Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (C), July 3, 2016 - 2 Kings 5:1-14; Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

(Sorry, I can't find where this was published, except in another blog.)

The following poem is based on the 2 Kings text:

Unless You Change and Become Like Children

The unsung girl, unnamed, enslaved,
Ensured that Naaman would be saved
From what oppressed him day and night,
Despite his military might.
She spoke, which then set into motion
What made in Israel a commotion
With first, the king, then Naaman, too,
Who thought Elisha had no clue
About a high and mighty cure - 
Except, the Jordan made him pure,
With skin just like a little boy's!
Which goes to show, it took no poise,
God's healing power to portray,
Since mighty love is child's play.

Scott L. Barton


The next poem, from 2013, (which you can access from the archives to the right or at http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2013/07/seventh-sunday-after-pentecost-july-7.html) is based on both texts:

Our Salvation's Story

We'd love to see the glory of
God's work performed outright;
Thus Naamann scoffed at what
Elisha offered for his plight;
But flashy deeds and fancy baths
Are hardly Yahweh's style,
Instead, a God in whom we trust
Makes grace a thing worthwhile;
And likewise, when the seventy
Were jazzed at their success
At demon-casting-out, since just
The Twelve had been so blessed,
They learned (and so might we) that
Flashy deeds are not God's glory,
But rather knowing that we're loved
Is our salvation's story.

Scott L. Barton

Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said. And the king of Aram said, “Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.” He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.” But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.”

So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the  entrance of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage. But his servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.

+++

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the  demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (C), June 26, 2016 - 2 Kings 2:1-14 and Luke 9:51-62

Elayne LaPorta: Elijah and the Fiery Chariot
http://elaynelaporta.com/gallery/index.php?main_page
=product_info&cPath=4&products_id=10

[Note: The lectionary omits vss. 3-5 in the Elisha passage, but I leave it in because I think it further illustrates Elisha's anxious state of mind. The second poem below is the one for these texts from 2013, also at http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2013/06/sixth-sunday-after-pentecost-june-30.html.]

In the Wake of Orlando, June 12, 2016

Elisha, all tied up in knots
Because of what would be his lot
Without his master, snapped at those
Who seemed to magnify his woes.

And James and John, when Jesus' face
Was set towards danger, then embraced
Their fears, to take it out on those
Who seemed to be their master's foes.

What is it with a righteous zeal, 
That, armed with power, can appeal
To someone who, with bullets hurled,
Thinks he's about to change the world?

If we had world enough, and time,
We'd patiently decry such crimes;
But let us now do all we can
To stop the madness in each man.

For faith says your anxiety
Should never drive your piety.

Scott L. Barton

+  +  +

How Easily in Trouble

Elisha sure was anxious
When his master had to go,
So in the text he snaps at those
Who snidely tell him so;
I think that the disciples found
Themselves in such a boat,
For Jesus to Jerusalem?
His death that did connote;
And so when they felt dissed by those
Who would not let them in,
Their anxious hearts lashed out at such
Outrageous, blatant sin.
How easily in trouble do we
Trouble only see,
But Jesus stays the course of love,
And just says, "Follow me."

Scott L. Barton

2 Kings 2:1-14

Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.” Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.” Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.


Luke 9:51-62

When the days drew near for [Jesus] to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (C), June 19, 2016 - Luke 8:26-39 and I Kings 19:1-18



“Be Careful What You Ask For!”

The demons begged he not dismiss
Them back into the deep abyss;
Instead, they asked that they be sent
Into the pigs, where thus, they went,
Except the next they knew, the swine
Plunged off the cliff into the brine!
I picture Jesus, whose wry smile
Previews his Easter laughing style;
While evil, still, he takes to task:
"You, too, watch out for what you ask!"

Scott L. Barton

Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.


Mendelssohn's "Elijah," part III
For "Parts I and II," please see previous posts for 2nd and 3rd Sundays after Pentecost, at http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-second-sunday-after-pentecost-c-may.html
and
http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-third-sunday-after-pentecost-june-5.html

I had just about had it.
At the end of my rope.
Doubted I could keep going.
"It is enough! O Lord, now take away my life
For I am not better than my fathers."
Thus Elijah sang.
Three recits and an aria to go.
Plus this one, with that long high D sharp towards the end.
Then, worried, I had a brain fart and sang a note too short.
Thought I'd blown it.
Panicked, I wondered what Stanley, conducting, would do.
He just kept smiling, because I'd lengthened the next note
Without realizing it.
Everything was okay!
And we made it through.
Funny how rare it is that all is lost.
But the best line comes next from the chorus:
"Go, return upon thy way,
For the Lord yet hath left Him seven thousand in Israel,
knees which have not bowed to Baal.
Go, return upon thy way!"
I don't know why the lectionary omits it.
Keep it in this week.
Remind yourself, and your people,
That you - and they - are not alone.
When you're ready to throw in the towel
When you're not sure you can keep singing
This faith business, this grace
That may only appear in the still, small silence,
Keep in mind those seven thousand!
And go on your way, in the strength of the Lord.


