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Lectionary Notes for Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

Readings for 21st Sunday after Pentecost, 10/21/12:
Job 38:1-7 (34-41), Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c, Hebrews 5:1-10, Mark 10:35-45

Job 38:1-7, (34-41):
  • Would we be prepared for God to answer us in such a direct way like this? God telling us, "Get ready, I'm about to tell you how it is?" I don't think I would be!
  • Still, God's answer, while vivid and beautiful in its poetic way, isn't one that would satisfy me if I were asking the questions Job had been asking. God's answer is basically "I'm God, and you aren't. How can you question me?" But my own experience of God finds God more sympathetic to my questioning - even if not providing any more answers. For me, not having answers is very frustrating. But I'm trying always to accept that God is beyond my understanding. Can you have faith without all the answers? I guess that's why it is faith!
  • Biblical sarcasm - this part I enjoy. God is pretty sarcastic in his answer with Job. I'm glad to know my preferred style of humor is one God enjoys too!

Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c:
  • "Bless the Lord, O my soul." We normally ask God to bless us and others. What does it mean for us, instead, to bless God, to be a blessing to God?
  • This psalm almost reads like a reverse of the Job passage, doesn't it? Instead of God prompting Job to remember that God has done, here the psalmist remembers on his own what God has done, in the same sort of vivid imagery.
  • All the clothing/fabric imagery in this psalm is interesting - God is enveloping, wrapping around us and the world, surrounding, covering, protecting.
  • The imagery in 6-9 talks about water - water "fleeing" as if water is the enemy. Flood and safety from another flood.
     
Hebrews 5:1-10:
  • Verses 1-4 actually describe, to an extent, what we mean by ordained ministry. A good resource for hopeful ordinands!
  • Check out Genesis 14:17-20 and Psalm 110:4 for context about Melchizedek. 
  • I don't usually think of Jesus as a "high priest." What priestly functions do you see Jesus filling? How is Jesus priest? The author gives his answer in verses 7-10.
  • :8 - I also don't think of Jesus as one who had to "learn" obedience, but as one who simply was obedient. But maybe there is more power in thinking of Jesus learning to obey God through his faithfulness to God's plan for him. What do you think?

Mark 10:35-45:
  • James and John are apparently unfazed by their previous (and recent) conversation with Jesus and the other disciples about who is greatest, where Jesus reminded them about the first being last and taking up the cross and all that . . .
  • James and John say that they are able to walk the same path as Jesus, in their quest for greatness. Jesus takes them at their word, and they probably wish they hadn't agreed quite so quickly!
  • The other ten are mad at James and John - why? For asking a silly question of Jesus? For pledging to follow him in a way they hadn't? Because they want the places of greatness for themselves?
  • Jesus talks (again!) about a different world-order, a different system of greatness and power. How many times must he tell them this opposites first-last master-servant stuff before they get it? How many times must he tell us? 

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