29 May 2010

The Second Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 5), 6 June 2010

I Kings 17:17-24
Psalm 30
Galatians 1:11-24
Saint Luke 7:11-17


      Elijah is met in the desert by an angel

What does one do when all the promises seem to be forgotten, when institutions fail, and when people are removed from their homeland?  This is the problem that the editors of I and II Kings dealt with.  They wished to explain the destruction of the temple and the military success of the Babylonians in a way that would not negate their faith in the God of Israel.  What we are given here is a history of the United Kingdom (under David and Solomon) and then a history of the kings of Judah.  Similar material is found in I and II Chronicles, but the Kings material is earlier and more reliable.  Kings is written from a royalist/prophetic point of view, while Chronicles is written from the levitical or priestly perspective. 

During the Sundays after Pentecost, the Revised Common Lectionary gives us two options.  The first option is to follow a lectio continua (a continuous reading) of texts from the Hebrew Scriptures, or secondly, to follow a series of readings that are thematically tied to the Gospel for each Sunday.  We will be following the latter option.

I Kings 17:17-24

The son of the woman, the mistress of the house at Zarephath, became ill; his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. She then said to Elijah, "What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!" But he said to her, "Give me your son." He took him from her bosom, carried him up into the upper chamber where he was lodging, and laid him on his own bed. He cried out to the LORD, "O LORD my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I am staying, by killing her son?" Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried out to the LORD, "O LORD my God, let this child's life come into him again." The LORD listened to the voice of Elijah; the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. Elijah took the child, brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and gave him to his mother; then Elijah said, "See, your son is alive." So the woman said to Elijah, "Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth."

This reading is from the great Elijah Cycle (I Kings 17:1 – II Kings 1:18) in which we follow the prophetic ministry of Elijah.  We know nothing of Elijah (his name means “Yahweh is God”), and he is described as “the Tishbite”, although such a town or village is unknown to us.  What we do know is that he is an implacable critic of the worship of the Baalim, the gods of the Canaanites.  (The title Baal is just that, a title, not a name.  It meant either “master” or “lord” and like these words in English, could be applied to either deity or human being).  The purpose of this reading for the hearer is to establish Elijah’s credentials, in this case the efficaciousness of his healing and of his word.  The act leads the woman of Zarephath to announce, “Now I know that you are a man of God…” The reading, as a healing story, is tied to Jesus miracle at Nain, as rehearsed in the Gospel for today.

Breaking open I Kings:
1.    What does prophecy mean to you?
2.    Do you think that faith heals?  Have you, or someone you know had an experience with that?
3.    Who do you think qualifies as a prophet in our time?

Psalm 30 Exaltabo te, Domine

I will exalt you, O LORD, because you have lifted me up *
and have not let my enemies triumph over me.

O LORD my God, I cried out to you, *
and you restored me to health.

You brought me up, O LORD, from the dead; *
you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.

Sing to the LORD, you servants of his; *
give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.

For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye, *
his favor for a lifetime.

Weeping may spend the night, *
but joy comes in the morning.

While I felt secure, I said, "I shall never be disturbed. *
You, LORD, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains."

Then you hid your face, *
and I was filled with fear.

I cried to you, O LORD; *
I pleaded with the Lord, saying,

"What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit? *
will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?

Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me; *
O LORD, be my helper."

You have turned my wailing into dancing; *
you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.

Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing; *
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

The angel of death

A later interpolation describes the purpose of this psalm: “Psalm, song for the dedication of the house, for David.”  It may have served as a dedicatory psalm for the Temple, or a renewed part of the temple.  It’s central metaphor and theme is made apparent in the first verse, “I will exalt you, O LORD, because you have lifted me up.”  Robert Alter’s translation gets to the point in a much more direct manner, however: “I shall exalt you, Lord, for you drew me up.”  The Hebrew verb is the same one used to describe drawing water from a well – and this is the central theme for the psalm, and the reason that it is paired with the First Lesson and the Gospel for today.  Later on in the psalm we encounter “the Pit”, which was a Hebrew euphemism for “death.”  The psalms do not know a heaven or a hell.  All they know is Sheol, a place of the dead.  “To go down to the pit” is to talk about dying.  In the verses of the Psalm, the writer acknowledges God as the one who rescues us from death.  Death-like words permeate the psalm: grave, weeping, fear, dust, blood, wailing, sack-cloth, and similar phrases orient the reader to the central antagonist of the psalm – death itself.

