On Tuesday morning the pastors of Lutheran Saints in Ministry gather in Fairborn Ohio to discuss the texts for Sunday.

These are the contributions that are brought to the table.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Texts for Reformation Sunday, 2016 (OT and Gospel Pentecost 24)

First Reading: Isaiah 1:10-18

10Hear the word of the Lord,
  you rulers of Sodom!
 Listen to the teaching of our God,
  you people of Gomorrah!
11What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
  says the Lord;
 I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
  and the fat of fed beasts;
 I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
  or of lambs, or of goats.

12When you come to appear before me,
  who asked this from your hand?
  Trample my courts no more;
13bringing offerings is futile;
  incense is an abomination to me.
 New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation—
  I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity.
14Your new moons and your appointed festivals
  my soul hates;
 they have become a burden to me,
  I am weary of bearing them.
15When you stretch out your hands,
  I will hide my eyes from you;
 even though you make many prayers,
  I will not listen;
  your hands are full of blood.
16Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
  remove the evil of your doings
  from before my eyes;
 cease to do evil,
  17learn to do good;
 seek justice,
  rescue the oppressed,
 defend the orphan,
  plead for the widow.

18Come now, let us argue it out,
  says the Lord:
 though your sins are like scarlet,
  they shall be like snow;
 though they are red like crimson,
  they shall become like wool.

Psalm: Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength, 
    a very present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved, 
    and though the mountains be toppled into the
depths of the sea;

3 Though its waters rage and foam, 
    and though the mountains tremble at its tumult.

4 The LORD of hosts is with us; 
    the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

5 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, 
    the holy habitation of the Most High.

6 God is in the midst of her;
she shall not be overthrown; 
    God shall help her at the break of day.

7 The nations make much ado, and the kingdoms are shaken; 
    God has spoken, and the earth shall melt away.

8 The LORD of hosts is with us; 
    the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

9 Come now and look upon the works of the LORD, 
    what awesome things he has done on earth.

10 It is he who makes war to cease in all the world; 
    he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear,
    and burns the shields with fire.

11 "Be still, then, and know that I am God; 
    I will be exalted among the nations;
    I will be exalted in the earth."

12 The LORD of hosts is with us; 
    the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Second Reading: Romans 3:19-28

19Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.

21But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; 26it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.
27Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.

Gospel: Luke 19:1-10

1[Jesus] entered Jericho and was passing through it.2A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 5When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” 6So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” 8Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” 9Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”

The Greek Text of Luke 19:-111

Greek Study Luke 19:1-10

v1 διηρχετο (διερχομαι) imperf. "was passing through" - Durative, so he had entered Jericho and "was on his way through it".

v2 και ιδου and behold. to focus the reader’s attention, even promote surprise; "suddenly".
ονοματι καλουμενος "by the name of" - a redundant; "whose name was". 
Ζακχαιος "Zacchaeus" - Zechariah, a good Jewish name.
aρχιτελωνης "chief tax collector" - Zacchaeus was the head government official in Jericho for the collection of revenue and probably other government business. He would have purchased this position; likely bartered for it. Zacchaeus was regarded a traitor in the pay of Rome. As part of the tax component, a percentage went to the tax collector, which set at his discretion, heightening the people's hate. 
πολουσιος adj. "wealthy

v3 εζητει (ζητεω) imperf. "he wanted" - The imperfect is durative, so "he was eager…"
ιδειν (ειδον) aor. inf. "to see [Jesus]" to just "see" or to "meet with" – it is unclear.
τις εστιν "who [Jesus] was" - possibly "what Jesus was like".
ουκ ηδυνατο (δυναμαι) imperf. pas. "he could not" απο + gen. "because [of the crowd]".
τη ηλικια (α) dat. "[he was] a short" – a dative of respect; "with respect to his height he was short." As far as the crowd is concerned, Zacchaeus' ‘smallness” is more than a matter of height so no one is likely to get out of his way and let him see Jesus.

v4 προδραμων (προτρεχω) aor. part. "so he ran ahead" - adverbial, consecutive, expressing result, he tried to see Jesus but was unable, with the result that he ran ahead and ...." 
εις το εμπροσθεν into the front a redundant. 
συκομορεαν (α) "sycamore (fig) tree" - mulberry, tree looks like an Oak tree and can grow very large.

v5 αναβλεψας (αναβλεπω) aor. part. "he looked up" (I lift up mine eyes to the hills - Ps 121)
σπευσας (σπευδω) aor. part. "[you come down] immediately".
μειναι (μενω) aor. inf. "stay" remain, abide - infinitive functions as the subject of the verb.
σημερον adv. "today" - Some suggest an allusion to "the coming day, which for Zacchaeus has now come – a realized eschatology. 

