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Weekly Bible Study Notes Ordinary 13

Year C, Colour = Green


 Ordinary 13 Year C

Introduction


Jesus said some very dramatic things. He once said that if a part of our body causes us to sin we should cut it off. he could not have meant us to take this teaching literally, if we did then there would be people all over the place missing parts of their bodies! But this dramatic language did make the point to his hearers - take sin seriously.
The same use of language by Jesus takes place in our reading today. Jesus tells people that they should not be concerned with saying good bye to their families, they should not even turn back to bury a dead parent. Surely burying a dead father was a most important thing to do and I would not expect for one minute that Jesus would have us take the language literally. But the point is seriously made. If we wish to be followers of Jesus then we must get our priorities right. It is no use trying to follow Jesus if our heart really isn't in it. Don't keep looking elsewhere, just look at Jesus and follow him.
 

Opening Verse of Scripture  

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians Chapter 5

Collect Prayer for the Day — Before we read we pray

Lord of heaven and earth, you sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and power of your Church. Sow in our hearts the seeds of your grace that we may bear the fruit of the Spirit in love and joy and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Methodist Worship

Merciful God, out of the depths we cry to you and you hear our prayer. Make us attentive to the voice of your Son that we may rise from the death of sin and take our place in the new creation. We make our prayers through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.  Amen.   Methodist Worship

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that with you as our ruler and guide we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not our hold on things eternal; grant this, heavenly Father, for our Lord, Jesus Christ's sake, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Common Worship

Gracious Father, by the obedience of Jesus you brought salvation to our wayward world: draw us into harmony with your will, that we may find all things restored in him, our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Common Worship

 

elijah and the fiery chariot First Bible Reading 2 Kings Chapter 2:1-2,6-14 Verses 1-2

When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here; the LORD has sent me to Bethel." But Elisha said, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So they went down to Bethel.


Verses 3-5

The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, "Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?" "Yes, I know," Elisha replied, "but do not speak of it." Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here, Elisha; the LORD has sent me to Jericho." And he replied, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So they went to Jericho. The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, "Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?" "Yes, I know," he replied, "but do not speak of it."
 

Verses 6-14

Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here; the LORD has sent me to the Jordan." And he replied, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So the two of them walked on. Fifty men of the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan.
Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?" "Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit," Elisha replied "You have asked a difficult thing," Elijah said, "yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours--otherwise not." As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, "My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!" And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart.He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. "Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?" he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, "The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha." And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. "Look," they said, "we your servants have fifty able men. Let them go and look for your master. Perhaps the Spirit of the LORD has picked him up and set him down on some mountain or in some valley." "No," Elisha replied, "do not send them."

Second Reading  Galatians Chapter 5:1,13-25

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature ; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbour as yourself." 15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  

Gospel Reading   Luke 9:51 -62

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village. As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."

Post Communion Prayer

Eternal God, comfort of the afflicted and healer of the broken, you have fed us at the table of life and hope; teach us ways of gentleness and peace, that all the world may acknowledge the kingdom of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Commentary

On a Mission
It’s clear from the Gospel reading today that Jesus is on a mission. His determination to achieve what He sets out to visible to all;

He rebukes the disciples in one place,
in another suggests to a potential follower that he let ‘…the dead bury their own dead…’
and in another He says that no-one who looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God.

Harsh words, but He is determined that He will not be swayed, deflected, delayed or distracted from His intense desire to get to Jerusalem. He sets out for Jerusalem where His crucifixion will show the world His openness to be weak and His resurrection will show His supreme strength.

Up until now Luke has been describing the ministry of Jesus in Galilee but from now on the pace increases as for the next 10 chapters Luke describes Jesus’ journey up to Jerusalem and His final days.

The story today also gives us a sense of the importance and urgency of His mission. As He is walking along Jesus invites a man to follow Him. The man replies saying that he first wants to go and bury His father, a reasonable enough request we would think. Jesus responds back that there isn’t time for that and the dead can bury their own dead. In Jewish tradition there is nothing that has a higher priority than burying your father. It’s a sacred obligation. Attend to the burial of your father above all other duties, even saying daily prayers. The first and only priority is to make the funeral arrangements. And, once dead, the body is never left alone until the burial and the seven and thirty days of mourning commence. Jesus is saying that following Him is more important than the most important thing in observing the Jewish law and practice. The message is clear. The way of Christ passes beyond the rule of the Jewish law into freedom in Him.

