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

These are the contributions that are brought to the table.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Texts for the 25th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 32 2018

First Reading: 1 Kings 17:8-16

8The word of the Lord came to [Elijah,] saying, 9“Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.” 11As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” 13Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. 14For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.” 15She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. 16The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

Psalm: Psalm 146

Second Reading: Hebrews 9:24-28
24Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; 26for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, 28so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Gospel: Mark 12:38-44

38As [Jesus] taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! 40They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

41He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

A Reflection on Mark 12:38-44

Let us invest with the Lord what he has given us, for we have nothing that does not come from him: we are dependent upon him for our very existence. — Paul of Nola, 4/5th c

This is really not about the woman with the little coins. This is about Judas. 
Let me explain slowly. We are at the end of a long day in the temple. It has begun with a prophetic act: Jesus cursed the fig tree for not bearing fruit, cleaned house at the temple courts, and has withdrawn. He comes back next day and the fig tree is withered. Prophecy has been proven. Temple and tree are judged.
A cryptic saying about telling this mountain to jump into the sea follows. Which is “this” mountain? Zion? By Faith can you imagine life without this mountain and the temple thereon? The saying is followed by a short discourse on praying and forgiving and having faith. 
After that, we argue with the scribes, pharisees and chief priests. At the end of that day, we come to the episode about the widow and her small coins. Jesus has condemned the temple — the fig tree episode — and it leadership — all the arguments in chapter 12 up to this point. Now he watches this woman give “all of her living” to the temple. 
It is not uncommon to see Jesus’ words as marveling at her faith. I am taking the tack that he is lamenting what she has been taught to do and believe. The temple is to bring forth fruit. It is to be a house of prayer. It also is to care for women like her. She ought to have more to show for that charge to the temple to take care of the widow and orphan than two copper coins. They, the temple authorities, ought to be giving to her. But they do not. Instead they invest in long flowing robes and in in the ever increasing splendor of the temple complex. (13:1) 
 Chapter 13 is a dark chapter in which Jesus predicts the downfall of the splendid temple. The destruction will be so great that heaven itself will split (15:38) open and the Son of Man will come in Glory. Another fig tree will be a signal to the faithful. The fig tree comes into leaf signaling summer. When you see it you will know that the Son of Man is on the way. Who is this fig tree and what becomes of the withered one?
By chapter 14 we are at Bethany. Another woman comes forward. She has expensive perfume worth a year’s wages, very well worth “all she had to live on,” and anoints Jesus with it. Complains immediately rise: “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked.  “It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!” (14:4-5).
But Jesus replies: “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” (14:6-9) And it is at that very moment that Judas rises and goes to the chief priests to betray Jesus. 
The question lingers: “Why did he do so and why then,” and that question is asked rightly. An obvious scenario suggests itself. Judas, the revolutionary, had beef with the chief priests. Hearing of the downfall of their source of power was good news to him. Hearing Jesus lament the widow’s gift to the heartless institution was right in line with Judas thinking. However, if you do not see the Son of Man in Jesus and do not notice the greening of the second fig tree, then Jesus is merely accepting the same wasteful rewards that the chief priests accepted in retaining the widow’s coins in the treasury. In that case, he is no better than them and Judas is merely the one who called him on his hypocrisy. How can one who came not to be served but to serve (10:45) accept this extravagant action by this woman?
Both women remain silent about their motives. One gives lavishly  to a corrupt institution that will be destroyed, the other anoints a Messiah whose time on earth is by that time very limited. The first has no idea that the temple is doomed. The latter probably does not grasp that death is the means by which Jesus will accomplish his saving ministry. If there is no temple and no resurrection then both have wasted greatly. 
I am fascinated by Judas, I admit it. It is easy to dismiss him as possessed in a simple reading of Luke’s report. (22:3) But the tempter’s power is the lie so that even in Luke’s scenario the lie has taken hold of Judas. At base that lie is that God cannot be trusted. (Ge 3) How can you trust either temple or Jesus — if you believe Jesus in the first place? Maybe he is just a convenient means to an end you already have in mind. Maybe the temple is that as well.
Somehow, both women are not of that mind. Both are giving excessive and unaffordable amounts. As Mark would say: “Their whole living.” They both seem to long for something worthy to put their Faith in. If that was not true, they would not be giving so immensely. Something would have been held back. 
Judas’ betrayal is not unrewarded. 30 pieces of silver are nothing to sneeze at. They were paid to him out of the temple treasury I would think so the temple was of some use to him after all. But where does he rest his faith now? And, by the way, the two copper coins contributed to his bounty. 

Faith is an all or nothing proposition. Israel has its faith in the temple. The church has her faith in Jesus, Lord, Savior and King. If Faith is indeed utter trust in the one in whom it is placed then that utter trust is acted out with our entire living. To hedge any part is to go the Judas road in the end. The widow gave in Faith to temple. The woman at Bethany gave to Jesus. Neither had any right to think that their gift would somehow pay off. They gave and had to rely on God to be trustworthy and good, something that the Lie tries ever so hard to deny. Judas’ allegiance was conditional. In the face of all that is predicted in Mark 13 can one really hedge ones bets and is it safe to be found with 30 pieces of silver? 

