Elizabeth Quick

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Name: Elizabeth Quick
Date registered: March 3, 2012
URL: http://bethquick.blogspot.com/

Latest posts

  1. bethquick.com: Lectionary Notes for 11th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 16, Ordinary 21) — August 19, 2014
  2. bethquick.com: Sermon for Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, “Case in Point,” Matthew 15:10-28 — August 18, 2014
  3. bethquick.com: Lectionary Notes for Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 15, Ordinary 20) — August 11, 2014
  4. bethquick.com: Sermon for 14th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, “If I Keep My Eyes on Jesus,” Matthew 14:22-33 — August 11, 2014
  5. bethquick.com: Lectionary Notes for Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 14, Ordinary 19) — August 4, 2014

Most commented posts

  1. bethquick.com: Lectionary Notes for Trinity Sunday, Year B — 1 comment
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  3. bethquick.com: Sermon, “Kingdom Stories: Laborers in the Vineyard,” Matthew 20:1-18 — 1 comment
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Aug 19 2014

bethquick.com: Lectionary Notes for 11th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 16, Ordinary 21)

Original post at http://bethquick.blogspot.com/2011/08/lectionary-notes-for-10th-sunday-after.html


Readings for Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, 8/24/11:
Exodus 1:8-2:10, Psalm 124, Romans 12:1-8, Matthew 16:13-20

Exodus 1:8-2:10:
  • "Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph . . ." This is a great opening to explain how people once joined to Egypt under Joseph's protection because slaves of those same people - history was forgotten. We forget history, even today, even with all of our technology and archiving and ways to preserve - we forget what has happened, and act in ignorance.
  • Could you be like the midwives? I admire their bravery. Perhaps we think it would be easy to refuse to kill these newborns, but commanded by the King? They were disobeying orders from the highest level - that takes courage. 
Psalm 124:
  • "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side" - whose side is God on? Is God always on our side? Is God always on the winning side? We want God to be on our side, but we'd do better to seek to be on God's side of things...
  • this psalm is in thanks to God for escape from enemies. I've never had to literally flee from enemies, but I can relate, figuratively, to what the psalmist is feeling. From what dangerous persons/situations have you escaped by God's grace?
     
Romans 12:1-8:
  • "Do not be conformed to this world" - so many ways to take that, aren't there? We're called to be somehow different than others who have not known and embraced the grace that God offers all of us. What difference has God's grace made in your life? If your life is no different than anyone else's, what does that say?
  • Many gifts, one body of Christ. What is your gift? Are you using your gifts? How are you helping others find and use their gifts? Do you let others know how valuable their gifts are?
  • Not only are we members of the body of Christ, but we are "members one of another" - I've never noticed that phrase before. In Christ's body, I'm a member of you, and you are a member of me. Do we live like we believe that?
Matthew 16:13-20:
  • "Who do you say that I am?" When all is said and done, Jesus cares more about how each of us answers that question individually than he does about how others answer that question from our viewpoint. Who is he to you? What is your answer?
  • In a way, answering this question is the sign of mature faith. We can't let others answer for us, let others' answers stand as our own answers. We have to decide, we have to say it and claim it and live who Jesus is. It's powerful, answering for ourselves.
  • Jesus shows us the power of knowing in the power he gives to Peter. Why not tell others he was the Messiah? Perhaps it is because we all have to come to that answer on our own - we can't be told - we have to find our own answers. 

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/08/lectionary-notes-for-11th-sunday-after-pentecost-year-a-proper-16-ordinary-21/

Aug 18 2014

bethquick.com: Sermon for Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, “Case in Point,” Matthew 15:10-28

Original post at http://bethquick.blogspot.com/2014/08/sermon-for-tenth-sunday-after-pentecost.html


