Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lectionary Notes for Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

Readings for Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, 8/5/12:
2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a, Psalm 51:1-12, Ephesians 4:1-16, John 6:24-35

2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a:
  • Today is part two of the story of David's act of adultery/deceit/murder/etc.
  • I wonder how much room to disagree Bathsheba had in this whole affair. Could she refuse the king? Did she know of his plotting to kill her husband, or think it was a strange coincidence? Did she want to marry David? As usual, unfortunately in the scriptures, we hear less from the women than I at least would like.
  • "You are the man!" Nathan helps David to see, by showing him the sin in another. We are so much better at seeing the sins of others, aren't we? But as Jesus would later teach, we first have to check for planks in our own eyes...
  • :12 - David's 'private' sin is shown by God to be a public thing. Is individual sin only public for leaders, like David, or like Bill Clinton? Or is part of being in a community of faith realizing that all of our sin is in part a public act?
Psalm 51:1-12:
  • Ah, a favorite psalm. A confession. This psalm is one I'm mostly likely to use if I'm feeling the need to come before God in a confessional mode. Do you have a confessional prayer in church every week? We do not, and I think as Protestants, we sometimes get nervous about confession, even corporate. But even if we don't share sins with a priest, confession is a necessary part of our relationship - any healthy relationship, really.
  • Where I disagree with the psalmist, (thought to be David writing after the sin with Bathsheba) is in his claim: "against you, you alone, have I sinned." Rarely do our sins only affect God - that's the worst about them - our sin hurts others. David's sin, for instance, resulted in a man's death, and a child's death, according to scriptures.
  • This psalm usually shows up during the penitent Lenten season. Today it shows up in connection with the Old Testament lesson. How does reading this psalm in a different season change your understanding of it?
Ephesians 4:1-16:
  • "live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called" - Paul follows with a list of high standards for us to live by. When we respond to a call from God - to ministry, ordained or otherwise, to mission, to whatever, that call comes with responsibility too.
  • one, one, one. Notice a theme? Repetition. Paul wants us to get the message. ONE. In a church that is so divided over ritual, liturgy, theology, social issues, politics, etc., how do we live as the ONE body of Christ? 
  • gifts - one of many great passages on the unique and varied nature of God's gifts to us. Great Sunday to talk about gifts, encourage use of gifts, or discovery of gifts.
  • "no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine." We may feel like this is a concern today, but it is a concern as old as the church! We have such short attention spans, always following the next new fad, even in faith matters. Paul says that's simply immature.
John 6:24-35:
  • This text continues with week two of a month-long series of texts from John 6 that all talk about Jesus and bread and feeding and bread of life and living water, etc., etc. The imagery is rich and meaningful and can communicate a great deal. On the flip side, I remember preaching on these texts three years ago when I was just starting at my first appointment, and wondering if I would ever get to talk about something other than bread!
  • "but because you ate your fill of the loaves" - you can take Jesus' statement two ways. Ie - the people are coming just because they got a free meal, and are hoping for more. Or, in eating the bread, the people realized Jesus could fill them in deeper ways too. Perhaps a bit of both, but probably more of the former. Jesus hopes to teach them of the latter.
  • "This is the work of God, that you believe" The people were expecting something a bit more. They wanted signs. Jesus tells them essentially that they have all the signs they need - they are the signs this time. God in them is the sign.
  • Jesus deflecting from his person to his source - Jesus always turns credit away from him or other individuals to what he names as his source: His father.
  • "I am" - A theme in John, Jesus' "I am" statements. Here, Jesus is telling the people - I've already given you what you are asking for. Now, live like it!

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