June 2019 Lectionary Preview
April 22, 2019 by Rev. Dr. Neal Presa
If you visit and worship with the church I presently serve, Village Community Presbyterian Church in southern California, you will be immediately greeted by the central stained-glass window of the ancient triquetra, the three interlocking circles symbolizing the triune community of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This emphasis of the triune community of God is expressed by the liturgical space: curved pews parallel the curvature of the chancel choir’s seats, stained glass windows in every direction depicting the stories of the faith, the visible pulpit-baptismal font-Table-cross that individually and collectively express the sacramentality of a community in worship ready to receive the Word.
The Gospel lections for June 2019 are about being with, doing for, speaking with, sharing about and traveling with God.
June 2nd: John 17:20-26 – Being with God.
The so-called great priestly prayer of Jesus Christ as he prayed to the heavenly Father on behalf of all of those whom God loves. Jesus’ prayer was one of entrusting and he himself was entrusted by God to securely care and hold those whom God loves and all those who will come to know and entrust their lives and their futures into God’s love. As the heavenly Father entrusts the mission of God into the hands of the Son of God, Jesus is the trustworthy steward of that mission – God’s mission to reconcile and heal a broken world, to save the lost, to love the unlovable. This is grounded in Jesus’ and the Father’s stewarding of one another’s life and love in the power of the Spirit. They are being with each other, and that triune community is extended to all of us, as we are joined to the mission of God, and entrusted to live it out in love.
June 9th /Pentecost Sunday: John 14:8-17, 25-27 – Doing For God.
Jesus Christ teaches what he and the heavenly Father are about and what the Holy Spirit is about. All the works of healing, reconciliation, hospitality, and forgiveness are Jesus’ way of demonstrating the strong and abiding love of the Father. At its core is love. And what the Holy Spirit does is the same thing: the Holy Spirit gives us God’s peace for our troubled hearts, a peace that is grounded in the Father’s love. Jesus calls his disciples then and now to love and live lives of love because in doing so, we will discern the presence of God. When we love, we abide in God’s love. So that we can say that our “doing love” and our “doing life” are done with God. Stewardship of our time, of our talent, and of our treasure is about sharing and giving what God has given to us. Sharing of our time, our talent, and our treasure is about doing love, doing life with God. It’s putting into action our love for God and God’s people in tangible ways. This being Pentecost Sunday, we are able to commit our time, our talent, and our treasure for God’s purposes because of the Holy Spirit who empowers and enables us. Our doing is not about ourselves nor is it by ourselves. Stewarding the resources of time, talent, and treasure takes an act of the Spirit of God in our life continually and constantly.
June 16th/Trinity Sunday: John 16:12-15 – Speaking with God.
It is a strange thing to designate one Sunday as Trinity Sunday since every Lord’s Day is celebrating and worshipping the triune God. Every part of our worship liturgies each Sunday and whenever the people of God gather together in worship should reflect praises and prayers ascribed to the triune God in the triune Name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or a variation (Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer/Reconciler). What this day in the liturgical calendar provides is for us to give focused attention to texts such as John 16:12-15 and the interrelated, interdependent ministries of God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, and God the Spirit of truth. Here Jesus was teaching about the unity and unanimity in the words and will of the Spirit with that of the words and will of Jesus Christ himself with that of the words and will of our heavenly Father. The Spirit of truth speaks and declares the truth of God. When God speaks, it matters because God will accomplish what God says will happen. And so when the Spirit speaks to our hearts and souls, when the Spirit speaks to the powers and principalities of the world, the Spirit will convict and convince. Using our spoken words, our written words, our texted words, our Tweeted words….all these expressions of our thoughts and our desires require wisdom, require responsibility, calls forth from us grace, love, and all of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) so that we steward our words in such a way that bless and not curse, that our words encourage and not discourage, that our words are empowered by the Spirit of God to declare the truth of God’s reconciling love in Jesus Christ.
June 23rd: Luke 8:26-39 – Sharing about God.
This familiar scene didn’t win Jesus legions of fans, literally. This is the text where Jesus freed the demon-possessed man in the country of the Gerasenes. Jesus’ powerful word, declaring freedom to this man who was captive, enabled the man to be free to live, to share about the Lord had done in his life. The people who heard about his freedom were seized with fear; fear had gripped their hearts, they could give of themselves because of that fear. The man was entrusted with a new life and entrusted with a compelling story. He could have hoarded the blessing, he could have kept his profound testimony silent and bottled up in his heart. Beloved church, part of being the church, and, therefore, being redeemed and freed and loved by the Lord is that we have been entrusted with that story – the story of what Jesus has done and what Jesus is doing in our lives. That story is expressed through the giving of your oral testimony as like the man at Gerasene who went from place to place proclaiming to everyone who would hear him about what Jesus had done. For others, it is testifying through how you live acts of service. Still yet, perhaps you can give generously of who you are and what you have. Stewardship is directly tied to the story, the testimony of hope that is in you, and your Spirit-inspired desire to delight in Jesus’ freedom for you, and your desire to have others delight in the Savior who frees us to live in freedom.
June 30th: Luke 9:51-62 – Traveling with God.
The Lord is on a mission and has always been on a mission, to which he invites the church in every generation and in every place to join in that mission. The Lord is on a mission to love and reconcile the world to God’s self. We see this so evident in today’s lection where Jesus’ heart, soul, and life are focused on God’s mission where it will culminate at Jerusalem and outside the walls of Jerusalem. This is where he will encounter his judges, where he will bear the cross, where outside the walls he will be scorned and crucified, and then where he will be entombed, and then rise again. He was determined on this mission that he wouldn’t allow the inhospitality of one village, nor the eager, mis-directed passion of two of his disciples, nor even the good intentions but ill-timed desires of another disciple to distract from his mission and goal. He spoke about “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” and about “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Jesus’ desire was to carry out the mission that was entrusted to him. His heart and life were so committed to giving it his all, and he welcomed and invited his disciples and those along the road, “Follow Me.” Jesus issues that call every day. His call upon us is for us to see the one life we have, and to live it purposefully, laser-focused for his purpose. It’s an invitation to look at what we have, what abilities we have, what privilege we have, what material blessings we have…all that we have, and all that we are. Jesus desires for every part of us to be on the journey with God. Let’s go for it. Because the One on the road is Jesus, and the whole company of community that he’s invited throughout the ages. Come!
The Rev. Dr. Neal D. Presa is Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Presbyterian Foundation. He is the Associate Pastor for Family, Connecting, and Communications Ministries and Coordinator of the Faith & Work Initiative at the Village Community Presbyterian Church in Rancho Santa Fe, CA. He holds concurrent appointments as Fellow for The Center for Pastor Theologians, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Worship at Fuller Theological Seminary. In 2012-14, Dr. Presa was the Moderator of the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He is the author and editor of six books and numerous essays and book reviews, most recently Ascension Theology and Habakkuk: A Reformed Ecclesiology in Filipino American Perspective (Palgrave MacMillan, 2018), and working on a seventh book on joy and the Christian life as a liturgical spirituality. He holds the PhD and MPhil in liturgical and ecumenical theology from Drew University, the ThM from Princeton Theological Seminary, the MDiv from San Francisco Theological Seminary, and the BA from the University of California, Davis. He is working on the MBA in Project Management with Missouri State University. Dr. Presa, his wife Grace, their two sons, Daniel and Andrew, and their puppy Calvin live in Carlsbad, CA. Connect with him on LinkedIn (/nealpresa), or Facebook and Twitter (@NealPresa)