Showing posts from July, 2011

7 Pentecost Yr A

Our son Tom has a tee shirt that says “what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.” It’s a tee shirt from Philmont Boy Scout Ranch, a high adventure base in northern New Mexico. I’ve heard it said that Philmont is the adventure a boy scout loves to hate. At the very least, a boy who goes to Philmont doesn’t return the same way he left. Besides being dirty and hungry, with plenty of scrapes and bruises, there’s a change in the way a boy sees the world. Jacob could’ve been wearing that tee shirt in this story today. The story of Jacob wrestling with God, and the story of the feeding of five thousand and then some in Matthew are both stories of transformation.

Jacob’s story is not unlike ours, except for the two wives, two maids, and eleven children, I hope. Jacob wrestled through the night with God and lived through it. But we’ve learned elsewhere that no one survives a face-to-face meeting with God without dying and rising to the new life that God promises. Jacob wrestled with God an…

5 Pentecost Proper 11 Yr A

Scripture is full of literature forms, the lists of who begot who is a form. The beginning of the gospel of Luke, which is the dedication and the birth narrative, is a form, its purpose is to set up the status of the one the story is about. The Beatitudes are a form; they set up a list of virtues, and then a list of vices. The parables are a form. Any Jew of Jesus’ time, as soon as they heard “The Kingdom of God is like….” or in Matthew, “The Kingdom of heaven is like…” would know that a parable would follow, and they would also know that the meaning of the parable is left up to the interpretation of the hearer. We heard the one about the sower last week, we will hear many more this ordinary season. The use of irony, idiom, and metaphor are part of how a parable is told, and those literary devices rely on context and delivery. No wonder we have such a difficult time with parables.

Another thing about parables is that Jesus told them to effect a response in his disciples, and in you a…

4 Pentecost Yr A

The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who sows seeds, some fall on the path and the birds eat them up, some fall on the rocky soil and they spring up and wither quickly, some fall among thorns and are choked, others fall on fertile ground and bring forth grain.

The Kingdom of God is like… always precedes a story like this one, whether or not the words are actually there. Jesus teaches his hearers about the Kingdom of God when he tells these stories that at times seem so difficult to enter into. But remember, you can find yourself in the story somewhere,
that is one of the wonders of the parables, you too are a character in these stories.

These Kingdom of God stories, these parables, are all about you and me and our role in God’s kingdom. We are agents of new creation; the new creation is the Kingdom of God. God began something absolutely new with Jesus. Just as God created the heavens and the earth and all the creatures in the beginning, God recreates the heavens and the earth with this…

3 Pentecost Yr A

There are a a few different pictures of Jesus in the gospels, the shepherd, whose sheep know his voice, the charismatic leader who the fisher folk follow at the drop of a net. And this picture we get of Jesus in this portion of Matthew. This is not your warm and fuzzy Jesus. This is much like the Jesus who turns the tables in the temple.

Actually, I am reminded of a scene in C.S. Lewis' story, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. The children in the story are sitting in the living room of the Beavers. Mr. Beaver is telling them about the Lion, Aslan. Lucy asks "Is he a man?" Mr. Beaver responds, "Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don't you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion--the Lion, the great Lion." And Susan responds, "I'd thought he was a man. Is he--quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion." Mrs. Beaver responds "That you will, deari…