v6 σπευσας (σπευδω) aor. part. "at once".
χαιρων (χαιρω) pres. part. "gladly" - the participle is modal, expressing manner Jesus' entry into Zacchaeus' home serves as a sign of forgiveness.

v7 παντες "all" - Not just Pharisees, but all Jews ιδοντες (ειδον)
aor. part. "saw" and διεγογγυζον (διαγογγυζον) imperf. “muttered" – idiom, they bitched…the imperfect is inceptive, “muttering with indignation".
λεγοντες (λεγω) pres. part. saying Attendant circumstance participle, redundant.
καταλυσαι "to be the guest of" from which the word καταλυμι derives as in “there was no room at the καταλυμι, the INN [i.e. guest room] found in Luke 2!

v8 σταθεις (ιστημι) aor. pas. part. "stood up" the standing up serves to underline the importance of what Zacchaeus is about to say or as a reaction to the negative response of his neighbors and thus a defense of Jesus' visit to his home. Possibly an idiom for Zacchaeus stood his ground.
κυριε (ος) "Lord" – formal address 
διδωμι pres. "I am giving” - present tense is interesting as the action is durative. Is Zacchaeus handing money over at the present moment or is it futuristic? David Lose poses that this is an example of our doctrine informing the Greek and not the other way around.  If he is correct, (and grammatically he is undoubtedly correct) this is like to the rich young ruler “I have always kept the Law…” and not so much repentance as a boast! Yet Jesus forgives him anyway!!
τα ημισια pl. adj. "half" - the half. A 50% giving regime seems excessive; Pharisees regarded 20% as generous. 
των υπαρχοντων (υπαρχω) gen. pres. part. "of [my] possessions".
ει εσυκοφαντησα (συκοφαντεω) aor. "if I have cheated" – of course he has cheated…
τινος gen. pro. "out of anything" The genitive is ablative, expressing separation.
αποδιδωμι pres. "I will pay back" - I am paying back. Again, present tense (and do not accept the ‘present durative tense’ explanation for this as this tense was invented for this passage alone - it exists NOWHERE else in Greek writings!)
τετραπλουν adv. "four times the amount" - such theft would require the repayment of what was stolen + a fifth. Zacchaeus offers more than is required by the law – so according to the Law; Zacchaeus is one stand-up dude!

v9 σημερον adv. "today" σωτηρια (α) "salvation" "messianic salvation" = "the kingdom of God has come near to you", 10:9, is present / bursting in upon, such that the believer is free to enter / is welcomed into.
εγενετο (γινομαι) aor. "has come" - came, happened. "Salvation has happened in this house".
τω οικω (ος) dat. "to [this] house" - family - dative is locative, expressing space – an interesting feature in the NT, especially in Acts, is the extension of salvation to the repentant person's house/ family, which is possibly the sense here. 
Αβραηαμ "[is a son] of Abraham" the sense here is unlikely to mean that Zacchaeus aligns with Abraham morally, but that as a descendant of Abraham, he is entitled to salvation because even this tax-collector is a Jew. Or Jesus may be making the point that Zacchaeus possesses the faith of Abraham.

v10 του ανθρωπου (ος) gen. "[the Son] of Man" - relational. Many commentators balk at the title of Jesus' earthly ministry, but also the eschatological title. 
ζητησαι (ζητεω) inf. "to seek [and to save]" - infinitive expressing purpose, "in order to seek" The messiah's role of seeking lost sheep of Israel is central to OT prophecy (Ezk.34). We extend this to include Gentiles, but for the NT, the lost are usually the house of Israel, scattered and facing destruction. Israel is saved by adopting the faith of Abraham, so it is a faith like Abraham's that Gentiles become Abraham's children and are incorporated into Israel as well. 

το απολωλος (απολλυμι) perf. part. "what was lost" – literally the ones being destroyed – the participle serves as a substantive. The perfect tense expressing a past situation which is ongoing. 

