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, July 26, 2016

The Texts for July 31st, the 11th Sunday after Pentecost, 2016

First Reading: Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23

2Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher,
  vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

12I, the Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem, 13applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. 14I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.

2:18I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to those who come after me 19—and who knows whether they will be wise or foolish? Yet they will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20So I turned and gave my heart up to despair concerning all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21because sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? 23For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity.

Psalm: Psalm 49:1-12

1 Hear this, all you peoples;
hearken, all you who dwell in the world, 
    you of high degree and low, rich and poor together.

2 My mouth shall speak of wisdom,
    and my heart shall meditate on understanding.

3 I will incline my ear to a proverb 
    and set forth my riddle upon the harp.

4 Why should I be afraid in evil days, 
    when the wickedness of those at my heels surrounds me,

5 The wickedness of those who put their trust in their goods, 
    and boast of their great riches?

6 We can never ransom ourselves, 
    or deliver to God the price of our life;

7 For the ransom of our life is so great, 
    that we should never have enough to pay it,

8 In order to live for ever and ever, 
    and never see the grave.

9 For we see that the wise die also;
like the dull and stupid they perish 
    and leave their wealth to those who come after them.

10 Their graves shall be their homes for ever,
their dwelling places from generation to generation, 
    though they call the lands after their own names.

11 Even though honored, they cannot live for ever; 
    they are like the beasts that perish.

12 Such is the way of those who foolishly trust in themselves, 
    and the end of those who delight in their own words.

Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-11

1So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
5Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. 7These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. 8But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices 10and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 11In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

Gospel: Luke 12:13-21

13Someone in the crowd said to [Jesus,] “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

Where is it all from?

What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. — James 4:14

I wonder if today’s parable is not lost on us. We think that saving for the future is a virtue and the parables we tell ourselves are of grasshoppers and ants, parables that, at least on that surface, put us on the side of the rich fool in Luke 12. 
It would seem from the episode that brought on the parable that Jesus sees greed in the request from a man in the crowd to act as arbiter of an inheritance dispute. As a matter of fact, he says so outright. To drive the matter home, Jesus follows the parable with a sermonette urging us not to worry about tomorrow so much. It will worry about itself. The ants in the room cringe at this every time they hear it. 
What of value does the man in the parable actually do? The language of the parable is quite clear: The Land has produced a large harvest, not the man. That too may be a lost thought, tractors, industrial planting techniques, fertilizer and weed or pest control measures available through good chemistry seem to make growing a crop less a gift than a labor mixed in with a bit of luck.
Worse, most of us live from the products of lands far away. We eat stuff that has never seen our faces when it was just beginning to grow. We are strangers to the food we eat. The money that is in our bank accounts on the other hand has the sweat of our brows written upon it and, yes: ”we did that,” or at least or family and ancestors “did that.“
Every year my congregation sponsors a community yard sale. We have done it for 30 years now. We have spent 30 years contemplating the flotsam of the generations pass over our fellowship hall tables. Heirlooms and novel ideas from days past. Technology once great and marvelous now on sale for $1 if you would be so kind to save us the trip to the tech-recyclers. Things once deemed precious now available for a quarter and much will go from our tables to yet other yard sales from whence many had come. Today’s precious things will come across the table in due time.
This seems to be there accounting that Jesus holds up for us. In the words of Psalm 49 (also in the lectionary for today): “6 We can never ransom ourselves, or deliver to God the price of our life; 7 For the ransom of our life is so great, that we should never have enough to pay it, 8 In order to live for ever and ever, and never see the grave.”
In these days, it might be a good approach to life to meditate on the impermanence of life. As I write, yet another act of small scale terrorism has taken place through the night, this time in France where a church was stormed, hostages taken, and a priest murdered. As I write, yet another political party is putting on a dog and pony show to convince me that only they can protect my life and only they can assure that I will live prosperously and only they are privy to the secret wisdom that will make life work out best for me. All I have to do is give them treasure so they can assure it by the election they hope to buy from those unwashed imbeciles that must be swayed by adverts on the telly. 
The depth of greed might well be the will or hope to live life on our own terms, live it without want, need, or terror, and live it forever. The parable answers: That is not the outcome and not the purpose of life. The riches you have, the crops that God gave you, the breath in your lungs, the very life you live is not yours for you did not cause it. These are gifts given from eternity to be used for . . . well, for whom? You? Just you? Is it all about you? Peace on earth, is it just about and for you so you need not be afraid? Making peace is it about peace or is it about you being claimed the peacemaker? 

