Tag Archives: Luke

Touch Here

Wet
Wet paint sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you seen a “Wet Paint” sign with a daub of paint on it? That daub of paint gives the painter and the curious a place to touch and see if the paint is actually wet.

Jesus gave his disciples the same opportunity to touch and see that he had risen from the grave. In Luke’s Gospel Jesus eats a piece of fish in front of them demonstrating his resurrection.

While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
Luke 24:41-43 (NRSV)

Each Sunday we also get a small sample to touch and see, perhaps even taste God’s goodness. We touch one another shaking hands passing the peace of Christ, even greeting people we might avoid Monday through Saturday, demonstrating for a few seconds the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven. Each Sunday I pour water into our baptismal font during the assurance of pardon as a visible reminder of our baptism and our cleansing from sin. Each Sunday I offer our children an object lesson, occasionally bringing a physical object for them to touch and see, to help them and those sitting in the pews recognize God with us. And when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we break bread together eating from one loaf of bread tasting God’s assurance of our unity in Christ.

How have you physically experienced God with us?

Forgiving Oneself

For many people, the hardest person to forgive is oneself. Groucho Markx captured this in his resignation from a club by writing: “I don’t care to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.” This self-defeating quip implies, “I can’t believe in a God who could love me as I am or forgive me after what I’ve done.” But the good news is Jesus came and spent time with those on the edges of society.

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to [Jesus]. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
— Luke 15:1-2 (NRSV)

 Many people feel that forgiveness requires atoning for all of one’s previous misdeeds and living a righteous life every day in the future. Constantine may have exemplified this misbelief by delaying his baptism and confession of faith until he was on his death-bed. People cannot achieve perfection, only God. Thus the good news is that repentance is a continually turning toward God.

Forgiving oneself has practical implications. I experience this regularly with my back exercises. When I exercise regularly my back feels fine. Occasionally I miss exercising due to an early appointment or another distraction. And having missed once or twice in a row, skipping one more day becomes more likely. I could get angry at myself for not taking good care of my body, or I could forgive myself an begin anew, to repent and turn back toward taking care of the body that God gave me.

Sermon: “The Good Neighbor”

Look below the video for my bible study notes and sermon outline.

Establish the text

Select the Pericope: Luke 10:25-37

Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

25 – – Micah 6:8 answers a similar question: What does the LORD require of you? This was a popular question to ask the religious leaders of the time. Rabbinical literature records similar questions to Jesus’ contemporaries.

27 – – Jesus’ answer is similarly paralleled in Rabbinical literature citing Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Love the LORD your God. Everything else is commentary.” Since all of humanity are children of God, then to love God requires loving the children of God. Thus to love your neighbor as your self is commentary on the first, but as the parable points out, a commentary that is easily forgotten.

28 – – “Do this and you will live.” Looks like if-then soteriology. Of course as Paul points out in Galatians, none can be reckoned as righteous by good works.

29 – – Key word: justify. Can the lawyer’s question be rephrased: What is the minimum that I must do to live? REB focuses the need for justification on asking the question.

30 – – Jerusalem: alt. 740 m, Jerico: alt. 308 m. Still a steep and winding road with plenty of places for an ambush.

31 – – N.B. the priest was going DOWN the road, away from Jerusalem. I recall a commentary that attempted to *justify* the priest’s avoidance of the victim based on maintaining ritual purity. If a priest touched a dead person, he would be defiled and unable to participate in the Temple rituals, a once in a lifetime opportunity. But if the priest was going down the road, away from Jerusalem, what then would his excuse be?

33 – – Samaritans were a rival Yawistic cult living north of Jerusalem. J.L. Kelso (Zondervan Pictoral Encyclopedia of the Bible) notes: 1. the Samaritans were not officially excommunicated by the Jews until A.D. 300. 2. As late as 2 cent. A.D. Samaritans were compared favorably with the Saducees by rabbis. Don’t demonize the Samaritan.

34 – – The Samaritan goes to significant expense, but within his capabilities, for a stranger from whom he might not expect reimbursement. 2 denarii = 2 days wages.

37 – – What does it mean to show mercy today? Does contributing taxes for welfare and Medicare/Medicaid justify us before God?

E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?

The NRSV starts v. 25 “Just then a lawyer stood up …” Thus this is a continuation of the preceding scene. The preceding scene was the return of the 70 and their rejoicing at the submission of evil spirits to their ministry. Jesus counsels the disciples privately that many “desire to see what you see, but did not see it, and hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” Perhaps, the lawyer represents those who desire to see and to hear.