That Wee Little Man

There is no crime in possessions but there is a crime in those who do not know how to use possessions. For the foolish wealth is a temptation to vice, but for the wise it is a help to virtue. Some receive an opportunity for salvation, but others acquire an obstacle of condemnation. — Maximus of Turin

There is a story in the Apocrypha of Maccabaeus laying siege to the Idumeans and leaving three commanders in charge: Simon, Joseph and a man named Zacchaeus. Simon’s men loved money and entertained bribes from the besieged army and let them slip away. Maccabaeus had the elders hold trial and he had the guilty executed and immediately he was able to conquer the stronghold. His charge against them was that these greedy ones had sold their own by setting their enemies free to make war against them. 
In biblical lore, this is the only other Zacchaeus mentioned and this story is from 2 Maccabees 10. The name has meaning as well as many biblical names do. In this case it is: “clean, pure, innocent.”
Some have looked at the Greek in 19:8 that is in the present tense. That, coupled with the meaning of the name, has led them to say that Zacchaeus was not converted here but was merely showing that he was righteous and indeed a son of Abraham and that the revelation of that was the true salvation that had come. Verse 16 speaks against this, as does 5:32, as does the simple fact that one cannot give away half of what one has for long.  
Yet, the name might point us in a different direction, namely to verse 18:17: “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Immediately after that in verse 18 begins the story of the Rich Ruler. In a way, there are two rich men here: The unnamed one in 18:17ff and Zacchaeus. One comes for intellectual debate the other comes in amazement just to see and in childlike exuberance climbs a tree to be able to see. Somehow being able to see Jesus is important, something that the blind man by the road (18:35-43) attests to. Both these latter men say in word and deed: “I want to see Jesus.” Both have their longing rewarded. Simeon agrees: “My eyes have seen the salvation that you have prepared in the sight of all the people.” (2:30-31)
“Let me see, let me see! I wanna see!” You can just hear a five year old voice say that sentence. In the blind man, we see the persistence that has annoyed parents for millennia. In Zacchaeus we see the sometimes amusing lengths to which kids go to make things happen, yet here it is a man of means who goes to those lengths.
Somehow, “kingdom happens,” when Jesus is present. Just recall the thief at the cross and the centurion at the foot of the cross. But then there is the Rich Ruler and there are the Pharisees who are somehow impervious to the presence of God in Jesus. Their resistance might well be addressed in the parable that follows the Zacchaeus story. Theirs is rebellion against God. (The Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves — 7:30) The parable is a reuse of history. Herod’s son Archelaus (4BC-6AD) had gone to Rome to be confirmed as king but a Jewish delegation had traveled after him to oppose the appointment. The parable simply says: It will not be well for those who rebel against heaven.
The Pharisees are also portrayed as “lovers of money.” (16:14) In that they were much like Simon’s men in the Maccabaeus story. Their actions release mayhem on their neighbors and their presence prevents the conquest of evil. Being weighed down with many a care will prevent appreciation of, any fascination with, the presence of Christ. Just ask Martha (10:41)
The question the story asks the church is simple: The kingdom is received by those who have their eyes not on the worldly things, where then are your eyes? On cathedrals? On admiration in the public squares? On being the authoritative voice in the public discourse? On numbers of hind ends in the pews? On power and influence over the thoughts, actions, and souls of those who “belong?” On power to bring conformity? 
All these are not really directed toward heaven, are they? Please, don’t respond by telling me of how many prayers your congregational members have said in your last “Prayer Quests Program,” and I really don’t care how many you claim have found “purpose.” The fact that you kept tabs illustrates the problem. Even the good can be made into an earthly ambition and we know it. 

No, the church is only “church” when the words and direction are: “I want to see. I want to see! Let me see,” and does not compromise until everyone indeed sees. We can’t settle for less.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Texts for the 23rd Sunday after the Pentecost, October 23rd, 2016

First Reading: Jeremiah 14:7-10, 19-22

7Although our iniquities testify against us,
  act, O Lord, for your name’s sake;
 our apostasies indeed are many,
  and we have sinned against you.
8O hope of Israel,
  its savior in time of trouble,
 why should you be like a stranger in the land,
  like a traveler turning aside for the night?
9Why should you be like someone confused,
  like a mighty warrior who cannot give help?
 Yet you, O Lord, are in the midst of us,
  and we are called by your name;
  do not forsake us!

10Thus says the Lord concerning this people:
 Truly they have loved to wander,
  they have not restrained their feet;
 therefore the Lord does not accept them,
  now he will remember their iniquity
  and punish their sins.

19Have you completely rejected Judah?
  Does your heart loathe Zion?
 Why have you struck us down
  so that there is no healing for us?
 We look for peace, but find no good;
  for a time of healing, but there is terror instead.
20We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord,
  the iniquity of our ancestors,
  for we have sinned against you.
21Do not spurn us, for your name’s sake;
  do not dishonor your glorious throne;
  remember and do not break your covenant with us.
22Can any idols of the nations bring rain?
  Or can the heavens give showers?
 Is it not you, O Lord our God?
  We set our hope on you,
  for it is you who do all this.