It is the hardest thing in the universe to live the idea that our lives are given to be lived for others. To say that God is love is to say that God is for us. To use St Therese Lisieux: In this mixed up world will you too ”Be Love?”

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Texts for Sunday, July 24th, the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, 2016

First Reading: Genesis 18:20-32

20Then the Lord said, “How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! 21I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know.”
22So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. 23Then Abraham came near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” 26And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.” 27Abraham answered, “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29Again he spoke to him, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” 30Then he said, “Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” 31He said, “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” 32Then he said, “Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.”

Psalm: Psalm 138

1 I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with my whole heart; 
    before the gods I will sing your praise.

2 I will bow down toward your holy temple
and praise your Name, 
    because of your love and faithfulness;

3 For you have glorified your Name 
    and your word above all things.

4 When I called, you answered me; 
    you increased my strength within me.

5 All the kings of the earth will praise you, O LORD, 
    when they have heard the words of your mouth.

6 They will sing of the ways of the LORD, 
    that great is the glory of the LORD.

7 Though the LORD be high, he cares for the lowly; 
    he perceives the haughty from afar.

8 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe; 
    you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies;
    your right hand shall save me.

9 The LORD will make good his purpose for me; 
    O LORD, your love endures for ever;
    do not abandon the works of your hands.

Second Reading: Colossians 2:6-15 [16-19]

6As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

8See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. 9For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. 11In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; 12when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, 14erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. 15He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it. [
16Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. 17These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking, 19and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.]

Gospel: Luke 11:1-13

1[Jesus] was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”2He said to them, “When you pray, say: 
 Father, hallowed be your name.
  Your kingdom come.
  3Give us each day our daily bread.
  4And forgive us our sins,
   for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
  And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
5And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

9“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Luke 11:1-12 Greek Text

Greek Study Luke 11:1-13
και εγενετο (γινομαι) aor. "once upon a time".
εν τω + inf. "[Jesus] was" - This preposition with the articular infinitive of the verb to-be, forms a temporal clause of indefinite time; "once, while he was"
προσευχομενον (προσευχομαι) pres. part. "praying" - a present periphrastic construction, underlining the durative aspect of the verb.
εν τοπω τινι "in a certain place" –an indefinite location.
των μαθητων (ης ου) gen. "[one] of his disciples" - adjectival, partitive.
διδαζον (διδασκω) aor. imp. "teach [us]" - imperative, aorist indicating urgency.
προσερχεσθαι (προσερχομαι) pres. inf. "to pray" - infinitive forms an object clause expressing what Jesus should "teach", namely, " to pray. The request is prompted by the disciples once again finding Jesus at prayer.
καθως "just as" - we don't know how or what John taught his disciples when it came to prayer. The disciples are probably asking for a distinctive prayer for disciples of Jesus, in the same way John's disciples had a distinctive prayer. 

v2  οταν + subj. "when [you pray]
Πατερ (πατηρ) voc. "Father" An affectionate term, so "Daddy", although an adult would not use this word in this childish sense. Such an intimate address to Yahweh is a revolutionary act, although there are some Old Testament precedents, Ps.89:26, Jer. 3:4, 19. Though Jesus taught his disciples to address God as "our Father", he never included himself in the "our" since his relationship to the Father is unique. For Jesus it is always "my Father."
αγιασθητω (αιαζω) aor. pas. imp. "hallowed be" - held in reverence, glorified, sanctified. The aorist indicates an eschatological honoring past action with daily ongoing recognition of his person. 
το ονομα (α ατος) "[your] name" – Your being, whole self.
η βασιλεια (α) "[you] kingdom" - Note variant, "thy holy Spirit come on us and purify us", rejected by most, but very Lukan. Most commentators understand the kingdom of God in the sense of "God's rule of righteousness " the term is used dynamically of the act of ruling. Possibly the eschatological rule of God through Christ, although the kingdom is a now/not yet reality. The term "kingdom of God" is used by Luke 31 times, and "kingdom" 6. Some scholars suggest "dominion" in the sense of authority and territory. 
ελθετω (ερχομαι) aor. imp. "come" - be inaugurated although the kingdom, in the sense of God's eschatological reign, is already inaugurated and so the sense is more likely "be realized" or "consummated."