Sermon 8/17/2014
Matthew 15:10-28

Case in Point


          In our time together, as I’ve mentioned, you will no doubt hear a lot about my 7 year old nephew Sam (and my on-the-way niece, due next month!). Sam’s one of the great joys of my life, for sure. Sam is getting to be quite grown up. He and I have “fun day” outings together pretty regularly, and we often head to Destiny USA. We see a movie, or go mini-golfing there, or play in the arcade, and eat at Johnny Rockets, but we always hit the Carousel. Sam’s a little guy for his age, so I help him onto the horse of his choice, and then stand next to him while he rides the Carousel. At least, that’s what we did. The last time I took him to the Carousel, he let me ride with him the first time, but for the second time, he said to me, so sweetly, “Aunt Beth, why don’t you go stand down there so you can wave to me when I go by.” Sweet kid was trying to gently say, “Aunt Beth, I don’t need you to stand next to me anymore!” I actually felt myself tearing up a little bit, to hit this “milestone” of sorts. But as requested, I went and watched and waved from the sidelines. It made me nervous, though, to have him even that far away from me in a busy mall. I had to count for myself the number of seconds he was out of my sight on every go-around of the carousel. Six seconds. I could handle that, right?
I know I’m overprotective of Sam. I know my brother and sister-in-law want me to take good care of him, but they probably don’t realize the poor kid only gets to be out of my sight once I put him to bed when I babysit. I want to protect him from everything. I know, though, that since what I really want is for him to be happy and to enjoy life, I can’t protect him from everything, or I’ll still be standing next to him on the carousel when he’s sixteen. Somehow I don’t think that will go over so well. I know I’m not alone, though. Many of us remember childhoods where we were more free to go off and play by ourselves outside for hours on end, with our parents perhaps only vaguely knowing that we were in the neighborhood somewhere.
Are things really so much worse now, so much less safe? Are we smarter now than we were then? Safer? Or just more protective? It’s an interesting question, actually, that some of my pastors friends and I were discussing a few weeks ago. My friend Richelle read a news story about a playground in Wales called The Land. (1) It looks kind of like a junk yard. It’s meant to. There’s a lot of broken things there, dirty things, even a fire burning. There are some adult staff who hang out at The Land. But they only intervene in children’s play if absolutely necessary. So far, children have gotten some scraped knees, but otherwise fare pretty well. The author of the article had a hard time watching his five-year old son try some crazy things on this unique playground, but he was just fine. In the author’s research, he’s discovered that conditions in the world aren’t really more dangerous for children. Abductions, for example – our attention was captured by the abduction and return of two Amish girls this week. The number of abductions by strangers has stayed pretty stable over the years, actually. The only increase has been in abductions by family members, likely a result of increased custody issues when parental relationships end. And we’re more litigious. If a child gets hurt on a playground, someone will probably sue. But is the world more dangerous for children? It doesn’t seem so.
Believe it or not, I had all this on my mind as a read our gospel lesson for this week. Our reading from Matthew continues on a bit after our passage from last week. Last week we saw Jesus walk on water to meet the disciples as they crossed the sea of Galilee. And I mentioned that when they landed on shore, people came from all around to be healed by Jesus. Just before today’s passage opens Jesus is being questioned by some scribes and Pharisees. Scribes and Pharisees tend to get a bad rap as the bad guys of the Bible, because they spend so much time arguing with Jesus, and because Jesus has some pretty harsh words for them. But at their best, the scribes and Pharisees were those who tried to interpret the writings of the law of Moses and figure out how best to uphold the commandments handed down from generation to generation. They were the religious leaders of the day. In a church context, they would be the regular attenders, people who were on committees or teaching Sunday School or always showing up to help at events. Kind of like most of us. They had confronted Jesus, asking why he and his disciples didn’t uphold some of the rituals of cleanliness practices by the religious elders. Jesus responds to them saying, “Why do you break the commandment of God for the sake or your tradition? … For the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God!” And then, finally, in that context, we get to today’s text:
Jesus calls the crowd together and says, “Listen: It isn’t what goes into the mouth that makes someone unclean, but what comes out of the mouth.” When the disciples are confused by this, he further clarifies: What goes in – like foods that would have been considered unclean, or things eaten without the benefit of special hand-washings or other cleanliness rituals – all that ends up in the sewer eventually, Jesus says bluntly. But what comes out of the mouth – what comes from our hearts – when evil intentions are in our hearts – that is what can truly make us unclean.
