Monday, September 30, 2013

Lectionary Notes for Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 22, Ordinary 27, Year C)

Readings for 20th Sunday after Pentecost, 10/6/13:
Lamentations 1:1-6, Psalm 137, 2 Timothy 1:1-14, Luke 17:5-10

Lamentations 1:1-6:
  • Lamentations are written in a time of exile, chaos, unrest, confusion, etc., for the people of Judah and Jerusalem and communities in that region, as Babylon takes over and takes people away from their homes. These laments are written in this context.
  • The imagery is sad and bittersweet. "How lonely sits the city that once was full of people!" A ghost-town. Have you ever lived an a community that has been through some horrible devastation? Think of some towns in Mississippi and Louisiana post-Katrina, or even towns that have had major industries shut down. My childhood town of Westernville, NY could match this description in some ways, just out of decline over the years, rather than any event, but it is still sad to drive through town and see the empty streets and crumbling houses. 
  • The city is feminine, of course, a princess that is now a pauper - alone and abandoned.
  • Note, the Psalm for today also deals with exile. Exile - being away from home, themes for the day.
Psalm 137:
  • This psalm, written in past tense, recalls the time of exile in Babylon. Remembering a hard time that has been endured.
  • I love this particular psalm - the text provides lyrics for one of my favorite songs from the musical Godspell, "On the Willows."
  • "How could we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?" The loss of identity in being separated from the land that is considered holy, God's land. 
  • "Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!" Ah, words we try to pretend are not in the Bible. Have you ever read The Last of the Mohicans? In the book - not the movie - is a scene where one group of attackers actually does this to a woman's baby. Even in fiction, it is not a pretty picture.
2 Timothy 1:1-14:
  • I love the relationship between pseudo-Paul and Timothy that pervades this epistle and this passage. I really sense the feeling of mentor-mentee relationship, and the genuine love and caring felt by the elder toward the younger.
  • Even these works that are generally agreed to be pseudonymous capture Paul's tendency to be overly (ingenuinely) modest?: "and for this reason I suffer as I do"...
  • Yay for Lois and Eunice, women of faith, faith that is passed to Timothy, faith of women that is valued as strong and important!
  • "rekindle the gift of God that is within you" - I like this imagery. Does pseudo-Paul reference a crisis time in Timothy's faith? A time when his faith was burnt out?
Luke 17:5-10:
  • "Increase our faith!" Jesus' response: It doesn't take much faith to do amazing things. You've got faith. What you don't have is the desire, apparently, to use it. Use what you have before you worry about getting more!!!
  • I find it difficult, even contextually, to deal with slavery in the Bible, in parables, from Jesus' lips. I know he is working within a system, a society. But I don't want us to gloss over the reality of what's here. We're talking about humans owned by other humans. Don't forget that just because we're using slavery for a religious lesson.
  • Slaves aren't praised for doing what is expected of them, and neither should we be praised for doing what God expects of us. Hard words for those of us (that is, most of us) who don't like to do things without recognition. Jesus tells us - just do what we're supposed to do. It's our responsibility. That's it.
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