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, February 23, 2016

The Texts for the Third Sunday in Lent, February 29th, 2016

First Reading: Isaiah 55:1-9

1Ho, everyone who thirsts,
  come to the waters;
 and you that have no money,
  come, buy and eat!
 Come, buy wine and milk
  without money and without price.
2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
  and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
 Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
  and delight yourselves in rich food.
3Incline your ear, and come to me;
  listen, so that you may live.
 I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
  my steadfast, sure love for David.
4See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
  a leader and commander for the peoples.
5See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
  and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
 because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
  for he has glorified you.
6Seek the Lord while he may be found,
  call upon him while he is near;
7let the wicked forsake their way,
  and the unrighteous their thoughts;
 let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
  and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
  nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
9For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
  so are my ways higher than your ways
  and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Psalm: Psalm 63:1-8

 1 O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; 
    my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you,
    as in a barren and dry land where there is no water.

2 Therefore I have gazed upon you in your holy place, 
    that I might behold your power and your glory.

3 For your loving-kindness is better than life itself; 
    my lips shall give you praise.

4 So will I bless you as long as I live 
    and lift up my hands in your Name.

5 My soul is content, as with marrow and fatness, 
    and my mouth praises you with joyful lips,

6 When I remember you upon my bed, 
    and meditate on you in the night watches.

7 For you have been my helper, 
    and under the shadow of your wings I will rejoice.

8 My soul clings to you; 
    your right hand holds me fast.

9 May those who seek my life to destroy it 
    go down into the depths of the earth;

10 Let them fall upon the edge of the sword, 
    and let them be food for jackals.

11 But the king will rejoice in God;
all those who swear by him will be glad; 
    for the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

1I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3and all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.
6Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. 7Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.” 8We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. 10And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Gospel: Luke 13:1-9

1At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.2[Jesus] asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans?3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. 4Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

6Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ 8He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. 9If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ”

Luke 13:1-6 Greek Text

Greek Study Luke 13:1-9

v1 παρησαν (παρειμι) imperf. "there were [some] passing by; a phrase used only once by Luke in his gospel. "Came to him" seems best.
εν αυτω τω καιρω "at that moment of time - temporal use of preposition.
απαγγελλοντες (απαγγελω) pres. part. "who brought news. If we take the verb παρησαν to mean "came" then the participle is adverbial expressing purpose, "they came in order to report "; if, on the other hand, we take the verb to mean "they were present", then the participle serves as an adjective.
εμιξεν (μιγνυμι) aor. "[blood] had mixed" - the sense is "slay together"; so Pilate had given orders for some Galileans to be mass slaughtered while offering sacrifices.

v2 αποκριθεις (αποκρινομαι) aor. pas. part. "[Jesus] answered
δοκειτε (δοκεω) οτι pres. do you suppose that" – a dependent statement of perception expressing what they may think.
παρα + acc. "worse [sinners] than" - an uncommon Semitism (?) comparative taking the sense, Jesus disputes the comparison. "Greater sinners than all other Galileans?"
οτι  πεπονθασιν (πασχω) perf. "because they suffered" - perfect tense expressing "the state of affairs which led to the verdict sinner". 
v3 υμιν dat. pro. "[I tell] you [no]" - [I say] to you [no]. Dative of indirect object.
αλλ (αλλα) "but" - Adversative, as NIV.
εαν μη + subj. "unless" - if not. Introducing a negated conditional clause, 3rd class, where the stated condition has the possibility of becoming a reality, depending on whether there is repentance or not.
απολεισθε (απολλυμι) fut. "you [too] will [all] be destroyed” Jesus is NOT being subtle here.
ομοιως adj. so likewise- expressing a comparison, not between different forms of death, but between the violent nature of the Galilean's death and eternal death. The Galileans' death was vicious and horrible, eternal punishment has something about that as well!  Some commentators argue for a comparison between the punishment meted out to the Galileans' for their minor disturbance compared to that of some future national rebellion.

