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.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Year C - Proper 10

Liturgy of the Word:
Deut. 30:9-14
Psalm 25:1-10
Colossians 1:1-14
Luke 10:25-37

This week the Gospel passage is the parable of the "Good Samaritan." As always, the challenge is to read this story in a new and different way than I have before.

One way to view this story is to see it as Jesus subverting the prominent world view of first century Judaism.1 The Jews were God's chosen people. They believed that it was only through them, either through the law or through the Temple cult, that one could approach God and receive his forgiveness.

"There was a man who went from Jerusalem down to Jericho," this man represents Everyman. "he fell among thieves," who represent the evil forces at work in the world. Forces that have stripped Everyman from his most precious possession, fellowship with God. The priest represents the whole system of Temple worship in Jerusalem and it's ineffectiveness to restore God's fellowship to Everyman. The Levite represents legalism in all it's forms and it's failure to restore God's fellowship to Everyman. If the temple worship and keeping the law will not restore the fellowship of God, then the ministry of reconciliation must be passed on. It is the Samaratan who represents the outsider to the people of the covenant who finally brings about the restoration of fellowship of God to Everyman.

The Jews looked for a military leader, the annointed one of God like the kings of old, to marshall their forces and drive the infidel from their land. Then, and only then, could they truly be fulfilled as the chosen ones of God. Jesus came on the scene eating and drinking and carousing with all sorts of common folk. He angered the established religious authorities. Almost everything he said and did was subversive to the religious status quo. For this they handed him over to the Romans to be killed. And as history tells us, it was to the Gentiles that the ministry of reconciliation would fall.

The problem with the above interpretation is that I have used the story without any regard for Luke's context. More about this later.

1 Wright, N. T.; The New Testament and the People of God; While my interpretation of this story follows similar guidlines laid out by Wright in NTPG, he actually interprets this story himself in Jesus and the Victory of God, pp 305-308. Wright's own interpretion is different from my own.


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