Monthly Archives: August 2008

Bible in 90 Days–the end!


We did it, friends!  Tonight, we discuss the end of the canon, over cake of course.  And to celebrate, here are photos of many of the places we’ve read about…enjoy!



worship for October 12


Our focus for October 12 is Philippians 4.1-9:

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 


 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

In the Lectionary Study Group (which still meets each Tuesday at noon!) we discussed the idea that it’s difficult to rejoice always, because we tend to be dwelling on (obsessing about?) the past and looking forward to the future, but rejoicing is something we do NOW.  We then thought that perhaps being in the present (instead of dwelling on things we can’t change in either the past or the future) is the key to the peace that passes all understanding.  This also made me think of my time in Egypt, where people add “insha’allah” (God willing) to everything they say–they say “see you tomorrow, insha’allah” and “we can meet on Monday morning at 10, insha’allah”…etc.  It used to drive me crazy, but at the same time I think it might be a helpful reminder that we are not in control of the future, only what we do right now.  And knowing that, we can be at peace and rejoice.  (TCP)

worship on October 5


October 5 is World Communion Sunday.  We will hear from the prophet Isaiah, chapter 55:

Ho, everyone who thirsts,
   come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
   come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
   without money and without price. 
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
   and your labour for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
   and delight yourselves in rich food. 
Incline your ear, and come to me;
   listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
   my steadfast, sure love for David. 
See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
   a leader and commander for the peoples. 
See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
   and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
   for he has glorified you. 

Seek the Lord while he may be found,
   call upon him while he is near; 
let the wicked forsake their way,
   and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
   and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts. 

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
   and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
   giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
   it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
   and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. 

For you shall go out in joy,
   and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
   shall burst into song,
   and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
   instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
   for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. 


On this day when we look out at the whole body of Christ, which spans both geography and time, we remember that even strangers are welcome at God’s table and that God’s vision for the world may not look like ours but is the better, more excellent way.

worship in September


In September we will be focusing on the theme of being formed as God’s people, being made into a community in God’s image, and what that means.  This will encompass how God’s people live together, what community means, learning to rely on God and God’s provision, and much more.  The texts for those days are below.

September 7:  exodus 20.1-4, 7-9, 12-20

Then God spoke all these words:

 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

 You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

 Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work.

 Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

 You shall not murder.

 You shall not commit adultery.

 You shall not steal.

 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.


September 14:  exodus 15.1b-11, 20-21

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:
‘I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
   horse and rider he has thrown into the sea. 
The Lord is my strength and my might,
   and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
   my father’s God, and I will exalt him. 
The Lord is a warrior;
   the Lord is his name. 

‘Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he cast into the sea;
   his picked officers were sunk in the Red Sea. 
The floods covered them;
   they went down into the depths like a stone. 
Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power—
   your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy. 
In the greatness of your majesty you overthrew your adversaries;
   you sent out your fury, it consumed them like stubble. 
At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up,
   the floods stood up in a heap;
   the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea. 
The enemy said, “I will pursue, I will overtake,
   I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.
   I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.” 
You blew with your wind, the sea covered them;
   they sank like lead in the mighty waters. 

‘Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?
   Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
   awesome in splendour, doing wonders?

 Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them:
‘Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.’


September 21:  exodus 16.2-15

The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’

 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.’ So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, ‘In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?’And Moses said, ‘When the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lordhas heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.’

 Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, “Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.” ’ And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked towards the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. The Lord spoke to Moses and said, ‘I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, “At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.” 

 In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, ‘It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.


September 28:  exodus 17.1-7

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarrelled with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?’ But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’ So Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.’ Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarrelled and tested the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’

Bible in 90 Days: Day 75


BiND:  Day 75


Today we cross a strange line in our reading.  We finish Luke’s gospel, but instead of going directly to its sequel (Acts), we hop over into John, whose writing and focus and context are very different. 

