This morning was a very icy drive for all of us. Chuck Traw didn’t make it till almost 7 am. I had to wait for 30 cars to get on highway 1. But we all made it ok. Today is our last day on Matthew. We had a discussion about the women at the tomb and exactly what happened. each of the gospels tell it a little differently. John says Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and He told her not to touch him as he had not ascended to the Father yet. All versions have Mary Magdalene at the tomb. Sometimes He appeared to either Mary or the disciples at the tomb, but most did not. I am sure there was a lot of confusion at that time, and as Mark keeps telling us, the Bible is not a DVR recording everything exactly as it happened. Matthew frequently discusses aspects of his ministry for Jewish Christians. Thus he is more interested in telling them about how different this ministry of Jesus was from that of the Jews. It is significant to him that Jesus was crucified for our sins. It is of lesser importance to him that Jesus rose from the dead, witness the shortness of chapter 28 as compared with 26 and 27 about the events leading up to the Crucifixion and the crucifixion. However, the resurrection of Jesus sets him apart from all of the other Messiah wannabes that were preaching at that time. Vatican 2 raised the stakes on Easter. The word for Easter comes from Origin of the Word Easter: This mythical figure is said to have been the goddess of the sunrise and the spring. She is the Teutonic goddess of the dawn. The direction of the sunrise, East, is named for her. In Norse mythology, the name is spelled Eostare. Another considered the Norse/Saxon goddess of spring is Ostara. Eastre is believed to be an ancient word for spring. – See more at: http://www.allabouthistory.org/origin-of-the-word-easter-faq.htm#sthash.7aMu1u6I.dpuf
Both Jews and Muslims recognize Jesus as a great prophet. The Muslims even recognize that he ascended into heaven. But they also say that Mohammed ascended into heaven as did a number of people who claimed to be prophets in their sect would have ascension stories, usually to receive instructions from God for their people. http://religionresearchinstitute.org/Mohammad/ascension.htm
We talked about various Easter remembrances and experiences that people had as they were growing up. Gene talked about playing his coronet at Easter. Norm about the Japanese experience at Easter. They had all climbed a high hill before dawn to see the sunrise. Bob said that all of Saddam Hussain’s staff were Christians because he didn’t trust the Muslims. Mark noted that Luther was more interested in the incarnation of Jesus as opposed to his resurrection.
Next week we go to Judges!
Lost Boys will be preparing and serving the soup supper for Lenten services tomorrow evening. Curt is in charge of the volunteers. There will be 3 soups available, namely, chili, venison chili, and chicken noodle soup.
Today we read another long chapter from Matthew about the events leading up to the death of Jesus. We started out by discussing John’s article about whether or not the church is sexist. Is this just a way of distracting us from the gospel? Mark said we should address God in the way most helpful to each individual. He also said that the discussion of the language in the 70’s and early 80’s most ended with the use of the apostolic language of books like Matthew.
The phrase in Matthew 27:51-54 that says the saints or holy people were raised from the dead and came out of their graves when Jesus died and went into Jerusalem with the resurrection was interesting. I don’t think this appears in the other gospels. What did they do while Jesus was in the grave? Jesus himself didn’t appear in Jerusalem right away in public, so this seems really strange. There are several commentaries at the following link that discuss these verses. http://biblehub.com/matthew/27-52.htm They all sound a little far-fetched to me.
Finally, we got to a discussion of Judas. John and Mark pointed out a discussion by Schweitzer where Judas was not trying to betray Jesus by pointing him out to the high priests, but rather facilitating Jesus to display himself as the Messiah who would lead the revolution against Rome. Judas was probably part of the Zealots group along with Simon. He also was probably a Judean, in contrast to the rest of the disciples who were from Galilee. The urban folks including Judas probably looked down on the fishermen and other common people who were the disciples and Judas probably j0ined the 12 because he thought Jesus really was powerful as evidenced by his miracles and could be expected to lead the revolution against Rome and when Jesus entered Jerusalem in a triumphant parade on Palm Sunday, this would further this thought in Judas. I suppose one could say that Judas accepted the 30 pieces of silver that he accepted would go into the disciples treasury to pay for whatever needs the revolution would have. When things all started to go wrong, and Jesus was headed for an ignoble death on the cross, Judas said this isn’t my plan at all. A link to this type of thinking is found in the Nazarene Way of Essenic Studies article entitled “Why Did Judas Betray Jesus?” http://www.thenazareneway.com/holy_week/why_did_judas_betray.htm This article says that Judas was disappointed in the direction Jesus’ teachings had gone recently and thought Jesus must pay for this deception. However, the events of Jesus before Pilot and the high priests convinced Judas that he had made a grievous mistake. Another reference that might interest us is at the following link: http://www.gotquestions.org/Judas-betray-Jesus.html
Matthews passion of Jesus. Was Peter denying Christ an unforgivable sin. Schweitzer says Judas was treasurer and maybe Judas was concerned about Jesus not delivering on his promise. How did Peter recover from his denials. What about Judas asking if it was he? Jesus replied you have said so. In some versions it says “Yes it is you.” If Jesus knew it was going to happen was Judas destined to do this betrayal. Did Judas have free choice not to do it, or was he destined from birth to be the fall guy of the disciples. All the disciples went away from him. Jesus said I will deny before my father all those who deny me. Why didn’t Jesus deny his disciples, rather than make all of them Apostles to carry on His ministry? In Luke Jesus rebuked Peter and healed the ear. When you deny the Holy Spirit you don’t allow God access to your spirit. This is the unforgivable sin. The problem is not blind ignorance, but rather willful rejection. Blasphemy against the Spirit is an ongoing attitude of rebellion. Blasphemy against the Spirit is something being done deliberately and unrelentingly in the present. This represents a defiant rejection of everything Christian.