II. Literary Study.

A. What is the history of the text? Who wrote it? When? In what social context? What Historical/Religious/Sociological factors influenced its writing?

Written by ‘Luke’ to a Greek friend based on collections from various sources.
The passage is an illustration of a teaching.

B. What parallel passages exist? How do they differ? How does this author’s intent differ from other authors? Is the text used elsewhere?

Matthew 22:35-40 rephrases the lawyer’s question as which is the greatest commandment.

C. Review syntax/meanings of critical words, phrases, idioms

25 – – kai idou — Blass and Debrunner (#442(7))classify this as a Semanticism. The Hebrew “hineh” is used for expressions pointing to a particular person, e.g. Gen 18:9 “Behold your wife”, 1 Sam 3:4 “Here I am.”; to introduce predication. Thus I agree with the NRSV although other translations render this as “On one occasion …”

33 – – esplagcvisqh — Aorist Passive indicative to be filled with compassion/pity. Is this a Divine passive?

37 – – meta — the Samaritan provided mercy WITH the victim. Although ‘on’ is an alternate translation, ‘with’ emphasizes that mercy requires two participants. Many translations ignore this preposition or use ‘on’.

D. What is the literary style of the text? And how does it affect the reading? What does a poetic form do to the meaning? Lament/Praise/Petition? Any subtle variations in the repetitions? What is emphasized/minimized by the repetition?

Parables are noted for making every word count and condensing much theological discussion into as few words as possible with many potential lessons from one illustration: What does the Lord require?, piety versus compassion, who is my neighbor?

III. Question the text.

A. Observe the passage from the perspective of its characters.

Consider the excuses that the priest and the Levite may have made for not attending to the needs of the victim: “I don’t know what to do for him.” “He may be dead anyway. Why bother?” “Someone else will take care of him.” “I need to do X. So I can’t stop.” “The robbers might still be near.” “He may be pretending to be beaten so that his friends will attack me when I stop to help him.”

Consider the reasons for the Samaritan: “If I don’t help, who will?” “I would want some one to stop, if this were me, even if they could only hold my hand.” “This may be one of my clients.” “God is counting on me to do this.”

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

Center of Gravity: Who is my neighbor? What does the law mean by: “love your neighbor as yourself”? What do the disciples see and hear that others did not see nor hear?

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

Dogmatic piety (of priest and Levite) versus love of neighbor, or ritual purity versus practical theology. What am I capable of doing?

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

Fred B. Cradock (Interpretation: Luke) notes the relationship between 10:23-24 and vv. 25-37. He entitles the section covering this pericope and the next “Two stories about hearing and not hearing.” I might call this section more specifically about not seeing; as the priest and the Levite both do not see the victim as a potential opportunity to love God.

Perry H. Biddle, Jr. (Preaching the Lectionary) centers the story on the difference between: Who must I include/exclude as my neighbor? versus To whom am I a neighbor? The difference is between ceremony and the nature of compassionate living.

J.A. Findlay (Abingdon Bible Commentary) notes the artificiality of the Church Fathers’ allegorizing this pericope: Jesus is the Samaritan (c.f. John 8:48), the dangerous road is his journey to Jerusalem, the innkeeper is the Church, the two denarii are the two Sacraments, and the pledge to return to the inn an announcement of the Second Coming. Or is this perhaps a way of teaching ecclesiology?

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

We must be careful not to miss opportunities to minister, which is the focus of Christ’s disciples who already see and hear that they are saved, rather than worrying about what is necessary to be saved.

B. Focus Statement: Central, controlling, unifying theme.

We often choose not to see opportunities for ministry around us because of preconceived notions of what God expects us to do, but if we are instead open to God working in every event, and respond in thanks for having received God’s grace, we will see many opportunities to minister to God’s children and thereby express our love for what God has done for us. What is Jesus doing right here and right now? And How might I work with Jesus right here and right now?

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

Encourage the hearers to be more aware of opportunities to minister in response to the grace already received from God.

VI. Sermon Outline

Bible

Exegesis

Illustration

Bullet

And then, an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. … “And who is my neighbor?”

Mark 12 – Teacher asks for greatest commandment then agrees
loving God & neighbor >> offerings

Jesus: “Not far from kingdom of heaven” ← about 3 – 6 feet!

