(House Church 7.28.2019 // Proper 12 - Year C - Track 2)
O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Old Testament: Genesis 18:20-32
The Lord said to Abraham, "How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know."
So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham came near and said, "Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?" And the Lord said, "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake." Abraham answered, "Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?" And he said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there." Again he spoke to him, "Suppose forty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of forty I will not do it." Then he said, "Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak. Suppose thirty are found there." He answered, "I will not do it, if I find thirty there." He said, "Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it." Then he said, "Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there." He answered, "For the sake of ten I will not destroy it."
The Response: Psalm 138
1 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I will sing your praise.
2 I will bow down toward your holy temple
and praise your Name,
because of your love and faithfulness;
3 For you have glorified your Name
and your word above all things.
4 When I called, you answered me;
you increased my strength within me.
5 All the kings of the earth will praise you, O Lord,
when they have heard the words of your mouth.
6 They will sing of the ways of the Lord,
that great is the glory of the Lord.
7 Though the Lord be high, he cares for the lowly;
he perceives the haughty from afar.
8 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe;
you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies;
your right hand shall save me.
9 The Lord will make good his purpose for me;
O Lord, your love endures for ever;
do not abandon the works of your hands.
The Epistle: Colossians 2:6-15, (16-19)
As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.
[Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.]
The Gospel: Luke 11:1-13
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial."
And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, `Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.' And he answers from within, `Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
"So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel lessons are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA, and used by permission.
The Collects, Psalms and Canticles are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979.
NOTES + THOUGHTS:
(by Dustin Trampe)
*Liturgy means “the work of the people.” We enter into this work when we enact the scriptures together by reading and discussing them and allowing our lives to be formed by Christ and each other. Like a potluck, we each bring something to the discussion, and there is always enough.
Which passage jumped out at you the most? Why?
What thoughts / questions do you have?
What connections do you see between the readings + life?
What action or change do they invite?
Why was it included in the Bible?
Is there any disconnect between the narrators perspective and our perspective as modern readers?
A bit of background: Dustin is working on PhD in Philosophy. Christians have consistently used the passage from our reading in Colossians to warn him about the dangers of studying secular philosophy. Because of this, he has spent considerable time processing through the book of Colossians.
“Philosophy” - Verse 8 has been used in many Christian contexts to write off philosophy altogether and create a taboo around anything philosophical. According to this interpretation, Colossians is warning against engaging with any thought not rooted in the Bible because it distorts the clear and simple message the Bible gives us. As a result, “philosophy” becomes a scapegoat concept for any way of thinking that is different from the accepted standard of the community, and those who think or act differently lose all influence in the group and are pushed out. In the end, communities who put taboos on thinking differently become echo chambers.
Unlike “echo chamber” thinking, Paul does not want unthinking blind followers who dismiss every different idea. But, he is concerned about patterns of thought that trap and oppress people, physically and mentally, and this is what he means by “philosophy and empty deceit” He is talking about guarding against those patterns of thought that force people to live according to the rules of the rulers. At the time, it was very common for teachers of all sorts to travel around and bring their “philosophy” with them, which usually resembled religion and superstition more than what we think of by “philosophy.” Listeners could often become convinced that they needed to perform the right ritual or speak the right incantation in order for the spirits to be pleased and for their lives to prosper.
Paul’s concern to break the spell of oppressive patterns of thought explains why he brings up “festivals, new moons, and sabbaths,” and “self-abasement and worship of angels.” The insistence on these kinds of activities stems from distorted patterns of thought that have not recognized that we are free to live in God’s love revealed by Christ’s life and death. In contrast, Paul wants to free the Colossians to think and act (to “walk around”) in the unconditional safe space of Christ’s love. This is a truly dangerous idea for the rulers and authorities!
-According to this passage, what did Christ’s death on the cross accomplish? How does this square with how you tend to think of the crucifixion?
How do we as a community avoid being an echo chamber that is unwilling to engage with those who think differently from us?
What structures or powers exist for us today that condemn or make oppressive demands of our bodies and minds? To help you answer, think about what questions you feel you cannot ask and what thoughts you feel you cannot express. How can Christ’s love disarm these “rulers and authorities” today?
Sometimes after reading passages like Luke 11:1-13 I get the impression that spirituality (closeness to God) has to do with who can whine the best, in which case my kids are VERY spiritual. With a closer look, however, I think both the Luke passage and the Genesis passage are trying to highlight the importance of being honest with ourselves and God about our desires. This ties right into the Colossians passage, which encourages us to live in freedom from oppressive thought processes because we are free to express ourselves in the space of God’s love. It is very normal to push our desires out of mind. Abraham could have easily kept silent and suppressed his desire to save the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, but instead he spoke up for what he felt was right. We are given the same freedom to express ourselves to God, relying on his unconditional acceptance.
Another initial reaction I have is to read this passage as saying that God will give us whatever we ask for, period, like a genie. When I was younger, I really did believe this, and as I got older I tried to believe it with some conditions (like “You have to have a right heart”). Instead of reading it this way, it is helpful to read it in framework of the prayer Jesus teaches his disciples. That prayer has to do with establishing God’s loving rule (his kingdom), which means providing for the needs of the community (daily bread) and restoring the relationships that have been wounded (forgive us our sins). Within this framework, then, Jesus is telling us to pray openly! If we truly believe that God is moving our world toward justice and reconciliation—that “the arc of history bends toward justice”—then we will openly ask God to bring this about in and through us. Even a sleepy neighbor will get up and help if you ring the doorbell enough, so imagine how much more a loving and attentive God will be willing to involve us in is project of justice.
-What does prayer look like for you?
-How does your view of God shape your thoughts on prayer?
This is the table of Christ. Here we remember God’s love and acceptance for humans. Here we remember our connection with all humankind. All are invited to come and eat. So come.
You who have much faith and you who have little. You who have been here often and you who are new. You who have tried to follow and you who have failed.
Come, Because it is our Divine Mother who invites us. It is her desire that we meet her here together.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.