Monday, September 10, 2012

Lectionary Notes for Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

Readings for 16th Sunday after Pentecost, 9/16/12:
Proverbs 1:20-33, Psalm 19, James 3:1-12, Mark 8:27-38

Proverbs 1:20-33:
  • Wisdom, from the Greek sophia, is virtually always depicted as a woman or in feminine imagery, as the word itself is feminine in both Greek and Hebrew. This sophia, of course, is the basis of the imagery of the Re-Imaging conference that caused such controversy over referring to God as Sophia. What the difference is between using Sophia and using Logos to refer to Christ sometimes is unclear to me, except that sticky issue of gender! But I digress...
  • "How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?" This verse (22) puts a smile on our faces, but unfortunately, I think it's a serious question! I think we actually like to pretend we don't know what's going on a lot of the time. If we don't know what's going on, we can't be held accountable for action. God doesn't want to let us off the hook so easily, however!

Psalm 19:
  • "The heavens are telling the glory of God." This psalm is often set to music.
  • This imagery of the sun "like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy", this personification of the sun draws to my mind Greek/Roman mythology, and no doubt made contemporaries of the psalmist think of similar images of sun-gods in other religions. The difference? Here the sun is put into place by God, not a god in intself.
  • God is more than gold, sweeter than honey. A simple message - but reminds us of things we put too often before God in our lives.
  • "Let the words of my mouth and the meditations..." This verse is often used by pastors before they begin preaching. I like it, but if there's a way to use a Bible verse too much to the point of over doing, this one makes it on my personal list!
James 3:1-12:
  • "We who teach will be judged with greater strictness." (Can we insert "or preach" into that sentence?! All through college and seminary, my younger brothers, whenever I did something they didn't like, would say, "And you're going to be a minister?" Very appreciated, of course!)
  • There is an easy children's time object lesson to go with this verse, all about watching what we say and how we speak. It's called "Watch What You Say". I always have a hard time with children's time, so I try to share helpful ideas when I can!
  • OK, I know this passage is all about how we speak and how we affect one another with our words, but I think it is also an interesting interpretation if we stick with the original substitution I made: read this all as a metaphor for pastoral leadership. Can we function as pastors as the bridle on a horse? The rudder for a ship? A small fire in a forest? Aside from the "restless evil, full of deadly poison" part, I kind of like it!
Mark 8:27-38:
  • "Who do people say that I am?" Who do people say that you are? It would be a good exercise to find out - ask people to describe you in 5 words. How are you seen?
  • Peter gets it right at first: Jesus is the Messiah. But though he knows the right words to say, he shows he doesn't yet get what that word means, by rebuking Jesus when Jesus shares his path of suffering with Peter.
  • Jesus returns by saying who he thinks Peter is at that moment: Satan!
  • To save your life, you must lose it, if you lose your life for Christ, you save it. Certainly there is a degree of literal-ness here. But also, I think of things we say we "lose ourselves" in, like our work, our art, our passions, our music, our spouse, etc. Christ wants us to lose ourselves . . . in him!
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