Monday, October 14, 2013

Lectionary Notes for Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 24, Ordinary 29, Year C)

Readings for 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, 10/20/13:
Jeremiah 31:27-34, Psalm 119:97-104, 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5, Luke 18:1-8

Jeremiah 31:27-34:
  • "I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of humans and the seed of animals. And just as I have watched over them to pluck up . . . so I will watch over them to build and to plant . . ." This verse reminds me of one of my favorites, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Magician's Nephew (book 6 in the good old way of numbering) - In TMN, the children watch as Aslan, the Christ figure, has creatures and plants springing from the ground in the newly created Narnia, even as they had earlier watched a world dying, a world devastated and torn down by human (person-driven) evil. The contrast of life and death, hope and despair.
  • "In those days, they shall no longer say: 'The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge.'" I remember my Intro to Old Testament professor, (now-retired) Dr. Morgan Phillips, at Ohio Wesleyan, emphasizing the important of this verse again and again, as far as the significance in the perceived change in the nature of God. A God who does not punish to the third and fourth generation, but who is forgiving and rebuilding and creating hope and covenant. This passage is showing a God who is all about a new start.
  • "I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." Again, this is God wanting a real relationship with people, for God to be the one to whom the people belong. Imagine, if God's law is on our hearts, within us, perhaps we can learn better to live by its spirit and not by its letter.
Psalm 119:97-104:
  • "Oh, how I love your law!" How many times have you heard someone say this? Usually, we are complaining that God makes too many, too difficult demands of us.
  • This psalm could be a "teacher's pet" psalm, so in love with the law and God's word and learning and wisdom is this psalmist!
  • "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" These could be said about a lover's words - but here, of course, they mean God's words. But the intensity the psalmist feels is comparable.
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
  • Again, here, as in Jeremiah and the Psalm, wisdom, law, scripture, God's word - these are key themes, 'buzz' words, so to speak.
  • "All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." Perhaps one of the most misused verses in the Bible? When Timothy's mentor wrote these words to him, he of course was not referring to the Bible we read today. Personally, I can agree that scripture may be God-inspired - but that doesn't by necessity carry bound-up meanings of literalness or certain ways of translating and interpreting passages. 
  • "Sound doctrine" - what does the author mean by this? What makes a doctrine 'sound' or 'unsound'? 
  • "proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable." I do like this part of this passage. Are we persistent with God's message? Persistent with living the gospel? Are we always waiting for the favorable time? If we do that, won't we just be waiting forever?
Luke 18:1-8:
  • Speaking of persistence...
  • Justice - we can read this passage perhaps two ways - we, who need God's justice because we have been oppressed or down-trodden, or we, who need God's justice because we have been oppressing and treading on others. The closing verse of the passage perhaps suggests the latter reading, but the rest of the passage leans more toward the former.
  • "[God's] chosen ones" - What does Jesus mean here by 'chosen ones'? Is he talking about Israel? Or a broader idea of chosen? Are we chosen? 
  • The point? If even an unjust just can make just decisions because of being annoyed into action, God, who loves us, can certainly be trusted to act justly too.

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