Monday, September 02, 2013

Lectionary Notes for Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 18, Ordinary 23, Year C)

Readings for 16th Sunday after Pentecost, 9/8/13:
Jeremiah 18:1-11, Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18, Philemon 1-21, Luke 14:25-33

Jeremiah 18:1-11:
  • Potter imagery - God as the potter, remolding us, remaking our clay pots. This imagery of being remade, the flaws worked out of us can be so powerful and moving. The problem is that this passage actually speaks of God being quite upset with us humans! God wants to "pluck up and break down and destroy" because we've messed up so bad! Can we handle that? Are we willing to be remolded to that degree?
  • What I do like about the image of potter and clay is that the same piece of clay is used - just remade. The clay is the same substance. We are not wiped out completely. Can we read this like we read being made new in Christ, casting of the old and putting on the new?
  • dislike that God seems so moody and temperamental here again, like a child throwing a tantrum - "one moment" wanting to destroy and "at another moment" building up.
  • "I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you." Eek! God shaping evil against us is not good. Jeremiah is warning with full force - get you act together, or you will have a lot to deal with!
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18:
  • Compare this with the Jeremiah 1:4-10 lectionary passage - the same themes and imagery are in both passages.
  • I would read the whole selection of vs. 1-18 in worship. The middle stuff is too good to leave out. 
  • Not only did God knit us together in our mother's womb, but this whole passage reads like we are in God's womb - hemmed in by God behind and before. Our life is in God's womb - that is a very peaceful and comforting thought.
  • How weighty to us are God's thoughts - great image - the heaviness of the deepness of God's creative mind. 
  • "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." This psalm affirms God and God's power, but also affirms our human worth and goodness - a rare scriptural combination. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. How well do you know that? How many in this society know that and are taught to know that?
Philemon 1-21
  • Poor little Philemon - such a short little book - better pay it some attention on the only Sunday in the cycle it makes it into the lectionary!
  • Philemon has been an interesting book in the past in discussions about slavery - does the Bible justify it or not, and is that even a relevant/accurate way to ask the question? I think Philemon brings up the importance of looking at context of scripture and what the text says given the context. Here Paul is trying to argue for a runaway slave to stay freed - doing a little persuasive writing to the master of Onesimus. In a society with servants and masters, Jesus made use of these dynamics in his own teachings to turn our understanding of these roles and our status desires upside down. What other contexts do the scriptures work within to transform our understandings anyway? Gender? Sexuality? Economics?
Luke 14:25-33:
  • This text is another from Luke that talks about the divisions that come with discipleship even into the closest relationships of family. Jesus is going straight to the point here, hitting us at our weakest points, our closest and dearest relationships (usually, at least!) What is your discipleship worth to you? What price are you willing to pay for the hard life of following Jesus? Count the cost!
  • "All your possessions" - The Greek word for possessions, huparcousin, is interesting in its variety of meanings. 'Possessions' is a very accurate translation, but for fun, it also means: to begin, to make a beginning, to be ready, to be in existence, to be taken for granted, etc.
  • Also, the Greek word translated as disciples, mathe^te^s, literally means a 'learner' or a 'pupil' - that's what Jesus wants us to be - students of his, learning from him as much as possible. What will we give to be his students?

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