Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lectionary Ruminations: Scripture for Worship on January 18, 2009

Here are the passages for January 18, 2009, the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B). All links are to the TNIV via, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead (either with your own Bible, or via the drop-down menu at

I'm sure that a few of you are probably asking, "Second Sunday? Where did the first Sunday go? Did we skip it?" (This last question is especially appropriate given the recent debate as to whether or not this feature should be rescheduled. Indeed, to the best of my knowledge, that debate is not yet resolved, despite the end of the poll last week. Feel free to make your opinion known in the comments.) Basically, the answer is that not all Sundays in "Ordinary Time" (there is debate as to whether this is the best term to use) are so "ordinary" as not to be named. Last week, Baptism of the Lord Sunday, was actually the First Sunday in Ordinary Time. Other "named" Sundays in Ordinary Time include Trinity Sunday (the Sunday after Pentecost) and Christ the King Sunday (the Sunday just before Advent).

1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20)
  • The Revised Common Lectionary considers verses 11-20 optional. Churches may use the entire reading, or stop with verse 10, at their discretion.
  • The passage takes special care to say that the word of the Lord was rare "in those days." What do you think the text means? Does it suggest a time when visions or other examples of God's word were less rare? Does it suggest that people were especially out of touch with the reading of the Hebrew Scriptures? Do you think the writer of this passage would say that the word of the Lord was "rare" in our time, by comparison, or not?
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

1 Corinthians 6:12-20
  • One of the criticisms sometimes leveled at using the lectionary is that "hard" passages are left out. I would argue that this passage goes a long way toward refuting that criticism. In many churches, and certainly in the PC(USA), what is meant by "sexual immorality" is at the heart of some of our most contentious arguments. Whatever side of the current debate one finds oneself on, this passage makes clear that sexual immorality is something that God cares about. The obvious question, then, is "what does Paul mean when he uses the term here?" Is it limited to prostitution (the example Paul cites), or is prostitution simply one example? Why would prostitution be a problem (and can we at least all agree that it is?)?
John 1:43-51
  • Philip tells Nathaniel about Jesus, saying "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law...." Since John hasn't told us anything of Philip's experience with Jesus to this point (indeed, this passage is the first time Philip is mentioned), we're left to wonder, how does Philip know that Jesus is "the one" at this point? Is it Jesus' teaching? Does it have to do with what other people may have said about Jesus? Or does Jesus just have "that special something" that causes Philip to know this about Jesus?
  • Scholars have debated what Jesus meant when he told Nathaniel that Jesus saw Nathaniel under the fig tree. One suggestion is that the fig tree is an Old Testament metaphor for a person's home, and that by saying that he has seen Nathaniel at home, Jesus is saying that he knows all about him. Another suggestion is that the fig tree stands for peace. Yet another idea is that Jesus saw Nathaniel praying under a fig tree (some go so far as to suggest that Nathaniel was praying for God's Chosen One to come) just prior to their actual meeting. Are these different options mutually exclusive? What others might you be aware of? How might we determine why Nathaniel was so impressed that Jesus would respond in this way?

1 comment:

Sarahlynn said...

As far as I'm concerned, it's up to you and the Thursday folks if you'd like to juggle the schedule around. :)