City of peace

1 May 2016
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Easter 6C (RCL)
Acts 16:9-15
Psalm 67
Revelation 21:10, 22 – 22:5
John 14:23-29

A very rich set of readings. John’s vision of the new Jerusalem is one of the most sparkling in biblical literature, and bears allusions to much of the rest of the biblical story. One almost wonders if the author knew he were writing what would become the closing chapters of the bible. The bible opens in a garden, from which humanity is expelled, and prevented from eating of the fruit of the tree of life. Here in this last vision, the tree of life grows freely in the new city, and its leaves are for the healing of the nations. With this at the end of the bible, the point is being made that salvation is not a simple return to the innocence of the garden, but that human cultural endeavor participates in God’s economy of salvation. Continue reading “City of peace”

All things new

24 April 2016
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Easter 5C (RCL)
Acts 11:1-18
Psalm 148
Revelation 21:1-6
John 13:31-35

Throughout John’s Gospel, we have encountered the themes of glorification, seeking, remaining, love and commandment. We have arrived a point in the Gospel where these themes come together and begin to receive their explication. Immediately prior to this passage, Jesus has washed his disciples’ feet and told them that what has been done for them, they are to do for others. He set aside his garments (the same vocabulary he used for “laying down” his life in the Good Shepherd discourse), and then put them back on (the same vocabulary as for taking up his life again). He has just demonstrated what is meant by laying down one’s life and taking it up again. Judas has now left the room, and Jesus says, “Now the son of man has been glorified.” The act of glorification takes in both the foot-washing and Judas’ betrayal. Continue reading “All things new”

Fear no evil

17 April 2016
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Easter 4C (RCL)
Acts 9:36-43
Psalm 23
Revelation 7:9-17
John 10:22-30

There is a delicious bit of irony in the Gospel reading for this Sunday. Jesus is walking in the stoa of Solomon (the Greek word for walking is peripatein, which is what the peripatetic philosophers did). This is exactly the part of the Temple from which Jesus would have driven the animal merchants and money changers back in the second chapter of the Gospel. When asked by what authority he performed that act, he replied, “Destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in three days.” Now, he is teaching in the stoa of Solomon on the feast of the re-dedication, celebrating the Maccabean reconquest of the Temple and Jerusalem. Continue reading “Fear no evil”

Dive right in

10 April 2016
Third Sunday of Easter
Easter 3C (RCL)
Acts 9:1-20
Psalm 130
Revelation 5:11-14
John 21:1-19

Propers like this Sunday’s present an embarrassment of riches. There is too much to preach on in one sermon.

The Gospel reading is an intriguing story, and has fascinated commentators through the ages. It appears to be appended to John’s Gospel. John 20:30-31 seem to provide a logical conclusion to the Gospel: these things have been written that you may come to believe and believing may have life. And then this story pops up. It’s not the first time John’s Gospel has done this. John 14:31b (Rise, let us go hence) seems to provide a perfectly logical conclusion for the last supper discourse, which then goes on for two more chapters!

If this reading is an appendix, it must have been added to address some situation that arose for the Johannine community after the Gospel had been finished. Continue reading “Dive right in”