Breaking open Psalm 30
1.     What are your feelings about death?  Fear?  Wonder?
2.     How do you think the author of the psalm feels about death?
3.     The psalm is very personal and yet there are indications that it was used publicly.  How would its sentiments fit into public worship?

Galatians 1:11-24

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it. I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.

Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord's brother. In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie! Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; they only heard it said, "The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy." And they glorified God because of me.

If we are not having the continuing reading from the Hebrew Scriptures, we are none-the-less treated to one in the Second Lessons – in this case Galatians.  Galatians is certainly a Paul document, and was written for the inhabitants of Galatia (cf. the Spanish region of Galicia) that was probably settled by Celts in the third century BCE.  Paul’s central issue in the letter is the problem of the Mosaic Law and its demands and how that should be applied or not applied to Gentile Christians.  In this reading, Paul introduces himself to us and lays out his credentials (much like the author was doing for Elijah in the First Lesson).  He comes to them as a Jew, called by God, on a mission to the Gentiles, and known of Peter and James in particular. In the coming Sundays we will be able to follow Paul’s arguments more closely.

The Apostles Peter and Paul

Breaking open Galatians:
  1. Why is Paul careful to establish his credentials with the Galatians?
  2. What are the credentials that he cites?
  3. Why do you think that he went to see Cephas (Peter)?

Saint Luke 7:11-17

Soon after healing the centurion's slave, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother's only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, rise!" The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen among us!" and "God has looked favorably on his people!" This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.

Now that we leave the Sundays of Easter behind, we can once again join the Gospel of Luke, which is the principal Gospel in this cycle of the lectionary.  The reading is unique to Luke, and is written in a highly theatrical style.  Jesus and his entourage, returning from the cure of the Centurion’s servant, literally run into a funeral procession coming out of the city of Nain.  The procession would have been large, composed of members of the family and, in the manner of the period and culture, hired mourners.  The loss to the woman, a widow, was considerable for she had now not only lost her husband but her only son as well.  This would have been a precarious status at the time.  Luke pictures a gentle and gracious Jesus, who touches the bier and who has compassion on her.  Luke also uses, for the first time, the title of Lord in speaking about Jesus.  Like the prophets of old (see the First Lesson) Jesus brings the promise and actuality of life from the grip of death.  The people see it as well, and understand the allusion – “a great prophet has risen among us.”

The Raising of the Son of the Widow of Nain

Breaking open the Gospel:
  1. What is the hardest part of the Gospel for you?
  2. How would you describe the truth of the Gospel?
  3. What does the Holy Spirit say to you?

After breaking open the Word, you might want to pray the Collect for Sunday:

O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

27 May 2010

Trinity Sunday, The First Sunday after Pentecost, 30 May 2010

Trinity Sunday, The First Sunday after Pentecost, 30 May 2010

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Psalm 8
Romans 5:1-5
Saint John 16:12-15

Most festivals in the Christian liturgical calendar celebrate events, either from the life of our Lord, or of our Lady, as well.  This particular Sunday celebrates a doctrine, and it is a rather recent innovation.  Prior to the 13th Century, readings were added to the Daily Office (Morning Prayer and Evensong) that emphasized the Holy Trinity.  In part this was a response to Arianism (a non-Trinitarian theology espoused in the fourth century), and it was particular popular in Frankish dioceses.  John XXII (14th Century) added it as a second-class feast of the Church, and in 1911, Pius X made it a first class feast.  Thomas Becket (1118-1170) was consecrated as Archbishop of Canterbury on the first Sunday following Pentecost, and in honor of that event stipulated that the day from then on should honor the Holy Trinity.  This honor spread from Canterbury into the English Church and then into the practice of the Western Church

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
"To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.
The LORD created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth--
when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world's first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race."

