the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Sermon Notes:

From Tony Robinson:
...focus less on us and more on God, which is to reclaim or rediscover, or discover for the first time, the language of praise and thanksgiving, which is to tell God's story boldly.

See the great sermon on this text by J. Barry Vaughn
In the Beginning was the Word

From Pilgrim Preaching
How about this for a way to understand the incarnation? God's premier child comes to bring his brothers and sisters to the home where we belong—or better, he comes to bring home to us. Late in his ministry, Jesus says, "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them" (John 14:23). To make this home for all of us ("all of us" meaning Father, Son, Holy Spirit and humanity together—no wonder we need "many rooms" [John 14:1]), Jesus takes up residence in a few different rooms of his own: rooms—or space at least—in Bethlehem (Luke 2), Egypt (Matthew 2), Nazareth and various other points between Galilee and Jerusalem, ending up (again) without any room at all, crucified on a hill outside the holy city. All of it is to give us power to become children of God.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Year A - Christmas 2

Jeremiah 31:7-14
7 For thus says the LORD, "Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, And shout among the chief of the nations; Proclaim, give praise and say, 'O LORD, save Your people, The remnant of Israel.'
8 "Behold, I am bringing them from the north country, And I will gather them from the remote parts of the earth, Among them the blind and the lame, The woman with child and she who is in labor with child, together; A great company, they will return here.
9 "With weeping they will come, And by supplication I will lead them; I will make them walk by streams of waters, On a straight path in which they will not stumble; For I am a father to Israel, And Ephraim is My firstborn."
10 Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, And declare in the coastlands afar off, And say, "He who scattered Israel will gather him And keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock."
11 For the LORD has ransomed Jacob And redeemed him from the hand of him who was stronger than he.
12 "They will come and shout for joy on the height of Zion, And they will be radiant over the bounty of the LORD -- Over the grain and the new wine and the oil, And over the young of the flock and the herd; And their life will be like a watered garden, And they will never languish again.
13 "Then the virgin will rejoice in the dance, And the young men and the old, together, For I will turn their mourning into joy And will comfort them and give them joy for their sorrow.
14 "I will fill the soul of the priests with abundance, And My people will be satisfied with My goodness," declares the LORD. NAB

Psalm 147:12-20
12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion.
13 For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates; he hath blessed thy children within thee.
14 He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat.
15 He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly.
16 He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.
17 He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold?
18 He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow.
19 He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel.
20 He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD. KJV

Ephesians 1:3-14
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love
5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight
9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him
11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation -- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory. NAB

John 1:(1-9), 10-18
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him.
8 He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.
9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,
13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 John testified about Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me."'
16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. NAB

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Year A - Christmas 1

Scripture Readings

Isaiah 63:7-9

7 I shall make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, According to all that the LORD has granted us, And the great goodness toward the house of Israel, Which He has granted them according to His compassion And according to the abundance of His lovingkindnesses.
8 For He said, "Surely, they are My people, Sons who will not deal falsely." So He became their Savior.
9 In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old. NAB

Psalm 148

1 Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights.
2 Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.
3 Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light.
4 Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.
5 Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created.
6 He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass.
7 Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps:
8 Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word:
9 Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars:
10 Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl:
11 Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth:
12 Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children:
13 Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.
14 He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the LORD. KJV

Hebrews 2:10-18

10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,
14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
16 For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham.
17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. NAB

Matthew 2:13-23

13 Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him."
14 So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt.
15 He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON."
16 Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.
17 Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:
19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said,
20 "Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child's life are dead."
21 So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.
22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee,
23 and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: "He shall be called a Nazarene." NAB

Prayers for Sunday

Opening Prayer

O God, how long will your anger smoulder against the prayers of your people?

Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.

We who worship you are increasingly becoming the scorn of our neighbors; those who worship other gods laugh among themselves.

Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.

Let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, the one you made strong for yourself. Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name.

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

We give thanks for a love that passes our human understanding, and we await once more the birth of God's enduring love this Christmas. Amen

Morning Prayer

We have heard Christmas carols booming throughout shopping malls and
supermarkets for so long that they have become part of the background noise of
the season. "The silly season" the media tells us - when partying and
holidays are the 'true' reason for the season.

O God, the Psalmist was right in asking how long will you be angry with your people - because we, in our weakness, get caught up so easily in the 'silliness' of this season. Our sense of wonder over the depth of your love for us becomes dulled. Our preoccupation with choosing suitable gifts and preparing acceptable food can make us quite unloving as Christmas draws nearer.

Forgive us, O God, when we have failed in word or deed to proclaim that the birth of Jesus is the wonderful and true reason for the Christmas season.

