Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lectionary Notes for Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C

Readings for Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, 6/16/13: 
1 Kings 21:1-21a, Psalm 5:1-8, Galatians 2:15-21, Luke 7:36-8:3

1 Kings 21:1-21a:
  • Kings. Here's a book that doesn't show up too often on people's favorites list, nor even too often in our lectionary. I have to remind myself not to overlook it when it does turn up!
  • I like this text because it sort of ends with a 'to be continued' sense - the set up is all there, but the conclusion is not in today's reading. You have to come back (to church, to the Bible) to find out what happens.
  • Jezebel: What a bad wrap she gets in the Bible, eh? Here she arranges someone's (Naboth) death in order that her husband, Ahab, may take possession of something (land) that belonged to this person. Compare this to King David arranging someone's (Uriah) death in order that he may take possession of something (Bathsheba) that belonged to this person. Now, how do we remember David, and how do we remember Bathsheba? Granted, we have more positive stories of David to balance out his character, but one has to ask: gender stereotyping/sexism going on here?
Psalm 5:1-8:
  • "Give ear to my words, O Lord, give heed to my sighing. Listen to the sound of my cry . . . " Yes, this is our human plea, isn't it? To be assured that we are heard by God in our distress.
  • "For you are not a God who delights in wickedness." Hm - were there gods worshipped in the psalmist's time who were portrayed as delighting in wrong-doing. What a contrast for a God that seeks good, even from the beginning of creation announcing it all as good.
  • Again, evil/good = me/them duality.
  • "But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house." (emphasis added)
Galatians 2:15-21:
  • "a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ." Classic sola fide, by faith alone, text. Paul uses it well here to show, again, that being Jewish and following Jewish law does not a follower of Jesus and heir of the kingdom make - for Paul, it is faith in Christ alone that brings this 'status'.
  • "I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing." I don't think I've ever noticed this verse before. Powerfully important, I think. We do not, CANNOT, nullify God's grace, especially by our sinfulness, failures that happen even after we've come to Christ. If that were the case, it would mean there was no importance, no value in Christ's death, reasons Paul. "I do not nullify the grace of God." - a personal motto.
Luke 7:36-8:3:
  • I have to admit, I'm glad to be back to the 'regular' stories about Jesus, if any can be called such. Obviously, his life, death, and other events of his life make up a great part of our faith, but it is mostly in his teachings that I find my meaning and way I want to live my own life.
  • Note the placement of this scene in Luke as compared with the other gospels of the anointing of Jesus, here by an unnamed woman.
  • "A woman, who was a sinner . . ."
  • Can you imagine this scene taking place in front Simon the Pharisee and his household? What a bold woman! Do we make such displays of our love for God?
  • Jesus' parable: two are forgiven debts - one greater than the other. Who is more appreciative? Obviously, the one who owed the greater debt. The lesson for Simon - more than just to know that the woman is quite thankful because of her great sinfulness - in fact, if you look at Jesus' objections to Simon's own behavior - his lack of hospitality for Jesus in his home vs. the woman's welcoming of him and caring for him - you might question who is the one who is sinning, and who needs to be shown forgiveness?
  • "Your faith has saved you." Has your faith ever saved you? How?
  • "bringing the good news" - like a gift Jesus was carrying.
  • Note - the last verse here clearly suggests that the woman who anointed him and Mary Magdalene are two totally different women.
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