Proverbs is a collection of “wisdom sayings” that were common to the cultures of the Ancient Near East.  We have examples from both Mesopotamian and Egyptian cultures.  (A collection of  “wisdom” that we will all recognize as Poor Richard’s Almanac).  Some scholars see the book of Proverbs as a redaction of several collections, some coming into currency during the reign of Solomon, others during the reign of Hezekiah.  Tradition holds that Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs, but that is unlikely.  In this reading we meet a personification of Wisdom in the guise of a woman (common in other cultures as well) who accompanies God at the beginning of time and at the act of creation.  Proverbs is content that she is merely present.  Other wisdom collections will assert a more active role for Wisdom in creation.

Breaking open Acts
1.    Do you have any religious “common sense”?  What are its precepts?
2.    What does the word “wisdom” mean to you?  Is it something that you learn, or is it present in your life from the beginning?
3.    How is wisdom like justice?

Psalm 8 Domine, Dominus noster

O LORD our Governor, *
how exalted is your Name in all the world!

Out of the mouths of infants and children *
your majesty is praised above the heavens.

You have set up a stronghold against your adversaries, *
to quell the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, *
the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,

What is man that you should be mindful of him? *
the son of man that you should seek him out?

You have made him but little lower than the angels; *
you adorn him with glory and honor;

You give him mastery over the works of your hands; *
you put all things under his feet:

All sheep and oxen, *
even the wild beasts of the field,

The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, *
and whatsoever walks in the paths of the sea.

O LORD our Governor, *
how exalted is your Name in all the world!

Again we have a psalm that rejoices in creation, and delights in God’s mastery over all of its aspects.  The knowledge that God is the master of all is like the Wisdom from the first reading, it is known commonly to everyone – even infants and children.  Then the author sets up a hierarchy of creation, stemming from God’s victory over chaos (to quell the enemy and the avenger) to human kind, a little lower than the angels (and this is not a good translation – “gods” would be a better representation of the Hebrew) to the animals and fish. 

Breaking open Psalm 8
1.     What verse in the psalm speaks so wonderfully of our amazement at creation itself?
2.     What has God put under humankind’s feet?  What does that mean?  What kind of responsibility comes with that?
3.     How has this verse been badly used in the past?

Romans 5:1-5

Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

In structuring today’s readings, the framers of the lectionary take a bit of a functionalist view of the Trinity (Reading I: Father, Reading II: Son, Gospel: Holy Spirit).  In this reading, Paul has completed the first segment of his work, in which he talks about the reconciliation of humankind and God, specifically talking about the faith of the Jews, and the ministry with the Greeks.  In chapter five, this discussion becomes a much broader discourse how Christians share in the hope of the resurrection in the risen life of Christ.  This is not”pie in the sky” hopefulness, however.  Paul mentions the realities of Christian life in the empire as he introduces the themes of suffering, endurance, and character – all precursors to the hope.

Breaking open Romans:
  1. What is the peace that Paul talks about in the first verse?  What kind of peace do you have in Christ?
  2. What is your experience with suffering, endurance, and character?  What does your life’s story say about those aspects?
  3. What are your fond hopes?  Are they religious?

Saint John 16:12-15

Jesus said to the disciples, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you."

