This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on November 20th, 2016.
The final few chapters of Luke’s Gospel places an emphasis on reversing the expectations of the hearers. The Gospel reading from last week promised God’s nearness in our troubles, that even when we can’t escape our sufferings, God endures along with us. One of the details we tend to remember of the crucifixion story is when Jesus felt abandoned by God. However, Luke’s narrative excludes that moment, choosing instead to elaborate on the notion of God’s nearness in the midst of suffering. It’s certainly not what one would expect.
Recalling last week’s Gospel reading (Luke 21), Jesus describes the course of events to unfold for his followers. We come to discover in brutally, eerie fashion, that Jesus ends up experiencing much of what he predicted they would experience in the years to come; persecution, trials, and imprisonment. Just as the temple will be torn down, so this week we see the guards tearing down Jesus, garments and all. Not what one would expect of God’s Messiah.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on November 13th, 2016.
Not unlike the prophets before him, Jesus sees a problem with the status quo. Two chapters earlier he spoke of the demise of the temple as he drove out merchants who’d set up shop in God’s house. In the first four verses of this chapter, the inequity of the status quo is again on display. A poor widow offers her gifts from the depths of her money purse, while the rich toss in the spare change from their own.
The walls of the building were beautifully decorated—tall steeple, fancy chandeliers, an inviting fellowship hall. Yet as is so often the case, humans have a tendency to revere their accomplishments, be it buildings or reputations. The attention to detail as it pertained to the building while neglecting and exploiting the impoverished, signaled a dramatic disconnect from God’s design.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on November 6th, 2016.
This is no easy text to preach, but it poses an additional challenge for those preachers who observe All Saints Sunday on the Sunday following All Saints Day (Nov 1st). Add to the difficulty of the text itself the reality that many loved ones will be in attendance to remember those saints (“soulmates”) who have passed on, and many preachers will be passing on this text in favor of one of the other lectionary options. There’s also an opportunity that accompanies this challenge, though, to offer theological interpretation over and above sentimentality.
The Sadducees, most likely deriving their name from Zadok (righteous), the first high priest of Solomon’s temple, did not believe in the resurrection. They followed the Torah, but not any oral traditions, which put them at odds with Pharisees. Because the Torah did not allude to an afterlife, the Sadducees did not believe in it. As they follow on the heels of consecutive stories in chapter 20, where Luke highlights the attempts of the religious establishment to ensnare Jesus in religious legalese, the Sadducees bring up a practice from Deuteronomy 25 known as Levirate marriage. We see a couple examples of this in the Old Testament and the Ancient Near East, the most prominent being the story of Ruth and her kinsman-redeemer, Boaz.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on October 30th, 2016.
One of the most well-known stories of the New Testament, with accompanying soundtrack and all, is that of the rich tax collector, Zacchaeus. This makes the preacher’s task of finding something “new” much more difficult than at other times. Flipping or swiping back a few pages might offer some inspiration.
In chapter 18, immediately preceding the Gospel reading for this week, the reader will find two stories that further illustrate what Luke is offering the audience. The reference to a rich (young) ruler, who obeys all the commandments but can’t part with his wealth, presumably failing the first and greatest commandment. Compare this to the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector and the prayers they offer before God. Both are presumed to be wealthy, but only one is rich in spirit.
Swipe back a couple more pages to chapter 16, where we read of a rich man and his shrewd manager, followed by the important interpretive lens, “You cannot serve both God and money (mammon).” This transitions into another story some may have preached a few weeks earlier—that of the rich man and Lazarus on his front stoop.