Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lectionary Notes for Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 23, Ordinary 28)

Readings for 18th Sunday after Pentecost, 10/12/14:
Exodus 32:1-14, Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23, Philippians 4:1-9, Matthew 22:1-14

Exodus 32:1-14:
  • At first, the story of the golden calf strikes me as ridiculous - who would want to worship or take any such comfort in a cow made out of gold? What can a golden cow do for you?
  • But then I think of the idols we have today: money - certainly a gold cow might symbolize that?! Possessions, even people. We put many things before God. Anything we put before God is an idol. Anything.
  • Does God need to be persuaded? Without Moses 'imploring' God, would God fail to be merciful? I don't think so.
  • "And the Lord changed his mind." Everything I think theologically screams out at this notion of God just having a sort-of temper tantrum/mood swing until Moses "sweet talks" God. What do you think?
Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23:
  • "Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times." I like the wording - do righteousness, as opposed to are righteous. Righteousness, grammatically or not, is an action - a doing word, not a being word.
  • This psalm relates to the Exodus reading, and calls for repentance from sin. The psalmist actually recalls much of the story of God, Moses, and the Israelites, so make sure to read the whole Psalm.
  • Again, a sense here that God changed God's mind, being persuaded by Moses. 
Philippians 4:1-9:


  • Euodia and Syntyche - often overlooked examples of women in the Bible who are clearly in leadership roles. Paul comments that these women "have struggled beside [him] in the work of the gospel." This seems pretty clear on their position, co-workers with men in gospel work. Celebrate!
  • V. 5 – “Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.” The Greek might translate also as “reasonableness”, “fairness”, “goodness”. Gentleness is not necessarily a trait we value, is it? Particularly not in both genders. It’s ok for a woman, but we don’t often praise men for gentleness. How can we let our gentleness be known? What does that have to do with our faith? The command from Paul flows into the second phrase, ‘The Lord is near.’ How do they relate?
  • V. 7 – “And the peace of God which passes . . . “ – The ‘passes understanding’ is from the Greek ‘huperech├┤’, which means, “to be above” or “to hold over”, “to prevail.” God’s peace is above everything. That’s comforting.
  • Think on excellent things. I like that advice! Oh yeah, and do all the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in Paul. Sometimes, Paul's modesty kills me.

Matthew 22:1-14:
  • Usually the parables are challenging, but in a way I find compelling. I must admit, this parable is challenging in a more troubling way to me - we must dig deep for understanding! Check out Chris Haslam's always helpful notes for some more comments.
  • Notice the similarities and striking differences between this parable and the parable in Luke 14.
  • In Matthew, it is specifically a king inviting guests to a wedding. They won't come, and what's more, they kill the kings slaves - they are aggressive in their rejection of the king's invitation.
  • So, the king takes whoever he can get as guests - but, a guest who is not properly dressed is bound and ejected into the darkness, where there is weeping and teeth-gnashing. What a consequence!!
  • "Many are called, few are chosen." Is this a good summary? Does God call many of us, only to reject many of us? Is this the gospel writer's take on the parable, instead of Jesus'?
  • How do you respond to invitations you receive? Do you always RSVP? Do you show up unprepared? What can we learn about how we are to respond to God's invitations?
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