Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lectionary Ruminations: Scripture for Worship on August 16th, 2009

Here are the passages for August 16th, 2009, the Twentieth 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

1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14
  • Chapter 3, verse 3, points out a difference between Solomon's worship and that of his father David: that Solomon "offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places." Why didn't David do this? What might be the significance of Solomon's behavior in this regard? (Verse 2 of chapter 3, omitted by the lectionary, may provide a clue)
  • After mentioning David's death, the lectionary glosses over a span of time in which Solomon must solidify his right to the throne before returning us to the story at Gibeon. How much time do you think has passed before Solomon has his dream?
  • Solomon makes clear in his conversation with the LORD that he considers himself unprepared for his role as king. Is he really this unsure of himself, or is this simply the kind of humble language one uses when talking with God?
  • Solomon asks for (and is granted) wisdom (or, more precisely, "a discerning heart"). While there are certainly stories where Solomon's wisdom is on prominent display, there are other stories where one wonders if Solomon turned that wisdom "off" and instead did something rather foolish. What do you make of this reality?
Psalm 111:1-10

Ephesians 5:15-20
  • I have to admit, the writer of this passage comes off as sounding a bit like Jiminy Cricket.
  • Why are the days "evil"? What kinds of opportunities should we be looking for?
  • When listing specific items to be "wise" about, why is not getting "drunk on wine" at the top of the list?
  • Acts of worship are particularly prominent in this passage. Should we see the acts mentioned as items we should be careful to include in our worship, or is the act of worship itself what the passage has in mind?
John 6:51-58
  • Jesus' words here sound a lot like like the Lord's Supper, and indeed these words are used in the sacrament of communion quite often. It's worth noting that John places this story early in the gospel, completely separate from the context of Jesus' arrest, trial, and crucifixion. Is this significant?
  • It's easy for us today to hear Jesus talking about "eating his flesh" and think about bread, but even without the context of the sacrament, the statement seems so extreme that many today would assume he must have meant something else. It seems fairly obvious that the Jews in verse 52 took Jesus literally. Why do you think they were so quick to arrive at this conclusion?
  • Because we've seen people continue to live out their lives and die natural deaths for the past 2000 years, we've come to understand that Jesus' promise that anyone who "feeds on this bread will live forever" must mean something eschatological, as opposed to being a promise that our bodies will never die. How do you think Jesus' original followers understood this promise?

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