Divine delight

31 May 2015
Trinity Sunday
Trinity Year B (RCL)
Isaiah 6:1-8
Psalm 29
Romans 8:12-17
John 3:1-17

Scripture readings for Trinity Sunday are always a bit of a reach. We don’t find a doctrine of the Trinity clearly spelled out in Scripture — the best we can do is adumbration. The readings for Year B seem to hint at what it means to participate in the divine life of the Trinity. In the passage from Romans, Paul speaks of living according to the spirit, and being made co-heirs with Christ, participating in the divine life on the same standing as Christ. John speaks of being born of both water and spirit, and moving as the spirit wills. All of the readings present challenges to our understanding of God. Continue reading “Divine delight”

The burden of proof

24 May 2015
The Feast of Pentecost
Acts 2:1-21
Psalm 104:25-35, 37
Romans 8:22-27
John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15

I’m always a bit skeptical when the designers of the lectionary leave out little bits. I immediately turn to the omitted passage to see what it was they didn’t want us to read. In this case, Jesus describes the relationship the Johannine community will have with the world, specifically the synagogue. The community will be expelled from the synagogue, and indeed anyone who kills one of them will suppose he is offering worship to God. When Jesus later says, “I have many things yet to tell you, but you cannot bear them now,” one wonders how much worse it could get. Continue reading “The burden of proof”

Transformative Church

17 May 2015
Seventh Sunday of Easter
The Sunday after the Ascension
Easter 7B (RCL)
Acts 1:15-17, 21-26
Psalm 1
1 John 5:9-13
John 17:6-19

When clergy read scripture, particularly in lectionary study groups, they often read first for “preachable themes.” This is understandable, given the weekly task of coming up with something to say. But to my mind, the impulse is based on a misunderstanding of the purpose of the sermon; and also a misunderstanding of the “word” of God. The need to have “something to say” conceives the sermon as a passive reception of the “word” by the congregation gathered. The preacher may indeed aim at eliciting a response, a conversion either of individual lives or the life of the community. But that conversion is received from the preaching. Continue reading “Transformative Church”

Abide some more

10 May 2015
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Easter 6B (RCL)
Acts 10:44-48
Psalm 98
1 John 5:1-6
John 15:9-17

One could be forgiven for thinking that the designers of the lectionary goofed and assigned last week’s reading from John’s Gospel again this week. The refrain, “Abide in my love,” keeps repeating. I believe such passages (indeed the whole of John’s Gospel) were meant to be read aloud all in sequence. Hearing word pile on word has a lulling effect on the hearer, but then new themes are slowly introduced and interwoven in the discourse. The word “commandment” (entole) is pulled in like a strand of a new color in the tapestry. Continue reading “Abide some more”