Readings for 9th Sunday after Pentecost, 8/10/14:
Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28, Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b, Romans 10:5-15, Matthew 14:22-33
Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28:
- I have to say, I'm not surprised the brothers resented Joseph. Jacob clearly had favorites, even as he was his mother's favorite. Even in my own family, we tease and joke about all of us being my mother's favorite. But here the favoritism is real - how would you act knowing that your parent loved your sibling more than you?
- "here comes this dreamer" - what a nickname, eh? They mean it as criticism, but it is actually what makes and saves and guides Joseph, isn't it? What if we had and embraced more dreamers in our church?
- We get just bits of Joseph's whole story in the next two weeks, but it is a great story. If you've seen the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, you've seen how fun it can be brought to life. Can you bring it to life somehow for your congregation?
- Part of this selection is the same as from two weeks ago. I can never figure out what qualifies the repetition of one psalm over another in the RCL. Oh well...
- 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.
- Verses 16-22 tie back to the Old Testament lesson about Joseph. OK, I guess having this part today makes sense ;)!
- 45b makes a nice end, while skipping many verses: "praise God!"
- "...confess with your lips", "believe in your heart" "you will be saved." This is an interesting passage, certainly one that supports the doctrine of sola fide, the idea that we are saved by faith alone (without works required.) It makes it sounds so simplistic - all we need to do to be 'saved' (read in Greek as: safety/health/safe) is say that Jesus is Lord. Simple, right? "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Is there depth in that faith? Indeed, this belief seems to be frequently uttered in more conservative denominations/non-denominational churches - a great emphasis on declaring Jesus as Lord and Savior. I'm not sure Paul is trying to give us anything so simplistic here...
- ...because the rest of Paul's writings lead me to believe that Paul would not have advocated some 'magic words' we can say that bring us God's salvation. Paul knew better than that, and if that's all we hear in this passage, we've missed some important verses at the end. "For there is NO DISTINCTION BETWEEN JEW AND GREEK; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him." Paul is insisting here that believers don't need to be part of the Jewish faith or complete Jewish rituals to be part of the plan of salvation - they just need to connect with Christ, find belief in Christ. This passage speaks of the open and inclusive nature of salvation. Indeed, GOOD NEWS!
- I love the closing of this passage - "how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?" Good news to share? Share it!
- Peter is the only one who risks walking on water, and yet he is the one Jesus declares has "little faith." Is that fair? It reminds me of the parable of the talents - the one who has the most is given the most. Perhaps in this case, the one who can give the most has the most demanded of them? Or perhaps Peter, who has been so close to Jesus, should have been most able to have faith. What do you think?
- Being on a boat in a storm is scary enough today, with all our safety measures. I can't imagine it was much fun in Jesus' day. But read the passage carefully - what is it that the disciples react to in fear? Is it the weather?
- Why do you think the disciples didn't recognize Jesus? Sure, he was walking on water. Hadn't he done other unbelievable things before? How does God show up in your life in unbelievable ways?
- This experience, combined with the miraculous feeding from last week's text, creates a moment of theophany for the disciples.