Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Lent 4: John 3:14-21 and Ephesians 2:1-10 (Year B)

I offer three posts for the RCL readings for this Sunday:

John 3:1-21
Little tidbit:
ο διδασκαλος ("the teacher", vs 2)  Nicodemus calls Jesus "a" teacher; Jesus calls Nicodemus "THE teacher."  Obviously Jesus is catching Nicodemus in his words!
A laser focus on John 3:16
A little tidbit
εχη :  STOP.  read carefully: This is a present tense verb.  This means that we HAVE the eternal life, not we will have, but we HAVE the eternal life.  In John's Gospel life begins here and in as we, through faith, live in the son.

For those who want to work with the lovely Ephesians passage:
http://lectionarygreek.blogspot.com/2009/03/ephesians-21-10.html

Lent 4, Narrative Lectionary: Matthew 25:1-13 and Matthew 25:14-30 (Year 1)

This week the narrative lectionary offers two choices.  For both I've updated my previous posts.


Parable of the Talents
Tidbit:
ταλαντον ("talent", a measure of gold weight worth roughly a million dollars or 20 years worth of a standard persons wages, 25:15).  While this parable may produce guilt and anxiety in us that we don't do enough, it is worth remembering that anyone who gives away 5 talents to his slaves (not friends, slaves) doesn't value money they way the rest of us do.  5 talents would be 5-10 million dollars; 100 years worth of human labor entrusted!

Parable of the Bridesmaids
Tidbit:
A long explanation of why Bridesmaids is a better translation than virgin for παρθενοις.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lent 3: Exodus 20 and John 2:13-22 (Year B)

Here are links to the OT and Gospel passage for this Revised Common Lectionary readings for this week (Year B):

John 2:13-22
Tid-bit:
οικος του εμποριον (house of market; 2:16)  German has a nice word:  Kaufhaus, in which the word for shopping center contains the word house.  Since we don't in English, the writers drop it and say, "market" instead of the literal "house of market."  While our churches today may not be a house of market, I wonder if this really is the alternative to church:  a few more hours to purchase things on TV, at the mall or on the internet; a few more hours to work; a few more hours to pay bills.

Exodus 20
Tid-bit:
אנכי ("anocki", meaning "I", 20.2)  The first word of the ten commandments have nothing to do with rules, but God affirming his role as their savior and Lord.

Matthew 22:1-14

This passage occurs in both the Narrative Lectionary (Year 1) and the Revised Common Lectionary (Most recently March 8, 2015).
 
Summary:  It is all about the right clothing.  The only clothing that can work at the heavenly wedding banquet is our Baptism.  I suspect there is a bunch of historical criticism that would help make sense of this parable, but I am not sure if that makes a good sermon.

Apologetic note:  Just because someone is thrown out doesn't mean they can't be invited a second time; or that we have permission not to care for them.


Key Words/Grammar insights:
καλεω (kaleo, "call" or "invite"; 22:3, 4, 8, 9 (14 as adjective)).  The word here for invited is simply the perfect of καλεω which means to call/invite. This word is used in various forms throughout the passage.  Jesus calls us to invite those willing to come because many of those invited were not interested.  A reminder that in all Gospels, but truly in Matthew, Jesus cares for people the world does not; the b-list people, so to speak.

τεθυμενα (tethymena, perfect participle of θυω, "slaughter" or "kill", 22:4).  This word can mean sacrificed.  If one were to go this route, then this parable could be interpreted within the paradigm of the conflict between Jews and early Jewish converts to Christianity:  Jesus has died (been sacrificed); many early Jews are not accepting him.  The temple is destroyed and that nation has fallen, perhaps as punishment for lack of conversion. This may be way to explain the passage, but I am not sure if this insight makes for a good sermon.  If one wants to go this route, one can also look at
εφιμωθη (aorist passive form of φιμοω, phimo-oo, "silence"; 22:12) Jesus will silence the Sadducees later this chapter (22:34).  This parable is not intended simply as a myth, but as a description, I would argue, of how Jesus' was and is being received.


ενδυω/ενδυμα ("clothe" as verb; "clothing" as noun; 22:11, 12).  Matthew's Gospel talks about clothing a few times (more than any other Gospel, incidentally).  We learn that John the Baptist is clothed in Camel's hair (3:4); we learn not to worry about our clothing (6:25-28); we meet the angels wearing white (28:3).  Which leads to the question -- what should one wear to the heavenly banquet?

To get at this, I did a word search on ενδυω ("clothe/wear" to find examples of people wearing stuff in the New Testament, especially as it would relate to the heavenly banquet.  I've included them and underlined the word as the NRSV translates as ενδυω:
1 Corinthians 15:54 When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
Romans 13:14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Luke 24:49 And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
Matthew 27:31 After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
Ephesians 4:24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 6:14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
Revelation 19:14 And the armies of heaven, wearing fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.
Galatians 3:27    As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

To me, the only thing that can meet all of these criterion:  the gift of Jesus Christ in faith, love and righteousness, eternally pure and immortal yet also ready to die to the world, is our Baptism.

υβριζω (hubrizoo (rough breathing over υ), meaning "mistreat"; 22:6)  The word for mistreat here is "hubriz-oo," literally, have hubris.

Tiny little grammar note.  22:5 shows both ways that Greek can show possessive; his field and his business)