Test, trick answer: None of the above

Trick question; Trick answer

31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

Dangers lurking in shadows?

Cultural prohibitions.

Busy “saving the world”

– Important committees meetings

– Family obligations

– Busy

Not about clergy or ritual

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he was filled with compassion. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own animal, took him to an inn and took care of him.

Heroes of medicine:

EMT – Spends ~ hour lifting victim from the road – vital signs, perhaps a name, NOT father of three sons …

Trauma team spends an hour or two: fractures to set,

Nurses pop in an out for a few hours: IV to change, more vital signs,

No time for listening to family stories

But are these neighbors?

35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying: ‘Look after him, and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

Healing takes time: changing bandages, clothing soiled after meals, diapers, befriending toxic people.

listening to stories.

Touch that is more than treatment.

Visiting MIL interrupted by “friend” who in five minutes had inflicted her multitude of woes on us. ← LPN came in, hugged this “friend” and told her how much she had been missed. Instantly change woes to a smile.

Attending to the person beyond task

Neighboring: persistent touch

“The one who had mercy with him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Listen to people’s stories

Safe guard their slivers of joy.

& you will find yourself within 3 – 6 feet of the kingdom of heaven.

Doing mercy takes time.

Samaritans versus Innkeepers

English: In this photograph, emergency medical...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many decades ago I had served my home town as a volunteer emergency medical technician. In addition to a few hours a week of volunteer service, often in the middle of the night, I had completed hundreds of hours of training, at my expense. The firefighters in our community were also entirely volunteers. In the course of this training we learned of Good Samaritan (see Luke 10:25-37) laws intended to protect volunteers.

Increasingly communities can find fewer people willing to volunteer their time to aid their neighbors. Each year training programs become increasingly more complex, take longer to complete, and more costly to the volunteer. Increasingly volunteers do not complete the training or cannot meet the physical requirements. Or perhaps those might volunteer would rather pay someone else than take those courses and relinquish precious volunteer time.

At a church training event the leader talked about traditional church dinners where members brought casseroles, salads, and pies they had made at home. Older women in her congregation had complained that younger women no longer baked, but had resorted to store-bought items. This pastor and her husband both managed full-time careers and a family. For her, and many of her peers, adding a few items to her shopping cart made better use of her time than an hour or more in her kitchen. For her family, it made cents to pay someone else to cook.

Are we becoming a nation of “Innkeepers,” people providing hospitality for a wage rather than as an act of charity?

Admittedly hiring professionals has significant advantages over volunteers:

  • Regular and frequent experience teaches much that a few hours of class can only begin to cover.
  • Paid help can be scheduled more readily and more reliably.
  • Store bought food is more likely to meet health department guidelines for cleanliness and contamination.

But much is lost as well as we shift from supporting one another to buying a service from a paid employee. How will we maintain connections with our neighbors that will unite us a nation?

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Memories of Christmas Past

Ornament cut from a sea shell
An old fragile ornament and a newer more durable one.

Once again our Christmas tree has a few fragile ornaments on it. At one time, many years ago,we would have decorated our tree almost exclusively with fragile glass ornaments. But when our children arrived and began playing around our decorated tree, we gradually replaced the glass ornaments with more durable decorations, ones made of cloth, wood or metal. Now only one fragile ornament has survived from our years before children.

Many of the ornaments now on our tree tell a story about when we acquired them or who had crafted them making them far more endearing than the metal coated glass balls we once had.

Years before Lori and I had our first Christmas tree, my mother would caution my siblings and I especially when we handled a particular fragile glass golden heart that had been my mother’s favorite. Each December she would carefully hang it on an inner branch high above where little fingers might reach and each January we would carefully wrap and stow it away. I am confident that it held for my mother a story more precious than it looked.

We know the story of the shepherds and magi honoring Jesus birth because his mother Mary shared the treasure that she held in her heart.

What stories do your favorite ornaments tell? How will you share this treasure with your family?

But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.
– Luke 2:19 (NRSV)

Christmas Is Coming

English: Orthodox Christmas decoration Српски ...
English: Orthodox Christmas decoration Српски / Srpski: Православнa Божићна декорација,Храм Васкрсења господњег у Ваљеву 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No! I am not ready for Christmas.

Yes, I realize that the social question –Are you ready for Christmas?– merely inquires about decorations, parties, and presents. This question merely opens an opportunity about finding the perfect present for one’s spouse, hiding long sought for games from increasingly inquisitive children, and putting up a display that rivals one’s neighbors. A time to ask: “Would so and so understand a gift of fish that might help build God’s kingdom?”

