Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lectionary Ruminations: Scripture for Worship on August 2, 2009

Here are the passages for August 2nd, 2009, the Eighteenth 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

2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a
  • One of the down-sides to is that the site doesn't really know how to handle partial verses, such as that called for with verse 13a here. The letter "a" indicates that only a part of the verse is to be read as part of the lectionary. In this case, the reading stops at the end of the first part of the verse, closing with "I have sinned against the LORD."
  • As I re-read this story, it occurs to me that I've often left a character out when picturing the events of Nathan's story to David. If David is represented by the "rich man," and Uriah was the "poor man," and Bathsheba was the "ewe," who was the traveler? Is it inappropriate to ask that question? What lesson might be learned by following the analogy further?
  • I imagine that David, in his outrage at hearing the tale (before yet realizing that it is about him), thought that paying for something "four times over" was a significant amount, somehow comparable to the previous exclamation of "(this man) must die!" Given the disparity between "rich" and "poor" in our world today, where CEO's make somewhere around four hundred times as much as the average worker (by some accounts, although that does seem to be coming down in the past year or so), I can't say that I'm impressed.
  • What does Nathan mean when he tells David that the LORD has taken away David's sin? David is told he won't die, but the verses immediately preceding weren't actually saying that David would die. Are these predictions still to come to pass? And, if so, how is David's sin taken away?
Psalm 51:1-12
  • Clearly, this Psalm is said to have been written in response to the events depicted in the passage above. How can David mean that he has sinned "only" against God, given the other people, such as Uriah and Bathsheba, in this story? Does David not care about these other people?
Ephesians 4:1-16
  • There are more questions raised in my mind for this passage than I know how to articulate properly. How does one discern what gifts Christ has given us? What does Paul envision when he writes of "unity?" Does he envision doctrinal agreement, in any measure (I expect most of us would affirm some level of "essentials," but if we do, how would the essentials we define measure up to Paul's vision?)? If not, how is unity to be defined?
  • For those of us who do feel "tossed back and forth by the waves" and such, what might Paul say to us? What do we lack, if anything?
  • I've heard the phrase "speaking the truth in love" used too many times by those who wish to affirm some standard of doctrine, but who somehow seem not to understand how to affirm that doctrine in anything resembling actual love, to take it seriously when used by most Christians today. How might we recapture what Paul intends?
John 6:24-35
  • Christ's message of the importance of eternal things over more temporal concerns is clear enough, but how might we play this out in the real world today, where people must eat "food that spoils" in order to survive in the physical sense, whether or not we set our efforts on the eternal things? How are we to look at the many Christians dying of hunger in our world and still take this teaching seriously?

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