v4 Jesus gives another example of a nasty death to again make the point all people sin and so all die, but the degree of horror in a person's death is not related to the extent of their sin.
εκεινοι οι δεκαοκτω - "those eighteen" – referring to a well-known event.
ο πυργος "the tower" a tall construction of some kind, "tower" is possible, but a more general construction seems likely, a multi-story building perhaps. Most Israeli homes were at least 2 stories tall, and also remember, Jesus was a contractor so he knew whereof he spoke!!
οφειλεται (ης ου) "guilty" – literally “owed more, i.e. debtors which is the Aramaic sense of a debtor toward God = sinner. 
κατοικουντας (κατοικεω) pres. part. "[all the others] living in Jerusalem" – so it was a local event.
  v5 ουχι "[I tell you] no!" - "Far from it, I tell you", an idiom, sound like Paul in Romans 6.
εαν μη "unless" - forming a negated conditional clause 3rd. class, as above.
μετανοητε (μετανοεω) pres. subj. "you repent" – repentance in the NT. takes the sense of turning around, toward God.

v6 παραβολην (η) "parable" - a teaching parable, distinct from a kingdom parable (a hidden gospel message), serves as an illustration.
πεφυτευμενην (φετευω) perf. pas. part. "planted" figuratively, “growing” so a man had  a fig tree growing in his...
τω αμπελωνι (ων ωνος) "vineyard" - usually a vineyard, actually a garden where there are grape vines and other fruit-bearing trees and plants. 
ζητων (ζητεω) pres. part. "to look" - participle is adverbial, expressing purpose, "he came in order to find fruit"-  the tree was mature, but unproductive. It is often thought the "fig tree" was a symbol for Israel, but the parable here merely illustrates the danger of ignoring the call to repent.
v7 τον αμπελουργον (ος) "the man who took care of the vineyard" – i.e. the gardener.
τρια adj. "for three years" - Meaning it has been three years since the fig tree reached fruit-bearing maturity, not three years since its planting. Depending on the variety, a fig tree could take up to four years before bearing fruit sop this is not a parable about patience.
αφ ου now ερχομαι pres. I have come ζητων (ζητεω) pres. part. to look for" since it has been three years since I came looking for fruit on this fig tree and didn't find any"
ινατι "why [should it use up the soil?]" a shortened form of ινα τι γενηται, lit. "that what may happen" = "why?", to introduce a rhetorical question. It is pointless to waste valuable space in the garden that could be used for a productive tree.   

v8 ο ... αποκριθεις (αποκρινομαι) aor. part. "the man replied" - one having answered  the presence of an article seems to indicate the participle is serving as a subject of λεγει, "says", but that doesn't make sense. The Semitic construction is probably intended, so it reads "the gardener answered the man and said"
αφες (αφιημι) aor. imp. "leave" - permit
εως ο{του + subj. until preposition and the pronoun followed by a subjunctive verb forms an indefinite temporal clause - so "give me time to dig around it and manure it".

v9 μεν ..... δε on the one hand ...... but on the other hand  καν (και αν) + subj. if conditional clause where the stated condition has the possibility of becoming a reality.
εις το μαλλον "next year" for the time to come this phrase has some missing words; so there are several possible translations, "if it will bring fruit, then let it stand in the time to come” or "if it bears fruit, we may postpone the question." None-the-less, the specific meaning of the phrase "against next year” is preferred; so “one more growing season” or idiomatically; “one last chance”.
ει μη γε + ind. "if not" - taken at face value it means that the bearing of fruit is unlikely.

εκκοψεις (εκκοπτω) fut. "then cut [it] down" - future tense is imperatival (you WILL/MAY cut it down)!

Lest you also . . .

