Manure happens

3 March 2013
Third Sunday in Lent
Lent 3C (RCL)
Exodus 3:1-15
Psalm 63:1-8
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Luke 13:1-9

The Old Testament reading for this Sunday is a continuation of event in the great salvation history we read during Lent. After the covenant with Abram (last week), we hear the story of Moses’ encounter with I AM at the burning bush. Despite Moses’ objections, I AM sends him to release the people from Pharaoh’s oppression.

The Gospel reading presents a number of opportunities for interpretation. First, the fig tree. Mark intercalates the parable of the vineyard and its wicked tenants into the account of Jesus cursing the fig tree on his way into Jerusalem. The fig tree, in that instance, surely represents Israel, reflecting Isaiah 5, along with the vineyard. When the disciples see the withered fig tree, Jesus says that whoever has faith the size of a mustard seed could say to “this mountain” ‘be uprooted and cast into the see’ — obviously, Mount Zion. Mark takes a very dim view of ‘Israel’, and sees the destruction of Jerusalem as Israel’s just deserts. Luke softens Mark’s view of Israel, having Jesus twice lament over Jerusalem.

The only appearance of a fig tree in Luke’s Gospel is this parable. If the fig tree Continue reading “Manure happens”

Staying in the game

24 February 2013
Second Sunday in Lent
Lent 2C (RCL)

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
Psalm 27
Philippians 3:17-4:1
Luke 13:31-35

I wonder why the designers of the lectionary chose this particular reading from Luke’s Gospel to follow the story of Jesus’ temptation. Perhaps they chose it as a way of indicating that Jesus is continuing his work despite his approach to his passion, and so we continue our approach to Holy Week. But, it’s an odd passage at any rate. It’s not exactly a “woe” statement, and it doesn’t seem to fit well with Luke’s overall style. Luke has another lament over Jerusalem, when Jesus enters the city: even now, if you would turn to God, you would know the things that make for peace. Odd, since Luke is writing after the destruction of the Temple — even now.

Luke does soften Jesus’ stance toward Jerusalem, compared Continue reading “Staying in the game”

Going it alone

17 February 2013
First Sunday in Lent
Lent 1C (RCL)
Deuteronomy 26:1-11
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
Romans 10:8b-13
Luke 4:1-13

Jesus’ temptation takes place after 40 days in the wilderness with nothing to to eat. In many ways, Luke has written the story of Jesus as a recapitulation of the story of Israel. Jesus has been through the water of baptism (Red Sea), and is now in the wilderness. Jesus’ temptations will be the same as those of Israel.

The tradition looked back Continue reading “Going it alone”