Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lectionary Notes for Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 20, Ordinary 25, Year C)

Readings for 18th Sunday after Pentecost, 9/22/13:
Jeremiah 8:18-9:1, Psalm 79:1-9, 1 Timothy 2:1-7, Luke 16:1-13

Jeremiah 8:18-9:1:
  • Note the related words: grief, sick, cry, hurt, mourn, dismay - these words are related to physical illness, matching up with the "physician" and "health" imagery in verse 22. The parenthetical insertion in verse 19 reads like a Shakespearean aside from God!
  • Jeremiah speaking on behalf of the people? For whom would you mourn like this, other than yourself? How do you react to the separation of other from God?
  • We have answered Jeremiah's question - we don't sing, "Is there a balm in Gilead?" but "There is a balm in Gilead." Sometimes, we do have faith in God's faithfulness. 
Psalm 79:1-9:
  • Another psalm written in a very specific context, related to some very specific events. Still, I wish God didn't have to be portrayed as so - emotionally childish, throwing tantrums. I know I sound like a broken record on this, but so do the Psalms I'm commenting on sometimes!
  • Don't be mad at us, jealous, angry, God. Be mad at other people! Be mad at "nations that do not know you." A very ethno-centric cry that seems to fit in, sadly, in today's nationalistic culture.
  • Of course, how much sense is there in God's anger being directed at those who have no relationship with God? It makes more sense for God to be angry at those of us who know God and still reject God and act as though we have no relationship. 
1 Timothy 2:1-7:
  • Prayers for our leaders and those in high positions, so that we may lead "a quiet and peaceable life" What a timely thought!
  • Note - God "desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." That's everyone.
  • One God - ok. One mediator between us and God - Jesus? Here my interfaith sensibilities have me pause - and say that I don't want to declare that through Jesus is the only way we can access God. I don't, however, think that we need human mediators between us and God - we get direct access, which is something I cherish about my faith.
Luke 16:1-13:
  • Ok - Jesus challenges us with some hard teachings. But this parable isn't challenging because we're trying to get out of what Jesus wants us to do, but because it is simply hard to understand! Please do read Chris Haslam's exegesis which makes it oh-so-much-clearer, and is very helpful.
  • Can't serve two masters - not God and money, not God and anything else. What other things have mastery over your life besides God? Family? Time-consumers? Work? Possessions?
  • Faithful with what belongs to another. What do you have stewardship over? Of course, we have stewardship over all that God has given us (which is everything) like the earth, our gifts, our lives, etc. But in more concrete terms - does your job give you care over what is not yours? As a pastor, I can say yes. What about our congregants? Over what do they have care?
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