Monday, August 23, 2010

Lectionary Notes for Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 17, Ordinary 22, Year C)

Readings for 14th Sunday after Pentecost, 8/29/10:
Jeremiah 2:4-13, Psalm 81:1, 10-16, Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16, Luke 14:1, 7-14

Jeremiah 2:4-13:
  • In this passage, it reads as though God is quite simply baffled at the response of God's people? Why do they react by rejecting God after all God has done for them?
  • "My people have changed their glory for something that does not profit." I like this "changed their glory" phrase. Our society is filled with things that might fall into this category, things we have chosen over the glory that comes from God.
  • Two evils are outlined: 1) The people have forsaken God, who is the fountain of living water. 2) They have tried to make do themselves, and tried to make their own cisterns, which are unable anyway to hold water, the source of which they have already rejected. These people are in trouble all around!
  • "Cracked cisterns that can hold no water." I like this imagery, especially read along with other 'vessel'-like/container imagery in scriptures, like the "earthen vessels" of the New Testament, and God as Potter imagery in the Old Testament.
Psalm 81:1, 10-16:
  • This reminds me of a parent chiding a temper-tantrum throwing child by saying, "the one you hurt most by acting this way is yourself." Not only do we hurt God by our behavior, we also hurt ourselves by our choices!
  • Note the food=satisfaction imagery in this psalm. "honey from the rock," "finest of the wheat," and my favorite, "open your mouth wide and I will fill it." It is God who satisfies, and God alone.
Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
  • A sort-of closing arguments last list of things to remember to try to do, which manages to cover some basics: love one another. Practice hospitality. Watch out for the love of money.
  • "some have entertained angels without knowing it." While I'm not fond of the angel-loving that seems popular today, this idea of unknowingly entertaining angels is appealing and a good way to keep us on our toes. But I prefer the Matthew 25:31-46 idea of entertaining Christ unknowingly instead...
  • "Be content with what you have." Simple. And yet, if we could just follow these words, we'd be doing so well! Be content with what you have. Are you, truly? 
  • "Christ is the same..." Yes. And not yes, right? Always constant, but always the same? Unchanging? Rather, unfaltering, unwavering, but dynamic and living, therefore changing?
Luke 14:1, 7-14:
  • Etiquette lessons from Jesus - that's one way to read this passage. Where to sit, who to invite, how to be a good guest and a good host. Obviously some deeper layers here, but to the "closely observing" Pharisees, they can't really get all in a bind over Jesus talking about where to sit at meals. But still...
  • ...Jesus manages even in these basics to turn everything upside down by going against the traditions and customs even of simple things like meals and guests. I think his teachings here are shrewd and sneaky. Here Jesus is really talking about first and last, servant and served, earthly priorities and godly priorities. But you'll have to work to keep up with him enough to get him into trouble!
  • Repayment - everything has to balance out, be made equal. But it can be done on many scales and levels. How do you want most to be repaid for your actions?
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