Sunday, July 14, 2013

Lectionary Notes for Ninth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 11, Ordinary 16, Year C)

Readings for 9th Sunday after Pentecost, 7/21/13:
Amos 8:1-12, Psalm 52, Colossians 1:15-28, Luke 10:38-42

Amos 8:1-12:
  • Please read Chris Haslam's explanation of this passage for details that I, frankly, can't give you. But my own thoughts:
  • "a basket of summer fruit" - imagery rises of harvest, life, creation, end of season, gathering up
  • Note the death/destruction/wailing/bodies imagery in this passage
  • Amos describes those who follow the law up to and only to the letter. "When will Sabbath be over so we can get on with our lives?" they ask. Their concern is for self and self only. "selling the sweepings of wheat" - instead of leaving them for the poor. An early picture of capitalism at work?!
  • "Shall not the land tremble on this account?" Indeed - even the earth - the creation, revolts at our behavior. Trembles in agony!
  • Famine - not of bread and water, but of God's word! "They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it." How devastating. Sometimes we feel this way - void of the word of God. Is there a famine in our land?

Psalm 52:
  • This Psalm seems to be directed more at a type of person than at God, setting it apart a bit. It's like a psalm of curses and threats - I don't find it very uplifting! "My God will get you!"
  • "You love all words that devour." At least, here, is an interesting criticism of the enemy. You love words that devour. Vivid phrase. Words that eat us up. Do you love words that devour? I suspect sometimes we all do. 
  • "But I am like a green olive tree." I, with God in my life, am the very opposite of you, who has rejected God.

Colossians 1:15-28:
  • "invisible God." I think the question of whether we "see" God or not is an interesting one to grapple with in light of the way God figures into our scriptural accounts, particularly the unique ways God is always showing up in the Old Testament. How do we see or not see God? Food for thought.
  • Paul is basically working to show Christ as co-creator - the divinity of Christ.
  • "through [Christ] God was pleased to reconcile all things." This brings up for me, and many, issues of atonement and the necessity of Christ's death for our salvation. Couldn't God reconcile us without Christ's death? Is our reconciliation the purpose of Christ's death? That's an essay (or dissertation, or collection of books) unto itself. But the question made me think of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis. In the first book, a child-turned-traitor, Edmund, is threatened with death, the punishment for his treachery. The evil white witch demands a death as payment for wrong. Instead, Aslan, the Christ-figure of the series, lays down his life, and comes back to life again. But it is interesting that it is the evil witch who requires death as payment for sin here, not Aslan's never-seen father across the sea...

Luke 10:38-42:
  • I like reading this passage against today's text from Amos. There, the people, having rejected God, will seek the word, but not find it. Here, Martha and Mary are both seeking Christ's presence in different ways - but it is Mary who seems able to rest right in Christ's presence.
  • Poor Martha - is Martha always in the wrong, trapped forever as a caricature in our scriptures, like "doubting Thomas", and "Judas, who later betrayed him,"? I.e., we criticize people by saying, "(S)he's a real Martha."
  • Mary chose "the better" part. Not that Martha's part was so bad in itself. A time and a place for Martha's tasks to be done. But in the presence of the living Christ, what should we do?

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