Watching for the Morning of May 29, 2016
The Second Sunday after Pentecost:
Proper 4 / Lectionary 9
So the festal season has come to an end and we return now to our readings that take us (more or less continuously) through the Gospel of Luke. It’s been three months since we heard Jesus preaching in Nazareth that the promise of God’s reign was fulfilled in himself – and the crowd tried to throw him down the bluff because he suggested that God’s mercy and gifts were for all not just for Israel.
Following his sermon in Nazareth, Jesus goes to Capernaum, heals Peter’s mother-in-law, calls Peter, James and John to follow him (the wondrous catch of fish), frees a man from a dreaded skin disease, forgives and heals the paralytic lowered through the roof by his friends (scandalizing the Pharisees) and calls the tax collector, Levi, to follow him – banqueting at Levi’s house with “sinners”. Conflict grows over the rules about purity and healing on the Sabbath and, after night in prayer, Jesus appoints the twelve apostles (a Greek word meaning an authorized messenger or envoy). Jesus then teaches the twelve and crowd about the nature of the kingdom in a long section of teaching similar to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew. Our reading on Sunday follows that teaching: Jesus returns to Capernaum and elders of the city meet him to request his help with a centurion’s ill servant. This commander in the occupation army becomes, for Jesus, the supreme example of faith for he sees Jesus as a man with authority to speak and act on God’s behalf.
It is this theme of the outsider that weaves through our readings on Sunday. Solomon prays at the dedication of the temple for God to hear the prayer of foreigners who come there to pray. The psalmist sings for God’s glory to be declared throughout the earth and for all the nations to sing God’s praise. And at the center of Paul’s stern rebuke of his Galatian congregation is his ire that they have tuned away from the central dominical message that God’s reign is at hand and all nations are being gathered into God’s grace and life.
The festal season may be over – but the festal age is at hand.
“O sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth”!
The Prayer for May 29, 2016
who names all nations as your own,
grant us confidence in your word of grace,
trust in your commands,
and faithfulness to the way of your kingdom;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Texts for May 29, 2016
First Reading: 1 Kings 8:22-23, 41-43
“Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands to heaven.” – Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the temple, asking God to hear the prayers of all who come – including the prayers of foreigners.
Psalmody: Psalm 96:1-9
“Sing to the Lord a new song… Declare his glory among the nations.” – The psalmist calls for all peoples to sing God’s praise.
Second Reading: Galatians 1:1-12
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ.” The abrupt and shocking opening of Paul’s letter to the believers in Galatia in which Paul moves immediately to a defense of his ministry, declaring there is no other Gospel than the one he preached to them.
Gospel: Luke 7:1-10
“I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes” – Jesus acknowledges the great faith of a centurion who trusts the power of Jesus’ word, confident that Jesus’ has the authority to speak for God and dispense God’s benefits.