Yes, I am ready for the rush of worship services that involve children and adults who do not normally participate in worship. For that annual flurry of religious excitement and renewal the planning and writing and recruiting began weeks ago and is now largely in place. Although these events will produce anxieties up until all the candles are extinguished.

But no, I am not ready, at least not on a personal level. Mary’s unplanned pregnancy had troubled her and it had troubled Joseph. News of Jesus’ birth had troubled Herod and all Jerusalem with him, compelling this new family to relocate to a foreign land. The birth of Christ should trouble us unless we are unaware of its significance, like the magi, or have nothing left to lose, like the shepherds. It is like the line in a movie when the bad guy says: “Prepare to meet your Maker!” Or when the final exam proctor says: “Pencils down. Close your test booklets.” Thus the glitter and pageantry distract me from the reason for the season and interfere with making time to ponder: “Where is Christ in all this?”

So, no, I am not ready. I am troubled that God has much service for me to do before I will be ready to sing with Simeon:

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” – Luke 2:30-32 (NRSV)

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February 3rd: “Why Not Us?”

In a few sentences Jesus provokes the people from praising him to driving him away. What boundaries have we created to limit the application of God’s grace and thereby limited the action of God’s grace in our lives?

This Week’s Passage: Luke 4:21-30

I. Establish the text

C. Other texts for Year C for Sunday February 3rd

D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

21 – – Summary of Jesus’ comments on Isaiah about the year of the Lord’s favor.

22 – – Local boy becomes great preacher and town is inspired.

23 – – Why did the proverb apply? What did they expect Jesus to heal himself from?

– – – People always look for signs and miracles, as entertainment.

24 – – Consider difference between a prophet and a preacher.

25-27 – Why might outsiders be more receptive to a prophet than an insider? Conversely, what are the dangers of an insider speaking prophetically?

28-29 – Prophets are unwelcome.

30 – – But Jesus’ time had not yet come.

E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?

  • Second part of passage on Jesus preaching. Consider as one pericope?
  • Preceded and followed by Jesus going to other towns, where he preaches with authority and casts out demons.

II. Literary Study.

B. What parallel passages exist? How do they differ? How does this author’s intent differ from other authors? Is the text used elsewhere?

Mark 6:1-6 – Very terse account. People question where he gained wisdom and power. Jesus amazed by people’s unbelief.

Matthew 13:54-58 – Very similar to Mark 6:1-6.

C. Review syntax/meanings of critical words, phrases, idioms

Prophet: mouthpiece for God, chosen by God, often proscriptive rather than predictive.

III. Question the text.

A. Observe the passage from the perspective of its characters.

Jesus begins speaking graciously but shifted to speaking prophetically, telling his neighbors they were closed to the word of God, which riles them to violence.

B. Are there any unusual details? Un-named characters? ‘Pointless’ description? Meanings of names of characters? What does a literal meaning of natural metaphors imply?

Jesus begins speaking graciously but shifted to speaking prophetically, telling his neighbors they were closed to the word of God, which riles them to violence.

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

  • Center of Gravity: No prophet is acceptable in his hometown.
  • Emotional Center: The people go from speaking highly of Jesus to attempting to kill him.

E. Is there anything you wish the author had included in the passage? Why do you think this was not a part of Scripture?

  • Would a more pastoral approach have turned their hearts?
    No. Some people will steadfastly refuse to receive Christ.

F. How will this text be heard by individuals in the congregation, including the preacher?

  • Pastors, Elders, and Deacons are set apart, ordained, by God through the voice of the people. None-the-less they are to discern the will of God rather than the will of the people. Unlike political leaders, they do not need to run for office, but must have the courage to do what is right, even at the risk of being run out of town.

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

R. Alan Culpepper (The New Interpreter’s Bible, “The Gospel of Luke.” Abingdon, 1995.) explains the proverb “Doctor, heal yourself,” as a reaction to the townspeople saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” Thus they may have expected a great prophecy that would have healed them of their ignominy (e.g. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” – John 1:46). Yet like the neighbors of Elijah or Elisha, they were unwilling to act with the faith of the woman at Sidon or Naaman. He reflects: “Those who would exclude others thereby exclude themselves. … Jesus could not do more for his hometown because they were not open to him. How much more might God be able to do with us if we were ready to transcend the boundaries of community and limits of love that we ourselves have erected?”

