εκ + gen. "[my kingdom is not] of [this world]" - expressing origin, "out of, from this” world. Jesus' answer is for the Roman governor of Palestine. Jesus seeks to establish that his role is spiritual, not political and therefore, not a threat to Rome. Jesus supports his claim with evidence, if he was a political leader, where is his army or his activists?  Given the context of this exchange, it is dangerous to develop a theology regarding the extent of God's rule on earth from it.  God's reign is spiritual but that doesn't mean it is not real, nor does it imply it is not here and now and affecting the world through the lives of those who recognize Christ's kingly rule. Jesus' statement should not be misconstrued as meaning that his kingdom is not active in this world, or has nothing to do with this world
οι υπηρεται οι εμοι "my servants" - John has already used the noun "servant" for the temple guards, indicating that Jesus' words are selected for Pilate's ears. Jesus' "guards" didn't take up arms to resist his arrest and the one who did was told to sheathe his sword! ηγωνιζοντο (αγωνιζομαι) imperf. "would fight" – the imperfect carries the sense of "continue to fight". 
τοις Ιουδαιοις dat. adj. "by the Jewish leaders" – a dative of indirect object. 
νυν δε "but now" - yet now - this serves to reinforce the contrast of Christ's kingship, as it exists in now with that rule implied in Pilate's question in v33. 
εντευθεν adv. literally "from another place"  

v37 ουκουν (ουν) "[you are a king], then!" - This particular form of the conjunction ουν  occurs only here in the New Testament. It is inferential, but does carry an emphatic sense. Moule, in his Idiom Book, looks in detail at this verse; suggesting a number of possibilities: "well then, you are a king"; "are you not a king, then?" but most likely, "so then, after all is said and done, you are a king?" 
οτι "[you are right in saying I am a king] / [you say] that [I am a king]" - a dependent statement expressing what Pilate is saying, namely, that Jesus is a king. It is likely that this is John's parallel with the synoptic "you say so." The title "king" is not one Jesus would choose for himself, He avoids the title because it is bound to confuse. John states clearly in the next verse that Jesus came into this world to "testify to the truth" and to save a people to himself. In this sense he is the deliverer-king, which makes his kingdom not of this world. But Jesus is speaking here to a pagan Roman, not to a Jew.
γεγεννημαι (γενναω) .... εληλυθα (ερχομαι) perf. "I was born ..... came" - have been born .... have come. John employs parallelism in establishing that the purpose of Jesus' birth is not for kingship (certainly in earthly terms), but for proclamation. 

τη αληθεια (a) dat. "to the truth" - dative is adverbial, "with respect to the truth.

He has always been and always will be King

'In time of trial do not leave your monastery but stand up courageously against the thoughts that surge over you, especially those of irritation and listlessness. For when you have been tested by afflictions in this way, according to divine providence, your hope in God will become firm and secure. But if you leave, you will show yourself to be worthless, unmanly and fickle.'
St. Maximos the Confessor

My advice: Skip the Gospel lesson for this Sunday. I mean it. By the time you have managed to have a lector make his way through the 7th chapter of Daniel and the 1st chapter of Revelation, the thought: Oh, no, end times again, will certainly have made it through everyone’s brain. 
It is not as if any of us know anything about kings. In America we live in a democracy. We're not Mediterranean peasants from Galilee. We're not even Roman soldiers from the provinces. Now end times, there is something we can theorize about Will be a lot more fun anyhow.
 Ask yourself: how is Christ king of your life? You don't even know what a king is or how to live under one. 
But a festival of Christ the King we have. It seems that the Franciscans had a hand in creating it. Only they did not call it Christ the King Sunday at least not originally.
John Piich writes:

The Franciscans who helped develop this observance called it “the feast of the absolute predestination of Christ.” Taking their cue from texts like Colossians 1:15, they reasoned that Christ was the firstborn of all creation. God who exists outside of time knows the existence of all creation at once. To create the first flesh-and-blood human in the divine image and likeness, God needed a flesh-and-blood model. Jesus incarnate was that model. This is how the Franciscans understood the kingship of Christ.

What does Colossians say you ask? Here it is:

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over 
all creation,
16 for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen 
    Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead.
    So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Why mention all of this? Well, has Christ, or the Son of Man, somehow has “become” king in some cosmic battle or superior bargain? The originators of the celebration of Christ the King had a better idea: He has always been and always will be King. There is always a temptation to ignore the past. In term of the church there is the temptation to look for the eschaton but ignore the Old Testament. Colossians 1 will not let you do that. He how will come in the clouds as Lord of Heaven and earth was Lord of Heaven and Earth in Babylon at the time of Daniel , and in Jerusalem at the time of David, and at the oak of Marmne, and at the beginning of light. 
Walt Bouman of blessed memory used to insist that: “The Gospel was not a fix up job.” By that he meant to say that Christ Jesus was always coming into the world from the birth of light onward because the Kingdom of God was never in the history of Faith ever in retreat. It was always coming. 
The church continues to pray and watch for it even today. She knows, like Revelation and Daniel, that it will come in trans cosmic cataclysm and splendor, angels and the Ancient of Days and all, but she also knows that the one coming as the King is crowned already today and that the Kingdom is not without a clear presence even now. 

And so she prays and hopes and trusts that, no matter what befall her or the world around her, he holds all creation together.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Texts for Sunday November 15th, 2015

First Reading: Daniel 12:1-3

1“At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. 2Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

The Word of the Lord

Psalm: Psalm 16

1 Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you; *
    I have said to the LORD, "You are my Lord,
    my good above all other.”

2 All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land, *
    upon those who are noble among the people.

3 But those who run after other gods *
    shall have their troubles multiplied.

4 Their libations of blood I will not offer, *
    nor take the names of their gods upon my lips.

5 O LORD, you are my portion and my cup; *
    it is you who uphold my lot.

6 My boundaries enclose a pleasant land; *
    indeed, I have a goodly heritage.

7 I will bless the LORD who gives me counsel; *
    my heart teaches me, night after night.

8 I have set the LORD always before me; *
    because he is at my right hand I shall not fall.

9 My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices; *
    my body also shall rest in hope.

10 For you will not abandon me to the grave, *
    nor let your holy one see the Pit.

11 You will show me the path of life; *
    in your presence there is fullness of joy,
    and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Second Reading: Hebrews 10:11-14 [15-18] 19-25

11Every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, “he sat down at the right hand of God,” 13and since then has been waiting “until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet.” 14For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. [15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying,
16“This is the covenant that I will make with them
  after those days, says the Lord:
 I will put my laws in their hearts,
  and I will write them on their minds,”
17he also adds, 
 “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.] 

19Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

The Word of the Lord

Gospel: Mark 13:1-8

1As [Jesus] came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” 2Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

3When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4“Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. 6Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.”