Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lectionary Ruminations: Scripture for Worship on April 19, 2009

Here are the passages for August 23rd, 2009, the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B). Starting this week, I'm going to handle links to the Scriptures differently. All links are to the NRSV via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead.

1 Kings 8:(1, 6, 10-11) 22-30, 41-43
  • The Revised Common Lectionary allows churches the option of reading--or not reading--the verses in parentheses.
  • As I read of Solomon's actions regarding the newly built temple, I'm reminded of David's interactions with the ark that we read about last month. What's different here? What's similar?
  • I'm especially struck by verses 10 and 11, whereby the priests "could not stand to minister" because of the cloud that the LORD brought. Why should God appear in such a way as to overcome the priests in this way? Does this tell us anything about the priests themselves?
  • When Solomon prays before the people, he reminds God of the promises that God has made. What is the purpose of such a reminder?
  • What do you make of the fact that Solomon includes foreigners in his prayer?
Psalm 84:1-12

Ephesians 6:10-20
  • Why does the author of this passage use the imagery of physical armor to describe how one should "be strong in the Lord"? Why do you think he has attached certain attributes (such as "righteousness") to certain armor parts ("breastplate," in that example)?
  • As the passage ends, the author requests prayer that he "may declare (the mystery of the gospel) boldly." Why might he not be bold about such a declaration (apart from the power of God)?
John 6:56-69
  • Last week, I commented at how Jesus' listeners took Jesus' words about "eating his flesh" literally. This reading (which repeats a couple of verses from that one) makes this even more clear, and indeed makes it appear that it was Jesus' intention that his audience understand these words in this way. Why would Jesus say something so clearly offensive? Does he not want people to follow him?
  • Why does Jesus respond to the questions of his disciples by talking about the ascension of the Son of Man, as if this would be somehow more offensive than the cannibalistic imagery he's already used?
  • What do you make of Simon Peter's response to Jesus at the end of the passage?

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