Pentecost 4, Year C

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Title:Pentecost 4, Year C

 Pentecost 4, July 7, 2019 (full size gallery)

A busy week with the first Summer program for Children on July 3 followed by the July 4 extravaganza. We have videos for July 4 as well as photos with an article. Plenty of historical personalities from Benjamin Franklin, Martha Washington, George Mason, and Fielding Lewis not to mention historians from Colonial Williamsburg discussing clothing.

We had 37 in church today. The altar flowers honored John Faibisy’s mother born on July 4. He and Toni were both in church today

Dave and Gibby Fannon supplied the church with tomatoes from Dave’s farm. Gibby actually did “tomatoes to go” at one point. Thanks to both of them.

Eunice introduced a fund for parishioners to donate plastic bags to Trex Company. The reward is a new bench if we meet the requirement. Donating the plastic bags is good for the economy since plastics take years degrade. Burning is also hazardous plus animals get caught in the plastics.

Today was the Potluck Coffee hour. We had foods left over from July 4 – barbecue, hot dogs as well other foods prepared for today – corn casserole, salads and an array of desserts.

The Sermon talks about the sending out of the disciples in Luke’s Gospel and the gift they took. “We Christians have a much needed gift from God to carry out into the world today. And that gift is peace—not just a lack of conflict, or a “let’s be nice to each other while we hate our differences” sort of peace, but God’s peace.

” The peace that passes understanding, and that the world needs, is the peace that God gives us when we depend on God to get through the hard times in our lives. This is the same the peace that Jesus found in his own struggles as he trusted God’s will and suffered and died on the cross.

“These struggles and hard times in our lives mark us, just as Jesus bears with him through eternity the marks of the nails in his hands.

“But when we accept the hard things in life and hand our struggles over to God, God’s peace will take root in our lives, growing in the place of all the resentment, anger, bitterness, distress, or even fear that may have taken over like poison ivy in our hearts.

“The next time you feel despair taking away your peace, or anger taking away your peace, I encourage you to pray for the person or the situation that is causing you distress, knowing that God will hear your prayer and offer you God’s peace in return for your distress.”

Today’s readings focus on the Christian experience of being sent by Jesus to continue his mission. Isaiah speaks words of peace and hope for God’s people because God’s love never fails. Paul closes his letter to the Galatians with some final counsel on behavior within the Christian community. Luke tells of the mission of the 70 disciples and their success in defeating Satan.

Isaiah 66:10-14

Today’s reading develops the image of Jerusalem as the once desolate mother who in the end-time will be the source of all joy and nurture. As Isaiah often does, Yahweh’s tender care for the people is compared to that of a comforting mother (42:14, 49:15, 66:9). Yahweh’s covenant bond is rooted in a love that never fails. The desolate and discouraged people will be comforted and their sadness will turn to joy.

Verses 15 and 16 are an oracle of judgment upon the Lord’s enemies, who are the idolatrous in Israel (v. 17) rather than the Gentiles, who will come to worship God (66:18-23). God’s judgment will be carried out by fire and sword.

Psalm 66:1-8

This psalm of praise and thanksgiving is divided into several parts, which may have been composed or used at different times. The first part (vv. 1-4) is a hymn to God. Verses 5-12 give thanks for the deliverance of people through God’s saving power, as shown in the crossing of the Red Sea and/or the Jordan (v. 6). The acts of God were not just past history but were made present through recollection and reenactment in the liturgy. So the exodus events became a way to understand the return from exile in Babylon (vv. 10, 12). Likewise for Christians, this psalm speaks of participation, through baptism, in Christ’s resurrection.

Galatians 6:(1-6) 7-16

Paul turns to some practical suggestions on dealing with the reality of sinfulness in the Church community.

These verses provide instructions for the Galatians to grow as a community of believers. He advises gentleness, understanding and the sharing of difficulties. Christians are submitted to “the law of Christ,” not a legal code but a Person. Self-examination should cure anyone of self-righteousness.
The encouragement to restore someone ‘detected in transgression’ shows a spirit of gentleness, rooted in an awareness that all members of the community are vulnerable to temptation. There is an encouragement to bear one another’s burdens and so to fulfil the law of Christ. The distinction is made between bearing burdens together and yet each having responsibility for their own load, without comparing themselves to their neighbor. 

His encouragement of the community to not grow weary in doing what is right and not to give up is not an appeal to trust in works for salvation, which would contradict what he clearly writes in other letters, but is an encouragement to keep on keeping on. To literally keep up the good work!