Immediately after this, Jesus travels to the district of Tyre and Sidon where he meets a Canaanite woman. This isn’t surprising – the region Jesus travels to – for no specific reason named in the scripture – would be where many Gentiles – non-Jews – lived. He could only expect to run into Canaanites and others that Jews would normally avoid. There was great animosity between different religious and ethnic groups, and Jesus’ actions could make him ritually unclean. The woman asks Jesus to heal her daughter who is being tortured by the presence of a demon in her life. Jesus says, “I was sent to the lost sheep of Israel.” But she persists, “Lord, help me.” He says, “It isn’t fair to take the children’s food and give it to dogs.” And she persists even still, “even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the masters’ table.” Jesus tells her her faith is great, and he’ll do as she wishes. And her daughter is healed instantly!
This passage is often hard to read. No matter how we twist it, it seems like Jesus compares this woman to a dog begging at a table, and like he’s really reluctant to extend healing to her child. But context, and what comes before and after a passage, is always so important in our understanding of the scripture. Jesus was just telling us that it is what is in our hearts, not the external stuff, that makes us clean or unclean, defiled or set right before God. And then he immediately goes to a place where he’s likely to encounter someone who every faithful Jew would consider unclean, defiled, outside of the limits of God’s grace and promises. And with a quick exchange, he extends grace and healing to her and says that her faith, the faith of a Canaanite woman, is great. What’s more, if you search the gospels for times where Jesus tells someone that their faith is great or their faith has made them well, the majority of these encounters are with a person who would be considered unclean in some way by the law. It’s a pattern. And it’s a pattern, and a specific scenario here that illustrates the case in the point: It’s the stuff inside, in our hearts, that makes us clean or unclean, not the stuff outside.
So what does that all mean for us? Believe it or not, all this is why I was thinking about playgrounds. The article I read said something like: if statistics show that things aren’t really anymore unsafe than they used to be for our children, we must conclude that we’ve let our fears conquer us. Between the 24-hour instant news cycle and viral sharing on social media and our litigious culture, we’ve become afraid, and we’ve let our fears overtake us. And so we make protection and safety major priorities. It’s really even part of our national ethos, isn’t it? Desiring safety above almost everything else.  
Sometimes, I think this is how we operate in the world as Christians, too. We’ve gotten confused about our purpose in the world, and we’ve somehow concluded that the best way to be “Good Christians” is to protect ourselves from bad influences, from the awful, crazy world around us. And so we spend our time trying to eliminate bad influences around us – especially the influence of people that might be bad influences – or we end up withdrawing from the world altogether. We isolate ourselves. We spend time with other Christians – which isn’t all bad, for sure – but when we only want to hang around with people who think like us and dress like us and behave like us and believe like us because it makes us feel safe and comfortable, we’re in a bit of trouble.
Jesus says our efforts are futile! It isn’t that external stuff that corrupts our souls! It’s what’s inside of us that has that potential! It’s what inside of us that needs tending and nurturing. And if Jesus says that loving God and loving one another is the best way to tend our souls, to make sure that what comes out from hearts is good, then protecting ourselves from the messiness of interacting with people who are different from us, who we don’t understand, who don’t live like we live – that’s the exact opposite of what Jesus wants for us. Jesus isn’t particularly interested in us playing it safe. That’s sure not the example he sets for us. Instead, he’s crossing boundaries and bending rules and breaking down walls and talking to the people on the fringes and reaching across cultures and traditions and religions and practices and saying: here, in the place you’ve least expected, is where I’ve found great faith. Ultimately, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were so threatened by Jesus’ boundary-crossing, rule-breaking ways that they sought to put him to death. He threatened the safe, comfortable way of life they were trying to substitute for deep faith.  
This week, I encourage you to think about how much of your time each day you spend with people who are basically just like you. And how much of your time do you spend worrying about being safe and comfortable? How many people will you have conversations with in a typical week that are from a different faith tradition than you are? Or have a different color skin than you do? Or are from a different economic class? How many boundaries do you cross in a typical week? How safe is your playground? Jesus says we can work to surround ourselves with the most perfect, sterling, pristine conditions – and it will all just still be what’s on the outside. What’s in your heart? That’s what Jesus is interested in. Where have you found great faith? That’s what Jesus wants to know. Enough playing it safe. What’s in your heart?
Amen.   