Scott L. Barton

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the
mount of God.

At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Bonus Poem: The Human Forest, and 36 years after Mt. St. Helens' eruption.

For lectionary poems for June 12 and earlier, please page down to the previous post(s).

Lindsay Barton took this picture of the trees
around Mt. St. Helens because of all the trees'
heights being the same, after their recovery
from the volcano's eruption in 1980. She said it
looks like a bad Photoshop job, but it's real!

The Human Forest

When Mt. St. Helens blew her top,
The trees were killed, their growth all stopped;
But life goes on, despite death strewn,
With forest springing up anew.
Now, thirty-six years on from then,
The view across both hill and glen
Reveals all rate of growth the same,
Like picture-perfect in some frame
That someone photoshopped so-so!
This observation goes to show
Homogeneity may be
How we all start; but like the trees,
Diversified, we come to dress,
In time to be one holy mess. 

Scott L. Barton

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost C), June 12, 2016 - 1 Kings 21:1-10, (11-14), 15-21a and Luke 7:36-8:3

Elijah, Ahab and Jezebel
Thomas Matthews Rooke (1842–1942)

The King of Irony

How interesting that Ahab's asked
By Jezebel if he still rules,
But then, she does the dirty deed
And makes the king to be a fool;
Meanwhile, Elijah's told (not asked),
To see the real scoundrel here,
And speak such truth that then could get
Elijah quickly "disappeared."
Who really rules? We now are asked
To choose between the throne when wrong,
And One who'd set things right for all,
To whom all vineyards still belong.


Scott L. Barton

Later the following events took place: Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of King Ahab of Samaria. And Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, so that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house; I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give you my ancestral inheritance.” Ahab went home resentful and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him; for he had said, “I will not give you my ancestral inheritance.” He lay down on his bed, turned away his face, and would not eat.

His wife Jezebel came to him and said, “Why are you so depressed that you will not eat?” He said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard for it’; but he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” His wife Jezebel said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Get up, eat some food, and be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal; she sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who lived with Naboth in his city. She wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth at the head of the assembly; seat two scoundrels opposite him, and have them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out, and stone him to death.” The men of his city, the elders and the nobles who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. Just as it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, they proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth at the head of the assembly. The two scoundrels came in and sat opposite him; and the scoundrels brought a charge against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city, and stoned him to death. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.” As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Go, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” As soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab set out to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying: Go down to meet King Ahab of Israel, who rules in Samaria; he is now in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. You shall say to him, “Thus says the Lord: Have you killed, and also taken possession?” You shall say to him, “Thus says the Lord: In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, dogs will also lick up your blood.” Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, I will bring disaster on you.



The Women Disciples

A local couple had their identity stolen
And found themselves twenty thousand dollars in debt;
They had to go through all kinds of hoops
To be believed by the bank, and get their debt cancelled.

In Simon's house, everyone knew the woman's identity;
Her debts had mounted up, no doubt a lot to her pimp;
I picture her, hoop earrings dangling with her hair,
Believing, crying, washing feet, indebted no more.

Do you also know who Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna were?
"Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors" wasn't just learned by the men;
These women raised no hoopla in being disciples,
But they simply banked on Jesus.  How interesting!


Scott L. Barton

also at http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2013/06/fourth-sunday-after-pentecost-june-16.html

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “Speak.” “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Third Sunday after Pentecost (C), June 5, 2016 - Luke 7:11-17 and I Kings 17:8-24

Lucas Cranach the Younger (1515-1586)
Raising of the Son of the Widow of Nain (1569)
Wittenberg, Church of St. Mary

In Nain (Heb. "lovely," "green pastures") 

Not just any magic trick,
   to bring a crowd 
      to its feet;
Not some celebrity,
   curing one day but saying the next
      he didn't mean it;
This Jesus has compassion
   on she whose only means of support
      was, but for him, gone.
This Jesus suffers with,
   for, presumably, 
      she would have died, too.
So Jesus seeks no greener pastures,
   no easier performance,
      no safer bet.
He raises someone from the dead
   for the first time,
      maybe not knowing if he could or should.
The man sits up 
   and speaks
      and all of Nain is in awe.
They see the possible,
      another side of lovely,
         another side of God.
And one can imagine
   each turning to their neighbor,
      and saying,
"Let's make Nain kind again,"
   here, in this lovely,
      blessed place.

