Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lectionary Notes for Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 8A, Ordinary 13A)

Readings for 3rd Pentecost, 6/29/14:

Genesis 22:1-14, Psalm 13, Romans 6:12-23, Matthew 10:40-42

Genesis 22:1-14:
  • OK - I'll be up front: I hate this story. I hate a story that has God granting this precious child and then asks for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, as a "test" of Abraham's faith. I hate that God would test him in that way, and I know how I would respond: No way God! I'm not willing to agree that this is exactly how such a story literally unfolded. But that's beside the point. The point is: the story is here, so what will we do with it?
  • What's the hardest thing someone has asked you to do? What's the hardest thing God has asked you to do? How did you respond?
  • "The Lord will provide." This statement can be a statement of faith, or a statement that sometimes leaves unexamined the ways people do not have their needs provided for in this world. Use with care!
Psalm 13:
  • "How long, O Lord?" It is ok to cry out to God. God can handle it. Sometimes I think we're afraid to give to God all of our emotions and fears and states of being. What kind of strong relationship has such a strong element of fear in it? Cry out. God wants to hear.
  • The psalmist shows faith that God will respond, even in a time of great trial. Do you trust God will answer you? Confidence that you will hear God's voice?
Romans 6:12-23:
  • *We're in the midst of several weeks of lectionary texts from Romans. It's a really good idea to know the text as a whole - Paul is making complicated and interrelated arguments in here, and it is difficult to take his words in little chunks and not lose some of his momentum.
  • The 'peak' of this passage is verse 23: "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus." Paul is trying to make it clear what our smartest choice is: grace. It's a gift. And the alternative is not nearly so promising.
  • Paul is also working carefully to make sure that his readers understand that God's grace does not free us from the law or from obedience to the law - in fact, it binds us to it, just in a different way than before. Better obedience to law than sin. But our obedience is freeing, because the 'end' is salvation through grace, he argues.
Matthew 10:40-42
  • A few short verses with a lot of power. We spend a lot of time in churches worrying about how we welcome people, which is important. But the kind of "welcome" described here is something beyond shaking hands with visitors who happen by our churches, isn't it?
  • The Greek word used in this section for 'welcome' is dechomai, meaning "receive," "take," "accept," and the like.
  • Check out Chris Haslam's notes for a little more on this passage and how the "in the name of" piece works in Jewish understanding. 

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