In the end of Luke we see Jesus again as very human, showing emotions such as sadness, anxiety, and compassion.  We also hear him say, in the face of violence, “no more!”  And then, after the resurrection, we read the stories that in many ways characterize the church today, especially the Emmaus Road story.  The disciples don’t know what’s just happened, and they don’t recognize Jesus when he comes to walk beside them, but at the table they get just a little glimpse before he’s gone—and that glimpse is enough for them to rush back and testify to what they have seen and heard.  Isn’t that just how we are?  We don’t always recognize Jesus even when he’s walking alongside us, but at the communion table we get a glimpse of Christ and of the kingdom of God, and that little taste is enough to empower us to share the story. 


And then we turn the page and find ourselves reading John.  Again, “John” is a name that was attached later to an anonymous writing, and tradition holds to be the name of the “beloved disciple” who is mentioned a couple of times (though never named, and always written about in the third person).  Just as Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote from and to their own contexts, so does John.  We talked about sources:  the vast majority of scholars agree that Mark was written first, then used as a source by both Matthew and Luke, along with a source scholars call “Q”—material found in both Matthew and Luke but not Mark (implying that there must have been a document or a body of work from which they could both draw, since they are often word-for-word the same).  Then both Matthew and Luke had their own sources as well, generally called “M” and “L” (how original).  John, however, is different.  He does not appear to have had any of these sources, and his writing about Jesus overlaps very little with the synoptic gospels.  (synoptic comes from two Greek words that mean “seeing together.”)  So John reads very differently from the first three, and he portrays Jesus differently as well.  John is concerned with refuting Gnosticism (the idea that special secret knowledge is the key to salvation), though in the process he often sounds like a Gnostic himself.  He writes mainly theology, not history.  He presents a Jesus who works few miracles and tells few parables, but spends a lot of time in extended theological discourse.  John is also the most “greek” of the gospel writers—his language use is easy to understand yet sophisticated, his writing style is similar to that of the greek philosophers, and he is pretty clearly writing in the late 1st century to a community of probably mostly gentile Christians.  He also presents a very high “Christology”—understanding of Jesus—which is primarily about Jesus’ divinity, whereas we saw, for instance, in Mark, a lot of humanity.  This is one of the reasons having all four gospels, all four portraits of Jesus, is important:  we get a balance, a variety of perspectives and vantage points, a variety of understandings, all of which capture part of the story but, because God can’t be captured in words, not all of it.  There are other gospels, mostly written much later, that didn’t make the canonical cut—if you’re interested in reading some, I have a collection in my office, so just ask!


John opens with a beautiful rhetorical move that is beloved by many:  “in the beginning was the Word”—the logos, the divine word/logic.  God’s logic has come into the world.  God’s Word (with a Capital W), has been made flesh.  In the beginning of Genesis, we see God creating with a word, and now the Word is living among us, re-creating.  It’s one of the most beautiful expressions of who Jesus is that we have in our tradition.


You may have noticed that one of the first things Jesus does is have a Temple Tantrum—right at the beginning of his ministry.  In John, Jesus is out and about for three years, whereas in the synoptic gospels he’s out for just one year.  So we have a clue about how John views Jesus, right in the opening pages.  In the other three gospels, the Temple tantrum is the last straw that leads to Jesus’ arrest.  In John, though, it’s just the beginning—an announcement of who he is and what he’s come to do.  (Important note:  Throughout John the phrase “the Jews” comes up over and over.  This has often been used to create and foster anti-semitism, and it’s important to remember that Jesus and his followers were all Jews.  “the Jewish religious leaders” is a better translation in the context of the greek and the socio-political-religious situation of the day.) 


What else did you notice as you finished Luke and started on John today?

photos are:  a 2000+ year old olive tree in the garden of Gethsemane; some friends standing in the “Upper Room” in Jerusalem, wondering if Jesus and the disciples really celebrated Passover in a neo-gothic room built of cement on the second floor of a large building; a page of John from the Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest known manuscript of the Bible–this page is the only one remaining at St. Katherine’s monastery at Mt. Sinai (for which the codex is named) because the others have been taken by the British Museum and promised back but never returned; and a scale model of the Temple, part of a scale model of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, just outside the Jerusalem city limits.