Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lectionary Notes for Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B (Ordinary 2)

Readings for 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, 1/18/15:
1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20), Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, John 1:43-51

1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20):
  • This is a great story of call, and along with today's texts from Psalms and John, makes a great day for preaching about knowing who we are and what we're meant to be doing. Combine that with the fact that this is Human Relations Day, celebrating, among other things, Martin Luther King Jr., in the UMC, and you've got the makings for a great day to inspire people to respond to God's call.
  • Samuel is confused about who is calling him. He keeps thinking Eli is calling him. But his confusion doesn't keep Samuel from being willing, again and again, to respond to the call. How have you been called? Have you shared your call story with your congregation?
  • Eli plays such an important role in this text, helping Samuel understand what is happening to him. It is an essential role in ministry to have people who are willing to support, endorse, and guide people who are trying to discern a call from God.
  • "the Lord . . . let none of his words fall to the ground." What a neat phrase - God keeping your words from being useless. All pastors should pray for such a gift!
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18:
  • Not only did God knit us together in our mother's womb, but this whole passage reads like we are in God's womb - hemmed in by God behind and before. Our life is in God's womb - that is a very peaceful and comforting thought.
  • It is both comforting to know that we can't go where God is not, but it is also a challenge, in a way. We're reminded that God, in a sense, chases us. We are "hem[med] in" behind and before. God is strategically cornering us. An aggressive God, who insists, perhaps, on having a relationship with us.
  • How weighty to us are God's thoughts! Indeed!
  • "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." This psalm affirms God and God's power, but also affirms our human worth and goodness - a rare scriptural combination. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. How well do you know that? How many in this society know that and are taught to know that?
1 Corinthians 6:12-20:
  • This is a great passage. Paul argues that though something may be technically ok, lawful for one to do, it is still not necessarily beneficial. We worry a lot about rules and whether what we are doing is right or wrong, but sometimes we're worried only about "what we can get away with" instead of what is God's best hope for us.
  • "your body is a temple" Here, in a rare moment, is some of Paul's best non-dualistic thinking. Our body is meant for God, and we're meant to glorify God in our body. How do you go about doing that? I love watching dancers, because they are such a beautiful example of body as temple. But as a society, we're really bad, dangerously bad at glorifying God with our body.
John 1:43-51:
  • This is the second time in this chapter that Jesus tells someone to "Come and See" - he has just told this to Andrew, when John the Baptist 'introduced' him to Jesus, and Andrew asked Jesus where he was staying.  Now, he tells this to Nathanael, when Nathanael asks Jesus a scriptural, "can anything good come out of Nazareth?" It is almost like Jesus gives him a dare, a challenge. "Want to know the answer? I dare you to come and see for yourself."
  • "Do you believe because of [this]?" I get the feeling Jesus doesn't want Nathanael to believe in him because of 'magic tricks' but because of something deeper. Jesus promises Nathanael that that something deeper will come. Why do you believe in Jesus?
  • "Follow me." Jesus doesn't give many details for them to base a decision on, does he? What is the most daring thing you've ever done? Who have you trusted based on such little information?
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