John G. submitted the following link to a sermon by Luther on the text we read today. “ol Martin may have believed in short prayers, but evidently not short sermons:
AL talked about the law from Corinthians and from lessons Sunday. Jesus came to free us from the law. We create bondage for ourselves. Gene says the Vatican has enacted laws to enrich themselves. We raise children with boundaries and consequences. Are we just doomed to continually enact laws about behavior.
Here we are talking about Jesus second coming. Have lots of oil in preparation for the end. This passage prompts us to give to charity but have we been led astray by people taking advantage of us when we give. Make a difference in the world while we are waiting for Jesus to come. When we take advantage of a situation are we doing wrong, for example, a vending machine that gives us 2 bottles of pop rather than the one we paid for. Discussion of Sally Mason salary. It is in the culture. Jesus brought us all in. Jesus was to die for all of us. Lots of judgement here. Is this a contradiction to the concept that salvation comes by grace. Christ came to save all of us but how do we match that up with this text. Do the Catholics have it right in individual confessions and then being offered a path to get back to a right relationship with God. Baptism frees us from shackles of sin like an extortionist getting out of a straight jacket and chains. Matthew and peter are saving the institution of the church while Paul is following the path of evangelism. Therefore they offer different messages.
The message of Matthew is sometimes difficult to decipher. why is it important to double what the master has given you. It seems that the third servant who buried his talent should have known that would not be a good thing to do just because of what he said about the master reaping where he didn’t sow, etc. I think this is a reference to the cleverness that is prized by the Jews. And why didn’t the so-called wise virgins share of their oil. Maybe the bride groom could have been on time or helped them out too. I guess the message that we are supposed to be always prepared and not take the message any further. Matthew is really focusing on the second coming in this chapter, and therefore that becomes his message that must be taken from what has been said, not necessarily other aspects of it.
I was gone during this discussion, but will add a commentary later.
The host was to provide a wedding garment and if someone comes and refuses to wear the garment he insults the host. We had a discussion of wedding practices. Mark has a practice of agreeing to marry only couples from the church he is serving, so has turned down a former parishner of his who is now in California. He asked our advice, but didn’t get much response. Chuck brought up the Ohio bomber who had been baptized but became Muslim. Is he still baptized. Yes!! We then talked about excommunication and how it affects an individual. But Jesus said we should seek out these people to save them. Even after excommunication, people become like the tax collectors in Jesus’ day and should be sought out and cared for.
The discussion about whether you should pay taxes or not may be about separation of church and state. God provided government to keep order and we need to support that.
Pharisees believe in resurrection but it is a sort of preservation of matter. There was a discussion of science and Tom talked about gene editing. Matthew pushes the point that heaven is how we treat each other. It is not necessary a place we go after death Matthew is the only one that talks about the Kingdom of God and its implications for this life. Other gospels like that of Magdalene and Thomas also talk about this. Tom will send a blog from his daughter talking about being a good Senegalese wife.
The long drawn out discussion about who a wife who was passed between 7 brothers would be married to in heaven was an attempt by the Sadducees to trick Jesus into making the wrong response. They were trying to mock the whole idea of resurrection because they didn’t believe in it.
Whose son is Christ. Is he really saying that they don’t believe Mary was a virgin so Jesus would be a descendant of David through Joseph.
Today, we read of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and then his disputes with the chief priests and scribes. It is similar to what we have seen in the last few chapters, however, it holds together because his visit to the temple sets things up for a confrontation with the chief priests and scribes, the rulers of the temple.
We had been having an email discussion about Islam, and I took the liberty of quoting a book, No God but God by I have been reading about Mohammad who did a similar thing to the rulers of the Mosque in Mecca. “In Yathrib, he categorically outlawed usury, the abuse of which was one of his chief complaints against the Meccan religio-economic system. To facilitate the new economy, he established his own market which, unlike controlled by the Banu Qaynuga, charged no tax on transactions and no interest on loans. He also instituted a mandatory title called zakat, which every member of the Ummah had to pay according to his or her means. Once collected, the money was distributed as alms to the community’s neediest members. Benevolence and care for the poor were the first and most enduing virtues preached by Muhammad in Mecca.” He appears to be in conflict with the ruling people about how women were treated as well.
