Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lectionary Ruminations: Scripture for Worship on September 20, 2009

(I'm sorry. I must have hit the wrong button somehow. I had this written to be posted on September 16th, but I'm only finding out the evening of the 20th that it's still sitting in "draft," so I'm back-posting it now.)

Here are the passages for September 20th, 2009, the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B). 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.

Proverbs 31:10-31
  • OK.  Let's get my own bias out of the way.  I'm uncomfortable with the gender bias in this passage.  It lists tons of characteristics of a "capable wife," but very little is said about the husband (although the couple of things that are said about the husband are perhaps noteworthy).  Why is this?  Is there another passage (one for another week, perhaps?) that does the same thing for the "other side"?
  • For those of us who prefer to downplay the "innate" differences between genders, what does a passage like this have to tell us?  What differences are still appropriate to pay attention to?  Why?
  • What characteristics described here surprise you?  Are you pleasantly surprised, or annoyed?  Why?
Psalm 1

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a
  • How do think James would define the word "wisdom" (or σοφιας, if you prefer to use the original Greek)?
  • "You do not have, because you do not ask," James says.  What about people of deep faith who nonetheless have great need?  Most of us can tell stories of those whom God seems not to have helped (at least, not in the ways we would have wanted).  What would James say to these people?  Would he be using this same direct language with them?  Would he tell them they have "ask(ed) wrongly," as suggested in this letter?
  • In this context, what does it mean to submit one's self to God?
Mark 9:30-37
  • This passage seems to be presented in two distinct parts: Jesus tells his disciples about his death and resurrection, and the disciples arguing about who's the greatest (with Jesus' response).  Why are these seemingly disconnected stories presented together in this way?  
  • We don't actually see the disciples argue in this passage.  Rather, Jesus asks them about a past event.  When did this argument take place (perhaps in relation to the teachings about death and resurrection?  And if so, what about that teaching caused them to start arguing about greatness?)?
  • What is it about children that Jesus wants to hold up as an example to the disciples?

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