Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lectionary Notes for Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C

Readings for 4th Sunday of Easter, 4/21/13:
Acts 9:36-43, Psalm 23, Revelation 7:9-17, John 10:22-30

Acts 9:36-43:
  • note: "a disciple whose name was Tabitha . . . she was devoted to good works and acts of charity." This is a very empowering description of a new testament woman! A disciple: in Greek, a mathetria, the feminine of the same word used to describe the twelve - a pupil/student, just as they were. This is the only place in the bible this word appears.
  • Compare this to Jesus' raising of Jairus' daughter. Yes, different details. But the point of this passage is that the disciples, like Peter, are truly living now as Jesus lived, doing what he did, working in the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus had left them with. It is possible for them to imitate and be like Jesus. As it is possible for us.
Psalm 23:
  • Ah, perhaps the one passage of scripture that most people, regardless of their usual preference of translation, prefer to hear in the poetry of the King James version, myself included. Just a part of our identity as people of faith.
  • "I shall not want." Hmm. I think we skip right over this little phrase. We like to hear about our overflowing cup. Less interesting to us, less believable, is that we could be without want.
  • Have you ever tried writing this as a reverse Psalm? Verse by verse, reverse the meaning of the phrases. Not necessarily point for point, but in the sense of it. Instead of "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want," try, "I have no one to lead me, and my need is boundless." I've been led in this process, and led my Bible Study in it. At first you might ask, "Why do it this way?" But, especially when in a group, reading back all the hopeless examples of our life without God, we see the power of this psalm more clearly.
  • Like all well-known texts, there is a danger of it communicating nothing fresh to us. This psalm is often used at funerals - many people know it by heart. Many find it comforting and strengthening. What else can it be? Challenging? Guiding us?
Revelation 7:9-17:
  • "Salvation belongs to our God." Salvation is God's, not ours. Hm. Puts it in to perspective, for us humans who are forever trying to make sure we're saved.
  • "These are the ones who have come out of the great ordeal . . . they will hunger no more, and thirst no more, the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat . . . " Frankly, Revelation is not always high on my "favorite books of the Bible" list. But this is verse is so comforting: those who have been oppressed, who have come out of "the great ordeal" will be clothed in white, be free of hunger and thirst, and have God bring them to the water of life and have God wipe the tears from their eyes. I can see how much hope and anticipation can be found in those verses.
John 10:22-30:
  • This scene takes place just after Jesus teaches about being the Good Shepherd and coming to bring abundant life, one of my favorite Bible passages.
  • "How long will you keep us in suspense?" The Jews gather around Jesus to demand whether or not he is the Messiah. This is such an odd passage - nowhere else does it seem people have a clue of his identity, much less demand a straight answer from him.
  • Note that the festival of Dedication is what we know as Hanukkah.
  • Jesus explains his role, but in metaphorical sheep/my voice language. This is not the kind of Messiah the people would have in mind.
  • "The Father and I are one." That is a huge verse for supporting the divinity of Jesus for early-churchers trying to nail down doctrine and theology. What do you think Jesus means? 
  • "No one will snatch them out of my hand." Protection. Comforting.
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