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Epiphany 6 | Ordinary Time 6, Cycle B

“Lord God, mercifully receive the prayers of your people. Help us to see and understand the things we ought to do, and give us grace and power to do them; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
It is in the portions of The Prayer of the Day for this Sunday that are italicized above that we see the unifying factor in the four texts selected for this day. Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Syria, needed help from the Lord God through Naaman’s own servants before he could understand the things that he should do in the cleansing of his body from leprosy in the 2 Kings 5:1-14 Elisha story.

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    Dean Feldmeyer
    Mulligan Theology
    Jeremiah 18:1-11; Philemon 1:1-21; Luke 14:25-33

    To hear him tell it, Mr. David Mulligan, of Montreal, Canada, was one of the world’s greatest amateur golfers. Very early every morning he would play a round of golf by himself, and then upon returning to the clubhouse brag to his friends about what a great round he had just shot.
         Not quite believing him but not wanting to accuse him of lying outright, his friends decided to arrive early at the course one day and play a round of golf with David. On the first tee Mulligan sliced his drive deep into the woods, shook his head, and immediately teed up another ball. When his friends questioned him about it, he said simply: “Well, you don’t expect me to play that one, do you?” (This is, of course, only one version of the “mulligan” story. For others see the article and comments here.)
         Immediately a new word entered the golf lexicon: a “mulligan.” It’s a do-over, a free shot that you take because the first one didn’t turn out the way you wanted.
         And they say there are only two kinds of golfers: those who take mulligans, and liars.
         This week’s lectionary readings are about what I like to call “moral mulligans.” Jeremiah uses the metaphor of the potter’s wheel to speak of God’s decision to take a mulligan and rebuild immoral Israel. Paul asks Philemon to give the runaway slave Onesimus a mulligan and take him back as a brother. And Jesus says that our relationship with him requires us to take a mulligan on our relationships with people and things.
         In fact, Christian discipleship -- which reshapes every aspect of our lives -- may be the biggest mulligan of them all....more
    Warning To The Clueless Enthusiasts
    Jesus said, "Whoever comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple" (v. 26).
         Let's admit it. Jesus made some strange comments. This scripture for today remembers one of those times. Must we really hate our mother and father in order to be Christian? I thought Christians were to promote family values. Must we really hate our own lives in order to be faithful? Doesn't the Bible promote the abundance of life? Is that not contrary to hating our life? How are we to make sense of this?
         Maybe we are not to make sense of it. Perhaps we are simply to obey by doing what we are told. Some claim that regardless of what seems reasonable, every word of the Bible is to be taken literally. This might be one of those times.
         Let me suggest that these claims must be taken seriously, but not literally. In this fourteenth chapter of Luke, our Lord tells us something very important, but we might miss the truth if we take his words literally. Let me explain....more
    Frank Ramirez
    Who are you really?
    Under the guise of harshness, the prophet Jeremiah wants us to see in God’s earnest desire to get our attention a desperate attempt to get us turned from a ruinous path. Under the guise of a friend who has no legal standing in the matter of a slaveholder and his runaway slave, Paul speaks gently but firmly in an attempt to force the slaveowner’s hand. Jesus appears to some in the guise of a miracle worker and a healer, but he reveals himself to be one who speaks words of warning in a harsh fashion in the hopes that true healing will take place....more
    Frank Ramirez
    A Petition for Justice

    The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him (Jeremiah 18:4)

    When Jeremiah told his story of the potter and the clay, he was making it clear that if God didn't like the way the people and their rulers were observing God's law, the Divine Potter could collapse the work in progress and start over. God expected the people to observe divine justice! And that meant justice for everyone: the rich and the poor, overseers and workers....more
    Janice Scott
    Whole-hearted for Christ
    I first saw the Children's Charter when my own children were quite small, so it's been around for a good few years. I was so impressed by it that I pinned a copy onto the kitchen wall to remind me, especially when I was at the end of my tether, to treat my children well! The Children's Charter says this:...more
    Mary Kay Eichelman
    Follow The Leader
    Object: The game of "Follow the Leader"
    Let's play a game together today. Many of you may know it already.  It is called “Follow the Leader.”  We are going to walk around. I will lead you and you will go behind me and do what I do.  (Raise arms,  scratch head, tap your head, wave to the people in the church.) Today we are going to learn about following our leader, Jesus....more

Author of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen

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