Scott L. Barton

Soon afterwards [Jesus] went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!” This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.

+   +   +

Mendelssohn's "Elijah," part II

Cynthia and I sang this text years ago.
I, Elijah; she, the widow.
I still remember her voice,
Bereft from losing her son,
Blaming "me."
She wonders if Elijah
Has recalled to God her sin.
"Give me thy son," Elijah sings.
He prays:
"In mercy heal this widow's son;
"In mercy heal this widow's son!
"Lord, in mercy heal this widow's son."
He doesn't give up.
He cares.
He believes.
And then, surprise!
"Now behold, thy son liveth!"
And now she knows, she sings,
That he's a man of God,
And that the word in his mouth is the truth.
"What shall I render to the Lord
For all his benefits to me?"
The oratorio recalls Psalm 116 for this question;
And then, for the answer, Deuteronomy 6,
Which Jesus remembered too:
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,
Love him, with all thy heart,
And with all thy soul,
And with all thy might;"
And now Elijah and the widow
Are soaring with the Psalmist:
"Oh, blessed are they,
Are they who fear him!"
And now it's the chorus's turn
To sing in dulcet tones of blessedness.
And now it's our turn, too,
To claim the blessedness
Of knowing Elijah's God still,
To remember it, and live it,
And walk in the ways of peace,
All our days.

Scott L. Barton

also at http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2013/06/third-sunday-after-pentecost-june-9-2013.html

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.” As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.” She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill; his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. She then said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!” But he said to her, “Give me your son.” He took him from her bosom, carried him up into the upper chamber where he was lodging, and laid him on his own bed. He cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I am staying, by killing her son?” Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” The Lord listened to the voice of Elijah; the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. Elijah took the child, brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and gave him to his mother; then Elijah said, “See, your son is alive.” So the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Second Sunday after Pentecost (C), May 29, 2016 - Luke 7:1-10 and 1 Kings 18:20-21, (22-29), 30-39


Adam Camerious: Jesus Heals the Centurion's Servant
(bet. 1644-1665), Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Color Me Surprised!

In the eyes of the centurion,
His slave was worthy to be healed;
In the eyes of Capernaum's elders,
Their centurion was worth Jesus' doing it.
But what's worth seeing here
Is a Jesus who is amazed.
Don't be blue about all your calculations:
Turns out, it's divine to be surprised!


Scott L. Barton


After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For 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, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.


Mendelssohn's "Elijah," part I
I cannot read this text without
The strains of Mendelssohn
Reverberating through my head
In many-layered tones;
Elijah taunts the prophets,
"Call him louder" his refrain,
I smile as he sarcastically
Keeps singing his disdain;
"Perhaps he's on a journey,"
Euphemistic'lly he goads,
"Pursuing!" Maybe Baal's off wooing
Down amorous roads!
"Or peradventure," (quietly)
"He sleepeth," Eli mocks,
I have to say, of all the prophets
Old, Elijah rocks!
But not just for his anger, or
Dramatic, forceful zeal,
But for his tenderness, as he
Goes on with this appeal:
"Draw near you people, come to me,"
The prophet soothes in song,
Then prays, "Lord, God of Abraham
"...This day let it be known
That thou are God, and I'm thy servant,"
Thus his tone is changed;
For all his bluster, still his doubts
Reveal he's not deranged
But waits to see if God will act
According to his word,
"Oh, hear me, Lord, and answer me"
He prays that he's been heard!
"And let their hearts again be turned,"
Is what he deeply craves;
The love Elijah knows, and has,
The people, always saves.


Scott L. Barton


http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2013/05/second-sunday-after-pentecost-june-2.html

So Ahab sent to all the Israelites, and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel.

Elijah then came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” The people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets number four hundred fifty. Let two bulls be given to us; let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord; the god who answers by fire is indeed God.” All the people answered, “Well spoken!” Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; then call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it.”So they took the bull that was given them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, crying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no answer. They limped about the altar that they had made. At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud! Surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” Then they cried aloud and, as was their custom, they cut themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out over them. As midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice, no answer, and no response. Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come closer to me”; and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down; Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”;with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. Then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed.Next he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” Then he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. Again he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time, so that the water ran all around the altar, and filled the trench also with water. At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord indeed is God; the Lord indeed is God.”