- 2 Kings 5:1-14 & Psalm 30
- Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16
- Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
First Reading: Kings and prophets in Israel and Syria
This passage with the famous story of Naaman being healed (albeit somewhat reluctantly) by the prophet Elisha is a reminder that the ancient Kingdom of Israel was one of several small states in the region for much of the historical period covered in the Old Testament.
Then as now, Syria enjoyed some strategic advantages over its smaller neighbours as a result of its location and size.
Ancient Israel was sometimes an ally of Syria and at other times bitter rival.
This passages reflects the ambivalence of the historical relationship, not least by omitting the names of either ruler so the tale becomes almost timeless.
Second Reading: See what large letters
As we come to the end of a series of Sunday readings from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, it is interesting to observe the personal touch as Paul apparently writes a few words of his own to a letter that has presumably been dictated to a scribe with more developed writing skills. Had he any idea that his letter would become a religious classic and eventually find its way into a Christian edition of the Bible, he may have practiced his writing skills a little more!
Strangely, the set passage for this week omits the even more personal concluding sentences as Paul reflects on his own physical participation in the suffering of Jesus:
From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.
(Gal 6:17-18 NRSV)
We catch a glimpse of the pain caused to Paul by the troubles in Galatia as well as a hint of his own spirituality as a devotee of Jesus in those final lines.
Gospel: The mission of the 70
Luke develops traditions that seem to come from the earliest layers of the Sayings Gospel Q, and which Matthew has also knows.
Behind both these Gospels lies the earliest Christian practice of itinerant prophets, known from works such as the Didache but also in the practice of Paul. Indeed, the passage from Galatians 6 may preserve a version of the saying about the worker deserving his pay:
- Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher. (Gal 6:6)
- Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. (Luke 10:7)
- Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. (Matt 10:9-10)
The relevant section from the Didache reads as follows:
CHAPTER 11 – CONCERNING TEACHERS, EMISSARIES, AND PROPHETS
1) Whoever comes to teach you in accordance with all these things we’ve written here, receive him.
2) But if the teacher himself goes astray, teaching another doctrine which would undermine this doctrine, do not hear him; but if his teaching provokes you to greater righteousness and increases your knowledge, welcome him.
EMISSARIES & PROPHETS
3) Concerning the emissaries and prophets, Deal with them according to the decree of our Teaching.
4) Let every emissary that comes to you be received.
5) But he must not remain longer than one day, unless it is absolutely necessary, in which case he may stay another. But if he stays three days, suspect him as a false prophet.
6) When the emissary leaves, send him with only bread to sustain him to his next destination. But if he asks for money, be assured that he is a false prophet.
7) Do not test or judge any prophet who speaks according to the Spirit.
8) But be warned; not everyone who speaks according to the Spirit is a prophet, but only those who walk in the Spirit. Therefore, from their consistent behaviors can you discern the false prophet.
9) And every prophet who commands food to be brought to him in the Spirit will not eat from it, unless he is a false prophet;
10) Every prophet will teach the truth, but if he doesn’t practice his own words, he should be regarded as a false prophet.
11) And every prophet who has proven that they are in fact genuine, whose illustrations occasionally appear too worldly when teaching about the Body of Believers, yet he scrupulously does not teach others to copy his illustrations, shall not be judged negatively among you, for God will judge righteously. For his example came from the ancient prophets.
12) Whoever says in the Spirit, “Give me money,” or something similar thing, do not listen to him. But if he solicites that you give to the needy, none should judge him.
CHAPTER 12 – RECEPTION OF BELIEVERS
1) Everyone who comes should be received, but then you should watch him. Under scrutiny you will gain insight into his character.
2) If he is a traveler, help him according to your ability. But he should not be allowed to stay with you more than two or possibly three days.
3) But if he desides to stay longer, and is a craftsman, put him to work.
4) But if he is not skilled, make a careful judgment as to his living conditions as a fellow believer among you, making sure that he is not allowed to be idle.
5) But if he doesn’t cooperate, he is a user – even trading on Christ for profit. Beware of such as this.
CHAPTER 13 – SUPPORT OF PROPHETS
1) Every true prophet who settles among you is deserving of his food.
2) A true teacher is also worthy of his food.
3) For this reason, Store all the first-fruits of your wine, grain, cattle, and sheep. Give these to the prophets, for they are your high priests.
4) If a prophet does not reside among you, distribute it to the poor.
5) If you make bread, give the first-fruit according to the instruction.
6) In this manner, when you open a container of wine or oil, give the first-fruit of it to the prophets.
7) And concerning your money, clothing, and all possessions, give the appropriate first-fruit, according to godly discretion, and give according to the instruction.
[SOURCE: Ivan Lewis, The Teaching of Twelve 1998.]
Since the practice of itinerant missionaries was gradually abandoned as the Christian communities became more settled, we may well be dealing with a very ancient tradition at this point.
Interestingly, the cluster 001 Mission and Message is the most strongly attested of all the items in the Crossan Inventory.
- 001 Mission and Message: (1a) 1 Cor 9:14; (1b) 1 Cor 10:27; (2) Gos. Thom. 14:2; (3) 1Q: Luke 10:(1),4-11 = Matt 10:7,10b,12-14; (4) Mark 6:7-13 = Matt 10:1,8-10a,11 = Luke 9:1-6; (5) Dial. Sav. 20 [53b, or 139:9-10]; (6) Did. 11-13 [see 11:4-6 & 13:1-2]; (7) 1 Tim 5:18b.
- 050 Harvest Is Great: (1) Gos. Thom. 73; (2) 1Q: Luke 10:2 = Matt 9:37-38; (3) John 4:35
- 147 Lambs Among Wolves: (1a) 1Q: Luke 10:3 = Matt 10:16a, (1b) 2 Clem. 5:2;
- 010 Receiving the Sender: (1) 1Q: Luke 10:16 = Matt 10:40; (2) Mark 9:36-37 = Matt 18: 2,5 = Luke 9:47-48a; (3) Did. 11:4-5; (4a) John 5:23b; (4b) John 12:44-50; (4c) John 13:20; (5) Ign. Eph. 6:1.
- 446 The Seventy Return: (1) Luke 10:17-20;
Liturgies and Prayers
For liturgies and sermons each week, shaped by a progressive theology, check Rex Hunt’s web site
Other recommended sites include:
- Jesus shall reign – AHB 136
- Break thou the bread of life – AHB 334
- Lord Jesus Christ you have come to us – AHB 451
- We sing the praise of him who died – AHB 262
- I, the Lord of sea and sky (Here I am Lord)
- Celtic Alleluia
- Make me a channel of your peace
- Sent forth by God’s blessing
See David MacGregor’s Together to Celebrate site for recommendations from a variety of contemporary genre.