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, May 30, 2018

The Readings for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, Lectionary 3 June 3rd. 2018

First Reading: Deuteronomy 5:12-15

12Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 14But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you. 15Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.

Psalm: Psalm 81:1-10

For the leader; “upon the gittith.” Of Asaph.


Sing joyfully to God our strength;
    raise loud shouts to the God of Jacob!
Take up a melody, sound the timbrel,
    the pleasant lyre with a harp.
Blow the shofar at the new moon,
    at the full moon, on our solemn feast.
For this is a law for Israel,
    an edict of the God of Jacob,
He made it a decree for Joseph
    when he came out of the land of Egypt.


I heard a tongue I did not know:
    “I removed his shoulder from the burden;
    his hands moved away from the basket.
In distress you called and I rescued you;
    I answered you in secret with thunder;
At the waters of Meribah I tested you: ‘Listen, my people, I will testify against you
    If only you will listen to me, Israel!
10 There shall be no foreign god among you;
    you shall not bow down to an alien god.

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:5-12
5We do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Gospel: Mark 2:23--3:6

23One sabbath [Jesus] was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” 25And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? 26He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” 27Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; 28so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

3:1Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” 4Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

The Gospel according to littleness - a reflection on Mark 2:23-3:6

When you begin to read or listen to the Holy Scriptures, pray to God thus: "Lord Jesus Christ, open the ears and eyes of my heart so that I may hear Thy words and understand them, and may fulfill Thy will." Always pray to God like this, that He might illumine your mind and open to you the power of His words. Many, having trusted in their own reason, have turned away into deception. — Ephrem the Syrian

The Book of Mark is a remarkable piece of literature. The hero arrives and begins his quest just sort of out of nowhere. By the beginning of chapter 3 plots are being hatched to kill him. At that time, we are only 80 verses into the story. The table is set very clearly here: There was a war between the Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees — the polictico- religious experts and authorities — on the one hand, and God in Jesus on the other. The rest of the book is a recounting of who ended up winning.
My old colleague Steve Schou was working on his Masters Degree when we first met 26 years ago. It was his thesis that Mark wrote in and out of a community that was used to struggle hard and even heroically at life only to loose in the end. At the same time, that community somehow found dignity in both, the struggle and the outcome. This, the thesis was, very much reflected the experience of many communities through history, particularly the settlers of North Dakota and their descendants. 
I am not sure where Steve went with this thesis as we lost touch some time ago. But the basics can be explained very quickly: Whatever the reality that we might enter might be, forces are afoot that oppose us and they are cunning, powerful, and well connected. They define reality for the rest of us and will not abide with any challenge to that definition. But their definition is flawed at the very root so that in the end they actually do not know what “reality” actually is.
For Steve, this resonated with the Dakota settlement. It had been run from Washington, D.C. by edict and it had been designed  for the Iowa settlement. “Worked there, why not use it in the Dakotas, How different can they be?” Well, they were different. Very different. A section of land fed a family well in Iowa. In North Dakota, it yielded just enough to make you think that with a little more struggle you could make it. But the harshness of the weather and the poverty of the soil worked against you just as much as Uncle Sam — far away and as unaware of reality as he was unconcerned, since reality was “made” in D.C. anyway —  who met your pleas that a single section was not enough to sustain a family with indifference. The forces eventually killed you by blizzard or starvation. 
It is said that Mark was written for the poor and little in Mideastern life anno 70AD or so. The losers if you will. The ones most certainly were at the mercy of many forces, especially the weather that affected their harvests, and most certainly did not define reality. Where will they find dignity? In the reality and teachings of the Pharisees? 
In that reality God wants them hungry on the Sabbath, the very day dedicated to the very God who shed out his providence in creation that ended on Sabbath. In that reality, creation gets to sit blemished because, after all, God said to rest and therefore no one should redeem or mend creation on the day of rest. There is something satanic about that. It says: “There is someone who could help you but we forbid him to do that.” The disciples will visit that place in 9:38-41 as they try to forbid an unknown exorcist from using the power of the name of Jesus. They are met with Jesus’ rebuke.
For us in 2018, the story has but an amusing ring to it. Those silly ancients and their silly little customs. We know better.
12  The wicked plot against the righteous
    and gnash their teeth at them;
13  But my Lord laughs at them,
    because he sees that their day is coming. (Ps 37:12-14)
Peter Kreeft once quipped: “If you think you have it all figured out, don’t forget the toilet paper.” (Yes, I have used that in the sermon before. No, it was not universally appreciated) But, it gets to the heart of all human endeavor: Where will any of us, Pharisee, Herodian, 1st century peasant, 16th century monk, 20th century schizoid man, or 21st century American ultimately find our dignity? In our own definitions or refusal to have or accept any definitions? No matter who we are and on whose side we are on, no matter how noble our Pharisees and Herodians might sound, the hungry are hungry and the withered hand remains useless. 

