Archive for the ‘Lectionary’ Category

Fishing for people

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

21 January 2018
Third Sunday after Epiphany
Epiphany 3B (RCL)

Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Psalm 62:6-14
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Mark 1:14-20

No doubt, the designers of the lectionary chose the passage from Jonah and the passage from Mark to to with the collect: give us grace to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ. But called to what? It’s always struck me as odd that Simon and Andrew, and James and John would be attracted by a call to fish for people. I can never get the image of little people flopping around on the shore out of my head. (more…)

Connections

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

14 January 2018
Second Sunday after Epiphany
Epiphany 2B (RCL)

1 Samuel 3:1-20
Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
John 1:43-51

The first reading and the Gospel passage both have to do with stories of call; but the epistle reading sticks out like a sore thumb. Prostitution and fornication are not always happy topics for sermons! I realize we are now in “ordinary time” and the epistle is not chosen thematically, but perhaps we could have started at some other point in 1 Corinthians? (more…)

The voice of the Lord

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

7 January 2018
First Sunday after Epiphany
Baptism of Our Lord
Epiphany 1B (RCL)

Genesis 1:1:1-5
Psalm 29
Acts 19:1-7
Mark 1:4-11

The passage from Genesis seems an odd choice for the feast of Jesus’ baptism. The links are, I suppose, the Spirit, the water and the voice, but the reading from Isaiah for year A (the first servant song) makes a lot more sense. (more…)

Glory in the flesh

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

31 December 2017
First Sunday after Christmas
I Christmas ABC (RCL)

Isaiah 61:13 – 62:3
Psalm 147:13-21
Galatians 3:23-25, 4:4-7
John 1:1-18

There is a lot of scholarly speculation about from where John the Evangelist borrowed the term “logos.” Some see it as a borrowing from Stoicism; others as from Gnosticism (though I’ve never understood that — all of the gnostic texts we have that use the term ‘logos’ post-date John’s Gospel). Some think he got it from Philo. I think a reading of the Gospel indicates that wherever he got it, he made it his own. It is Jesus’ own ‘words’ and ‘word’ that become definitive of the Johannine community. (more…)

A new thing

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

17 December 2017
Third Sunday of Advent
Advent 3B (RCL)

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Psalm 126
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

The last part of the book of Isaiah (Chapters 40-65) has often been treated as a work entirely separate from the first part in time, location and occasion. Sometimes, it is even broken down into two parts of its own: DeuteroIsaiah (40-55) and TritoIsaiah (56-66). While it is clear that Chapters 1-39 deal with circumstances before the fall of Jerusalem in 539 BCE, and the last half deals with circumstances during Exile and after the return, yet it also seems clear that Chapters 40-66 have always circulated with the rest of the book, and in fact serve as a reflection on and interpretation of the prophecies of the first half viewed in new circumstances. (more…)

Abrupt beginnings

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

10 December 2017
Second Sunday of Advent
Advent IIB (RCL)

Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
2 Peter 3:8-15a
Mark 1:1-8

It is well know that Mark’s Gospel ends abruptly. Mark 16:8 ends “ephobounto gar“, for they were afraid. The trouble is, gar is a post-positive conjunction, which can never, but never be the last word in a phrase, let alone a sentence or a book. This was so troubling so early in the transmission of the Gospel that several authors have composed alternative endings to the Gospel. (more…)

Apocalypse now

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

3 December 2017
First Sunday of Advent
Advent 1B (RCL)

Isaiah 64:1-9
Psalm 80:1-7, 24-37
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:24-37

Well, it’s Advent 1, Year B, and so we begin the new year with Mark’s urgent apocalypse. It is a bit hard to find good news in Mark’s vision of the near future. Stars will be falling from the skies, the sun and moon will not give their light. The only glimmer of hope here is that the Son of Man will gather his elect from the four winds. And the passage from Isaiah doesn’t help much: God has turned God’s face, and so we sinned. The prophet ends up asking God to reform God’s people, and not to be angry forever. (more…)

Subversive saints

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

5 November 2017
All Saints’ Day, Observed (RCL)
Revelation 7:9-17

Psalm 34:1-10, 22
1 John 3:1-3
Matthew 5:1-12

First, a translation issue. The word the NRSV (following right from the KJV) translates ‘Blessed’ in the Beatitudes (from which they get their name) doesn’t really mean blessed in either of the sense of that word in English, either ‘well spoken of’ or ‘fortunate.’ The word ‘makarios‘ means something like ‘How honorable!’ The Beatitudes are not telling us about the future state of those mentioned, but instead, holding them up for emulation. If you want to be invited to anybody’s party, its these folks’! (more…)

What’s love got to do with it?

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

29 October 2017
Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 25A (RCL)

Deuteronomy 34:1-12
Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Matthew 22:34-46

I find it odd that Matthew ends his report of Jesus’ disputes with the religious authorities with something as uncontroversial as the question concerning the greatest commandment. This would have been standard fare among rabbinic Jews, and we have record of other rabbis addressing the question (granted, after the time of Jesus, but them Matthew is writing after Jesus, also), and coming up with the same answers. So, why would Matthew sum up these disputes with something so uncontroversial as the shema (Hear, O Israel), and the commandment to love neighbor as self? (more…)

What do we owe?

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

22 October 2017
Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 24A (RCL)

Exodus 33:13-23
Psalm 99
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Matthew 22:15-22

So Israel, who had been no people when slaves in Egypt, and had become God’s people in the wilderness, messed up badly with the golden calf. At the opening of Chapter 33 of Exodus, God says that God will send an angel before the people as the ‘go up’ to land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but the divine self will not go up with them, because they are a stiff necked people. This presents the ultimate crisis for Israel’s existence — without God’s presence, they are no people. (more…)