Saturday, August 23, 2008

Reflectionary: Scripture for Worship on August 24, 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 24, 2008, the Twenty-first 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

Exodus 1:8-2:10
  • When I read the king of Egypt's justification for forcing the Israelites into slavery, I can't help but think of some of the arguments some people make against immigrants (and I don't even mean illegal ones). "There are too many of them, and they're taking away jobs from us!" Is this kind of comparison fair? Why or why not?
  • While I certainly want to commend the midwives for their part in protecting Hebrew babies, I do wonder why the Pharaoh doesn't say to their excuse something like "then why didn't you kill the baby after you got there?" I'm honestly not sure what difference the midwives' excuse makes.
  • I do wonder a bit at some of the details of how the story of Moses's birth and his delivery to Pharaoh's daughter played out. How was Moses's mother able to hid him for three whole months? When Moses's sister went out to see how the baby was doing, one moment she's in hiding (at a distance), and the next she's asking Pharoah's daughter if she should get someone to nurse the baby. Was no one surprised at the child's sudden appearance?
Psalm 124:1-8

Romans 12:1-8
  • Oddly enough, the church I was at last week (not my usual church) used this passage last week instead of this one. The pastor there focused on the use of the word "transformed" and compared God's action to that of an electrical transformer. As an electrical transformer takes a huge amount of current, and changes it into a form small enough to be able to be used in a regular household, so God uses us to bring his infinite being (too much for any human to bear in its fullness) to those around us. How do you think this illustration compares to the actual text?
  • We are told not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. Does that mean that we shouldn't think highly of ourselves at all, or is there a "line" that we should be looking out for? How should we respond to the temptation to thinking of ourselves too highly?
  • God gives everyone different gifts. What gifts has God given you?
Matthew 16:13-20
  • Roman Catholics use this passage as one indication that Peter was the first Pope. Even though Protestants don't have "Popes," we still have this passage. What does Jesus mean when he says that Peter (Greek for "rock") will be the rock on which the church is built?
  • What does Jesus mean when he says that "you" (see next question) can "bind" or "loose" things on earth, and it will be so in heaven as well?
  • Indeed, is he talking just to Peter or to everyone? (The word "you" in verses 18 and 19, just after Peter's response, is consistently singular in the Greek, but the "you" of verse 15, where Jesus asks "Who do you say I am?", is plural, which some suggest indicates that Peter is used as the representative of all the disciples.)

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