Fred B. Craddock (Interpretation: Luke. JKP, 1990.) interprets Jesus’ two proverbs as indicating the Nazarenes were resentful that Jesus had taken God’s favor to others beyond Nazareth, that included non-Jews.

Perry H. Biddle (Preaching the Lectionary: A workbook for year C. WJKP, 1991.) is reminded that Jesus was and was not Joseph’s son and thus interprets the proverbs cited by Jesus as his moment of differentiation and ceases to be merely “one of us.”

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

Jesus provokes those who might constrict his ministry.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

What boundaries have we created to limit the application of God’s grace and thereby limited the action of God’s grace in our lives?

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January 20th: “God’s Mission Needs a Church”

I. Establish the text

A. Select the Pericope: Luke 4:14 – 21

C. Other texts for Year C for Sunday within January 21 – 27

D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

14 This shows a passage of time between his baptism and this episode. How might we react to someone filled with the power of the Holy Spirit?

15 This episode is not his first teaching episode.

16 This would be a normal custom for a young male to read in the Temple.

17 Big Temple! Not every place would have more than the Torah.

18-19 Who picked this passage? Or more precisely, through whom did the Holy Spirit work to point to this passage?
The pericope invites analysis of this selection from Isaiah rather than the town’s reaction
to his subsequent rebuke. What is our purpose as related to God’s purpose and mission?

20 Imagine a child of the congregation returning home, having gained favorable notoriety.

21 A summary of his sermon.

E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?

  • This passage follows Jesus sojourn in the desert, while being tempted by the devil, following his baptism. Thus this is Jesus’ first interactions with people in his ministry.
  • The townspeople discredited Jesus then he denied authority to do works in Nazareth, resulting in the Nazarenes throwing him out.

F. What parallel passages exist? How do they differ? How does this author’s intent differ from other authors? Is the text used elsewhere?

  • Mark 1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
  • Matthew 13:54-58; Mark 6:1-6 – Place Jesus’ ministry in Nazareth later and omit an initial positive reception.

II. Literary Study.

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

  • Center of Gravity: What is God’s mission today? How does our mission statement and implementation track with this passage from Isaiah?
  • Emotional Center:
  • Music: Hymnal #332 “Live Into Hope”

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

Fred B. Craddock (Interpretation: Luke. JKP, 1990.) concludes that Luke placed this event out of historical order, “sacrificing chronology” to make a programmatic statement. He notes that Jesus’s first public word, after reading Scripture, is “today.” He opines that throughout Luke-Acts “ ‘today’ is never allowed to become ‘yesterday’ or slip again in to a vague ‘someday.’ ” He reflects that the church subsequently has continued to receive this word, much like the original hearers in Nazareth, with admiration, wonder, and doubt.

R. Alan Culpepper (The New Interpreter’s Bible, “The Gospel of Luke.” Abingdon, 1995.) compared Luke’s rendering of what Jesus read with the Septuagint and found “to bind up the brokenhearted” omitted from Isaiah 61:1 and “to let the oppressed go free” added from Isaiah 58:6 with a change of tense to match the infinitives in the preceding verses. He also notes the continuation of the theme of good new for the poor from the Magnificat and in later teachings.

Rosalind Banbury (The Presbyterian Outlook, “Who is Jesus?” August 11, 2008, p. 18.) affirms the interpretation of “the year of the Lord’s favor” as referring to the Jubilee Year, the periodic return of property proscribed in Leviticus.

James H. Price (The Presbyterian Outlook, “Luke’s mission statement” July 25/Aug. 1, 2005, p. 17) cautions interpreters not to read this passage in light of Mark 6:2-3. In Luke’s version of Jesus’ preaching in his home town the people’s reactions can be classified as positive until he compares them to the people that Elijah and Elisha could not minister with. None-the-less, he concludes: “This passage is not about the Jewish rejection of Jesus, but about the peril of our missing ‘today’ the vision of God’s grace that surpasses the bounds of what we deem appropriate.”

Carol M. Bechtel (The Presbyterian Outlook, “When God Steps Off the Screen” December 1988, p. 41.) compares this passage to Woody Allen’s film The Purple Rose of Cairo, where a character in the film within the film steps off the screen to dialog with a woman in the audience. She asks: “How many times does Jesus step off the screen on a Sunday morning without our taking any notice?”

