February 24, 2019

Scripture passage:  Luke 9:28-43

This is the passage for Transfiguration Sunday, March 3rd.  As this is one of John’s favorite passages, he will be preaching on it this Sunday as he will be in Guatemala on March 3rd.

This story of the transfiguration may be puzzling. We don’t generally experience things as dramatic as this story. The gospel story for today is a transformation story, where Jesus experiences transfiguration:

  • where plain and ordinary Jesus of Nazareth is transfigured and becomes the Christ of glory at the end of time,

  • where Jesus the carpenter from Galilee is transfigured and his face begins to shine like the face of God at the very end of history. No longer is he just Jesus of Nazareth but the Christ of glory.

This story is rich in possibilities for us and each of you will find different takeaways as you ask the question:  “Where is God for me in this text?”

Some focus upon the mountain top experience.  Others focus on what happens when Jesus and the disciples come down the mountain. One such meaning is this: there is the potential to never look at things the same way again; everything now has the potential to be more than it seems.

We are going to go hiking on a high mountain with Jesus and three friends, Peter, James and John. The text for today says that it was a “high mountain.” A high mountain in Israel was and is Mt. Tabor, not far from the village of Nazareth, some 1,800 feet high.  So we have four friends hiking on a high mountain, Jesus, Peter, James, and John.

The Bible says that at that moment, Jesus was transfigured. Other gospel writers go into greater detail than Mark’s Gospel does about Jesus’ face changing, describing it as shining like the brilliance of the sun, shining radiantly with a glare that you couldn’t look into.

What all the gospel stories have in common is this: Peter and the disciples have just experienced something completely other worldly.

I would encourage you to look at the different renderings of this story in Matthew and Mark and Luke.

I would also encourage you to notice Peter’s response. Peter says let us build a tent, a shelter. Building dwellings and pitching tents is part of Peter’s vocabulary as a Jew. That is what he knew to do.

It was part of his story. Remember the Israelites pitched tents in the wilderness for 40 years.  The ark of the covenant which housed the 10 commandments was kept in a tent called the tabernacle. In the time of Solomon that tent became a grand, fixed structure, the temple. If you were a Jew living in that time, when something amazing happened, when God makes an appearance, in that time you  built a tent, a shrine. Peter is responding worshipfully in the way he knows best -- in his own story as a good and observant Jew. His actions remind me of the saying: “when we don’t know what to do, we do what we know.”

That is all I will go into for now.  I look forward to hearing your insights as we as a community gather around this text.

February 10, 2019 - Week 3

Our Focus: Luke 6:17-26; The Beatitudes


 Luke 6:17-26

17 He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. 18 They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.

20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. 24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. 26 “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

Preparing for this Sunday:

In the creation of a group’s identity, there is what is called the “forming” and “norming” stages. That is what is happening here as Jesus has started his ministry and has selected his disciples. In this passage he gives them clear orders as to how his vision of God’s work would go forward. Four promises, and four warnings, presented in terms of Israel’s great scriptural codes. resented in terms of Israel’s great scriptural codes from Deuteronomy. It is a radical version which we will talk about this Sunday.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

A Blog in support of the “Welcome to Luke’s House Bible Study” providing weekly details, updates, and comments from participants in an effort to connect people to Luke’s lively Gospel and to connect people whether they attend the class in person or virtually.


  • Welcome to Luke’s House is a spirited and interactive Bible Study during which the leaders guide discussion of Scripture passages from the amazing account of Luke as we look at what the texts meant then and what they mean for us now. The Scripture passages and discussion influence the content for the worship service the following week.

  • Scripture passage for Sunday, February 3rd:  Luke 5:1-11

  • Schedule: 9-9:15 am Recap; 9:15-9:50, Deep dive into the Scripture

  • Lead Teacher this Week: Mike Magee; John Hilley (support)

Teaser for the Week:


Luke 4:14-30

  • This Sunday we opened the pages to one of the most brilliant writings in early Christianity. Luke tells us that he had had a chance to stand back from the extraordinary events that had been going on, to talk to the people involved, to read some earlier writings, and to make his own quite full version.  Luke was an educated and cultured man, the first real historian to write about Jesus. His book places Jesus not only at the heart of the Jewish world of the first century, but at the heart of the Roman world into which the Christian gospel exploded and which it would go out through Asia.