We also discussed the fig tree which Jesus condemned. It appears to be a matter of Jesus being angry with the tree and therefore he condemned it. However, it appears that scholars have turned this into a measure of faith in terms of what Jesus and his followers could do. It is also a way of striking out at the Pharisees and others of their followers.
Eleven of us braved the snow that had fallen the previous night to make it this morning. Most of the main roads were already plowed by the time we got up. We had about 5 inches of snow. You snowbirds enjoy the nice weather of the south and west!
Mark read from a commentary in Acts that comments on how to be a Jesus follower. Dense writing that took too much to say just a little.
Three stories in this chapter, starting with the one about a Vineyard owner paying the same to all employees no matter when they started work, the mother of the sons of Zebedee, James and John, asking if they could be at His right and left in His kingdom, then Jesus heals 2 blind men in Jericho. We started to discuss the trinity. I mentioned Islam no God but god was against the trinity or the pagan gods of the Arabian people at that time.
Mark talked about blessing a rosary at the request of an uncle of the child baptized last Sunday. He agreed to do it and went into the sanctuary and quietly did a Benedictine prayer to bless it. The uncle thought that it had been held in a holy place and was something special for the child. The community sets people apart for certain tasks. Bill Russell translated Schmalkald articles and described Luther’s use of the rosary. Lutherans are very up in the head in their faith and need sometimes to bring it into their heart. Luther talked about faith of head and heart. How do we take the faith of the head to became faith of the heart?
John talked about Ted Haggard’s church in Colorado Springs, the New Life church doesn’t believe in creeds, communion, and our religious trappings, but they have a firm belief in a narrow view of what constitutes Christianity. He said the traditional carols on Christmas Eve were sung in more of a hip-hop manner. One of their beliefs is that homosexuality is wrong. We talked about Zion being a reconciled in Christ church and what that means. We talked about whether we marry same sex couples. Is this a problem endorsing the reconciling in Christ organization. How do we reach out to all without endorsing all lifestyles. Is it a problem to be too accepting of others no matter what they believe?
I am not able to attend this moring as we are celebrating Maryellen’s birthday in Paris. Comments from anyone attending are welcome. The reading for today covers a number of somewhat difficult topics. The topics include divorce, eunuchs, wealth, children, and disciples position in Christ’s kingdom.
Jesus said couples should not divorce, but recognized that it was not possible for all to obey this because of the human condition and we are weak at times. This is a chapter in which Jesus is stating how perfect we must be to enter the kingdom on our own and how difficult that is.
His discussion about eunuchs seems to me to question the Catholic church’s requireenter of celebacy and how difficult that is to maintain. He also talks about the time in life that people become eunuchs for a variety of reasons.
He welcomes childRen to his kingdom. This seems the easiest thing he says in this chapter, but maybe not for all. Some people abuse children. But it maybe a child’s innocence that is the entry key. But it even seems that some children lose that too quickly.
the words spoken to the rich young man can be in structure to all of us. How can we keep the wealth and things in our lives stand in the way of our relationship with God. Jesus says the young man must give that which stands in his way of the kingdom to get there. What does that mean for each of us? It is not good deeds that we can do but rather keep those things from our lives that stand in our way.
it is somewhat contradictory that Jesus then promises the disciples prominent places in the kingdom. My thought is to expect a lack of classes in the kingdom. It is hard to understand the kingdom, and what it will be like. It would be interesting to put all of Jesus’ teachings about the kingdom to get a better picture. I am sure someway has done this.
After reading Matthew 18, we began to discuss various issues, but tended to focus on the verses that talked about dealing with a brother who had sinned. The prescription given by Jesus is to go that person and talk with him, and if he continues to sin, to bring 2-3 others and continue to talk with him. Mark says that when discipline is invoked on a parishioner that there is a responsibility to continue to reach out to that person and continue to care for their spiritual needs. We then got into how judgmental we can be in some instances. Norm described an instance he had with a friend and felt he might have been too judgmental with the friend. As he and the friend parted, Norm said come see me again, and the friend said no, you are too hard to visit. I think it is hard to be confrontational in many cases because it requires that I make a judgment about a behavior and it is many times easier to walk away and let it go. Mark said it is the community and its mores that determines what is sin. It seems that is a very difficult thing to live with. Was the fact that dancing was prohibited at Luther College in the 50s really a sin because it was the mores of that school and those people at that time. What changes as the community changes and the mores change? Is there anything that is inviolate for all times? Living in community is a learned activity and may be self serving. Could it become sinful? I think so!! At the conclusion, Bill noted that we had skipped verses 7-9 about cutting off those members that offend us. Maybe we need to discuss them at a future time. Tom suggested that a resolution for 2015 was for the Lost Boys to undertake some kind of service project.
I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and enjoy their families and friends!!!