Monday, February 13, 2012

Lectionary Notes for Seventh Sunday after Epiphany, Year B

Readings for 7th Sunday after the Epiphany, 2/19/12:
Isaiah 43:18-25, Psalm 41, 2 Corinthians 1:18-22, Mark 2:1-12

Isaiah 43:18-25:

  • "I am about to do a new thing . . . do you not perceive it?" The church and its people sometimes have a hard time doing new things. We like, generally, to do the same things in the same way. But our God is always doing new things in our lives - don't you know? God says, "get with the program!"
  • "the wild animals will honor me" - Great imagery. If humans are too busy to honor the God who chooses them, wild animals will do what we're supposed to be doing.
  • "you have . . . not satisfied me with . . . your sacrifices. But you have burdened me with your sins." Don't we often do this? Try to appease God with bargains, instead of giving what God really wants: our repentant hearts?
  • "I am [the One] who blots our your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins." Beautiful. Why does God forgive? For God's sake! God doesn't desire to punish us, but to love us. This is a great God-as-parent image - wanting, always, to love and heal relationship with wayward children.

  • Psalm 
  • "happy are those who consider the poor" This is one of few Psalms I can think of that has a care-for-others theme to it. What are other Psalms like this one?
  • "all who hate me whisper together about me; they imagine the worst for me" The psalmist sounds like a picked-on child. We've probably all been in this place - feeling totally alone and ostracized. It is a lonely place to be.
  • "even my bosom friend . . . lifted the heel against me." Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? What pain! The words bring to mind Jesus and Judas and the pain Jesus must have felt to know that one of his companions would be the one to turn him over to authorities, no matter how necessary or expected such an action was.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:18-22:
  • "yes and no" - Compare this passage with Matthew 5:33-37. We tend to want things both ways - yes, and no. Paul calls on us to be clear. God is always Yes - always faithful. We can trust that. Can we be always Yes as well?
  • "his seal on us" An image of a seal - stamped with authority/approval. Or think of a seal that would close a letter - the seal was the symbol of authenticity - you would know by the seal that the letter was truly from a  certain person.
  • "his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment" Nice - the idea is that there is so much more to come, much more that Christ offers, when we're ready to accept.

  • Mark 2:1-12
  • I would call this a "Sunday School passage" - a story that I distinctly remember hearing as a child, so vividly, picturing a man lowered through a roof!
  • "so many gathered around" - The huge number of crowds pressing in on Jesus constantly is a theme in Mark. Everywhere Jesus goes, people are wanting to see him, needing to be with him. What a pressure for Jesus! But we see how much people were eager for him, to soak him up.
  • "Which is easier" - Jesus will work with the complaining scribes - if they'd rather see miracles than authority - fine - but Jesus reminds them that he does have authority, even if they don't like it.
  • "We have never seen anything like this" - Another theme in Mark - Jesus' ministry is unique - unlike anything people have seen. Jesus is doing a new thing in a new way, and it doesn't go unnoticed.
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