the Revised Common Lectionary. Comments and questions are intended to encourage reflection for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged. All lectionary links are to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead. (Other references are linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.)
Judah was a Theocracy. How shall a secular democracy read, hear and interpret this passage? Or shall we read it only as a Church with no application to our nation?
v. 2 God sends Jeremiah to the potter’s house, where he will hear God’s words (note the plural), but who is the potter?
v. 4 Never allow good clay go to waste. It was not the clay that was spoiled but rather the vessel the potter was making that was spoiled.
v. 5 By comparison, or analogy, it is not the house of Israel that is spoiled but rather what the house of Israel has been shaped into.
vs. 7-8 The hypothetical refers to “a nation” and not necessarily Israel.
v. 8 And how do we deal with God saying “I will change my mind”?
v. 9 It seems that God is pleading for the people of Judah to do something that will convince the LORD to change the divine mind.
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
Today’s Psalm seems personal, yet the First Reading is more corporate.
vs. 13-15 While Jeremiah offers us a potter metaphor, the Psalmist offers us a knitter metaphor. Both potters and knitters work with their hands to form raw material into finished products that can be both useful as well as decorative.
v. 16 A reference to Divine providence or perhaps even predestination?
v. 17 Is this a recognition of both God’s Holiness as well as transcendence?
This is perhaps Paul’s most personal letter. It seems Paul is really laying on the accolades, which would leave Philemon looking like a jerk if he does not do what Paul is urging him to do.
v. 1 Paul, who as a prisoner has lost his freedom, is writing to Philemon about possibly freeing Onesimus.
v. 3 Typical greeting for a Christian/Greek letter.
v. 19 Shift from Paul dictating the letter to a secretary who writes, to Paul writing in his own hand.
v. 25 How many people constitute a “large” crowd?
v. 26 So much for family values!
v. 27 Talk of “the cross” before the crucifixion.
v. 28 Out of all the possible building projects, why a tower?
v. 31 And how shall we deal with this militaristic image?
v. 33 How does this verse follow from what precedes it? What is the logic? How will materialistic Americans in a consumer economy that is in the midst of “the great recession” hear this verse?