Since the title of the study is “Welcome to Luke’s House”, let’s play with the image of house.  Each of us live in different styles of houses and in different locations. Some of us like to live out in the country, removed from others, surrounded by land. Others are more urban dwellers.  Luke is one of 4 gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. If we were to think of each of these gospels as houses, they would be very different in terms of type and location. I like to think that Matthew would live in an old established neighborhood. Neighbors would be the offspring of ancestors who settled the area. It might be an historical house. History and genealogy is very important to Matthew. John, who wrote the Gospel of John, I imagine would live downtown, not far from the university. He is a lover of words. He wants to be near the cultural hub. Matthew and John, they live more in the center of things, but not Luke. He’s off the beaten path, way out on the edge of town. It’s a simple place. You may mistake it for a family farm, like the ones that used to dot the American landscape. Hay is baled to feed the animals. There are sheep grazing nearby. There’s a real manger out back. It’s not nostalgia. It’s not a sweet part of the story as we tend to consider it to be when we watched the child re-enact the Christmas story.  There are all kinds of people there and we are going to learn about them.  Luke’s house is filled with a whole lot of people, especially people whom the world has not made room for.  They have all come to Luke’s house to hold this baby — because this baby belongs to them and, in inexplicable fashion, assures them that they belong to God. So, as God’s children, they ALL belong in God’s world.  The Gospel for EVERYONE is going to be a big theme for Luke that we will want to keep in mind. (John)

Now this baby has grown up and the text for this Sunday is the time when Jesus, now as a young man, returns to his hometown to speak and teach in the Temple.

  • Fred Craddock: says, “For Luke, the tension that erupts here and will erupt again...is not between Jesus and Judaism, or between synagogue and church, it is between Judaism and its own Scripture.” The covenant of God’s grace toward all people expressed to Abraham, Jonah’s embodiment of the capacity in all of us to be offended by God’s Grace to those of whom we do not approve, and that Boaz welcomed Ruth the Moabites, who became the ancestor of David and Jesus, give further examples of the largeness of God’s Grace. But this is not a crowd pleaser. Notice why Jesus leaves Nazareth. “He does not go elsewhere because he is rejected, he is rejected because he goes elsewhere.”

  •  We enjoyed the discussion around verse 22: “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.”  We were interested in the word Thaumazo. In the Greek, it has two meanings, both the “neutral” “extraordinarily impressed,” and the more negative “extraordinarily disturbed.” This word is key. It marks the moment of their consternation as even before he talks about the prophets Elisha or Elijah. (Talking about Elisha and Elijah in this context likely upset the hearers because both of the stories Jesus tells about them involve outsiders, non-Jews.  He identifies where their own scripture says they should be, and by saying this scripture is fulfilled in their presence, perhaps he is understood by the Nazarites as saying that he himself is going to be the agent of God who upsets their comfortable status quo.  A double disturbance: Judaism is not where it needs to be (grace is for Gentiles also), and Jesus has given them a point upon which to focus their discomfort, himself. (Mike)

 What is the “so what?” of this passage.

We introduced the notion of Luke’s House.  On our first day of the study, we read of Hometown Hero Jesus going home and saying something that disturbed those who thought they knew him enough to the point where they wanted to throw him off a cliff. Personally, we know of the experience of being misunderstood and confined by those who think they know us. Those who thought they knew Jesus best simply cannot accept his claim that the gifts of God’s grace are not bestowed on favors of who you know, nationality, loyalty, tribe or hometown connections. The gifts of God’s grace are for everyone.  We have preconceptions of who Jesus is. Jesus will not be confined by our preconceptions.  That’s hard news. But it is good news.