If you want to attack your sins, start by attacking your pride. — Peter Kreeft

A quick aside: Yes, we are reading the verses of chapter 13 that begin the chapter having read the latter part of the chapter last week. So, no, your eye are not playing tricks on you. It is strange way to read scripture but here it is. 
Some things to remember about context at this point: Since chapter 11, the pharisees and scribes have been a background presence in the story. Their minions question in chapter 11 whether his power over demons was not from hell itself. One of them invites him to dinner and a debate about cleaning cups and hands versus cleaning souls begins (Lk 11:37-44) One of the scribes realizes that he is maybe saying things about and against them. (Lk 11:45) His reply confirms that he does have issues with them. (Lk 11:46-52) From then on they are hoping to trap him. (Lk 11:53-54) A lengthy sermon on various things follows though leadership in faith is the subject in it. (Lk 12:42ff)
After that sermon, we arrive at the episode for today. The Pharisees are still around. They will be around in the next episode when Jesus heals on the Sabbath and, as we learned last week, they come to tell him Herod is after him maybe in hope he will shut up and go away.
As we begin Chapter 13 Jesus is told about an incident at the temple where Pilate has killed some Galileans. There is no historical record of this event that I have found but it might remind us of the incident of Zechariah the Priest from  2Ch 24:20-22 mentioned earlier in this part of Luke. (11:51) Zechariah was murdered in the temple for proclaiming that the LORD had abandoned Judah and her nobles for ignoring the commandments of God. Shortly before, Judah and Jerusalem had been sent prophets but they had been ignored. (2Ch 24:19) Jesus’ lamentful denunciation of Jerusalem in 13:34 might well be a recollection of this as well. 
The people that bring the news of the massacre seem to ask no question really, they bring news. One might wonder if this had been a subtle invitation to lead a protest or rebellion in response or even a trap to at least condone such a thing. Jesus answer seems to be of the character of a rebuke. That rebuke really creates a problem for anyone who wants to rail against Pilate but also claim that sinners are deserving of their punishment, in other words, the Pharisees. 
Unexpected death in calamity comes to some by power and cruelty implicit in political power and to some from the stupidity of structural engineers as it did to the ones on whom the tower of Siloam fell. Just for interest: The word Siloam means “sent” according to the evangelist John. (Jn 9:7) Jesus seems to equivocate two human miseries here that we probably would not treat such but he does so here to make a point about the contradictions in the thinking of his current  adversaries. 
A parable follows. It concerns fig trees. John Pilch traces fig tree farming in biblical time this way: A tree is planted and needs to grow about three years before becoming productive. After it produces fruit the produce is considered forbidden for three years. (Lv 19:23) The forth year, most likely the seventh year since the planting, the fruit is holy unto the LORD. (Lv 19:24) After that, it can be harvested and its fruit may be eaten. Fig trees bear fruit about 9 month of the year. 
In other words: No produce was expected for three years. After that it was important to see whether it bore fruit because one had to know when the sacrificial year would be and when one was allowed to harvest the fruit. We are at year six. Nothing has happened. A normal tree, a good tree, would be giving fruit to the LORD next year. This tree was not even close to that point. 
We can debate about what or whom this parable was spoken. Was it about the Pharisees and scribes who Jesus is fighting right now? If so, the audience would probably have realized that and would have laughed heartily about the image of them having $&^# piled around them to make them productive. (Pilch)
But, Jesus’ call to repentance in 13:5 seems to be somewhat universal. The point of the parable is likewise universal. The point of Faith is praise to the LORD and blessing to the world. Abram, of who we read last week, was to be a blessing to the world after all. (Gen 12:2-3) Those who are his children by Faith carry the same call. 
Tending that Faith is sometimes, if not often, a very messy process and plenty of $&^# might indeed be involved before fruit is carried. Even then, it is often years — three to be exact but let us not be literal here — before the “tree” praises the LORD. Yet, it must eventually happen. Just as it is the fig tree’s call in life to bear figs so it is the child of Abraham’s call in life to bring forth praise and blessing.
Pharisaism, the parable suggests, is not even at the cusp of fruit much less at the stage of usefulness. Your way of living these days: What Faith does it suggest? What God does it suggest stands behind you? You — not those others over there on whom the tower of Siloam fell — not the ones who died in the Temple — You, yes, you. 
“Religion is at its best when it makes us ask hard questions about ourselves. It is at its worst when it deludes us into thinking we have the answers for everyone else.” — Archibald MacLeish

That is the other lenten question to ask on what is “Homeing Sunday” the third Sunday in Lent. Is your pride in your Lenten disciplines driving you to think: “Everyone should be doing this, why aren’t they?” Well, the Galileans and Zechariah both were massacred in the Temple. It isn’t about any “them.” It is about you. How much $&^# will it take?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Readings For the 2nd Sunday in Lent, February 21st, 2016

First Reading: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
1After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” 4But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” 5He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.
7Then he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” 8But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
12As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.
17When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.”