A time of silent confession

Rekindle our sense of wonder, O God, at your choosing to share our humanity by being born, as we all were, a vulnerable and helpless baby. Merciful God, as we watch and wait for your breaking into our world once more, in the person of Jesus, shape and reshape our priorities so that the gift we give which is most cherished will be our witness to your love in ways that are transforming, visible and lasting. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen

Prayers are taken from liturgies on line

Saturday, December 18, 2004

The Epistle

The Epistle for this Sunday is the first seven verses of Paul's letter to the Romans. Essentially this is his greetings and an explanation of his credentials as an apostle. But in this short passage, we fiind a clear and concise statement of what Paul believed about Jesus and his mission on earth. When reading Paul, we must always remember that his writings are the only Christian documents that are extant from the period before the Roman war and the destruction of the Temple. All of the Gospels, in their final form that we have today, were written after, and many years after, the destruction of the Temple. Paul is writing in a time when Christianity was just another of the variations on the Jewish faith. It is here in his writings that we can find a glimpse of the traditions about Jesus that predate the gospel stories themselves.

There are several points in this text that relate to this week's Gospel message. They will become obvious as I outline what I believe to be Paul's own personal statement of faith.
  • The coming of Jesus was foretold by the prophets, a claim made by both Matthew and Luke.
  • Paul believed that Jesus was a decendant of the line of David as claimed in both Matthew and Luke, and foretold by the prophets.
  • That Jesus was, in fact, the Son of God is attested to by his resurrection from the dead. This resurrection from the dead could only be accomplished because of Jesus' spirit of holiness.
  • Through Jesus, the Christ, we have grace. Grace in Paul is always the blessing of God that is given by the divine in spite of man's condition of estrangement from the divine.
  • Paul also believed that the giving of Grace by God demanded a certain obedient behavior by those who are the recipients of this Grace. That obedient behavior is the mission to spread the good news of Jesus to all those who have not heard.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Passage from the Psalms

I use the psalm in worship as a responsive reading. It is printed in the bulletin with alternate verses in bold print. Because the Psalm is read aloud and in unison by a large group of people, I always use the KJV. So, when I study the passage from the Psalms, I am looking for two things:
  1. What are the prominent sound bites within the Psalm that will enhance the worship experience for the reader and the hearer.
  2. What is the relationship of the passage to the overall meaning of the lectionary series

In the first instance, this weeks Psalm has several phrases calling on the name of the Lord. I find that it is particularly comforting in worship to call on the name of the diety. The examples this week are: O Shepherd of Israel, O God, O Lord God of hosts, O God of hosts. The repeated phrase "Turn us again" is a corporate act of repentance.

The connections with the overall theme of the lectionary series in this passage are the cry for salvation, and the use of the term "the son of man." There is mention of repentance in the phrase "Turn us again." There is the opening line where the psalmist refers to the diety as the Shepherd of Israel.

The Old Testament Passage

The inclusion of this particular passage from Isaiah is based entirely on the fact that verse 14 is quoted in the Gospel passage (vs. 23). There are two issues to be commented on here:
  1. The designation of the one who is to give birth as a "virgin" or young woman. In the Hebrew language the reference is clearly to a young woman with no connotation as to her chastity. The JPS TANAKH reads "...the young woman is with child and about to give birth to a son." But the Gospel passage is quoted from the LXX not the original Hebrew and uses the same greek word parthenos which means a young woman with out blemish or virgin. I think, that whatever the original Hebrew writer meant, clearly by the time of the translation of the LXX, the meaning was the same as our modern-day understanding of virgin. It is interesting to note that Paul, whose letters pre-date the destruction of the Temple and the final redaction of the Gospel of Matthew, appears not to have known of the tradition of the virgin birth. At least, he makes no mention of it in his letters, from which one can safely conclude, in my opinion, that the doctrine had no relevance for him if he did know of it.
  2. The second issue with the Isaiah 7:14 passage is the name of the child who is to be born: Immanuel, which means in the Hebrew "with us is God."(JPS TANAKH)
    1) god, god-like one, mighty one 1a) mighty men, men of rank, mighty heroes 1b) angels 1c) god, false god, (demons, imaginations) 1d) God, the one true God, Jehovah 2) mighty things in nature 3) strength, power (Whittaker's Revised BDB)

The Greek word used in the LXX and the Gospel passage is Emmanouel which is a transliteration of the Hebrew into Greek.

God with us. The implication here is that the child born to the young woman is bringing God to the rest of the people. In him is the embodiment of the divine.

From the Mercer Dictionary of the Bible: Immanuel occurs in the prophecy of Isaiah during the Syro-Ephraimitic crisis of ca. 735 B. C. E. The prophet was seeking to give King Ahaz the assurance that God was with him as he faced the terror of invading armies.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Year A - Advent 4

Scripture Readings:

Isaiah 7:10-16:
10 Then the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying,
11 "Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven."
12 But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!"
13 Then he said, "Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well?
14 "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
15 "He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good.
16 "For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken. NAB

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19:
1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.
2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us.
3 Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.
4 O LORD God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people?
5 Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure.
6 Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours: and our enemies laugh among themselves.
7 Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.
17 Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself.
18 So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name.
19 Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. KJV

Romans 1:1-7:
1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,
3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,
4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,
5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name's sake,
6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. NAB

Matthew 1:18-25:
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.
20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
21 "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife,
25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. NAB

The beginning

This is the beginning of a new venture. I will use this vehicle to study and publish my thoughts on the scripture texts in the common lectionary in preparation for Sunday's sermon.