1 December 2013
First Sunday of Advent
Advent 1A (RCL)

Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm 122
Romans 13:11-14
Matthew 24:36-44

The First Sunday of Advent always brings readings about the “second advent” of Christ, the putative return of Christ. Even in the earliest years of Christianity, the expectation of Christ’s return proved to be an embarrassment. Paul, in his earliest letters, certainly expected Christ’s return any day, and by the time he wrote the letter to the Romans, he has had to modify that expectation somewhat. “Salvation is nearer to us now than we we first became believers,” but no longer tomorrow. Matthew Continue reading “Wakefulness”

Jesus, remember me

24 November 2013
The Reign of Christ
Proper 29C (RCL)

Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalm 146
Colossians 1:11-20
Luke 23:33-43

This Sunday is the last of the liturgical year on which we celebrate the reign of Christ toward which all of creation points and for which it longs. Next Sunday will be the first of Advent, when we begin to prepare for Christ’s first and second arrivals. Through our liturgy, we structure not just annual time, but historical time as well: we acknowledge that history has a beginning and a goal, and both of those relate to God, and to Christ’s activity. Continue reading “Jesus, remember me”

Old and new

17 November 2013
Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 28C (RCL)
Isaiah 65:17-25
Canticle 9
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
Luke 21:5-19

The passages in Isaiah and Luke couldn’t be more different. Isaiah is looking forward to the restoration of the kingdom, when people will enjoy the fruit of their own planting, and live to ripe old ages. In Luke, Jesus ‘predicts’ the destruction of the Temple and the desolation of Jerusalem. Which is it?

Luke, of course, is writing after the destruction of the Temple, and so Jesus is predicting events Luke already knows. Mark had written this “little apocalypse” probably some twenty or thirty years before Luke reworked it. Mark thought the destruction was a sign that the Son of Man was coming any minute. Luke has to explain the delay of the end that Mark thought the destruction foreshadowed. Luke has Jesus say, “Do not be deceived. The end is not yet.” Continue reading “Old and new”

Like angels

10 November 2013
Twenty fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 27C (RCL)
Haggai 1:15b – 2:9
Psalm 98
2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17
Luke 20:27-38

We are getting close to the end of the liturgical year. Haggai is wrapping prophecies about the restoration of Jerusalem. Now, God is going to shake heaven and earth, and shake all the wealth of the nations (like olives out of a tree) into Jerusalem. 2 Thessalonians takes us into apocalyptic weirdness: the rebellion must come first, and the lawless one must be revealed. To me, this does not sound authentically Pauline (not that that really makes any difference — there it is in the canon). And Luke presents us with the encounter between Jesus and the Sadducees, concerning the resurrection. We are heading toward end times, the lectionary seems to be saying.

The Gospel reading will for many be troubling. Heaven isn’t going to be like here, at least in terms of marriage (what would the Mormons do with this passage?). Many of us think of heaven as a grand family reunion, and Jesus seems to be saying otherwise.

But, I believe the passage is as much about politics (no surprise) as about heaven. The Sadducees Continue reading “Like angels”