Psalm: Psalm 27

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom then shall I fear? *
    the LORD is the strength of my life;
    of whom then shall I be afraid?

2 When evildoers came upon me to eat up my flesh, 
    it was they, my foes and my adversaries, who
                             stumbled and fell.

3 Though an army should encamp against me, 
    yet my heart shall not be afraid;

4 And though war should rise up against me, 
    yet will I put my trust in him.

5 One thing have I asked of the LORD;
one thing I seek; 
    that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days
                             of my life;

6 To behold the fair beauty of the LORD 
    and to seek him in his temple.

7 For in the day of trouble he shall keep me safe
                             in his shelter; 
    he shall hide me in the secrecy of his dwelling
    and set me high upon a rock.

8 Even now he lifts up my head 
    above my enemies round about me.

9 Therefore I will offer in his dwelling an oblation
with sounds of great gladness; 
    I will sing and make music to the LORD.

10 Hearken to my voice, O LORD, when I call; 
    have mercy on me and answer me.

11 You speak in my heart and say, "Seek my face." 
    Your face, LORD, will I seek.

12 Hide not your face from me, 
    nor turn away your servant in displeasure.

13  You have been my helper;
cast me not away; 
    do not forsake me, O God of my salvation.

14 Though my father and my mother forsake me, 
    the LORD will sustain me.

15 Show me your way, O LORD; 
    lead me on a level path, because of my enemies.

16 Deliver me not into the hand of my adversaries, 
    for false witnesses have risen up against me,
    and also those who speak malice.

17 What if I had not believed
that I should see the goodness of the LORD 
    in the land of the living!

18 O tarry and await the LORD'S pleasure;
be strong, and he shall comfort your heart; 
    wait patiently for the LORD.

Second Reading: Philippians 3:17--4:1
17Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. 4:1Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

Gospel: Luke 13:31-35

31At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to [Jesus,] “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”

Greek Text For Luke 13:31-35

Greek Study Luke 13:31-35

v31 εν αυτη τη ωρα "at that hour" λεγοντες (λεγω) pres. part. "[they came] and said" circumstance participle expressing action so “in that very moment they came and said."
εξελθε (εξερχομαι) aor. imp. "depart" - aorist expresses punctiliar action, "Get out of Herod's territory" –a friendly warning or the Pharisees are trying to scare Jesus away.
πορευου (πορευομαι) pres. imp. "journey [from here]” present tense expressing a durative action.
αποκτειναι (αποκτεινω) aor. inf. "to kill”. 

v32 πορευθεντες (πορευομαι) aor. pas. part. "[YOU] go!" - these Pharisees are Herod's messengers, so "go back to Herod."
τη αλωπεκι (εχτοσ) dat. "[that] fox" the fox while cunning and vicious, is in Aramaic culture considered an insignificant creature, so there are 3 possible insults at work here; 1) Herod is an insignificant, second rate politician; 2) Herod is a thief and a liar or 3) Herod is malicious and destructive (like a fox, which is, after all, a vermin).  Is suppose it might be “all of the above”, but given the culture most likely it is #1.
εκβαλλω pres. "I will drive out" - durative futuristic present – i.e. irrespective of Herod’s threat Jesus intends to continue his ministry in Herod’s territory (I’ll do what I want, you can’t stop me!)
αποτελω (αποτελεω) pres. "[heal] people".
σημερον και αυριον "today and tomorrow" – a Semitic idiom (which are rare) that literally means "two days", but here idiomatically an indefinite period; "day by day".
τη τριτη "on the third day" – another idiom, meaning “final day” – so the "day by day" ministry of Jesus will progress to a final day at a specific future moment (for Luke either the resurrection or ascension, as the transfiguration is past).  Some claim this is a reference to the three days in the tomb….but then the message would be nonsense to Herod, and it is, as Luke portrays, a specific response to Herod. So it is more likely another insult. Whoda thunk Jesus could be so political?
τελειουμαι (τελειοω) pres. pas. "I will reach my goal" –a theological passive identifying God as the agent of Jesus' completion. 

