Pentecost 5, Year C

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Title:Pentecost 5, Year C

 Pentecost 5, July 14, 2019 (full size gallery)

We have 2 weeks of Morning Prayer as Catherine is on vacation. Today Elizabeth Heinbach was the officiant and Phil Fitzhugh as the preacher on the “Good Samaritan. (Catherine is away for 2 Sundays on vacation). You can see his sermon here.

We had 32 today on a beautiful Sunday, warm but not too humid. The crepes myrtle, phlox continued to bloom. There appeared to be more varieties of butterflies and dragonflies as well.

Last week we gave away tomatoes. Today it was Sunflower provided by Cookie and Johnny. We are collecting school supplies to be distributed in July and August Village Harvests. The July distribution is this Wednesday, July 17 from 3pm-5pm.

Today’s readings focus on God’s call challenging us to obedience, compassion and action for justice. In Deuteronomy Moses assures the people that God’s call to obedience is not too difficult nor is it hidden. Paul writes that Christ, the image of the invisible God, is our Creator, Sustainer and Reconciler. Jesus answers a lawyer’s question by telling the story of the Good Samaritan.

Deuteronomy 30:9-14

The book of Deuteronomy is presented as Moses’ farewell address to the Israelite people gathered at the border of the promised land. The book is a reinterpretation of Mosaic instruction (the Jewish Torah or Law) to deal with the situations of later history. It, or the core of it, was probably “the book of the law” found in 621 BC, which sparked Josiah’s reforms (2 Kings 22–23). It emphasizes the continued relevance of Moses’ teaching to each generation.

Today’s reading comes from Moses’ third address (chaps. 29–30). The people are promised restoration and renewal of the covenant. They will enjoy the blessings of obedience (v. 9) if they seek, follow, serve and obey the Lord with the total intensity of their whole being (v. 10). God has drawn near and revealed the guidelines that are necessary for living a life pleasing to God. God has already placed these deep within us. Our task is to discover and live them.

Colossians 1:1-14

Today’s reading is the first of a sequence of four from the letter to the Colossians. The letter to the Colossians addressed tendencies among the Colossian Christians to merge differing beliefs. They had apparently adopted additional teaching, ritual observances and ascetic practices from various sources–Judaism, the pagan mystery cults and speculative theosophy–in order to supplement Christianity and thereby ensure salvation. The letter asserts the entire sufficiency of Christ and of redemption through him.

Today’s reading follows the outline of the beginning of most of Paul’s letters: salutation (1:1-2), thanksgiving (1:3-8) and prayer of intercession (1:9-14). The Colossians are reminded of the gospel they learned from Epaphras (4:12f; Philemon 23). Paul prays that they may be open to God’s will and be strengthened by God to lead moral lives; the connection between knowledge of the gods and ethical behavior was not always made in the pagan religions.

The use of such words as knowledge and wisdom may be a deliberate appropriation of terms used by the mystery religions in order to claim them for Christ. In the Graeco-Roman world at this time there was a general sense of being imprisoned in the world and subjected to evil spirits; thus, many different groups promised deliverance through esoteric knowledge and practices. Paul proclaims that it is God who “has delivered us from the dominion of darkness” and it is his Son “in whom we have redemption” through baptism. There is no need to propitiate other powers.

Luke 10:25-37

Today’s reading illustrates the challenge of Christian discipleship in relationship to others. The scholar’s question to Jesus about how to summarize the Jewish Law was one frequently posed to rabbis, who commonly replied with the second part of the answer, taken from Leviticus 19:18b. The first part is taken from the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5), which was part of the daily morning prayer of the Jews.

Luke presents them not as two commandments, but as a unity with a double focus. By attaching the story of the Good Samaritan, Luke illustrates in a memorable way what the love of a neighbor requires. This also reinforces the Christian application of the Jewish covenant commandments to all persons.

For Jews, the covenant obligations applied only to Jews and not Gentiles. Thus a neighbor was a fellow Jew or a resident alien who was under their protection (Leviticus 19:34). The parable turns the question around, from neighbor as object of love to neighbor as one who shows love without defining or delimiting the recipient. Like God (Luke 1:78), like Jesus (Luke 7:13), like the prodigal’s father (Luke 15:20), the despised Samaritan has compassion upon the one in need and acts decisively to rescue the sufferer from the difficult situation

Lutheran minister David Lose points out another facet of the neighbor in caring for us. The neighbor has the ability to not only give help but to receive it:

“But then Jesus goes and does something different, right at the end. He doesn’t ask who was the Samaritan’s neighbor; rather, he asks, who acted like a neighbor. The answer, of course, is obvious to the lawyer and to us: it is the Samaritan, the one who went out of his way to help another. But do you notice how this changes things? Suddenly the neighbor isn’t simply the one in need, but rather the one who provides for our need, the one who takes care of us.

“Which raises an interesting – and often uncomfortable – question: who has been our neighbor by caring for us of late? This is uncomfortable because we spend so much of our time, energy, and money trying to be invulnerable, trying precisely to need as little as possible from those around us. Perhaps it’s a fear of being a burden, or a concern about “owing” others, or that we are just afraid of being vulnerable because if we show our need that need may not be met. Whatever the reason, however, so many of us are absolutely mortified by the idea of showing our deepest needs to others and have a hard time receiving a compliment let alone serious aid or help.

“Yet if I’m reading this parable right, it seems that according to Jesus, being neighbor involves not only giving help but also being willing to receive it, even and especially to and from those we don’t normally see as “like us.” So perhaps the call this week isn’t only to invite us to imagine those we should be helping, but those who might help us … if we gave them a chance.”