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1st Sunday after Trinity May 19, 2008

Posted by Andy in lectionary, theology, Uncategorized.
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Here come this week’s readings. Hope to say something a bit earlier this week. Sorry for jumping over Corpus Christi: I’m not that ambitious!

OK, some comments in lieu of a sermon.

I’m told that my local flower shop makes a lot of money in summer, and it’s difficult to see why. If I was attempting to charm my wife or win a heart this week, I would feel completely upstaged by the apple and cherry. It’s the blossom season in Fredrikstad, and there’s no reason to hoard flowers. No reason to take them or  argue over them. They’re extravagantly lavished by every street I walk in.

That’s basically what the week’s readings are all about: the abundance of life, and the corresponding evils of pettiness. And if there is one verse worth meditating on among these, I would say it’s probably from the Psalm: Turn my eyes from looking at vanities, give me life in your ways.

It’s a natural step from last week’s apophatic readings that taught us not to know. This week we are told what it is we don’t know: what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him. We do not know the abundance of life, we can’t see where God’s generosity stops.

This is what Paul is trying to drill into his churches: everything is yours! Why are you in a panic to fill requirements? Why are you frenetically seeking after knowledge? There is space for madness and foolishness and ignorance in God’s holiness: you are already full of God! Hence the Christian tradition’s negative theology as regards entry requirements – not by works, not by ritual, not by spiritual experience, not by knowledge.

And this is what Christ is using to drive his sermon on not resisting evil. We do not resist evil because that evil is essentially based on a stingy economy of desire and lack. People require us to carry their goods because they don’t manage to. But we do. We have all the time and all the strength in the world, because we have its Creator. There are plenty of cheeks to go around! So don’t grasp after belongings, don’t harvest right up to the edge of the field, as if you were worried whether God will provide this year. Don’t be petty.

Be perfect, you are God’s temple already. Christ is risen, death is defeated. Everything is yours, because you are already complete, as God is complete. So share it around, and don’t bother grasping for it. It’s already yours, and you can’t possess it in any deeper sense than that.

Now I thought of some other illustrations earlier, but they’ve gone from my mind at the mo. A kind of political version of this has been written by John Milbank, based on a rather shaky reading of Agamben, called “Paul and Biopolitics”. But it’s famous for being inscrutable, so take some time over it if you read it.

Trinity Sunday May 13, 2008

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Ok, it’s been a while since I did one of these, so here come next week’s readings. I’ve really got little to say as yet, except to note that the New Testament readings interestingly give trinitarians formulations in liturgical, or at least stock linguistic expressions. I guess this is a good argument for the idea that we instinctively get to doctrines before we do so explicitly. Hence the messy outworking of doctrine.

I think there’s something very very profound in the Isaiah text, but haven’t got my finger on it yet. But I think that’s where I’ll be concentrating my efforts over the next couple days.

This weekend, I’ll be going to a Nick Cave concert and celebrating Norway’s national day. Hopefully that will give some interesting spin to this week’s readings!

First Sunday in Advent November 25, 2007

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Here come the Advent Sunday readings, taken from Nestle-Aland and the Anglicised NRSV respectively.

A lot of this seems to be about living in this dark age, and longing for home. Paul is living on the border of his country, expecting arrival any minute. Nothing here seems worth anything so do not give in to desires: “earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalm 73). So we put on the Christ who is present and soldier on until day time. Isaiah is celebrating the return to a Jerusalem transfigured by God’s word, and the psalmist joins him in longing for the true homeland. For once, it is Christ that paints the bleakest picture. No homeland or daybreak here, just a thief in the night, a disturbing presence that will wake you and rob you of all you thought was worth something.

Right, that’s made the waters murky enough for now. Let’s hope for some clarity later on in the week!

2nd Sunday before Advent November 13, 2007

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Here come the readings for the 2nd Sunday before Advent.

There are a lot of things to be said about this text, and I hope to be able to say a number of them this week. My first thoughts are that the difference between this and the tenor of Amos – look at the shocking things of the world and examine your own heart – is striking. Whilst it looks like Jesus may be correcting Amos, I think we could see that they are complementary. Amos warns us against complacency (as does the Thessalonians text, in its way) and religious self-centredness; Jesus tells us not to fear.

Both tell us not to fear. It is only someone completely free from fear that can repent of their sins. The alternative to a forgiving God is too awful to contemplate.

Other than that, I notice there is lots about the name of God in here. Something to think more about later maybe. I might even manage a translation of some of this Greek. The Luke text is surprisingly easy, but I was struggling with bits of the Thessalonians bit.

e-sermon: 3rd Sunday before Advent November 11, 2007

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It is perhaps fitting that the first e-sermon of my “ad absurdum” blog is on a textbook example of the philosophical move reductio ad absurdum – where someone attempts to convince another that their belief is ridiculous by bringing out all its contradictions and exoticisms. This is precisely the move of the sadducees in today’s gospel. (more…)

3rd Sunday before Advent November 4, 2007

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Here come this week’s readings:

3rd Sunday before Advent

It’s a quarrel this week from 2nd temple Judaism. Looking at my own confusion, it looks like we haven’t come that far since then. I’ll try to make some sense of it this week. Anyone wants to make a start, the comments box is open!

4th Sunday before Advent October 29, 2007

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here are some readings I hope to comment on in the course of the week. I have to confess I’m a little befuddled by it all at the moment. Zaccheus is too close to me and I can’t see it with new eyes. Get thee to a commentary!

So far I’ve used John Pridmore.