v33 πλην "nevertheless- a conjunction expressing a contrast with "I am completed" - nevertheless ...." 
δει "it is necessary” used of divine necessity.
πορευεσθαι (πορευομαι) pres. inf. "press on" i.e. the messianic mission of Jesus (his journey to Jerusalem) must continue to its God ordained conclusion.
τη εχομενη (εχω) dat. pres. mid. part. "the next day" a stereotypical phrase of the period meaning "the immediately following day".
ουκ ενδεχεται (ενδεχομαι) pres. "surely it is not possible” reflecting the divine imperative- a touch of irony here; prophets have died outside Jerusalem, but it would be inappropriate for Jesus to do so.
απολεσθαι (απολλυμι) aor. inf. "[can] die"

v34 Ιερουσαλημ voc. "O Jerusalem" – the vocative adds force, this begins a lament.
η αποκτεινουσα (αποκτεινω) pres. part. "you who kill" - present tense expressing the constant λιθοβολουσα (λιθοβολεω) pres. part. "stoning" of God's messengers!
τους απεσταλμενους (αποστελλω) perf. pas. part. "those sent" - the perfect tense refers to prophets sent in the past – it is unlikely that it refers to the apostles being sent in the future.
επισυναξαι (επισυναγω) aor. inf. "to gather" - to gather together. Colloquial 1st. aor. form. The infinitive ` may be classified as forming a dependent statement of perception, expressing what Jesus wants for Israel.
τα τεκνα "children" – not παιδια powerless ones” which has political overtones, this means  male heir, or “affectionate one” and has a clear familial overtone.
εαυτης gen. "her [chicks]" - possessive.
ουκ ηθελησατε (θελω) aor. "you were not willing".
v35 ιδου "behold" pay attention.
ο οικος "[your] house" - some translate "temple", but it is more likely that "the people" is intended.
αφιεται (αφιημι) pres. pas. "is abandoned"  God abandons the “house” of Israel, taking away his protection  and leaving the people to look after themselves. 
ερημος "lonely
ου μη ιδητε (ειδον) aor. subj. "you will not see" - subjunctive with the double negatives forms an emphatic negation; "you will never see.
εως + subj. "until [you say]" ευλογημενος (ευλογεω) perf. pas. part. "Blessed" participle is substantival and best taken with "in the name of the Lord"; "blessed in the name of God / blessed of God is he who comes in the name of the Lord". Possibly hortatory, "God bless him who ....", Barclay.

ο ερχομενος (ερχομαι) pres. part. "the one coming” - participle functions as a substantive; a descriptive of Christ's enthronement.

Covenants Matter

Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound, that saved nice folks like me! — American Hymn, (edited)

