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Monday of Holy Week

John 12:1-11

Monday of Holy Week is introduced with this account that is only in the Fourth Gospel, about an anointing of the feet of Jesus by Mary, the sister of Martha and of Lazarus, whom Jesus, according to John 11:1-44, had resurrected from the dead. The account makes a major contribution to the plot of the Fourth Gospel, with Jesus speaking in support of what Mary was doing and in opposition to Judas Iscariot, who was complaining about the pouring of the expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus when the perfume could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. The statement of the Johannine Jesus that “you are always going to have poor people with you whom you can help, but you are not always going to have me” presents the greatest challenge for us even today. It raises fundamental questions about how the financial resources of a congregation should be allocated.

Hebrews 9:11-15

The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews presents Jesus in a way that is very different from the ways in which Jesus is depicted elsewhere in our New Testament documents. Within each of the Four Gospels Jesus is opposed by the priests who manage the Temple under contracts purchased from the Romans; he is certainly not presented as the honored priest entering into the Holiest Place in the Temple to offer his own blood to God. This very different way in which Jesus was portrayed by the writer of this document was a major reason that the Epistle to the Hebrews was one of the last documents to be accepted into the New Testament canon.

Isaiah 42:1-9

By using this “Servant of the Lord” text, as it is designated by Christians, on the Monday of Holy Week, we are identifying the Servant of the Isaiah traditions with Jesus as we as Christians perceive him. That identification, of course, does not give ownership of the Servant concept to us as Christians. The Servant of the Lord still primarily belongs to the Jews, not to us as Christians. The statements in this text about God putting the Spirit of God upon the Servant in order that the Servant may establish justice on the earth in a sense unites Christians with Jews, since, when we are at our best, we as Christians, together with Jews, long for justice and work together to “repair” the world and to be righteous and just in all that we and Jews do.

Psalm 36:5-11

Here also, when we as Christians use this psalm, or any of the psalms, or any portion of the Older Testament for that matter, ideally we use these materials together with Jews, as devotional guides along with Jews, even during our so-called Holy Week. Although our experiences and our understandings of the intended meanings of the texts in the Older Testament are different from those of Jews, we must remember that these were Israelite and Jewish documents before we began to use them and that they remain basically Jewish documents today.

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  • Charged with Grandeur:Sermons and Practices for Delighting in God's Creation by Christopher Keating
     
    SermonSuite
    Chris Keating
    Cloud Theology

    Exodus 24:12-18; Matthew 17:1-9
    Imagine Transfiguration Sunday a few decades from now. The congregation -- half of whom are robots -- gather for worship. Two ushers quip about finding signs of intelligent life.
         A liturgist reads the story of Jesus’ transfiguration, while worshipers adjust virtual reality devices which place them on the summit with the disciples. Light floods their eyes, and they are overcome by the fear that also fills Peter, James, and John.
         There on the mountain they see Elijah, Moses, and maybe even Watson, IBM’s supercomputer. Meanwhile, Pastor ART -- a cutting-edge cyborg who just graduated from Princeton -- begins the sermon. He’s a bit soft-spoken for some, but ART (short for Artificial Reformed Theologian) is programmed to produce quality sermons guaranteed to challenge but not offend, enthrall but never bore.
         Far-fetched? Maybe not as much as you think.
         As AI develops, the world will face economic, moral, and even theological questions never considered. Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly reflects on what he calls the “serious spiritual question” we may be overlooking: “If you create other things that think for themselves, a serious theological disruption will occur.”
         It’s possible to consider God as the prototypical cloud server whose glory emerges in unimagined and dazzling ways. On the Mount of Transfiguration, the cloud envelopes the disciples and changes Jesus, preparing him for the passion that awaits. God draws nearer to human beings, calling them to deeper faithfulness....more
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    Whenever I read from the book of Exodus, especially a text which includes a visit by Moses to the mountaintop to be in the presence of God, I get an image in my mind of Charlton Heston in the movie version of The Ten Commandments. I'll bet you have that problem too, don't you? It doesn't matter if you were born a decade or two since that movie was first released. It gets a lot of play on television, especially during "holy seasons" of the year like Easter.
         The movie, which I must confess I actually enjoy, takes a few liberties with the biblical text. I guess Moses and the other biblical authors would not make very good screen writers. One of the problems with the image of Charlton Heston in that role is that it takes away the mystery of the encounter that Moses has with God....more
    Mark Ellingsen
    Revealing the divinity of Christ
    Transfiguration is a celebration of God’s glory and how that glory is revealed in Christ when he was transfigured. The festival was observed as early as the sixth century in Eastern Christianity, but did not become a festival in the Catholic Church and its Protestant heirs until just 70 years prior to the Reformation. Sermons in line with this festival will aim to focus the flock on coming to appreciate a bigger, more majestic picture of God and Christ than what they brought to church. Assurance will be provided that this majestic God overcomes all evil. All the lessons considered collectively also link Christ and the gospel to the Law (the ten commandments)....more
    Peter Andrew Smith
    Down from the Mountain
    Matthew 17:1-9

    Jessica took the tray of dishes from in front of Martha and put them on the cart.
         “Thank you,” Martha said.
         “You’re very welcome. How was everything today?”
         “It was lovely. Please tell Keith that I appreciated his homemade jam on the bread. It made the lunch extra special today.”
         “I’ll let him know.” Jessica paused. “If I see some of the jam left over would you like me to put it to one side for you?”...more
    Janice Scott
    Testimonies
    For many people, testimonies in which someone relates the story of how they came to Christianity, still seem to be one of the most powerful means of hearing the Christian message. There's something about the sincerity of the person who stands to speak, which usually shines through their words. And to hear the words of someone who has had a profound religious experience can be very moving....more
    Mary Kay Eichelman
    A Peep Hole
    Object: A picture covered with another piece of paper that has a small square cut out of it. (a "peak hole")
    I have something to show you today BUT... you only get to see a little bit of my picture -- a peep hole.  (Show picture covered over with piece of paper with a small square cut out.)  Does it make you wonder what the whole picture might look like?...more

Authors of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Norman A. Beck is the Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and the Chairman of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Norman A. Beck
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen

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