Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Lectionary Notes for Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A

Readings for 5th Sunday in Lent, 4/6/14:
Psalm 130, Ezekiel 37:1-14, Romans 8:6-11, John 11:1-45

Ezekiel 37:1-14:
  • The Valley of the Bones. This passage is so rich with possible meanings for us. "Mortal, can these bones live?" Even what seems beyond life can be made alive by God's holy breath. We are reminded again that, as Ezekiel says, it is God, not us, who knows the extent of the grace that God can extend to us.
  • "our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost." Do you ever feel like this? Dried up? Without hope? How has God acted to breath new life into you?
Psalm 130:
  • A favorite Psalm. My favorite musical setting of this Psalm is the John Rutter Requiem, which I think gives a real sense of the Psalm - performed occasionally by my childhood-church.
  • Out of the depths - what are the depths from which you call to God? Do you remember to call to God from your lowest low?
  • This psalm shows a great faith and hope in God's grace and forgiving mercy, unlike some psalms that are more bent on vengeance: "If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord , who could stand?" It is a nice change.
  • wait, wait, wait the psalmist says. I've read statistics before about how many years of our life we spending waiting in line for things. How much of your life do you spend waiting on God? Are you more patient about waiting in line for concert tickets than you are about waiting for God? 
Romans 8:6-11:
  • typical Paul - flesh/body spirit/soul dualism. I wish Paul had explained what he meant in a different way, or that he meant a different thing, even. It is too easy to say that everything earthly should be rejected in favor of the spirit world. The thing is, we've got a lot to do still in this earthly world - a lot of good stuff to enjoy and a lot of not-so-good stuff to which to turn our attention.
  • Compare this passage to the Ezekiel passage - God giving life through spirit to mortal bodies.
John 11:1-45:
  • "Lazarus, come out." Out of what caves do you need to be called?
  • Notice that Jesus speaks of himself as the resurrection, before he is crucified and raised in the scriptural accounts. Rather than predicting a future event in his life, I believe that he is speaking to the fact that he is currently at that time the resurrection. He is already raising people out of death, to new life. He is already transforming people, so that their lives become like nothing they could recognize before. That is resurrection, isn't it?
  • "Jesus wept." The shortest verse in the Bible, and one of the most powerful - "see how he loved him," responded the crowds.
  • "I believe . . . that you are the one coming into the world." This is one of my favorite verses in this passage - it is an active word, a continuing, not a one time event. Jesus doesn't just come into the world - he is coming into it, continually. Always entering into our lives.
  • God, if you'd intervened, this bad thing wouldn't have happened to me! How many times to we offer this type of complaint up to God, blaming God for what goes wrong in our lives? 
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