Monday, September 08, 2014

Lectionary Notes for Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 19, Ordinary 24)

Readings for 14th Sunday after Pentecost, 9/14/14:
Exodus 14:19-31, Exodus 15:1b-11, 20-21, Romans 14:1-12, Matthew 18:21-35

Exodus 14:19-31:
  • OK, I'll admit, I feel for all the Egyptians here who were just doing there job. At the camp I've attended growing up and as an adult, one of the favorite songs is "Pharaoh, Pharaoh," which includes the line "and all of Pharaoh's army did the dead-man float."  I just can't get into the spirit of it...
  • Also, I'm afraid this passage also now brings to mind images of Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty, parting his bowl of tomato soup.
  • Well, I guess what that says is that this "parting of the Red Sea" is perhaps the 'classic' example we think of when we're talking about God's power. God's ability to protect God's people in God's plan at all costs? Hm. Still can't warm up to it!
Exodus 15:1b-11, 20-21:
  • This passage takes the typical place of the Psalm in the lectionary, as here we get the brother-sister act of Moses and Miriam giving thanks for successfully escaping the Egyptians.
  • "at the blast of your nostrils" - ew. I don't mind some anthropomorphic descriptions of God, but God's nostril blast?
  • I understand Moses' and Miriam's relief at their safety. But I can't cheer with them at these delighted images of God killing their enemies.
  • "the prophet Miriam" - take note of strong if under-written women in the Bible. A woman. A prophet.
     
Romans 14:1-12:
  • "Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions." Great advice for churchy types, no? Sometimes I think we like arguing with each other in the church and in politics more than we care about what we are arguing about.
  • Before you get excited and think this is a passage about vegetarianism being for the weak (vegetarians rock), put it in context. Paul is talking about the then-current practice of Romans who would eat meat that had been sacrificed in worship of the gods. Some Christians took part in eating the meat afterwards, but others thought it was wrong to eat meat used in other religious rites.
  • Paul says somewhat "to each their own" but that whatever our own way is, our purpose, and our reasoning, ought still to be in giving praise to God. And Paul reminds us that we've got enough to worry about thinking about our own decisions without worrying about our neighbors' choices.
  • "Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's." Comforting words - no matter what happens, we belong to God. Check out hymn 356 in The United Methodist Hymnal to match this text.
Matthew 18:21-35:
  • This text is so important on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. 
  • How often must we forgive? How much do we hope God forgives us? Jesus urges us to see the questions in similar ways. Forgiveness is a great gift, and those who receive it hopefully show more gratitude than the slave in Jesus' parable.
  • Forgiveness is personal. When have you been forgiven? Have you received forgiveness without asking for it? When have you forgiven? When have you given it without being asked? When have you withheld forgiveness and why? How does it feel to give forgiveness? Receive it? Withhold it?
  • Do you think, as Jesus suggests, that God will not forgive us if we do not forgive others?
  • Like Peter, do you ever wonder "what's the least I can get away with doing?" He seems to want to know - how much do I have to love? Is this enough? Jesus' answer is predictable and always the same: "More." 
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