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

Jesus shifts from merely being a spiritual leader to God incarnate and declares his mission statement.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

Hearers are called to experience Jesus fulfilling this mission statement, not only for the people of Nazareth 2000 years ago, but especially for us today.

December 23rd: “You Want Me to Do What!?”

I. Establish the text

A. Select the passage: Luke 1:26-56

Other texts for Year C, Advent 4

Micah 5:2-5

Hebrews 10:5-10

B. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

38 Mary submits to the Spirit.

39 Mary has just received the vision of the angel that she will bear Jesus. Since Elizabeth was old and barren, her pregnancy would be a certain sign verifying what was said to Mary.

41 Did the ancients perceive that infants held a special bond with God? This foreshadows John’s announcing the reign of Christ.

42 This seems atypical of Scripture, frequently the reader is told what the God tells the prophet, then the prophet tells others. Here the step of the Holy Spirit communicating to Elizabeth is completely ignored.

43 Why are we so favored that our predecessors have built this Church and preserved the stories? Why are we so favored that Christ became human? Why are we so favored that …?

44 Do we leap for joy when the news of Christ reaches our ears?

45 Mary was not required to believe.

E. What parallel passages exist? How do they differ? How does this author’s intent differ from other authors? Is the text used elsewhere?

This is uniquely Lukan material.

42 Is repeated by an unnamed woman in 11:27. But Jesus supercedes this blessing with a blessing of all who hear and obey the word of God.

This contrasts sharply with Job’s curse of his birth (Job 3:1ff).

G. Are there any significant variants in the manuscripts? Why?

46 Some ancient manuscripts credit Elizabeth with the Magnificat. This would be consistent with v. 41 that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Mary might not yet fully understand nor accept what has happened to her. But Elizabeth could fully understand from the parallel of her own pregnancy to the expectancy of the hope of the world.

If properly attributed to Mary, then the Magnificat is a testimony of her belief by the sign of Elizabeth’s pregnancy as to what will happen.

II. Literary Study.

A. What is the context of the passage, and the book?

  • Preceded by the announcement to Mary in the sixth month of the pregnancy of Elizabeth. Elizabeth has been in seclusion much of this time out of embarrassment for becoming pregnant at such an old age. Mary quickly accedes to the angel’s request.
  • Followed by the Magnificat and the birth of John.
  • Annunciation to Mary and confirmation by Elizabeth functions in this chapter as an interlude in the birth narrative of John. Over the next two chapters the narratives of John and Jesus are tightly intertwined. The narratives start with John’s birth which parallels the births of the patriarchs. The narratival shift to Jesus is complete with the jailing of John and the Baptism of Jesus.

III. Question the text.

D. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

    • Emotional Center: Wonder/Amazement/Joy
    • Center of Gravity: Beatification of Mary
    • Music: Beethoven’s Ode to Joy

G. How will this text be heard by individuals in the congregation, including the preacher?

      • This scene happens in front of us, rather than involving us.
      • The hearer needs to be transformed to hear Mary’s greeting and leap for joy!

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

Heidi Husted Armstrong (“Advent 2006: Revolution from the bottom up,” The Presbyterian Outlook, Dec. 4/11, 2006) notes the personal nature of the Magnificat. Mary uses the first person singular pronoun. She writes: “the gospel is bigger than personal salvation. And yet … it is certainly not less.” She also notes in vv 51 – 53 Luke’s use of the 3rd person singular to indicate divine action putting the Kingdom of God in the world.

Fred Craddock (Interpretation: Luke) concludes that Mary does not visit Elizabeth to confirm the angel’s prophecy, but is drawn to Elizabeth out of their common experience. He opines that Luke is alluding to the birth of Jacob and Esau, where they struggled in Rebekah’s womb and the younger (Mary) served the older (Elizabeth).

R. Alan Culpepper (“The Gospel of Luke,” The New Interpreter’s Bible)

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher),
What does this text want to say and do?

Those times when my sermons were best received, when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,” were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

 

B. Focus Statement: Central, controlling, unifying theme.

 

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

 

December 16th: Christmas Music Celebration

Chior robed in red
We’ll lift voices and hands to celebrate the coming of Christ.

Our choirs have been practicing for weeks to celebrate the coming of Christ into the world.

This special worship service interprets readings from Hebrews and Luke with performances by:

  • Our Adult Choir
  • Children from our Sunday School classes and Youth Group
  • The Joyful Ringers, our bell choir
  • A trio, a duet, and a solo.

A reception with punch will follow.

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