Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lectionary Ruminations: Scripture for Worship on June 14 2009

Here are the passages for June 14th, 2009, the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B). (Note that the numbering picks up from before Lent, and that several "named" Sundays, such as Trinity Sunday last week, are counted in this number despite my not always mentioning this explicitly.) 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 Samuel 15:34-16:13
  • I find it odd that the lectionary drops us right into the story after the incident where Samuel told Saul that the Lord had rejected him (because Saul failed to carry out the Lord's instructions), telling us only about the aftermath. Why do you think the lectionary frames this reading in this way?
  • What does it mean about God that we can read about God having regrets?
  • We often hear and tell this story to demonstrate that God does not look for leaders the way that humans do, but what does it tell us that Samuel, who knew God fairly well, made such human assumptions? And just what do we learn about God's criteria for leadership?
Psalm 20

2 Corinthians 5:6-10 (11-13) 14-17
  • The Revised Common Lectionary allows churches the option of reading--or not reading--the verses in parentheses.
  • The first verse seems phrased rather strangely to me. Paul seems to link his "confidence" with the knowledge that he is "away from the Lord." Surely this isn't what he means! What's he getting at?
  • (In the optional verses) Paul mentions that he is giving his readers an "opportunity to take pride in" Paul and his companions, "so that (they) can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart." What kind of "answer" does Paul imagine that the Corinthians will give?
  • Paul says the he longer regards anyone "from a worldly point of view." But what does his new point of view (presumably that of Christ) look like? What difference does it make?
Mark 4:26-34
  • Here are two different seed parables. Why does Jesus use "seed" imagery so much?
  • We are told that Jesus "explained everything" when he was alone with his disciples (and indeed see an example of such explanations elsewhere in the gospels). But why does Jesus "teach" the masses in such "unclear" ways (so as to need an explanation) in the first place? And, judging from how his disciples often acted (Mark, in particular, tends to portray them as pretty dense), just how clear were Jesus' explanations? What hope is there that Christians today can understand these teachings?

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