Paul urges the community to provide for its teachers and to persevere in doing good. He summarizes the theme of the letter, declaring that it is participation, not in circumcision, but in crucifixion with Christ (2:19, 5:24) and thus in the new creation, which is the Christian’s only glory. This is the true continuity with the past. Those, both Jew and Gentile, who follow Christ, are the true chosen people, “the Israel of God.” 

Paul himself bears the evidence of this commitment to Christ; the word translated “marks” is in Greek stigmata, meaning a scar (2 Corinthians 4:8-10) or a slave’s brand of ownership. The use of stigmata to refer to the marks of the crucifixion came much later. He closes the letter, which began so harshly, with a blessing upon the recipients.

Paul’s letter serves as inspiration and challenge to us now, as much as to the church of the Galatians then. For example, the themes of gentleness and lack of judgement when seeking to restore someone to the community, being mindful at all times of our own susceptibility to transgression. The encouragement to share each other’s burdens while at the same time taking responsibility for our own load, without comparing ourselves to others, is a valuable insight for us all today. 

The final words of encouragement to not grow weary, to not give up and to keep in mind that a new creation is everything are poignant, powerful and prophetic for the times we are living in today. When there is much to become weary about in the world: political chaos; economic instability and inequality; and environmental catastrophe, how do we keep on keeping on, being bearers of good news? We need to work out how to carry the burden together, while each doing what we can and what we are called to do.

 Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

The mission of the 70 disciples is recorded only by Luke. Luke understands their mission as foreshadowing the later mission of the Christian community to the world. 

They are to go out two by two as witnesses into the harvest, the final gathering of God’s people. They are to rely upon God to protect and provide for them. Our job is to bring God’s reign to others by proclaiming the good news of salvation through Christ. The Lord did not guarantee success in our labor, only that our names will be written in heaven for doing what he has asked.  

Jesus sent 70 disciples out to towns he was about to visit, warning them he was sending them out “like lambs into the midst of wolves.”  Jesus doesn’t sugar-coat their mission, they go out as lambs amidst wolves, without purse, bag, sandals or greeting for anyone they meet on the road 

They are to travel light and bring peace to each household they visit. They should be adaptable, following local eating and drinking customs, not demanding special treatment. Curing the sick, they should encourage people that God’s reign was close enough to touch, even in their midst. Their primary message, then is one of healing and encouragement.

They went out vulnerable, without provisions and at the whim of the acceptance or rejection of the communities they encountered. This presents a humble and vulnerable picture of ministry and mission; one that assumes a posture of being prepared to receive as well as to bear good news.

They are given clear instructions to enter every house with a blessing of peace and, where they are received, to accept the hospitality offered in the same house – rather than moving around from place to place.

Where they are welcomed they are to eat what is set before them, cure the sick and proclaim the close proximity of the Kingdom of God. Where they are not welcomed they are to declare that they wipe the dust of the place from their feet in protest and yet also proclaim the closeness of God’s Kingdom – this time as judgement, not as blessing

Previous towns in which Jesus had been rejected receive his scathing judgment. We can reasonably assume from this scripture that the disciples also had some bad experiences, although Luke reports only the disciples’ immediate success, from which they returned in joy. 

Jesus told them their joy was misplaced. The divine protection and power they experienced was only a fringe benefit. True joy comes from knowing “that your names are written in heaven.” Furthermore, he gives them a steely strength from which to draw. They are empowered to do great deeds, to confront evil and remain unharmed.

We do grow weary of doing good when success or reward is not soon evident. It is hard to wait for that due season to reap any harvest. Many of us have hoped and worked to bring just one soul to Christ, see no result yet, and perhaps never will. It is the Lord who missions us and even though we go through fire for him, he will bring us into a place of refreshment—to eternal life with him. 

Our job is to bring God’s reign to others by proclaiming the good news of salvation through Christ. The Lord did not guarantee success in our labor, only that our names will be written in heaven for doing what he has asked. 

Their urgency calls attention to the belief in the nearness of the promised end times, and their poverty and peaceableness echoes that urged by Jesus in the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:29-49). For Luke, “peace” is particularly associated with the salvation Jesus brings (1:79, 2:14, 29, 7:50, 8:48, 19:38). There is to be no quibbling over dietary rules (such was an issue in the Gentile mission, for example in Acts 11:1-18, Galatians 2:11-14 and 1 Corinthians 10:25). 

The disciples proclaim Jesus’ own message, “the kingdom of God is at hand for you” (10:9, 11, 11:20), rather than the Christian post-Easter proclamation about Jesus. The final defeat of Satan that will characterize the end times is foreshadowed by their mission and begins to occur because of it.