(1) http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/03/hey-parents-leave-those-kids-alone/358631/



Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/08/sermon-for-tenth-sunday-after-pentecost-year-a-case-in-point-matthew-1510-28/

Aug 11 2014

bethquick.com: Lectionary Notes for Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 15, Ordinary 20)

Original post at http://bethquick.blogspot.com/2011/08/lectionary-notes-for-ninth-sunday-after.html



Readings for 10th Sunday after Pentecost, 8/17/14: 
Genesis 45:1-15, Psalm 133, Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32, Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28

Genesis 45:1-15:
  • This is a great story of forgiveness. Is it a story of redemption too? After all, though Joseph is quite moved to see his brothers, the only word we get about how they feel is "dismayed." OK, he did trick them over Benjamin and stealing, but they sold him into slavery and said he was dead! Overall, Joseph's forgiveness seems quite impressive, and it is never asked for by his brothers.
  • Anyway, I think that forgiving those we love the most, or we had expected the most form, is the hardest kind of forgiveness to give. But the most needed. What enables you to be ready to forgive, even when those you must forgive aren't ready to repent?
Psalm 133:
  • Short and sweet?! Check out Chris Haslam's notes on this Psalm. The image of Aaron's beard dripping with oil signifies total consecration to God.
  • Haslam also notes the connection between this Psalm and our Genesis text in that verse 1 here declares, "how very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity."
     
Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32:
  • "for the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable." That is a powerful verse. irrevocable=irreversible, can't be taken back, or taken away. That means that God does not un-gift us or un-call us. We are gifted, and we are called. We can wish we were not connected to God in this way. We can reject our gifts, ignore our call, but we can't get rid of them.
  • "so that [God] may be merciful to all." Paul's logic here is ... interesting. He suggests that God 'imprisons' us in disobedience so that God can show us mercy. I'm not sure I agree with Paul on his take of God's motivations. But I like his inclusive vision of God's mercy - it is for all.
  • Paul is interested in showing God's continued special relationship with Israel (the irrevocable relationship) at the same time as he wants to convince his Gentile audience that they can have a special relationship with God too.
Matthew 15:(10-20), 21-28:
  • What comes out of our mouths and not what goes in that defiles. We forget this one, even today. We may not follow kosher food laws today, but we are worried in different ways. Sometimes Christians want to shelter themselves from the 'evils' of the world, and especially from others judged unclean, instead of examining themselves for right hearts.
  • The second part of this text is one we have a harder time dealing with. "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs," and "he did not answer her at all." - These are hard sentences to construct in a way flattering to Jesus. I don't have good answers. I don't want to explain away Jesus' words by trying to translate the Greek differently. Was Jesus just joking with the woman? I don't see it. What I see is a woman who is as persistent as the widow Jesus tells a parable about elsewhere in the gospels, and she receives her reward. And what I see is a Jesus who is focused on the mission he sees: to the Jews - who lets his own vision be expanded. The woman shows him a way to spread more grace. 
  • Even with his resistance, we can be comforted that Jesus heard her out, despite his apparent skepticism: the disciples wanted to send her away, but Jesus heard her, and really listened, until he recognized great faith in one whom he did not expect to find it.

     

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/08/lectionary-notes-for-tenth-sunday-after-pentecost-year-a-proper-15-ordinary-20/

Aug 11 2014

bethquick.com: Sermon for 14th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, “If I Keep My Eyes on Jesus,” Matthew 14:22-33

Original post at http://bethquick.blogspot.com/2014/08/sermon-for-14th-sunday-after-pentecost.html


