Saturday, August 16, 2008

Reflectionary: Scripture for Worship on August 17, 2008

The Reflectionary is a weekly blog entry consisting of questions and comments on readings from the Revised Common Lectionary used at many Christian churches.

A new entry is added each Saturday, and features the readings for the following day, in hopes of enhancing the experience of participation during one's regular Sunday worship gathering.

Here are the passages for August 17, 2008, the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A). 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 links at

Genesis 45:1-15
  • This passage is often used as an example of how God can use the evil in the world (in this case, the fact that Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery) and bring about a good result anyway. God is clearly capable of doing this kind of thing all the time. But I find myself concerned that these passages are used too often to say that God will bring about a good result from evil actions in all cases. This just doesn't match my observations of the real world, in which innocent people suffer all the time, and would dearly welcome such a deliverance, yet it never seems to come. What are we to do with passages like this in light of such reality?
  • Why is Benjamin singled out in the last few verses?
Psalm 133:1-3

Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
  • Sometimes the lectionary chooses particular Scripture passages to be read on the same day because those passages have something in common. Should we make something of the fact that Paul writes of his connection to the tribe of Benjamin on the same day that we read a passage where Benjamin is specifically singled out in the Old Testament passage?
  • I find this passage a bit confusing. It sounds a bit like it's saying that disobedience is a good thing, even though this flies in the face of my expectations. I appreciate that receiving God's mercy is a good thing, but wouldn't it be better if one had never disobeyed in the first place?
Matthew 15:(10-20) 21-28
  • (Note that some churches will omit the parenthetical part, even if they use the rest of the passage) Why were the Pharisees offended by Jesus' teaching? Were they simply upset that Jesus was teaching something contrary to their own teachings, or did they perhaps understand what he meant in regard to things coming out of a person's mouth?
  • Re: Verse 16--I often wonder what Jesus' frustration with the disciples must have looked like. If they were offended that he ridiculed their intelligence, we certainly don't see any sign of it.
  • The passage with the Canaanite woman is a difficult one. Jesus seems to treat the woman's request by responding with a racial insult (that's how I'd hear the bit about dogs, anyway, and I see no reason to assume that things were that much different back then. I certainly can't imagine it wasn't an offensive thing to say). What if the Canaanite woman hadn't responded so well? What would the disciples have taken from this incident? Would they have assumed that it was okay to treat people like that? After all, Jesus did it!
  • Why does Jesus, not only here but elsewhere, limit himself to the people of Israel? How do we understand what Jesus did for the whole world when we consider this fact?

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