Some moons ago we heard the words: “Remember, you are but dust and to dust you must return.” (Gn 3:15) It is a sentence that ought to be recalled all through the year. It is a realistic attitude, yet few embrace it. Reality is lived by all of us, but only God gets to define what it means, why it ends, how it ends, and what happens next and only in tracing the life of Jesus ourselves will that definition emerge for us (cm 1 Pt 2:21) Mark, we might observe, is a Gospel of action, not so much of teaching. The actions of Jesus suggest that love for our neighbors is the prime directive to follow and that in doing so, God’s definition of reality and therefore true human dignity are brought to light. We “are” when we serve without thought of reward or benefit, and often to the derision from those who think our service is misguided, misplaced, wrong, or just plain benighted. This, is how they treated the prophets, this is how they treated the Saints, this is how they treated the Son of Man, and they may treat us that way as well. We can only pray.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Greek Text Study for Mark 2:23-3:6

Mark 2:23-3:6

2:23 παραπορευεσθαι (παραπορευομαι) pres. inf. "was going [through]" - infinitive forms an infinitival clause, subject of the verb εγενετο "it became / happened" = "to pass through the grainfields on the Sabbath happened".
των σπαριμων adj. "grainfields" - adjective "sown" here used as a substantive, = the grain would be either wheat or barley.
ποιειν (ποιεω) pres. inf. "walked" – literally [began] to do the infinitive is complementary,  probably with the sense "make their way ....", usually shortened to "they began plucking". The phrase is descriptive of the disciples pushing their way through a grainfield and so making a path for themselves. Technically “free” reaping is allowed along only the edge for the poor and hungry. And this is the heart of the complaint, they are neither poor nor hungry, hjut taking a short cut.
τιλλοντες (τιλλω) pres. part. "they began to pick" - participle is adverbial, probably modal expressing the manner in which they passed.
v24 ο ουκ εξεστιν "what is unlawful" - not permitted. "The Pharisees regarded what the disciples were doing as work. That the Pharisees were always present to make negative comments every time Jesus does something controversial is questioned by some commentators, although given Jesus' controversial ministry we would expect the religious authorities to keep an eye on him.
τοις σαββασιν (ον) dat. "on the Sabbath" - dative of time; the plural use is idiomatic.
v25 Jesus now relates the story of when David and his companions ate the loaves of presentation, cf. 1Sam.21:1-7, v25-26. He takes some "poetic license". Under normal circumstances a rabbinical argument would only stand where two texts are quoted and these not from a historical book. Jesus' interpretation stands by itself.
λεγει (λεγω) pres. "he answered" - Historic present used for a dramatic purpose.
ανεγνωτε adv. "have you [never] read" - Rhetorical indicative verb modified by a temporal adverb. Obviously they had read, just not understood.
οι μετ αυτου "those with him. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the prepositional phrase into a noun.
χρειαν εσχεν και επεινασεν "were hungry and in need" - he had need and was hungry. The doubling up of the "need" possibly reflects the general tendency by the rabbis to justify David's actions as being from one ravenously hungry whose life was in danger. On the other hand, it is possible that "hungry" simply explains when he found himself in need.

v26 Αβιαθαρ Abiathar" - At the time of this story Ahimelech was the high priest. Abiathar, a son of Ahimelech, was one of the few who escaped the slaughter perpetrated by Doeg the Edomite. Both Matthew and Luke omit the name, as do some Markan manuscripts. "In the days of" may provide a general designation, rather than a specific one or it may be a gloss, or possibly Mark made a mistake. Freedman suggests that in the development of a tradition, as here, a better known name often supplants a lesser known name (Abiathar's importance relates to his association with "the house of God", ie. the temple in Jerusalem,  and his association with David).
αρχιερεως (υς εως) gen. "the high priest" - Genitive is apposition to "Abiathar".
του θεου (ος) gen. "[house] of God
της προθεσεως (ις εως) gen. "the consecrated [bread]" "God" is assumed, bread that is offered, set forth to God, so "consecrated" bread. The twelve "loaves of presentation to God" were placed on the altar on the Sabbath, and replaced the next. The priests ate the replaced bread.
ει μη "only for [priests]" .
φαγειν (φαγω) aor. inf. "to eat"

v27 δια + acc. "[was made] for" - [the Sabbath was created] on account although here leaning toward the benefit. The second use, δια το σαββατον, causal without any idea of benefit.
τον ανθρωπον "man" – some suggest that "Son of Man", rather than just "man" represents an Aramaic. The idea is that the Sabbath once given for Israel is now given to the world.

v28 ωστε + ind. "so" - is usually expressing result, but here expresses the authority of the Son of Man over the Sabbath. Neither Luke nor Matthew include v27 and so do not need to make a link with v28. They may well have noted the confusion caused by v27 and set it aside from the tradition to enable a proper focus on Jesus. Jesus goes to the heart of Sabbath Law teaching that it is designed for the enrichment of humanity, for the good of all. 
του ανθρωπου "[the Son] of Man" takes up authority and rule at the right hand of the Ancient of Days is now in charge.
κυριος (ος) "Lord" - The capitalizing of "lord" in translations imply the word is a divine title, but "one who exercises authority" is what Jesus has in mind.
του σαββατου (ον) gen. "of the Sabbath" - idiomatic/of subordination; "over the Sabbath".