Sermon 8/10/14
Matthew 14:22-33

If I Keep My Eyes on Jesus…


            Have you ever heard the expression, “Whatever you do, don’t look down?” This is a picture of my brother Todd and his girlfriend Andrea on the Skydeck of the Willis Tower – once known as the Sears Tower – in Chicago. The view is pretty impressive, isn’t it? But if you’re afraid of heights, it might be a little much. Not long before their visit to the Skydeck, some other folks were visiting this attraction and standing on the Skydeck when they heard a loud cracking noise. Needless to say, they scurried off rather quickly. It turned out the cracking noise was from a crack in the protective plastic over the actual glass – the glass was never in danger of giving way. But I can imagine how unsettling it would be to hear the cracking as you are standing so far above the ground. “Whatever you do, don’t look down.” I hear this phrase often enough in movies, and of course, as soon as those words are uttered, the person to whom they’re said – looks down! They may have been doing just fine – conquering their fears, traversing some great height – but somehow, as soon as they look down – they’re paralyzed in fear. They aren’t any higher or more unsafe than they were before they looked – but somehow looking, realizing, makes it so much worse.
            I had this phrase in mind this week as I thought about our gospel text and about Peter, trying to walk on the water, stepping out of the boat and heading toward Jesus. Our gospel lesson from Matthew is a story that appears in some variation in all of the gospels – Jesus either calming the storm after having fallen asleep in the boat with the disciples, or Jesus walking on the water and inviting Peter to walk on the water as well, or a combination of similar events. Walking on water, calming the winds. In Matthew’s gospel, this story appears right after the story we know as the feeding of the five thousand. We read that immediately after the meal is finished, Jesus gets his disciples into a boat and sends them to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, while he remains to dismiss the crowd, and to spend some time in prayer by himself. Immediately is always a word to pay attention to in the gospels. It tells us that things are connected. It’s important that these events unfold immediately after the feeding of the five thousand. They’re related in some way.
            After praying, Jesus looks out onto the lake and sees that the disciples are having a hard time navigating the windy weather. He begins to walk out onto the water towards them. The disciples see Jesus, and they think it is a ghost walking towards them. I’m not sure if this is because the storm makes it hard to see Jesus, or they are so thrown by his walking on water that they assume he must be a ghost, or what. But they see him, and are not calmed by his presence, but terrified. Note, it isn’t the wind that causes them to cry out in fear – after all, several of the disciples are fishermen, who are familiar with the sea. It isn’t the storm that causes them fear, but the sight of Jesus walking on the water that fills them with terror.
            Immediately, we read again, Jesus speaks to them, saying, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Those are words we hear frequently in the scriptures – upwards of 80 times, more than a dozen of which are spoken by Jesus. Do not be afraid. Peter says to Jesus, boldly, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus says to him simply, “Come.” And Peter does – he gets out of the boat and starts walking toward Jesus. But then, it’s as if one of the disciples yells out to him, “Whatever you do Peter, don’t look down! Don’t pay attention to the fact that you are walking on the water in the middle of a huge storm!” Peter looks around him, and terror seizes him, and he begins to sink. “Lord, save me!” he calls. Immediately, Jesus reaches out and rescues Peter. He doesn’t praise Peter’s courage, but instead says, “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?” When they get into the boat, the storm stops, apparently an act of Jesus which causes those in the boat to worship him, saying, “Truly you are God’s son.” Just after this, after the passage we read today, the disciples and Jesus finish crossing the sea. People recognize Jesus right away, and people come from all around to be healed by his touch.
            I don’t know about you, but I’m always a little surprised, reading this text, by Jesus’ reaction to Peter. Ok, Peter got scared, and starting sinking. But he got out of the boat, right? I think that’s more than I’d be ready to do. Why is Jesus so hard on him? What does Jesus expect of us? So let’s zero in on what Peter says and does for a minute. He’s in the boat. He sees Jesus walking toward him. He thinks it might be a ghost, and is afraid, whether Jesus is too far away to see clearly, or the image of him on the water is just too shocking, we don’t know. But Jesus tells them, “It’s me, don’t be afraid.” And Peter says, “Lord, if it is really you, command me to come to you.” And Jesus says, “Come.” But here’s the thing. Peter and the other had just come from watching Jesus feed 5000 men plus women and children. And beyond that, so far, in Peter’s time with Jesus, he’s witnessed him cleanse a leper, heal people’s paralysis, cast out demons, still a storm – before this storm, restore the sight of the blind, restore speech to a mute person, and even raise a child from the dead. Peter has seen a lot. And his words here suggests he knows very well that this “ghost” is Jesus. He says to him, “Lord, if it’s you, command me to come out to you.” Every word that Peter says is infused with the knowledge that who he’s seeing is Jesus, and Jesus, his Lord and master, a person whose commands he will follow since he is a disciple, a student of this teacher, this Jesus is calling him to get out of the boat, to step out in faith. Peter knows already, as do the other disciples, that this is Jesus, son of God, the Christ, who he’s been following, and who he’s certainly talking to now, amazing as it is.
            Peter knows this. And yet, he sinks. And I think that’s what causes Jesus to say, “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?” Because Peter and the disciples know who Jesus is – and that is what fills them with fear – not the storm. It is knowing that the person they are following is exactly who they think he is – the messiah – that fills them with terror. And so, like the religious leaders of the day who are constantly asking Jesus to answer questions and prove himself to them, Jesus’ very own disciples are doing the same thing, in their own way. They’re seeking proof after proof, sign after sign that Jesus is the One. And then, then, when they’re convinced, they pledge, they’ll be all in. They’ll follow without hesitation. But they’ve had sign after sign after sign. How many more do they need?
            Here’s what I think: the disciples don’t need more signs. The signs are an excuse for inaction. The confirmation they seek that Jesus is really Jesus is an expression of fear. They’re not afraid that Jesus isn’t the right one to follow. They’re afraid that he is the one to follow. Because if they have to admit that they’re 100% sure that Jesus is the messiah, then they’ll have to be 100% committed to following him. And as much as they’ve seen Jesus’s miracles, they’ve also heard Jesus’ teachings. And so they know that committing to following Jesus doesn’t mean Jesus lets up on you. Goes easy on you. Focuses on getting others to commit instead. No, committing to following Jesus means that Jesus just keeps expecting more. Jesus wants it all. I think the disciples know that if they let go of their fear and just follow Jesus, he’ll keep asking more of them. To the point where Jesus says things like, “take up the cross and follow me.” And “if you want save your life you have to lose it.” And “the road is narrow.” And so if they admit they believe already, totally, they’ll have to move beyond looking for signs, and on to following the one they know to be God’s son. And so Peter tries ask for another proof: Lord, if it’s you… Who else would it be?! No wonder Jesus seems so exasperated that Peter sinks!
            Friends, we may be telling ourselves that we’re waiting to be more sure, to be more confident in our faith. We might say we need a sign, a proof, a burning bush, a storm to be stilled in our sight, and then, then, we’ll put our whole selves in to this discipleship thing. We’ll really follow Jesus 100%, when we’re 100% sure. But Jesus called Peter’s bluff. And eventually, though certainly after many more attempts at playing the, “if it’s you, Lord,” card, Peter committed his whole life. And I think Jesus is ready to call us out too. If you already know it’s me, then what are you waiting for? Step out of the boat already! What will it be? Do we need another sign to tell us what we already know? Or are we ready to step out on to the water? Whatever you do, keep your eyes on Jesus.

