Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lectionary Notes for Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 12, Ordinary 17)

Readings for 7th Sunday after Pentecost, 7/27/14:
Genesis 29:15-28, Psalm 105:1-11, 45b, Romans 8:26-39, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Genesis 29:15-28:
  • Leah's eyes are here described as "lovely" - I like this NRSV translation better than some earlier ones which call her eyes "weak" - I guess over time we've felt a little sorry for second-best Leah!
  • "Jacob loved Rachel." I'd love to do a study of the number of times the Bible says one person loves another - it is not as often as you'd think, which makes me always notice passages like this where it is so matter-of-factly stated.
  • a seven years engagement period seems speedy for Jacob because of his love for Rachel - we tend to like things a little faster in our society. What would you wait seven years for?
  • Typical man? I hate to be cynical and stereotypical, but honestly, how could Jacob not realize he was having sex with wrong woman! I guess all the wedding-night feasting before hand had impaired his faculties.
Psalm 105:1-11, 45b:
  • Verses 1-5 are right on target for me: Remember to praise God all the time, because God has done some pretty amazing things for you. It is amazing how easily we forget God's role in all that we claim as our own goodness.
  • "[God] is mindful of his covenant forever, of the word that [God] commanded, for a thousand generations." God initiates covenant with us. And God always holds up God's part of the covenant. We are less good at our part. A lot less good. The psalmist reminds us that God's covenant is always eternal, everlasting.
  • 45b makes a nice end, while skipping many verses: "praise God!"
Romans 8:26-39:
  • A great passage from Romans. "all things work together for good for those who love God." Do you believe that? In the midst of some terrible sufferings humans experience, God's goodness and God's goodness given for us are maybe hard to believe. But we are promised.
  • OK, but when Paul moves on to 'predestined' (vs. 30), my Methodist heart doesn't follow very far.
  • "If God is for us, who is against us?" Check out some other texts to get your mind spinning: Matt 12:30; Luke 11:23. Mark 9:38-41; Luke 9:49-50. What do you think? Not necessarily contradictory, but requiring us to use our brains and interpret meaning, examine context, etc.
  • NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING can separate us from God's love. Paul makes that pretty clear. We doubt God's love for us, and for others, as they doubt God's love for themselves and for us. But we need not!
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52:
  • This is a challenging bunch of little parables, all about God's kingdom (God's reign, God's rule).
  • What do you know about mustard seeds when they grow larger? According to Chris Haslam, we should watch for Jesus' words here, which we wouldn't think much of not being from Ancient Israel. Mustard seeds don't grow into trees! Jesus is exaggerating. The yeast into 3 measures of flour? An exaggeration - that much would feed 100 people! Jesus' point? God's kingdom is, in Haslam's words, quite "pervasive" - a little bit will spread through a long way and have huge impacts.
  • The other parables signify the value of the kingdom: priceless. The kingdom is very near, at hand. What would you give for it?
  • Jesus asks if the disciples understand. They say, "yes." I love that one word response. Do you think they really get it, or are just nodding agreement? A mystery...
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