Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lectionary Notes for Third Sunday in Lent, Year A

Readings for Third Sunday in Lent, 3/23/14:
Exodus 17:1-7, Psalm 95, Romans 5:1-11, John 4:5-42

Exodus 17:1-7
  • "wilderness of Sin" - great image.
  • Human nature is so perfectly exhibited by the Israelites, isn't it? We tend to find things to gripe about no matter what is going on in our lives. "They are almost ready to stone me," Moses admits. Perhaps pastors sometimes feel that way when trying to lead congregations out of the wilderness and into the vision which God has laid before the people. How can we get over our griping, count our blessings, and forge ahead?
  • The name, Massah and Meribah, is summed up as indicating the question of the people, "Is the Lord among us or not?" Hopefully, that should be a rhetorical question: the answer is yes. And if God is among the people, then the people should respond, live, with faith.
Psalm 95:
  • This is a good call-to-worship psalm - that's what it is, in part.
  • Note the switch in voice between verse 7 and 8: first the psalmist is speaking, then God is speaking first person.
  • The second part refers to the people wandering in the desert after the exodus from Egypt. God is depicted as moody, temperamental. I like the first half better!
Romans 5:1-11:
  • "Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God." That's in interesting if --> then statement. Both parts on their own are not necessarily surprising, but that the first causes the second is an interesting play on words. What does it mean to have peace with God? Trusting that it is our faith, not our faulty, failing works, that brings us to God, and more than that, God's grace, then we can rest in peace (not just the RIP kind!) with God.
  • Suffering --> produces endurance --> produces character --> produces hope. "and hope does not disappoint us." I like Paul's logic here. It's sort of like those puzzles where you have to make the first word into the last word by changing one letter at a time like this: PAIL - MAIL - MALL - MILL - MILK
  • "and hope does not disappoint us." What do you think about that? Has your hope ever disappointed you? If you're like me, you can probably think of times that you would say, 'yes' to this question, so what does Paul mean here? Has your hope in God ever disappointed you?
  • "right time" - again, kairos, as I mention in my Ash Wednesday notes: God's right time for action, not just any regular time.
  • "God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us." - straight from Paul to our Holy Communion liturgy.  
John 4:5-42:
  • A lengthy reading, Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. This is a daring conversation for the woman: Jesus is a Jew, and a man. She converses with him at length, even though both of them cross social customs to do so.
  • Even though Jesus offers living water, he asks the woman first for a drink from the well. He asks her to give him something, even as he offers the immeasurably valuable to her. Give and take. I think God seeks that kind of relationship from us. Wants us to give, even though God can give to us so much more.
  • "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." Nice. Despite the divisions of Samaritans and Jews, or Catholics and Protestants, or Christians and Muslims, etc. Spirit and Truth.
  • "I am he." Another declaration of identity - common to John while rare in the other gospels.
  • "the fields are ripe for harvesting." I love the garden/vineyard/harvesting imagery that Jesus uses, even though I don't always understand it completely. How it must have sounded to his contemporaries who lived in such a society!
  • "for we have heard for ourselves" ah, another sign of human nature. We don't like to believe from another person's information. We always want to hear it first-hand, from a credible source. That's just sensible, right? It is hard to let go of those rules in order to come to belief through faith. Hard to figure out when it's right and when it's foolish... 
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