How confusing it must have been for the disciples, who hoped against hope that this Jesus was the Messiah.  Now, as things slowly unfold before them, they begin to understand that all the traditional language and descriptions of the Messiah’s coming where not holding true here.  They don’t know what to think.  Jesus understands, and bluntly says to them, “you cannot bear them now.”  I often wonder if we are not indeed in the same situation as the disciples, not being able to bear what it is that Jesus wants for us to know.  Jesus, however, introduces (as he continuously does in this so-called Farewell Discourse) the notion of the “Spirit of truth.”  This is a spirit that conveys the message and the importance of what is to come (namely, the Eucharist, the Passion and the Resurrection.)  What is intriguing about this passage is the comment of Jesus, “for he will not speak on his own.”  All too often, our thoughts about the Trinity are sectioned and parsed out into three distinct individuals.  We become guilty of betraying the monotheism that we profess to confess.  The vision in John is of the Word (and in that concept are bound up the creating word, the breath, the spirit, the message, all that God is) that is the word to the world.  There is a unity here of which we ought to take heed.

Breaking open the Gospel:
  1. What is the hardest part of the Gospel for you?
  2. How would you describe the truth of the Gospel?
  3. What does the Holy Spirit say to you?

After breaking open the Word, you might want to pray the Collect for Sunday:

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

18 May 2010

The Day of Pentecost, 23 May 2010

Acts 2:1-21 or Genesis 11:1-9
Psalm 104:25-35, 37b
Romans 8:14-17
Saint John 14:8-17, 25-27

This festival stems from both Jewish and Christian roots.  The Jewish festival of Pentecost (literally Greek for “fiftieth) was called Shavuot, which celebrated the giving of the Law upon Sinai fifty days following the Exodus from Egypt.  It was for this festival that so many people were gathered in Jerusalem, which gave occasion for Peter’s sermon, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, and the conversion of early Christians.  Pentecost, in Christian usage, is fifty days after Easter Day, and like Easter it shares a baptismal emphasis and practice.  This may we one of the reasons that the Day also carries the name “Whitsunday”, in honor of the white robes worn by the newly baptized.  Others think that the name derived from “Wit” or “Knowledge”, a celebration of the wisdom that the Spirit gives.  The color for the Day is red, and in many countries, red flowers are brought to church on this day, in honor of the Pentecost Feast.  The Lectionary offers a choice of two first lessons – a reading from Acts (continuing the Sundays of Easter practice) or a reading from Genesis.

Acts 2:1-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs-- in our own languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power." All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" But others sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine."
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o'clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
`In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord's great and glorious day.
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.' "

In this reading, we see a great cosmopolitan scene with people from many nations who were “believers” (non Jews who had converted to Judaism) gathered for the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem.  The setting is not accidental, but underscores Luke’s desire along with Paul of including all nations in the appeal of the Gospel.  Peter, here, seems to have a new sense of courage, and indeed a new voice, as he proclaims the Gospel of Jesus in his sermon to those gathered outside of the upper room (the Cenacle) in Jerusalem.  In his sermon Peter quotes the prophet Joel.  We last met up with Joel on Ash Wednesday, where his admonition in Chapter 2 about priests and people lamenting their sins in the Temple is used at the first lesson for that Day.  Now at the end of the Easter Cycle, he is quoted again from his 3rd Chapter, where he promises the outpouring of the Spirit.  The references to wind, recall the Spirit moving over the face of “the Deep” at the beginning of Creation in Genesis 1.  For Peter, and for Luke, Pentecost was indeed creation – a recreation of God’s people with the gifts of the Spirit.

Breaking open Acts
1.    Is there a sense of equality in the quotation from Joel?  What words give you the clue?
2.    What has Peter said about Jesus in the past?  Is what he says in this sermon anything new?
3.    Why is this scene placed in the “upper room”?


Genesis 11:1-9
Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." The LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. And the LORD said, "Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another's speech." So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore it was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

This reading is a good example of an etiological tale, namely, a tale that explains a name, or place, or a natural landmark.  We know from the story of Abraham, that the Hebrews were the descendents of tribes who moved from the ancient cities of Mesopotamia up and then down the Fertile Crescent into the Palestinian plain.  These peoples would have remembered the great ziggurats of these cities, artificial mountains that were homes for the gods.  So the story explains the emergence of languages and the great temples of the Mesopotamian cities.  Its use here, on this day, underscores the many languages spoken on Pentecost in Jerusalem, and the miracle that they understood what Peter was preaching to them.