Paul too invites the believers to experience this freedom in Christ as we demonstrate the behaviours of a people led by the Spirit. As people who are focused on following Christ, so we are called to live by the Spirit and be free of the things in our lives, our ‘sinful desires’, the things that hold us back from following Christ and be single minded in our mission to follow Him and be His disciples.

We see a similar single mindedness in the readings from 1 Kings. In the Old Testament reading we see Elisha ‘assuming the mantle’ or cloak of Elijah. Not only does he leave his plough and oxen, he slaughters the oxen and burns the plough so that he can cook the meat and offer it to the people there. For Elisa there could be no going back now! In Paul’s letter to the Galatians we see a single mindedness of Paul which characterises not just this passage but much of his writings. Paul stresses that the only focus that the early believers should have is on the love of Christ and what that meant for themselves and for their community. To lead lives that were focused on serving God and each other, summing up the law in the single command of ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. Paul also warns the early believers that they should not misunderstand this new found freedom in Christ. For some there must have been a temptation to swing the pendulum the other way after being limited under the strictures of Jewish law and cast off all restraint, and to be tempted to lead the debauched ways of the Roman’s they lived side by side with in Galatia, whose lax and immoral lifestyle was visible for all to see. The way of life that Paul exhorts the early believers to is the way of the cross, the way of Christ, the way of the Spirit, the way of love.

As we walk in the way of the Spirit it requires that same determination and focus that Christ demonstrates as He heads towards Jerusalem. But it’s easy to get deflected from the path of walking with the Spirit as the old habits and behaviours crowd in on us. Each time they do, we need to acknowledge our position and simply step back on the path and in that same determined way as Christ, who is the author and perfector of our faith. Sam Cappleman

Meditation

Joy is love exalting and peace is love at rest.
Patience, love enduring in every trial and test.
Gentleness, love yielding to all that is not sin.
Goodness, love in actions that flow from Christ within.
Faith is love’s eyes opened, the loving Christ to see.
Meekness, love not fighting but bowed at Calvary.
Temperance, love in harness and under Christ’s control.
The Christ is love in person, and love, Christ in the soul.
Missionary Dr. Kenneth Moyner, quoted by John Stott, “A Vision for Holiness,”


Hymns

  1. As the deer pants for the water
  2. Jesus we celebrate
  3. God of grace (Rhuddlan)
  4. Be thou my vision
  5. Take my life and let it be (Nottingham)

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

representation of prayer as seed growing

 

"Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian.
If it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die."

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire for all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone. Thomas Merton 1915-1968 Thoughts in Solitude

Almighty God, you have broken the tyranny of sin and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts whereby we call you Father: give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service, that we and all creation may be brought to the glorious liberty of the children of God; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

O Lord God, since you have put within me the great desire to devote myself to the needs of others, grant me the strength of your grace. In the midst of my work let me not lose sight of your great purposes. Let me not snatch the management of your world from your hands, lest I faint and fall in the presence of your wisdom; this I beg for Jesu’s sake. Amen Florence Nightingale, 1820-1910

Jesus, like a mother you gather your people to you; you are gentle with us as a mother with her children. Often you weep over our sins and our pride, tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgement. You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds, in sickness you nurse us and with pure milk you feed us. Jesus, by your dying we are born to new life; by your anguish and labour we come forth in joy. Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness; through your gentleness, we find comfort in fear. Your warmth gives life to the dead, your touch makes sinners righteous Jesus, in your mercy heal us; In your love and tenderness remake us. In your compassion bring grace and forgiveness, for the beauty of heaven may your love prepare us. A song of St Anselm (St Anselm 1033-1109)

God of glory, as you made yourself present in the person of Your Son, grant that we, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, may be your presence and glory in the world, that through you and obedience to your precepts all nations would know your lasting peace and hope. Amen