            Amen. 

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/08/sermon-for-14th-sunday-after-pentecost-year-a-if-i-keep-my-eyes-on-jesus-matthew-1422-33/

Aug 04 2014

bethquick.com: Lectionary Notes for Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 14, Ordinary 19)

Original post at http://bethquick.blogspot.com/2011/08/lectionary-notes-for-eighth-sunday.html



Readings for 9th Sunday after Pentecost, 8/10/14:
Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28, Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b, Romans 10:5-15, Matthew 14:22-33

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28:
  • I have to say, I'm not surprised the brothers resented Joseph. Jacob clearly had favorites, even as he was his mother's favorite. Even in my own family, we tease and joke about all of us being my mother's favorite. But here the favoritism is real - how would you act knowing that your parent loved your sibling more than you?
  • "here comes this dreamer" - what a nickname, eh? They mean it as criticism, but it is actually what makes and saves and guides Joseph, isn't it? What if we had and embraced more dreamers in our church?
  • We get just bits of Joseph's whole story in the next two weeks, but it is a great story. If you've seen the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, you've seen how fun it can be brought to life. Can you bring it to life somehow for your congregation?
Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b:
  • Part of this selection is the same as from two weeks ago. I can never figure out what qualifies the repetition of one psalm over another in the RCL. Oh well...
  • Verses 1-5 are right on target for me: Remember to praise God all the time, because God has done some pretty amazing things for you. It is amazing how easily we forget God's role in all that we claim as our own goodness.
  • Verses 16-22 tie back to the Old Testament lesson about Joseph. OK, I guess having this part today makes sense ;)!
  • 45b makes a nice end, while skipping many verses: "praise God!"
     
