Some Greeks

25 March 2012
Fifth Sunday in Lent
Lent 5B (RCL)
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 51:1-13
Hebrews 5:5-10
John 12:20-33

John’s Gospel is full of seeming non-sequiturs. Someone asks Jesus a question, and he launches into a discourse that doesn’t seem like it has anything to do with the question asked. The device sends the reader of the gospel hunting for connections elsewhere in the gospel to understand what is going on. A classic example is Nicodemus’ remark that no one could do the signs Jesus does unless God were with him. Jesus replies, “Amen, Amen, I say to you, no one will enter the kingdom without being born anew.” No one would blame Nicodemus for saying, “What?!”

So Continue reading “Some Greeks”

Where we meet God

11 March 2012
Third Sunday in Lent
Lent 3B (RCL)
Exodus 20:1-17
Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
John 2:13-22

The stained glass windows at Church of the Advent have an image of the Ten Commandments. There are the two tables of stone. On the first, we find the Roman numerals I – V; on the second, we find the numerals VI – X. This looks like it makes sense, but in reality, both tablets would have had identical copies of the full treaty (that’s what the Ten Commandments are, a treaty between God and God’s people). One tablet would have been placed in the Ark of the Covenant, which Continue reading “Where we meet God”

All in

4 March 2012
Second Sunday in Lent
Lent 2B (RCL)
Genesis 17:1-7
Psalm 22:22-30
Romans 4:13-25
Mark 8:31-38

Paul holds up Abraham as an example of faith. Abraham “believed” God’s promise to him, despite evidence to the contrary, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. That’s the way we usually interpret this passage from the letter to the Romans. What we “believe” saves us, makes us righteous. I find a fundamental flaw in this way of thinking. Faith, in Greek, didn’t mean what you thought about something, what you “believed”, what opinion you had. It had more to do with trust, than belief. Already, in the first sentence of this reading we have a problem. Richmond Lattimore (a scholar of classical Greek) translates this sentence, “For the promise to Abraham, or his seed, that he should be the inheritor of the world, was not on account of the law, but of the righteousness of his faith.” One troubling little word is not there in the Greek: “his.” Dieter Georgi would translate it this way, “on account of the righteousness that comes from God’s faithfulness.” Big difference.

The Greek supports both translations — maybe Continue reading “All in”