Easter as Mystical/Material Abundance

By Ched Myers, comments on John 21 for May 1, 2022

I’ve long been fascinated with today’s gospel reading. The story is roughly parallel to Luke 5:1-11, and notably Luke places his version at the beginning of his narrative of Jesus’ ministry (in place of Mark’s call of the fishermen), while John puts it at the end of his gospel.  This tradition must have been strong in the early church, and seems to signal a restoration of divine abundance in place of the scarcity of the exploited fishery in defiance of official regulations. 

John brackets this story (21:1,14) with assertions that this was a “revelation /manifestation” (phaneroō, 6 times in John, e.g. 3:21); this is the final revelation. John places it at the “Sea of Tiberias,” a name only he uses in the N.T. for the Sea of Galilee” (see 6:1), which seems to emphasize the imperial renaming of the lake. In C.E. 14, Caesar Augustus died and Tiberius eventually became Emperor. To cultivate the new emperor’s favor, in C.E. 19 Herod Antipas began building a new capital city, which he named Tiberias in a bald demonstration of fealty. Right on the Sea of Galilee, this city was part of a new wave of Roman economic colonization.  Its primary function was to regulate the fishing industry around the Sea, the most prosperous segment of ancient Galilee’s economy, putting it firmly under the control of Roman and Herodian elites, who endeavored to control the industry for export markets. 

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A Divine Summons

By Ched Myers, a sermon to St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Goleta Slough Watershed/Chumash Territory, CA, 5th Sunday in Epiphany, Feb 6, 2022

Luke 5:1-11 powerfully stitches together two gospel traditions: the miraculous catch of fish also found at the end of John (21:1-14), and the call of the fishermen which also occurs at the beginning of Mark (1:16-20). Let’s look at both themes, each so important to the vocation of followers of Christ.

Jesus’ encounter with working fishermen on the shores of Lake Galilee is typically romanticized in our churches: Oh, how quaint, fishermen! But this is a trivialization. No, this scene communicates defiance and delight, resistance and renewal—the same energy that fueled the painting of that new mural of the Goleta Slough here at the church, just completed by our friends Dimitri Kadiev, Rufo Noriega and Joshua Grace (right), which we are celebrating today.

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The Nazareth Sermon as Jubilee Manifesto

Nazareth 2

By Ched Myers, for the 3rd Sunday of Epiphany, reposted from Jan 24, 2016 (Luke 4:14-21)

The setting of this famous story is significant. The obscure village of Nazareth has already been well established in Luke’s narrative as the home place of Jesus’ childhood, from Gabriel’s annunciation (1:26) to the Holy Family’s comings and goings (2:4; 39; 51), to the phrase in this week’s lection “where Jesus had been brought up…” (4:16a). Continue reading “The Nazareth Sermon as Jubilee Manifesto”

Kings vs. Kids

magiBy Ched Myers, for The Feast of the Holy Innocents and Epiphany (Matthew 2), re-posted from 2016

This reflection offers biblical context for two feasts of the Christian church: one minor (Feast of the Innocents, Dec 28, 2016) and one major (Epiphany, Jan 6, 2017). These two holy days commemorate the narrative of Matthew 2 (though in reverse chronological order), which we read in Year A. In fact, the “Twelve Days of Christmas”—when re-interpreted through the lens of these two feasts—can truly be a gift to us, if an importunate one.  These counter-narratives provide a much-needed corrective to the holiday season’s saccharine sentimentality and cacophonous commercialism, and equally to unreflective year-in-review rituals and banal New Year’s resolution-making. For they demand that we re-center our lives around the testimonies of those who are at risk in a world of imperial violence.  Continue reading “Kings vs. Kids”

Anchoring the Gospel Story in the Real World

JordanBy Ched Myers, the co-director of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries (if you’ve been inspired and challenged by Ched’s posts this year following the lectionary, consider making an end-of-the-year donation to BCM, day in and day out, doing the work of radical discipleship)

Note: This is reposted from Ched’s occasional comments on the Lukan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year C, 2015-16.  

The second and third Sundays of Advent focus on the ministry of John the Baptist, first locating him in the wilderness (2. Advent), then focusing in on his prophetic message (3. Advent). Following on his infancy (and young childhood) narrative about Jesus, Luke commences the gospel story proper. More than the other N.T. evangelist, Luke anchors his story in real political space, signaling that we ought not be afraid to do the same.
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The End of the World

Arch of TitusBy Ched Myers, for the 25th Sunday in Pentecost (Mark 13:1-8)

Note: This is the last of a series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary, originally posted during year B, 2015. 

