Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lectionary Ruminations: Scripture for Worship on February 1, 2009

Here are the passages for February 1, 2009, the Fourth 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

Deuteronomy 18:15-20
  • The "me" of this passage would seem to be Moses. Almost the entirety of Deuteronomy is one long speech by Moses where he tells God's people what God expects of them. But is it? Some commentaries suggest that, since these are supposed to be the words of God (presented only through Moses), then "like me" would be an indication that the prophet to come is like God. What do you think?
  • Some commentaries (even those who don't necessarily equate "me" with God, as above) suggest that the prophet foretold here is Jesus Christ. What do you think? What aspects of this passage would lead one to assume that it is not a reference to any other prophet, or to prophets generally?
  • I find myself struck by verse 16, where it is mentioned that the Israelites specifically asked God not to speak to them (directly, I assume), lest they die. This request was made in Exodus 20:19, right after they had heard the Ten Commandments (we read parts of this passage a few months ago). Perhaps we're now seeing the results of that request, in that God will send other prophets after Moses is gone?
  • The end of this passage itself mentions the possibility that people will claim to be prophets, yet won't actually be speaking for God. How are the people (especially in this era before Scripture is written down) to know which prophets speak for God (so that they may heed the words of such a prophet) and which ones are false?
Psalm 111:1-10

1 Corinthians 8:1-13
  • Paul seems on the one hand concerned to express his freedom, while on the other he wishes to emphasize that he is to act in ways that help others. How careful do you think he tried to be to watch his eating habits around other people? Or, to put it another way, how much knowledge of how "strong" or "weak" a person is did he have to possess to alter his behavior accordingly? Do you think that Paul was largely a vegetarian, because he might never know who he was causing to stumble? Or do you think that Paul largely continued to eat meat, only altering this behavior when he knew it could cause difficulty?
  • We don't worry too much anymore about food that was (or might have been) sacrificed to idols. What other areas of our lives would the principle of this passage apply to today?
Mark 1:21-28
  • What does it mean to say that Jesus taught "as one who had authority"? How could the people around him, who heard him teach, tell? What was different about his teaching, that they would make such an assertion?
  • In this passage, Jesus casts out an evil spirit. We're only told here that it was an evil spirit. We're not shown anything that the spirit did to the person it was possessing. The only action of the spirit we are given access to was the proclamation of Jesus as "the Holy One of God." Is this how they knew it was evil? Or did Jesus' followers know it was evil because of Jesus' response? Or did they see other ways, not recorded here, that the evil spirit made itself known?

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