While Abram was in a trance a fire pot and a flaming torch moved between the macabre scene he had created. Sacrificial animals were laying on the ground, each hew in two, the two halves lying apart leaving a small path between them. The pot of fire and the torch walked that path as Abram watched in a trance. The whole scene was dressed “in a terrible darkness,” that had fallen.
It was in this manner that the covenant with Abram/ Abraham and the LORD was sealed. In old Testament lore, the scene is never repeated. It seems to, however, have been method of sealing covenants: A critter was split in two and the parties walked between the halves thereby proclaiming: If I break this covenant let me be cut in two as this critter. 
That is a bit rash, don’t you think? I mean: Who in his right mind would swear so radical an oath or make so firm a covenant? Who in her right mind would set so high a price for the needed rethinking of the contract that will certainly come in the future? Is it any wonder that this way of making a covenant is usually described by saying that: “The weaker party in the covenant walked between the pieces,” indicating that certainly this was not done unless it was imposed on one party by force. 
In our story, whatever the interpretation of the ceremony, only the presence of the Almighty walks the bloody path. Abraham is in   a trance and observes. He does not walk and good for him too because his story suggests that his confidence in the covenant is not as solid and unwavering as is needed to satisfy the severity of the matter, though he seems to learn. Witness: The binding of Issac. 
What does any of this have to do with Luke 13? By the time we read the section about the Pharisee’s warning that Herod is seeking to catch Jesus and the beautiful words about Jesus longing  gather Jerusalem under his wings two other episodes have just occurred. In one a woman, a daughter of Abraham as Jesus calls her, has been healed on the Sabbath. 
Not only that, but the question is asked “Will only a few be saved?” (Lk 13:23) Counsel to enter by the narrow door will follow. And then this line to those, though they have heard Jesus speak an have broken bread with him but will be excluded from the Kingdom, is spoken: “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.” (Lk 13:28-29)
In other words: The covenant with Abraham will be kept. There will be a multitude as numerous as the stars that will constitute the Kingdom of God. It was the LORD’s promise in Genesis 15 and it will be kept.
From God’s end that is. 
Over in Jerusalem it is another story. “See, you house is left to you.” (Lk 13:35) If I understand the Greek word: ἀφίημι correctly, it is “left” with negative connotations. Jesus makes those negative connotations fairly clear by noting that Jerusalem is the place that prophets, the very messengers of the God of Abraham, go to be martyred. Jerusalem is left to its own devices in spite of all the holy expectations once placed on it, in spite of all the pious hopes that the Temple therein raised. The “left” in question here makes clear that the divorce was driven from Jerusalem’s side. The presence of the LORD that once walked between the pieces of the sacrificed animals continues to long for Jerusalem’s redemption. (Lk 13:34)
In the story of Luke, the lament for Jerusalem will come up again:
37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” 40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” 41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it. (Lk 19)
The stones on the ground, it would seem, know who is passing by but the cold hearts of the Pharisees and the cold heart of Jerusalem does not. “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (Lk 19:42)
Will Jerusalem receive the LORD or the Son in gladness? Will Jerusalem receive the pot of fire and the torch? How will Jerusalem receive them? Does Jerusalem actually long to say: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD?” 
Maybe this is the question ought to ask: Do you actually want to sing: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD?” I know, you do every Sunday in the Sanctus at Eucharist. But is that the song of your heart? Is the LORD, are those who are before you in His name, blessed in your heart and soul? Is the LORD the longing of your heart?
Paul might ask: “Where is your citizenship?” (Phil 3:20) Where, indeed, are your loyalties? The Pot of Fire and the Torch walked between the pieces. All of the LORD was pledged to Abram in the covenant and all was indeed given. The cross of Jesus Christ that called people of every tribe, every nation, every language (Rev 7:9) to the Kingdom Of God to fulfill that covenant stands as witness. The Sanctus is the national anthem of that place. 

I return to that path between the bits of creatures. The LORD led the way on the gory path. Is the promise good, right, and beautiful enough for you to walk it too?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Texts for Sunday, February 14th, the First Sunday in Lent.

First Reading: Deuteronomy 26:1-11

1When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, 2you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. 3You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” 4When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, 5you shall make this response before the Lord your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. 6When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, 7we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. 8The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; 9and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.” You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God. 11Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.

Psalm: Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, *
    abides under the shadow of the Almighty.

2 He shall say to the LORD,
"You are my refuge and my stronghold, *
    my God in whom I put my trust."

3 He shall deliver you from the snare of the hunter *
    and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He shall cover you with his pinions,
and you shall find refuge under his wings; *
    his faithfulness shall be a shield and buckler.

5 You shall not be afraid of any terror by night, *
    nor of the arrow that flies by day;

6 Of the plague that stalks in the darkness, *
    nor of the sickness that lays waste at mid-day.

7 A thousand shall fall at your side
and ten thousand at your right hand, *
    but it shall not come near you.

8 Your eyes have only to behold *
    to see the reward of the wicked.

9 Because you have made the LORD your refuge, *
    and the Most High your habitation,

10 There shall no evil happen to you, *
    neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.

11 For he shall give his angels charge over you, *
    to keep you in all your ways.

12 They shall bear you in their hands, *
    lest you dash your foot against a stone.

13 You shall tread upon the lion and the adder; *
    you shall trample the young lion and the serpent
under your feet.

14 Because he is bound to me in love,
therefore will I deliver him; *
    I will protect him, because he knows my Name.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; *
    I am with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and bring him to honor.

16 With long life will I satisfy him, *
    and show him my salvation.

Second Reading: Romans 10:8b-13

8b“The word is near you,
  on your lips and in your heart”
(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Gospel: Luke 4:1-13

1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. 3The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’ ”
5Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8Jesus answered him, “It is written, 
 ‘Worship the Lord your God,
  and serve only him.’ ”
9Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10for it is written, 
 ‘He will command his angels concerning you,
  to protect you,’
 ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
  so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

12Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 13When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.