Greek Study for Mark 12:38-44

Greek Study Mark 12:38-44

V 38 βλεπετε (βλεπω) pres. imp. "watch out" – beware- on your guard.
των θελοντων (θελω) pres. part. "[they] like" - the ones desiring. The articular participle is a  warning specific of those scribes who are hypocritical, rather than all scribes in general.
περιπατειν (περιπατεω) pres. inf. "to walk around" - to walk about. The infinitive may simply complementary, completing the verbal aspect of the participle "wanting",
or forming an object clause/statement of perception expressing what the scribes desire.
εν στολαις (η) "in flowing robes" - long robes. Dressing up "in" something is a common expression, but not in Mark. The sense is probably "festive robes".
ασπασμους (ος) "greeted" - greetings. Introducing a second object clause/ statement of perception expressing what the scribes desire namely, "greetings in the market place", greetings in the sense of "deferential salutations".

v39 πρωτοκαθεδριας (α) "the most important seat" – a third object clause/statement of perception following the participle "desiring". And also (kai) "desiring/wanting" the best seat in the house. In a synagogue this is the box in front of the ark within which is stored the scrolls of scripture.
πρωτοκλισιας (α) "the places of honor" - the chief seat at a dinner table. Introducing the fourth object clause/statement of perception.
δειπνοις (ον) "banquets" - Usually an evening meal, so "Dinner parties".

v40 οι κατεσθιοντες (κατεσθιω) pres. part. nom. "they devour" - the ones exploiting. 
This is sometimes translated adjectivally, modifying "the teachers of the law/the scribes", 
τας οικιας (α) "[devour widow's] houses" - The sense is of a religious person abusing the generosity of those who have little to spare. So, "house" may be better expressed as "property/belongings/wealth."
των χηρων (α) gen. "of widow's" - The genitive is possessive; "that belong to widows."
προφασει (ις εως) dat. "for a show" - pretense, pretext. The dative is modal expressing manner.
προσευχομενοι (προσευχομαι) pres. part. nom. "make [lengthy] prayers" This participle presents the same difficulties as "devouring" above; probably "beware the scribes who make lengthy prayers for a show."
λαμψονται (λαμβανω) fut. "will receive 
περισσοτερον adj. "most severely" - greater [judgment]. a comparative sense is also possible, such that those scribes who do such things will receive a more severe sentence. 

v41 Mark's point here is that the robbed widows stand in contrast to the robber scribes, and are those who truly serve God.
καθισας (καθιζω) aor. part. "Jesus sat down" - having sat. The participle is adverbial, best taken as temporal; "Then he sat down in front of the collection box".
κατεναντι + gen. "opposite [the place where the offerings were put]" - opposite, before [the treasury]. This adverb is used here as a preposition.
χαλκον (ος) "money" copper usually meaning copper coinage, here likely just money.
το γαζοφυλακιου (ον) "[into] the temple treasury" Usually identified as the thirteen trumpet-shaped offering bowls in the Court of Women, although some suggest it is the treasury itself where the gift must be publicly declared and so, easily overheard.
εθεωρει (θεωρεω) imperf. "watched"  The imperfect expressing a repeated observation of those who were putting money in the offering boxes. "He was watching how the crowds of people were putting their money into the treasury.
εβαλλον (βαλλω) imperf. "threw" The imperfect is used at this point to express a supplementary action to the action of the crowd who were ballei  "throwing", their money into the offering box.

v42 ελθουσα (ερχομαι) aor. part. "[a poor widow] came"
λεπτα (ον) "very small copper coins" - the smallest Jewish coin, worth a fraction of a 
κοδραντης  a penny" Mark explains the value of a lepton by comparing it with Roman coinage.

v43 προσκαλεσαμενος (προσκαλεομαι) aor. part. "calling" - participle is adverbial, probably consecutive, expressing result, "so he called his disciples and said to them".
αμην λεγω υμιν "I tell you the truth" - truly I say to you. Always used to underline the saying that follows.
εβαλεν (βαλλω) aor. "has cast" Variant perfect tense is accepted by many translations.
πλειον adv. "more" - much, many. Comparative adverb; "to a greater extent."
των βαλλοντων (βαλλω) gen. pres. part. "than all the others cast" - [into the treasury]. The participle functions as a substantive, while the genitive is ablative, of comparison. The sense is possibly that the value of her gift exceeded the total value of all that was thrown in, although probably Jesus is saying she gave a gift of greater value, in devotional terms, than even the most generous gift given that day.

v44 περισσευοντος (περισσευω) pres. part. "wealth" – from that which abounds.
της υστερησεως (ις εως) "poverty" - want, need, deficiency, lack, poverty..
παντα adj. "everything" - specified by the final appositional phrase, "her whole living." She gave what she had to live on, excluding her home and possessions.

τον βιον (ος) "[all she] had to live on" - [but this widow, from the need of her, everything she had she put in as much - all] the livelihood, living [of her].