3:1 παλιν adv. "another time" - again. Temporal adverb.
εχων (εξω) pres. part. "with" - having [the hand having been withered]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "man", "a man was there who had a withered hand."
εξηραμμενην (ξηραινω) perf. pas. part. "a shriveled [hand]" perfect tense is used to express a past event which has ongoing results.
την χειρα (χειρ ος) "hand" - the hand. - the article indicates possession.

v2 παρετηρουν (παρατηρεω) imperf. "some of them were looking" idiom, studying someone intently; the prefix παρα serving to intensify "they were watching." obviously the religious authorities.
ινα + subj. "for a reason to [accuse Jesus]" - expressing purpose.
θεραπευσει (θεραπευω) fut. "he would heal [him]" - the future tense is used with an interrogative ει to express the question that would be in the mind of those watching. 

v3 λεγει (λεγω) pres. "Jesus said" - Historic present tense.
τω ανθρωπω (ος) dat. "to the man" - Dative of indirect object.
τω .... εχοντι (εξω) dat. pres. part. "with [the shriveled hand]" - articular participle is adjectival, limiting "man".
εγειρε εις το μεσον "stand up in front of everyone" - rise into the middle. Luke's εγειρε και στηθι εις το μεσον, "arise and stand into [in] the middle [of the gathering]", is somewhat more instructive than Mark's short talk

v4 Given that the law is designed for good the logic of Jesus’ question is that "to refuse to do good is to do evil; and it could not be right to do evil on the Sabbath. The religious authorities remain silent because, given their legalist understanding of the law, they are unable to answer. The fact that their logic has forced them into a corner should prompt a reassessment of basic principles and a recognition that Jesus' humanitarian approach to law has something in it - that the Sabbath may have indeed been made for man. Their unwillingness to rethink their position rightly prompts Jesus' οργη, "anger".
λεγει (λεγω) "[then] Jesus asked" - Historic present.
εξεστιν pres. "which is lawful" - right, permissible, allowed. The subject of the verb consists of the four substantive infinitives, "to do good / to do evil / to save / to destroy"; "to help or to hurt, to save life or to kill".
ποιησαι (ποιεω) aor. inf. "to do [good]" - This infinitive, together with "to do evil", "to save [life]" and "to kill", is properly classified as the subject of the verb.
δε "but" - but, and. Here obviously adversative.
εσιωπων (σιωπαω) imperf. "they remained silent" - imperfect being durative, expresses ongoing action. The article specifies the subject, namely, the authorities.

v5 So, Jesus does good and heals the man. The Pharisees, on the other hand, do evil; and plan his death. 
περιβλεψαμενος (περιβλεπω) aor. part. "he looked around [at them]" A nice descriptive such that we can imagine Jesus doing the sweeping stare.
μετ (μετα) "with [anger] / in [anger]" - expressing the manner of Jesus' looking around, "angerly"; "wrathfully", Describing Jesus' reaction; the looking is not friendly!
συλλυπουμενος (συλλυπεω) pres. pas. part. "deeply distressed" - grieved. The participle is adverbial, expressing the manner of Jesus' looking around, "he looked around with anger and grief". The presence of the prefix συν would imply "grieve with" = "sympathize", but "grieving along with" is not how the context has it, but rather συλλυπουμενος επι, "grieved at." The οργη, "anger", is not just anger, annoyance, but rather a grieving anger driven by a feeling of hurt at the inhumanity of the religious officials; a mixture of anger and sorrow. These human qualities describe the nature of Jesus, not just his humanity, since the divine is not devoid of feelings.
της καρδιας (α) gen. "[stubborn] hearts" - [hardness] of the hearts -"hard hearts" = "impervious minds", idiomatic, "He sensed their inhumanity", 
τω ανθρωπω (ος) dat. "[he said] to the man" - Dative of indirect object.
απεκατεσταθη (αποκαθιστημι) aor. pas. "[his hand] was completely restored" - returned to its original soundness. The aorist expressing completed action.
v6 εξελθοντες (εξερχομαι) aor. part. "then [the Pharisees] went out" participle expressing action accompanying the verb "giving [counsel against]/held [council. The implied subject is obviously "the Pharisees" and their "going out" refers to their going out of the synagogue. ευθυς  immediately [held counsel with the Herodians]. indicates that the Pharisees started plotting Jesus' murder on the Sabbath, a work that was also unlawful, Note that Herod's party was a political not religious grouping,, but it would be necessary for the Pharisees to get them on side if they were to make a move against Jesus. 
συμβουλιον εδιδουν "and began to plot" ie. they are functioning as "assassins",.

οπως + subj. "how [they might kill Jesus]" This is the first mention of Jesus' opponents want to kill him. Literally "destroy", so "kill", but better, "assassinate".