Father God, help us to keep you as the central focus in our lives when worldly distractions are all around us. Be with us each step of the way on our daily missionary journey as we walk ever more closely to you. Amen

As you call us, so enable us, that we may do your will and draw others to your compassionate and strong love. Help us not to be confined by the strictures we place on our faith but be open to the treasures you have in store for us, leaving the past behind us and pressing on towards the goal of making your Kingdom real in our world and living our lives the way you desire. Amen

Living God, you have given us an eternal and living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead: grant that we, being risen with Him, may fix our hearts on heavenly things and share in your eternal life, worshipping you for ever at your throne in heaven. Amen

The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight; and may the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen

Additional Resources

Commentary

Readings: Galatians 5:1, 13-25, Luke 9: 51-62. 

The epistle reading from Galatians 5 unpacks the meaning of Christian freedom by contrasting the works of the flesh (verses 19-21) with the fruit of the Spirit (verse 22). Paul knew that it was just possible for Christian people, as for anyone else, to maltreat each other in a whole variety of ways. Such attributes of human nature are the stuff of soap operas on TV!

But the Gospel reading reveals how the nicest of people can become trapped by history into an ossified relationship of official hostility out of which they cannot break. The Samaritans had refused hospitality to Jesus and his disciples, and then in righteous indignation James and John proposed an appropriate hostile response. Out of the highest religious motives, the works of the flesh are given the fullest reign! How can we all escape from actions of this type? The example comes from Jesus' behaviour: he simply passes through them, quietly absorbing the hatred and accepts the homelessness (verse 58). Jesus thus has displayed at least five segments of the fruit of the Spirit!

In the sayings which follow, Jesus turned the incident into a pattern of discipleship. Behind 'the works of the flesh' was the desire to possess, to be seen as right, to have status and power. The disciples were to be ready to accept all this, and were to expect to have to accept homelessness with their Lord. Jesus demanded of them, just as he does of us, a loyalty which is greater than that to our closest and dearest relatives (verse 60).

Did Jesus mean all this literally? After all, elsewhere Jesus criticises people who fail to carry out their responsibilities to their parents (e.g. Mark 7:9-13). Sayings such as Luke 9:60 are known as 'focal instances' and are where Jesus' radical demand on us, as his disciples, is focused by showing what it could mean. Following Jesus is even more important than having a home and caring for elderly parents. Of course, Jesus may permit us to have possessions, and may command us to care for elderly parents, but this central command overrides all else: go and proclaim the Kingdom of God, in and through all you do!

In one of the Old Testament readings set for today, from 1 Kings 19, which is about the call of Elisha, and this brings out the significance of proclaiming the Kingdom of God. Just as Elijah appointed Elisha to follow him as prophet, so Jesus appointed his followers to a prophetic ministry before the world: 'Proclaim the Kingdom!' Elisha instinctively knew what the call meant. Without hesitation, he sacrificed his most prized possession, the twelve yoke of oxen for which he was doubtlessly a local celebrity, and thus dramatically severed his connection with his past life.

The fruit of the Spirit can be very costly to produce. To pursue the horticultural analogy, the tree needs to be well manured by burying under all those possessions, ambitions and desires which might otherwise produce very different works. Paul told us, in Galatians 5:24, that those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with all its passions and desires. The challenge of these readings for us at the start of the 21st Century is very clear: if Christ calls us, are we ready to sacrifice everything for him? The Reverend Peter Littleford

Meditation

2,00 years ago in Rome there was a large demand for statues for the houses and gardens of the rich. People would often have a statue carved of themselves made from marble or stone. As a consequence, the availability of good quality marble began to dwindle. Statues took hours to make and a mistake with a chisel could be costly. So unscrupulous suppliers and carvers would sometimes patch up and disguise defects in lower grades of the material with a kind of wax polish. In the sculptor’s shop, the customer would not be able to see the wax without looking very closely. However the warmth of a house, sunshine, or rain might wear the wax away to reveal the underlying blemishes. Smarter purchasers therefore started to demand that the goods were provided with a signed certificate guaranteeing that they had not been ameliorated or, in other words, were sold ‘without wax’.
A genuine statue would be without wax. The Latin words for “without wax” are “sine cera” - giving us the English word “sincere”. A statue that was “the real thing”, genuine, would be “without wax” - sincere. If we say that a person is not “sincere”, then they are false, not the real thing, not genuine: pretending to be what they are not.