Breaking open Genesis
  1.  For whose glory was the great tower built?
  2.  Are there any contemporary examples of such a thing?
  3.  Were various languages in the ancient world a hindrance?

 Psalm 104:25-35, 37b Benedic, anima mea

O LORD, how manifold are your works! *
in wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

Yonder is the great and wide sea with its living things too many to number, *
creatures both small and great.

There move the ships, and there is that Leviathan, *
which you have made for the sport of it.

All of them look to you *
to give them their food in due season.

You give it to them; they gather it; *
you open your hand, and they are filled with good things.

You hide your face, and they are terrified; *
you take away their breath,
and they die and return to their dust.

You send forth your Spirit, and they are created; *
and so you renew the face of the earth.

May the glory of the LORD endure for ever; *
may the LORD rejoice in all his works.

He looks at the earth and it trembles; *
he touches the mountains and they smoke.

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; *
I will praise my God while I have my being.

May these words of mine please him; *
I will rejoice in the LORD.


This psalm rehearses the works of creation, and moves beyond the mythological representation of creation, to the real.  The sea mentioned in verse 25 “wide and great” is not the primordial sea, the sea of chaos that God overcomes, but rather the real sea upon which ships moved.  The giant sea monster is no longer a threat but a plaything.  Of great interest here, especially on this day, is the interplay of “spirit” and “breath”, really the same word.  Life itself is breathed into creation by God; and this psalm celebrates this fact: “You send forth your breath, they are created”.  The psalmist mentions all kinds of response to the Creator, all of which employ the God-given breath: singing, hymning, speaking, and rejoicing.  Even the verse 34, “as long as I live…” could really be translated, “as long as I breathe…” (live).

Breaking open Psalm 97
1.     How is the creation of ships that ply the sea, and belittle the Leviathan different from the creation of a tower that challenged the s
2.     What Pentecost themes do you see in this psalm?
3.     Is creation renewed in the Church?

Romans 8:14-17

All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ-- if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

This reading addresses two Pentecost themes.  The first is the Spirit who bears witness to our becoming children of God.  The second is a baptismal theme, which talks about our adoption as God’s sons and daughters.  It is interesting that Paul does not sugarcoat his baptismal commentary, but rather discusses its harsh realities.  That “we suffer with him” is indeed the result to staking our claim with Jesus Christ.  Paul links the necessity of the suffering and the promised glory.

Breaking open Revelation:
  1. When were you baptized?
  2. When did you consciously make a choice to continue as a member of the church?
  3. Have you suffered because of your choice?

Saint John 14:8-17, 25-27

Philip said to Jesus, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, `Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you."

"I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."

Philip at least is honest.  He wants to know all of the secrets.  Jesus is honest in return, for he doesn’t diminish his claim.  “Know me, and you know the father”.  It’s a good question for God’s people to ask, “How are we to know?”  Jesus’ answer is simple, “just look at the works.”  It is a question that the world quite rightly asks of the Church every day, and we ought to be able to give a good answer.  If there is something missing, if there is an element that seems to have been forgotten, Jesus promises it in the Spirit.  In this discussion that accompanies the last supper, Jesus gives a crash course on the Kingdom of God and what it means to be a part of that kingdom.  The mad rush of Passion Week events will confuse the disciples, and they will not know what to say or to confess (for example, Peter’s denial).  Jesus says that there are two catalysts that he leaves with them: the commandment about loving, and the gift of the Spirit.  These ought to help us be a sufficient witness to the world’s confusion and questions.

Breaking open the Gospel:
  1. What does it mean to you to be at peace?
  2. What kind of peace does Jesus bring to you?
  3. What kind of fear do you think Jesus was speaking of in the final verse of the reading?

After breaking open the Word, you might want to pray the Collect for Sunday:

Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.