The final two Sundays in Ordinary Time and the first two Sundays in Advent comprise what I call the “apocalyptic season of turning” in our church calendar. Traditionally the gospel readings speak of the end of the “old order” and the coming of a new world anticipated in Christ. This is appropriate not only as a transition into a new liturgical year and lectionary cycle, but also as a reminder that “in Christ there is a new creation; the old has passed away; behold, the new has come!” (II Cor 5:17).
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The Widow’s Mite: Commendation or Condemnation?

WidowBy Ched Myers, for the 23rd Sunday of Pentecost (Mark 12:28-13:2)

Note: This is an ongoing series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B, 2015.

Special Note From Ched: I apologize for conflating my comments posted last week, in which I treated BOTH Mk 12:28-34 (this last Sunday’s gospel) AND 12:38-44 (this coming Sunday’s gospel), with a heavy emphasis on the latter. Hopefully most of you focused on All Saints themes last Sunday and weren’t disoriented or disappointed. I was traveling and dispatched the blog with too much haste! RD.net is reposting last week’s blog to be of use to those preaching or teaching on this coming Sunday’s reading, which is indeed the story of the “Widow’s Mite.” Sorry for any confusion, and for giving short shrift to last Sunday’s gospel. Thanks for following this series, which now heads into its last few weeks.
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The lectionary leaps ahead this Sunday (which is also All Saints Day), moving to the concluding episode of Mark’s Jerusalem conflict narrative (chapters 11 and 12), in which Jesus clashes with every authority group in the capital city. In this week’s reading it is the scribes, the arch opponents of Jesus. The sequence begins with their challenge to interpret the great commandment, which was a central debating point among the rabbis (12:28). Jesus knows that the “orthodox” answer is the Shema (12:29f; see Dt 6:4), but pointedly attaches to it a citation from the Levitical code of justice, implying that to love God is to refuse to exploit one’s neighbor (12:31; see Lev 19:9-17).
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On the “Blind” Following the “Blind”

BartimaeusBy Ched Myers, for the 22nd Sunday of Pentecost (Mark 10:46-52), originally posted in October 2015

Right: A relief sculpture of the healing of Bartimaeus by artist/minister Charles McCollough, done in honor of our ministry at BCM (at right is the rich man and one of Jesus’ disciples).
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Note: This is an ongoing series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B, 2015. This is a longer post because Sunday represents the feast day of “St. Bartimaeus,” whose story has accompanied Ched through his entire ministry (see second half of the post).

In this culminating episode of Mark’s “discipleship catechism,” there is one more polemical role reversal to shock our propriety, and one more blind man healed to give us hope (compare Mk 8:22-26). On the outskirts of Jericho, the final stop before arriving in Jerusalem, we encounter a beggar sitting “beside the Way” (10:46). Bartimaeus will provide a dramatic contrast to the previous two stories of “non-discipleship”—the rich man’s refusal and the disciples’ ambitions—and will symbolize for Mark the “true follower.” Continue reading “On the “Blind” Following the “Blind””

The Subversion of Hierarchical Power

zebedeeBy Ched Myers, for the 21st Sunday in Pentecost (Mark 10:32-45), originally posted in 2015

Note: This is an ongoing series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B, 2015.

The last cycle of the discipleship catechism begins, as did the previous story of the rich man, “on the Way.” Here the journey is finally revealed as headed to Jerusalem, the place of final confrontation with the Powers (10:32a). Jesus “goes before” the discipleship community, who are amazed and afraid (10:32b). This snapshot will be important to remember at the end of the story, where at the empty tomb we are told that Jesus “goes before” disciples who are both afraid and “ecstatic” (16:7f).
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The Call of the Rich Man as a Text of Terror

JesusBy Ched Myers, for the 20th Sunday in Pentecost (Mark 10:17-31), originally posted on October 8, 2015

Note: This is an ongoing series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B, 2015. This post is 2-3 times longer than previous ones because of the importance of this text to our struggle to be disciples within a capitalist culture.
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The story of Jesus and the rich man lies at the crossroads of Mark’s narrative. From here Jesus will turn toward Jerusalem, a destination of confrontation with the Powers that evoked dread and denial among his disciples then (10:32) as now. But the encounter between Jesus and this affluent gentleman represents a theological crossroad as well.
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