Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lectionary Notes for Tenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 12, Ordinary 17, Year C)

Readings for 10th Sunday after Pentecost, 7/28/13:
Hosea 1:2-10, Psalm 85, Colossians 2:6-15, (16-20), Luke 11:1-13

Hosea 1:2-10:
  • God tells Hosea to take a whore for a wife, to symbolize that Israel has become like a whore, forsaking God. Its very difficult for me to not get caught up in the extremely offensive/patriarchal nature of this whole text, in order to hear the message behind. A wife - a woman - a piece of property - one forced to sell her body - the lowest of lows to Hosea's audience. This is what Israel becomes without God. A breaker of covenants, as a woman would break a marriage covenant with a man.
  • God says: there will be no more pity, no forgiveness, no saving. None of that. You won't be my people, and I am not your God. This is huge - Israel's relationship with God is based on Israel being God's - God's people.
  • Yet. The importance of that word! In verse 10, we read, "Yet . . . in the place where it was said to them, 'you are not my people,' it shall be said to them, 'Children of the living God.'" God still is compelled to keep God's part of the covenant. Unable to break the bonds with us, even when we break our covenant in the most painful ways, by our unfaithfulness. God is always faithful.

Psalm 85:
  • Another psalm that won't make it on my favorite list! :( This psalm saddens me more than angers me, like those do that call on God to smite enemies. This one saddens me because of the view of God the psalmist has, a view that many seem to have still.
  • The psalm goes like this: God, you've been angry before. But we've seen you forgive and forget. You're so angry again now, we can't stand it! Can't you forgive us one more time, please, please, please? The psalmist is almost pleading. God is depicted as moody and bad-tempered, needing to be persuaded to forgive, calmed down with compliments. Yuck!
  • Some good imagery to end with at least in v. 10: Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other." Great images. Love and faithfulness bound together. More intriguingly, to me, righteousness and peace bound together. If only!

Colossians 2:6-15, (16-19):
  • "See that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit" - hmm. I think Paul is equating philosophy with empty deceit here! I had to double check the words in Greek just to make sure that was literally what he said - and it was. What does he mean by philosophy? He expands a bit to say that he shuns that which is human-centered in thought over what is Christ-centered. That makes sense. But if philosophy is the love of wisdom, hopefully Paul had some place for that. 
  • "These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ." This reminds me of The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 7:The Last Battle - When Lucy and company finally make it to 'heaven', they realize that they find everything they knew there - Narnia, London - all these worlds - only the real thing this time, not the 'shadow' imitations that they used to think were the real things.
  • "worship of angels." I don't get people's fascination with angels. The more a pop-culture craze they become, the less interested in angels I am, and the less likely I am to every refer to 'angels' instead of 'messengers of God' in my preaching. Here's a little supportive warning from Paul! :)

Luke 11:1-13:
  • Fun with Greek: Where the NRSV reads "daily bread", the Greek word is epousion, which means literally, "sufficient for the day." Give us bread that is enough for our needs. Not excessive demands. Not more than we can eat for just the day. Not more than our share. Sufficient.
  • Where the NRSV reads "persistence", the Greek word is anaideia, which means literally, "shamelessness" or "effrontery" or "impudence." I can't find a way to make it mean "persistence" except by trying to 'nicen up' what Jesus was saying!
  • Where the NRSV reads "evil", the Greek is pone^roi, or wicked, but one translation my lexicon gave that made me laugh: 'good-for-nothings'! I think that hits on the heart of the text :)
  • The Lord's Prayer - I have such an internal dilemma with saying a prayer by rote that is so mindless to recite that we barely bother to think of it. Is it still meaningful? But, when I visited a 102 year old congregant and nursing-home resident who was not doing well, when I prayed with her, though she had said virtually nothing else during my visit, she faithfully recited that prayer with me, tears in her eyes. Hm.
  • Similarly, I'm now serving a united congregation - United Methodist and Presbyterian USA. I've grown up saying "trespasses" and this congregation says "debts/debtors" - I've gotten to kind of enjoy this, because the difference from what I've grown up with makes me pay more attention to what I'm saying each week! 
  • Jesus' message: Knock, ask, seek, be shameless, do anything - but whatever you do, go to God with what you need. What would it be like if we were simply shameless with God in our prayers? 
  • How do we reconcile this passage with our experiences of asking, searching, knocking, and not feeling like God has answered? That's a question you have to consider to preach this text. There's lots of ways, good and not-so-good, to answer. What's yours? 

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