Monday, June 30, 2014

Lectionary Notes for Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 9, Ordinary 14)

Readings for Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, 7/6/14:
Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67, Psalm 45:10-17, Romans 7:15-25a, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67:
  • The Bible can't be said to have a lot of romance in it - Song of Songs, yes, but not much else. As far as romances go, I love the story of Rebekah and Isaac. Obviously, it is not a current-day model I'd want to use, but otherwise, it's a great love story, a match-making story. "He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her." Words of love, even, are not often exchanged in the Bible. 
Psalm 45:10-17:
  • This scene describes a royal wedding. As a piece of scripture, I don't find much inspiring, frankly, here. In this particular section, there isn't even a mention of God to inspire. What do you find here?
Romans 7:15-25a:
  • This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible, because, to me, it sums up our human condition. We do exactly the thing it is we are trying so hard not to do. I believe in human goodness - God declared us good at our creation. But I also believe in human sinfulness! Sin dwells with in us. Where is our hope?
  • Paul asks too, "who will rescue [us?] Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
  • What are the patterns of sin in which you find yourself caught? We all have things that weigh on us because we face the struggle that Paul describes. How do you deal with your struggle? How do you let grace work in and through your struggle with sin?
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30:
  • "damned if you do, damned if you don't" - that's Jesus' complaint here. Do we want a leader who refrains from worldly pleasures and is a loner like John the Baptist? Do we want a leader who is the life of the party, like Jesus? Both were criticized for their very opposite lifestyles. Why? Two possibilities, I think. Either 1) We get so distracted by the packaging that we won't hear the message. This reminds me of a quote Tony Campolo often uses: "I have three things I'd like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a shit. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said 'shit' than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night." Or 2)We focus on the packaging because we see the message and we don't want to deal with it. What do you think?
  • "come to me" - these are some of the most beautiful words of the gospel, I think. And notice - Jesus doesn't say that we will be burden-free, but that we will have rest and our burden (read: work, duty, mission, responsibility) will be light and easy because Christ is "gentle and humble in heart" and will help us. Sign me up! 
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