Psalm: Psalm 84:1-7

1 How dear to me is your dwelling, O LORD of hosts! 
    My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of
                             the LORD;
    my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.

2 The sparrow has found her a house
and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young; 
    by the side of your altars, O LORD of hosts,
    my King and my God.

3 Happy are they who dwell in your house! 
    they will always be praising you.

4 Happy are the people whose strength is in you! 
    whose hearts are set on the pilgrims' way.

5 Those who go through the desolate valley will find
                             it a place of springs, 
    for the early rains have covered it with pools of water.

6 They will climb from height to height, 
    and the God of gods will reveal himself in Zion.

7 LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; 
    hearken, O God of Jacob.

Second Reading: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

6As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

16At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! 17But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Gospel: Luke 18:9-14

9[Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt:10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 13But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The Greek Text of Luke 18:9-14

Luke 18:9-14

9He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt:  10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  11The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like
other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  12I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’  13But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’  14I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

v9 τους πεποιθοτας (πειθω) perf. part. "[some] who were confident" - being persuaded, convinced, trusting – idiom meaning those who were complacently pleased with themselves over their δικαιοι adj. "righteousness (last week’s parable was about the nature of this).
τους ..... εξουθενουντας (εξουθενεω) pres. part. "looked down on [everybody else]" - despising, holding contempt for τους πεποιθοτας. not "despised" but "the scorned".

προσευξασθαι (προσευχομαι) aor. inf. "to pray" - infinitive expresses purpose - prayer services were a regular feature of temple worship - not unlike “the hours”.
τελωνης (ης ου) "tax collector" - a Jew working for the Roman government and feeding off fellow Jews so a traitor the closest modern parallel would be a corrupt politician.

σταθεις (ιστημι aor. pas. part. "stood up" - implies the positioning of oneself to make an important public statement. 
ο θεος "God" - Nominative of address with the force of vocative – a personal address.
ευχαριστω (ευχαριστεω) pres. "I thank" - the ideal of a pious man is to be thankful so what has this Pharisee done wrong? Probably nothing – in fact he is presented as a good moral man. οι λοιποι των ανθρωπων "other men" - the rest of men expressing exclusivity.
αρπαγες (αξ αγος) "robbers" αδικοι adj. "unjust" (the judge in the previous parable is included in this, μοιχοι (ος) "adulterers" and NOW he’s getting personal...

v12 νηστευω pres. "I fast" του σαββατου (ον) "[twice] a week" – literally as the Sabbath requires; which is the minimum requirement.... 
κτωμαι (κταομαι) pres. "[I tithe all] I get" – i.e. he counts the GROSS not the NET which is the maximum requirement

ετως (ιστημι) perf. part. "stood [at a distance]" - either standing far away from the people, or in the outer court of the temple, or far away from God...
ηθελεν (θελω) ουκ ... ουδε  imperf. "he would not even" - Double negative emphasizing his deference and unworthiness to approach God.
ετυπτεν (τυπτω) imperf. "beat [his breast]" -  imperfect expressing repeated action.
ιλασθητι (ιλασκομαι) aor. pas. imp. "have mercy" - the sense in the passive voice, is forgive although "mollify or make amends", cf. Ex.32:14, is also possible. 
τω αμαρτωλω (ος) dat. "the sinner" so the phrase should read "have mercy on me the sinner".

v14a Here is the punch-line.
παρ (παρα) + acc. "[this man] rather than [the other]" is 
δεδικαιωμενος (δικαιοω) perf. pas. pat. [went down to his house] justified before God" -  which tells you two things, 1) he was a towny and 2) he went down in a state of being justified. It has been long asserted that Luke was a traveling companion to St. Paul, here as in Chapter 15 one wonders if Luke and his stories influenced Paul's theology or vice versa.  

V14b is an independent saying, it likely derives from Jesus, but was probably not originally part of this parable. The punch-line of the parable is 14a. This saying may have been added during oral transmission or stitched on to the parable by Luke. Either way it explains how a good man ends up condemned and a bad man ends up blessed. There is no ignoring the eschatological nature of this verse.

οτι because” ο υψων (υψοω) part. "[everyone] who exalts" - in the sense of lifted up to a high station.
ταπεινωθησεται (ταπεινοω) fut. pas. "will be humbled" – a theological passive, the agent of the action is God. The "proud", or more particularly the "self-righteous", will be humiliated in the day of judgment.

ο .. ταπεινων (ταπεινοω) pres. part. "those who humble [themselves]" υψωθησεται (υψοω) fut. pas. "will be exalted" - as opposed to abased, at the final judgment.