Friday, June 20, 2014

Lectionary Notes for Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

Readings for Second Sunday after Pentecost, 6/22/14:
Genesis 21:8-21, Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17, Psalm 17, Romans 6:1b-11, Matthew 10:24-39

Genesis 21:8-21:
  • "But Sarah saw." This is a complicated story. Certainly, jealously comes into play in a number of biblical stories. I also think of the horrible rock/hard place role women have in this story. How would you feel if you were Sarah? Abraham? Hagar? 
  • "For it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also." Although of course this is unfair in so many ways, God is also quite ahead of the times, as usual. A blessing, too, for the child of a slave woman? Making him into a nation, too, like Isaac? Ishmael has his own story that will unfold, which today we see in the Islamic faith tradition, which traces its roots to Ishmael. 
  • "And sent her away." What do you think Abraham expected to happen to Hagar and Ishmael? How vulnerable they must have been! Do you think Abraham told Hagar of God's promise for her son? Why would he or wouldn't he have? Her actions suggest he did not reveal this. 
  • "The God opened her eyes." Literally, figuratively. 
Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17:
  • "For I am poor and needy." Contrary to what you might think, according to Chris Haslam these words indicate the psalmist is a king. 
  • What reasons do you give to God to convince God to help you out? What attributes of God does the psalmist praise? Is the writer sincere, or flattering, or both? 
  • "Save the child of your serving girl." Haslam interprets this as the king taking on an attitude of humility. I can't help, though, but read this psalm thinking of Hagar. What is this was Hagar's song? Or a woman with a similar story? Whose voice do you hear in these words? 

Psalm 17:
  • This psalmist is bold and demanding. The psalmist declares himself to be free from deceit, able to withstand testing, feet not slipping from God's path. The language to God is imperative, commanding. 
  • Sometimes we need to be bold with God - not for God's sake, but for our sake. Fear of God's justice has its place, but confidence in our status as God's beloved children with whom God seeks relationship also has its place.
  • This psalm includes the phrase "apple of the eye" - did you know that was from the Bible?
  • Verse 15 is probably the boldest, most confident of all: "I shall behold your face in righteousness ... I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness." Is the psalmist overbold? Exaggerating? Properly faithful/trusting? 
Romans 6:1b-11:
  • "Should we continue in sin ...?" Paul is on to any great arguments we might have to keep doing what we're doing wrongly in order to experience more grace. Paul says, "nice try." 
  • Paul says: our old selves are dead. That's freeing - and sometimes scary! What part of your old selves are you having a hard time letting go of? Do you need to mourn/grieve what you let go of to embrace new life in Christ? 
Matthew 10:24-39:
  • "like the teacher ... like the master." Who have you been told you are like? Who do you remind people of? Be careful of who your teacher and master is! 
  • Kill the body/kill the soul - I can't help but think of the dementors in Harry Potter novels, who don't kill the body, but steal the soul in a kiss. Or Voldemort, who split his soul into pieces to gain eternal life, missing the point entirely. 
  • "even the hairs of your head are counted." Have you ever been so in love that you felt compelled to learn every detail about a person? With a significant other? A spouse? A child? This is how much God loves us ... times infinity!
  • "I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." Elsewhere, Jesus speaks of peace. That means he must have a particular point here: The sword is the decision-moment, the choosing, the declaring of priorities, above everything else. What and who do you choose? 
  • Take up the cross and follow - find their life/lose it, lose their life/find it: I find these to be some of the most challenging and compelling words in the scripture. 
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