Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lectionary Notes for Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 27, Ordinary 32, Year C)

Readings for 25th Sunday after Pentecost, 11/10/13:
Haggai 1:15b-2:9, Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17, Luke 20:27-38

Haggai 1:15b-2:9:
  • I just have to say: Zerubbabel. What a name! It means 'the seed of Babylon.'
  • "take courage . . . for I am with you." These are words of comfort from God. Take courage! God is with you, even when things look - terrible! There is hope. There is God.
  • This scene of devastation and God's promising and rebuilding - I found it very reminiscent of the flood narrative, Noah, and God's promise through the rainbow.

Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21:
  • This psalm illustrates the characteristics of God - God saves those who cry out, God is "unsearchable," etc. Of course, there is also an obligatory verse about God destroying enemies...
  • "one generation shall laud your works to another" - the passing down of the story of God. How have you learned your faith stories? Through Bible school? From your parents? How did you learn the things about your faith that are important for you today?

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17:
  • The author says, "hold on folks, it is not the end times yet." I wish somebody would make that announcement to some people today! I'm sure hardly anyone could fail to notice such things as the Left Behind series that are so popular today, or all of the Armageddon-esque movies that have been out in the past few years. Why are we so end-obsessed?
  • "Do you not remember that I told you these things while I was still with you? . . . So then . . . stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us." Sometimes, progressive/liberal Christians can react to tradition as if it is a dirty word! And indeed, with pain that calling on 'tradition' has caused, there's reason for caution. But sometimes, 'tradition' can help keep us steady and centered. We just have to be careful and discerning about what is central to us, what is important enough to hold on to.

Luke 20:27-38:
  • The Greek word for "like angels" is isaggeloi, and this is the only place this word occurs in the Bible or anywhere, much as I can figure from my brief research. I mention it because it struck me, this word, as odd coming from Jesus. Aggelos is a word best translated as messengers. The Bible often specifies "messengers of God" which is where our idea of angels develops, I think. But what does Jesus mean by saying this isaggeloi? I'm not sure!
  • The Sadducees, as Luke tells us, don't believe in a resurrection. So why ask Jesus such a question? They are trying to make him look dumb, and silly, by showing how impossible this "rising up" is. Instead, they look a bit silly, when Jesus points out that outside of the bounds and constructs of our world, the rules we've set up, like Levirate marriage, won't exactly apply anymore...
  • For me, the importance of this passage is not so much as a teaching about the afterlife: I think the afterlife is something hard to teach about, too strange for us to worry about. We can think about the afterlife in the afterlife, whatever God has planned for us! For me, the benefit is in showing the difference between the rules we have set up for ourselves that don't have meaning, and the thing that matter: we are children of God, not God of the dead, but God of the living, and to God, life is everywhere.

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