v3 In the Gk., note the interesting position of the object, "bread", ie. it is in front of the imperative, "give". As noted above, the petitions in the Lord's prayer most likely rest on God's promised blessings to his children. St. Francis believed our daily provision is promised by God, realized by faith, but this view does not properly address the intent of Jesus' words. It seems likely that survival provisions are not promised to believers, who, with all humanity, face the vagaries of life in a world broken by sin. What then is the promised "bread"?
διδου (διδωμι) pres. imp. "give" - present tense is durative, activity as an ongoing process, so "continually give."
το καθ ημεραν "with each day" - "day by day."
τον επιουσιον adj. "daily [bread]" - perhaps remembering the provision of Manna for Israel in their journey through the wilderness. So for the NT saint the provision is not physical "bread" but spiritual "bread", eg. the gifts of the Spirit, a "bread" which is promised. Other possible interpretations have been suggested and tend to be based on the etymology of "daily", a word which remains somewhat of a mystery. 

v4 αφες (αφιημι) aor. imp. "forgive" - the aorist imperative encapsulates the whole of the action and therefore leans toward an eschatological forgiveness at the final judgment. For the daily forgiveness of sins an imperfective tense would have been used, none-the-less, many commentators argue for a "regular forgtiving", Stein. This position my find support in the fact that there is no evidence for the use of the present imperative of this verb, so Nolland.
ημιν dat. pro. "us" - Dative of interest, advantage.
ημων gen. pro. "our [sins]" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive, although may be classified as verbal, subjective.
γαρ "for" - introducing a causal clause explaining why God would answer the prayer, namely, "because" even sinful humanity has the capacity to forgive. 
αυτοι "we ourselves”
αφιομεν (αφιημι) pres. "forgive" - present tense is durative, so "practice forgiveness".
οφειλοντι (οφειλω) pres. part. "who sins against" - participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "everyone". Not literal debts, but rather, the word "debt" and "sin" were interchangeable for Second Temple Jews, although this was not so in classical Greek which is why Luke replaces Matthew's "debts" with "sins" in "forgive us our sins".
μη εισενεγκης (εισφερω) aor. subj. "lead us not" – a prohibitive subjunctive.  The with the subjunctive, forms a prohibition that covers, not the commencement of the action, "do not begin to", but the whole of the action; so "do not let us be overcome by..."
πειρασμον (ος) "temptation" possibly eschatological tribulation when even the faithful fall away. The request is not that we be spared such tests, since such tests are promised, but that we not succumb to them. 

v5 Parable of The Midnight Friend, v5-8 is often treated as if teaching persistence in prayer. But this seems unlikely. Given the thrust of the teaching sayings following the parable, it seems more likely that the parable teaches a "how much more" lesson. If a midnight guest can get what he wants from a reluctant friend, imagine what we can get from a gracious God. 
χρησον (κιχρημι) aor. imp. "lend" - As in allow me to have the use of…"
κακεινος "the one [inside]" – a derogatory or sarcastic reference.
αποκριθεις (αποκρινομαι) aor. pas. part. "answers" -attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the main verb "may say", pleonastic (redundant).
μη ... παρεχε (παρεχω) pres. imp. "don't bother" - present tense is durative expressing ongoing trouble. Probably the image is of a small house where getting up to open the door will wake the household. 
μοι dat. pro. "me" - to/for me. Dative of indirect object / interest, disadvantage.
μετ (μετα) + gen. "with" - [the children of me are] with [me in the bed] expressing association/accompaniment.
ου δυναμαι pres. "I am not able” possibly stronger; "I won't " ναστας (ανιστημι) aor. part. "get up".

