Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lectionary Notes for Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

Readings for Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, 9/2/12: 

Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9, James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Song of Solomon 2:8-13
  • Song of Solomon only makes it into the lectionary cycle twice, and it is this passage both times. I guess we're not  comfortable with reading scriptures in church that are full of praise for the physical features of one's lover!
  • Still, this passage is beautiful. In college, we sang and arrangement of the text called Rose of Sharon, and it is still one of my favorite pieces. 
  • This passage is a rare example of scripture written from the point of view of a woman, even if the author was not actually a woman. This part of the text is written in the first person, female.
  • With sex portrayed any and every where, texts like this are rare and romantic and loving. Perhaps we should set an example for loving relationships by reading from Song of Solomon more often?
Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9:
  • Chris Haslam says that this psalm is written by "a court scribe, a skilled writer (“a ready scribe”) [who] feels inspired to write an ode for a royal wedding."
  • The psalmist compares God's kingly qualities with the King of the land's qualities. Who's qualities remind you of God's nature?
  • Who would you write a psalm/ode to, and why?
James 1:17-27:
  • :17 - Well said - not only are gifts from God, but also "every generous act of giving." Giving, receiving, gifts - all from God.
  • "welcome with meekness the implanted word" - meekness is not often considered a virtue or asset these days. How do you receive God's word meekly?
  • "be doers of the word, and not merely hearers" - this is James' theme throughout. Don't just hear, do. Don't just use words, act. Not just right belief, but also right action. Rather than saying James advocates for a salvation by works, I think James says our deepest faith is expressed in our way of living (what we do!) - How do you 'do' the word? For James, it is only in 'doing' that we really 'get' what we're believing.
  • "unstained by the world" - what imagery! How can we be seek to be unstained by the world without having a "don't want to get our hands dirty" attitude? A fine line to walk.
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23:
  • Traditions can bless and enrich us, but they can also bind and trap us. Again, a fine line. What traditions are important to you - which would upset you to have broken? Why?
  • "You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition." Ah, how true. How often have our traditions only served to lead us away from what Jesus would have us do!
  • It isn't what goes in but what comes out of a person that defiles. Do you believe that? Sometimes, I think what goes in, even if it doesn't defile, can tempt or harm. But I think in this scenario, Jesus has a different point to make. It isn't the outsides but the insides that make us who we are.
  • Check out a possible children's sermon for this text here, one of my favorites. (Too bad I already used it in my current setting!) 

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