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Archive for the ‘Lectionary’ Category

“Finitude includes doubt. The true is the whole (Hegel). But no finite being has the whole; therefore, it is an expression of the acceptance of his finitude that he accepts the fact that doubt belongs to his essential being.” (Tillich, ST 1, p. 10).

A text from the Epistle of Peter opened the service in the Middle Ages on the eight day after Easter. The day is therefore known by opening words of the Latin translation of the text: Quasi modo geniti infantes. Although the introitus would normally be chosen from the Psalms of the Old Testament, during Eastertide the text often came from the New Testament, like today:

“Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

Coming out of baptism at the Easter Vigil, the words would definitely make sense. That night the newly baptised Christian would partake in the Holy Eucharist for the first time, and they would certainly taste that the Lord is good (Ps. 34).Mortensrud kirke

The day is also known as the day of the apostle Thomas (aram. twin), because he on the 8th day, according to the Gospel of John, met the risen Lord and believed. While Judas did not believe, Thomas, despite his doubts, came to believe that the Lord was risen and once again among his apostles. Paul Tillich has tried to stress the fact that somehow faith always includes doubt in some form or other. Doubt may be described as the twin of faith. Thomas is according to John 20:24 also called Dydimus (i.e. “Twin, called the twin”). What kind of doubt is it that Thomas displays? How can he be a help to the newborn Christian, barely come out of the baptism a week before? Thomas displays a curious and healthy scepticism that is required by all people of faith. It is a scepticism that is founded in trust as a basic phenomenon on one hand (the Lord is good!) and on the other hand the struggle to grow intellectually, spiritually and humanly. That is why the exhortation of Paul the apostle on leaving the childishness behind does not necessarily contradicts the word of Jesus Christ on becoming children.

To put it differently, Thomas’ doubt is not total doubt (Tillich, The Courage to Be, p. 48), which Tillich describes as existential despair. That is the way of Judas, not Thomas.

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Today it’s Bible study day. We are together in a group, from our church, that meets every week to talk about relevant topics. This fall we are going through the lectionary, so that we are prepared for the Sunday sermon.

He said to them, ‘Come and see.’” (John 1:35-51)

The text is quite long, it’s actually two scenes. Scene one is about the first disciples, those who followed (gr. akolouthein) John the Baptist and found the Messiah (which is a bit premeditated). Scene two is about Jesus calling two more disciples and how they see him as the Son of God. Jesus, proclaiming to be the Son of Man, hints to his glorification.

This text is somewhat different than the calling of disicples in the synoptic gospels. In the synoptic gospels the calling is somewhat succinct (e.g. Mk 1:16ff), while her it’s more eleborate. In Mark they are called, they leave and the follow. In John they listen, see, hear, proclaim, understand. In a way there is a double movement in the two episode.

The first episode the disciples are lead to Jesus through the proclamation of John the Baptist. He proclaims Jesus to be the blaimless lamb of God (what an odd comparison). The disciples thinking they are seeking a more enlightened teacher, falls short of the full understanding of the lamb. Therefore they are invited to come and see, primarily to understand. No rush to get on here, like in Mark. Profound words, that we also are invited to through the signs and wonders Jesus performs throughout the Gospel of John. But in the end the disciples believe they are the ones who have found Jesus, but is that the way it really is?

In the second episode the calling takes place when Jesus says, just like in Mark, “Follow me”. Again the disciples thinks they are the ones that have found Jesus (but improving since they are quoting Jesus: “Come and see”), but this is revealed not to be the case. It is not a miracle (or sign) when Jesus sees Nathanael before meeting him. Jesus found him first, and although some might call this “Jesus’ wonderful knowing” (Hahn) it basically is how things work in the Kingdom of Heaven. Signs and wonders are yet to come, the ladder of God with all the angles worshipping him in his glory (cf. Heb 1:6). The potential of the disciples to understand better the lamb of God is immense, and although they see him as the rabbi, Son of God and King of Israel, they need to see understand through “greater things than these”.

Although our movement towards God always fall short of Gods movement toward us (God is always first), something we see both in the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John, the way we come and see the Lamb of God may vary. In Mark and the other synoptics we meet more the learning by doing way of getting to know God in Jesus. In the Gospel of John there is room for contemplation and the signs point to a deeper understanding of God and what he is doing. For Mark the true discipleship shows itself in the pudding you might say, but in John true discipleship lies in the true understanding of Jesus.

Rufus Wainwright: Agnus Dei
“Lamb of God, You who takes away the sins of the world,
give us peace, give us peace.”

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