v8 We finally come to the answer of the rhetorical question asked in v5. Of course, in verse five the question was formed in the second person plural, but this seems to have been lost in the journey and is further disturbed by the addition of "I tell you" (this phrase is often used to indicate an application of, or conclusion to, an argument and so can be left untranslated). 
ει και + ind. "though" - a concessive conditional clause, 1st class, where the condition stated in the protasis is viewed as true, "if as is the case....then” - the conditional clause is best translated as "even if .... then certainly".
αναστας (ανιστημι) aor. part. "[he will not] get up and [give]" - having arisen. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the main verb "will not give", so "get up and give", as NIV.
δια το + inf. "because [he is his friend] / [because of] friendship" – an articular infinitive of the verb to-be governed by the preposition "because", forming a causal clause expressing the reason for the action of the verb "will not give." 
την αναιδειαν (α) means "boldness or shameless audacity"  and is a hapax legomenon. But it is also a disputed translation which is why numerous translations propose: "persistence", "boldness", "shamelessness" in the sense that making such a demand at midnight is any of those. There is a problem with the grammar in that ουτον "his", of "his shame", seems to align with "friend" which refers to the man knocking not the man asleep (although not necessarily). The illustration does not teach that the man in bed is supposed to represent God; this is not an allegory but a sermon illustration. The point is if a friend will comply with a difficult request (albeit belatedly) what can you expect of God?
εγερθεις (εγειρω) aor. pas. part. "he will surely get up" - attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "he will give."
ωσων gen. pro. "as much as [he needs]" - [he has need of] whatever. Genitive of direct object after the verb χρηζει, "has need of."

v9 Sayings on prayer, v9-13: a) The reliability of God - He keeps his promises, v9-10. These two stitched sayings of Jesus serve to apply the parable. If a friend will give you what you ask, even when it is inconvenient to do so, imagine what God will do for you when you ask something of him, so ask ... The general nature of the saying has led to the view that a believer can ask anything of God and it will be given. Sometimes this view is moderated by qualifications such as "asking in faith / believing", even of being in a state of grace, forgiven, living a righteous life, etc. The context, especially v13, indicates that this is not a general promise for "anything", but specifically of a saving right relationship with God through Christ. Ask for his friendship and it is ours for eternity, seek him and we will find him, knock on his door and we will be welcomed into his presence. It is though possible that the saying has a wider application in that the good gift of the Spirit, cf. v13, encompasses all the promised blessings of the kingdom.
καγω υμιν λεγω "so I say to you" - to introduce a conclusion or application. 
αιτειτε (αιτεω) pres. imp. "ask" - present imperative urging activity as an ongoing process, so "make it your habit to ask".
δοθησεται (διδωμι) fut. pas. "it will be given" - a theological passive expressing God as the agent.
υμιν dat. pro. "to you" - Dative of indirect object.
υμιν dat. pro. "[will be opened] to you" - Dative of interest, advantage.
α αιτων (αιτεω) pres. part. "[everyone] who asks" - the one asking.
λαμβανει (λαμβανω) pres. "receives" - present tense is iterative, expressing repeated action. 
τω κρουοντι (κρουω) dat. pres. part. " the one knocking" - participle serves as a substantive, dative of advantage.
ανοιγησεται (ανοιγω) fut. pas. "will be opened" - variant in the present tense exists and has strong support. Again, may be treated as a theological passive.
τινα "which" - who, what, why an interrogative pronoun.
αιτησει (αιτεω) fut. "if [your son] asks for" - deliberative future. Here the possibility is made unlikely by the negative connective μη. In fact, the και probably reflects the original construction which was possibly a Semitic conditional sentence with the apodosis in the form of a question, "if any father among you is asked by his son for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish"? Marshall. The syntax of the sentence is difficult, ie. an anacoluthon (Luke has lost his way with the grammar). Note the double accusative construction ("fathers" and "fish") with "asks", "which" and "fathers" in apposition. The articular form of "fathers" and "son" serve to express the possessive.
ιχθυν (υς υος) "a fish" - Is the fish actually an eel?

v13 διδοναι (διδωμι) pres. inf. "[know] how to give".
ποσω μαλλον "how much more" - the key to understanding the passage as a whole. ο εξ ουρανου "[your Father] in heaven" - from heaven. The article may not be original. The sense may be "the Father gives from heaven the 
πνευμα αγιον "the Holy Spirit" - as opposed to Matthew's "good gifts" variant, "good gifts" also exists for Luke, but it is more than likely that "Holy Spirit" is original. Luke's propensity to affirm the role of the Spirit is an unlikely motivation for changing an original "good gifts" since the gift of the Spirit, for Luke, waits for Pentecost. 