Romans 10:5-15:
  • "...confess with your lips", "believe in your heart" "you will be saved." This is an interesting passage, certainly one that supports the doctrine of sola fide, the idea that we are saved by faith alone (without works required.) It makes it sounds so simplistic - all we need to do to be 'saved' (read in Greek as: safety/health/safe) is say that Jesus is Lord. Simple, right? "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Is there depth in that faith? Indeed, this belief seems to be frequently uttered in more conservative denominations/non-denominational churches - a great emphasis on declaring Jesus as Lord and Savior. I'm not sure Paul is trying to give us anything so simplistic here...
  • ...because the rest of Paul's writings lead me to believe that Paul would not have advocated some 'magic words' we can say that bring us God's salvation. Paul knew better than that, and if that's all we hear in this passage, we've missed some important verses at the end. "For there is NO DISTINCTION BETWEEN JEW AND GREEK; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him." Paul is insisting here that believers don't need to be part of the Jewish faith or complete Jewish rituals to be part of the plan of salvation - they just need to connect with Christ, find belief in Christ. This passage speaks of the open and inclusive nature of salvation. Indeed, GOOD NEWS!
  • I love the closing of this passage - "how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?" Good news to share? Share it!
Matthew 14:22-33:
  • Peter is the only one who risks walking on water, and yet he is the one Jesus declares has "little faith." Is that fair? It reminds me of the parable of the talents - the one who has the most is given the most. Perhaps in this case, the one who can give the most has the most demanded of them? Or perhaps Peter, who has been so close to Jesus, should have been most able to have faith. What do you think?
  • Being on a boat in a storm is scary enough today, with all our safety measures. I can't imagine it was much fun in Jesus' day. But read the passage carefully - what is it that the disciples react to in fear? Is it the weather? 
  • Why do you think the disciples didn't recognize Jesus? Sure, he was walking on water. Hadn't he done other unbelievable things before? How does God show up in your life in unbelievable ways?
  • This experience, combined with the miraculous feeding from last week's text, creates a moment of theophany for the disciples. 

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/08/lectionary-notes-for-ninth-sunday-after-pentecost-year-a-proper-14-ordinary-19/

Jul 28 2014

bethquick.com: Lectionary Notes for Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A (Proper 13, Ordinary 18)

Original post at http://bethquick.blogspot.com/2011/07/lectionary-notes-for-7th-sunday-after.html



Readings for 8th Sunday after Pentecost, 8/3/14:
Genesis 32:22-31, Psalm 17:1-7, 15, Romans 9:1-5, Matthew 14:13-21

Genesis 32:22-31:
  • This is just a fantastic passage. We all wrestle with God, but there are lots of ways to go about it. Jacob's approach is great - Jacob wrestles, holds his own, and demands a blessing. OK, so it is God's messenger - but good enough. How do you wrestle with God?
  • What are your names? What do they mean? Who named you? 
  • Are you willing and able to ask God to bless you? Demand it even?
  • "I have seen God face to face." Have you? When? Where? How?
Psalm 17:1-7, 15:
  • This psalm fits well with our passage from Genesis, because the 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.
  • 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.
  • Read the in-between verse too. For once, they are not totally, just partially, about God smiting enemies. They do also include the phrase "apple of the eye" - did you know that was from the Bible?
Romans 9:1-5:
  • This is an odd little snippet of scripture. What is here? Paul's passion that his people, the Israelites, would hear God's message. He has "great sorrow and unceasing anguish" for them as he worries about their salvation. Who do you worry about? Whose walk with God are you anguished over, hoping for them that they find the hope you have found?
Matthew 14:13-21:
  • Did you know that the feeding of the 5000 is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels?
  • Food holds such a critical place in the scriptures. Jesus talks about being spiritually fed lots of times. But he doesn't overlook the importance of alleviating literal hunger!
  • Some look at this as a literal miracle. Others read this passage as a miracle of sharing and abundance in a more figurative sense. I say: either way, it is a miracle indeed. People were hungry, then were fed. People were enabled to stay and hear Jesus preach.
  • Abundance - there was more than enough to go around. This is a great statement for today - we live in a world of abundance, but perceive ourselves to be in a world of scarcity. Jesus tries to show us our abundance. Can you see it? Live it? 

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/07/lectionary-notes-for-eighth-sunday-after-pentecost-year-a-proper-13-ordinary-18/

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