This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on July 3, 2016.
There are few better metaphors for the spiritual life than “journey”; the concepts of movement, growth, purpose, and destination resonate with and illuminate our experiences. The same metaphor is equally apt for congregational life, especially as we consider the church’s presence, identity, and mission in our current cultural landscape. Luke’s long and intriguing motif of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem can be instructive. For the pastor looking to sustain a congregation’s self-understanding and growth during the more relaxed months of summer, Luke provides plenty of material for reflection. In the crush of preparing weekly sermons, many of us get in the habit of reading only the assigned Scripture, or perhaps also the passages immediately before and after it. Given the importance of the journey motif in Luke, the preacher would be well served by reading this entire section (Luke 9:51-19:28). This overview can give a helpful framework for preaching from now through October, and might help the pastor even structure the sermons over this sweep of time as a kind of journey with Jesus.
This passage from Luke 10, which follows immediately from the previous week’s lection, takes place very soon after the journey has begun. Jesus had been rejected by a village of inhospitable Samaritans (Luke 9:53) and then pursued by some enthusiastic would-be followers (Luke 9:57-62). Having previously sent a pair of messengers ahead of him to prepare a village to receive him (and before that, having appointed and sent out the Twelve to heal, to exorcise demons, and to proclaim the kingdom of God), Jesus now commissions a much larger group. There is a sense here already, this early in the journey, of the growth of his mission.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on June 26, 2016.
This text comes up in the lectionary during summertime, when we might wish for lighter fare to serve to visitors and vacationers. The preacher who is looking to preach a word of encouragement, comfort, or inclusion will have to look elsewhere. This is a hard text, with a harsh tone. Jesus is not very nice.
Luke tells us that Jesus has “set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51), thus opening the long section of his Gospel that focuses on Jesus’ journey. From this point all the way to his arrival in Jerusalem (Luke 19:28), Jesus will be “on the way” (Luke 9:52); the lengthy journey motif sets Luke apart from the other Gospels. For the lectionary preacher, this means that from now until October, all of the Gospel readings will come from Jesus’ journey. Luke locates some of the best-loved stories of Jesus in the journey narrative, and at certain points will remind the reader that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem. We see the actions of Jesus and the many sayings of Jesus in the larger context of his journey towards the cross.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on June 19, 2016.
What is your name? It’s a primary question that goes to the core of identity. We see it from the start, at the beginning of our sacred story in Genesis. God named the world into being, and then gave to humans the power to name. In contemporary times, we know the power of naming as well; on the internet, we make username decisions that reveal or conceal as much as we’d like. We can be anonymous, we can be pseudonymous, we can take on as many identities as we wish to.
The story of the Gerasene demoniac in Luke pushes us to reflect on questions of identity. Immediately preceding this story, Jesus calmed violent wind and raging waves with a word. His disciples ask, “Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?” (Luke 8:25) Who is this, indeed? He masters the storm when the disciples cry out for help, he masters the demons when they cry out to be left alone.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on June 12, 2016.
On first read, we might be tempted to conflate Luke’s version of the anointing of Jesus with all the other versions we know, much as we tend to do with the story of the so-called “rich young ruler.” Each Gospel tells a story of a woman with an alabaster jar, who anoints Jesus while he sits at table. Among the four stories, Luke’s is distinct, with very different emphases than in the other Gospel accounts.
Matthew and Mark tell the story in nearly the same way (Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9); John’s version (John 12:1-8) differs in certain details but not in substance. All three writers see the scene similarly – the expressed concern of the others at the table is over the squandering of a precious resource. In contrast, Jesus affirms the lavish offering as a beautiful gift and a preparation for his burial.