Lord, each of us projects an image of ourselves by the way we dress, speak, behave. Help us to conduct ourselves sincerely in the life which you would have us live. Amen.

Meditation

A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing. Martin Luther

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature--trees, flowers, grass-- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence....We need silence to be able to touch souls. Mother Teresa, 20th century

Prayer

Keep us, O God, from all pettiness. Let us be large in thought, in word, in deed. Let us be done with faultfinding and leave off all self-seeking. May we put away all pretence and meet each other face to face, without self-pity and without prejudice. May we never be hasty in judgement, and always be generous. Let us always take time for all things, and make us grow calm, serene and gentle. Teach us to put into action our better impulses, to be straightforward and unafraid. Grant that we may realise that it is the little things of life that create differences, that in the big things of life we are as one. And, O Lord God, let us not forget to be kind! Queen Mary Stuart of Scotland (1542-1587)

Grant us this day, O Lord, Peace within ourselves, that our inner tensions may be resolved; Peace with those around us, that we may not disturb others by our hasty words; Peace with you, that the assurance of your eternal love may remove our fear; Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Lord of our world, we acknowledge with shame and sorrow all the sin, hatred and injustice which have led and still lead to war. Grant us your forgiveness and your peace. It is the peace which the world cannot give, but which we could give to the world. Lord, give us grace to be peacemakers, in the name of Jesus, the Prince of peace.

Heavenly Father, you have taught us that our life on earth is a pilgrimage from this world to that which is to come. Guide us on our journey; defend us from the perils of the way; and save us from going astray into by-path meadow. May ours be a pilgrim's progress; and as we press on our way may it be with a song of praise in our hearts; and by your grace may we endure faithfully till we reach the Celestial City and receive your welcome home. Based on Pilgrims Progress

Hymns

  1. Ye servants of God
  2. I want to walk
  3. I the Lord of sea and sky
  4. Who would true valour see
  5. Thou whose almighty word

Prayers

Intercessions Mrs Delia Shephard

We pray in confidence knowing that we bring our prayers to a merciful and everlasting God.  We pray today for your blessing to be upon this congregation, upon this church, and our sister churches across the world.

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Eternal God, Light of the nations, in Christ you make all things new: guide our nation in the coming days through the inspiration of your Spirit, that understanding may put an end to discord and bitterness.

Give us grace to rebuild bonds of trust that together we may work for the dignity and flourishing of all people through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We pray for political leaders and activists and for all those who are working to shape our society.  Let them be guided by the example of Jesus putting understanding and compassion ahead of self interest and material gain and working for a better world.

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Father God we pray for the young people in our families and communities.  May they grow up knowing love and hope, valuing life and respecting others.  Give them courage and resilience as they face changes in their lives and help them to see opportunities in all the challenges that stretch out before them.  We pray that their elders will remember the vitality and enthusiasm of youth and put away cynicism and inertia as they support those less experienced than they.

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Gracious God we pray for your healing touch to rest upon those who are sick; your strength to be felt by those who are tired; your wisdom and your love to encourage those who live with despair and fear.  We think of the people we know who are suffering in mind or body and offer our personal prayers for them.

 

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Mighty God, through the ministry of your son Jesus Christ you have freed us from the grip of the tomb. We pray for those who have departed this life and ask you, through your loving kindness, to have mercy on their souls.  We pray too for those bereaved by their passing

Jesus Christ is the light of the world.  An everlasting light which shines in the darkness and brings hope.  We light a candle as a symbol of that light as we remember before God those who have died, remembering especiallly.

In your light shall they see light.

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Almighty God may your presence be seen clearly in everything we do and say each day throughout the coming week.  We pray that your joy and your love will flow freely in us and through us as we follow where you lead us.

Merciful father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Amen

 

(Adapted from prayers published by the Costa Blanca Anglican Chaplaincy, Church of Engla