Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lectionary Notes for Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 16, Ordinary 21, Year C)

Readings for 14th Sunday after Pentecost, 8/25/13:

Jeremiah 1:4-10, Psalm 71:1-6, Hebrews 12:18-20, Luke 13:10-17

Jeremiah 1:4-10:
  • I still always think of a song-version of this text I sang at area all-state choir in 1995 or so in high school. Wish I could remember the composer, I'd pass it along as a great number for choirs!
  • Jeremiah says, "but I'm only a child." We can fill in the blank for our typical human response to God: "but I'm only a _______" What's your excuse?
  • Why, believing God to have the powers we typically attribute to God, do we still doubt when God calls us and has plans for us? If God is as great as we say God is, don't we believe God is smart enough to know which humans are equipped and suited for which of God's plans? Apparently not!
  • Note: God's words. Our mouths. Not our words, our mouths. God's words.
  • There is both pulling down/destroying and building and planting. We like to think about the latter - but what does God need to do in our lives in terms of pulling down? 
Psalm 71:1-6:
  • This psalm ties in with Jeremiah in referencing personhood and relationship with God even from the mother's womb.
  • This psalm is pretty straight forward. A plea to God who is refuge and rock in a time of need. For once, even the rest of the Psalm, verses 7-24, are not too over the top with calls for God to smite enemies and stop throwing temper tantrums.
  • Notice in these verses and those not included the psalmist's emphasis on the life-long faith possess. From womb, through youth, to old age, our psalmist has been faithful to God.
Hebrews 12:18-29:
  • Do we see God, or not? How do we see God? Do we see God face to face? This God of ours, says Hebrews, we cannot touch, but instead is "a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them." Pretty awesome description.
  • Perhaps God is always incarnate - word made flesh - for us. Or at least incarnate - word made fire, word made Spirit, word made dove, word made angel with whom to wrestle, word made whisper. Perhaps it is only by seeing God through Other that we see God at all?
  • Angels, heaven, judgment. I don't connect easily with this sort of imagery, personally. I don't like the 'supernatural' feel. Does it communicate to you? 
  • "For indeed our God is a consuming fire." What does it mean to be consumed by God? 
Luke 13:10-17:
  • Some interesting notes about the Greek here. (Please, if you are a actual Greek scholar, bear with me and forgive me - my skills are not perfect :)!) First, the word in the NRSV in serve 11 that is translated as 'crippled', astheneias, means more vaguely "diseased" than specifically "crippled." It is the description that follows that leads to a translation of her disease as 'crippled.'
  • Hypocrites is from the Greek hupokritai, which can mean dissembler, interpreter, actor, one who answers, or pretender.
  • A teaching about the Sabbath, but more about value. What has value? The ox? The woman? Following the law? Doing what is right? Once again, Jesus points out that the law has been followed to the point of missing the purpose. How are the synagogue leader's complaints protecting the least and the last?

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