τοις αιτουσιν (αιτεω) pres. part. "those who ask" - participle serves as a substantive.

Would you like some tea?

“Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life

C. E. Murphy writes: “In Ireland, you go to someone's house, and she asks you if you want a cup of tea. You say no, thank you, you're really just fine. She asks if you're sure. You say of course you're sure, really, you don't need a thing. . . Well, she says then, I was going to get myself some anyway, so it would be no trouble. Ah, you say, well, if you were going to get yourself some, I wouldn't mind a spot of tea, at that, so long as it's no trouble and I can give you a hand in the kitchen. Then you go through the whole thing all over again until you both end up in the kitchen drinking tea and chatting. 
In America, someone asks you if you want a cup of tea, you say no, and then you don't get any damned tea.
I liked the Irish way better.”  (Urban Shaman)

Hospitality is not a transaction it is an interaction. American tea, to use Murphy, is a transaction while Irish tea is an interaction. The tea is irrelevant even though eventually one gets around to it. The interaction is one of mutual assurance. It is a careful dance meant to solidify bonds, work on mutual understanding, and assure commitments. The tea is good in the end but the ritual, if it is that, leads to a sharing of hearts. It leads to a mutuality of purpose of which the tea is a tangible sign. 
We consider the rest of the story of Abraham and the visitors at the oak of Mamre, a text rich in the traditions of hospitality and patronage is set against the teaching on prayer from Luke 11 in our lectionary.
Prayer and Hospitality have things in common. All the factors listed above for hospitality are active in prayer as well. What it is that you pray for is really less important than you might think. The haggling, the give and take, the coming to a mutual mind is the real heart of prayer. 
Our story from Abraham is really not clear about a simple thing Abraham prays for: Does God have a change of mind? It would seem so. Perhaps there were not 10 righteous  people in Sodom and Gomorra. Or maybe there were but God made them leave. That is the story of Lot’s flight from Sodom after all. To be honest, God knowing the content of human hearts ought be assumed to know exactly how much or little righteousness there was. Yet, knowing that, God does not cut the conversation short. The retort: “Abraham, give it up, there are not 20 righteous souls in Sodom,” is not in the scripture. 
On the other hand, God does have a change of heart in the story. Genesis 18:17-18 shows the Lord rethinking the depth of his relationship to this Abraham: “The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?”
Did Abraham change? Well, that depends on what your definition of“tea” might be. In Genesis 18 we are in the middle of Abraham’s story. Ishmael has been conceived and born. Ishmael is Abraham and Sarah’s attempt to bring in the promise by their own means and actions. Here, somehow without warning, the birth of Isaac is foretold and it will happen. It is not the “tea” that Abraham had negotiated about but it was the “tea” that was actually in his heart: Are you real or are you an illusion of mine? Am I doing this by myself or are you behind the things that happen? Is my discipleship and your purpose aligned? Will there be a kingdom with children more numerous than the stars? The “tea” is that there is indeed a covenant, a tangible relationship between the patriarch and matriarch and the Lord most high with mutuality of purpose of which the Isaac is a tangible sign.
Prayer is an act of hospitality. It is not as if God can only work in a place of welcome — ask Sodom about that. Luther — the early Luther who was still sympathetic to the mystics — likened Baptism to the marriage of soul and Lord who then took residence in the heart of the believer, taking on the believers filth and sin and giving glory and obedience in return. It is called the Joyous exchange. (Freedom of a Christian) In hospitality to that presence, goes the thinking of an early Luther and the mystic, the outer human being will be changed by the workings of the Lord within. 
So, it was not your turn to use the community oven in the village, but wouldn’t you know, friends showed up and you had to host them. Your friend next door had gotten to bake that day. Where will you get bread? (Luke 11:5-8) Again, it is in the interaction a symbol of larger hospitality is given: He will get up and give as much as needed. The hospitality that is prayer is not individual it is communal as well.They will all rise to give hospitality because by doing so, some have hosted angels.
Today, after two horrendous weeks of civil discontent worldwide, calls for “thoughts and prayers” are made and answered by many with harsh rebukes that thoughts and prayers mean nothing and are merely an excuse for inaction. “Speed the plough, I wait no more for fire from God!” Will we have another Ishmael? Will we have another Issac?

Will we get some damned tea?