Friday, November 11, 2011

The Reflectionary: Scripture for Worship on November 13th, 2011

Although the Revised Common Lectionary runs on a three-year calendar, differences between years sometimes dictate that there aren't the same number of Sunday observances from one year to another. Thus, as I look at my three-year old writings, I realize that there was no 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time in 2008. The upshot of this is that I am actually writing these reflections with 2011 fully in mind.

Here are the passages for November 13, 2011, the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A). All links are to the CEB via BibleGateway.com, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead (either with your own Bible, or via the drop-down menu at BibleGateway.com).

Judges 4:1-7
  • I actually find verse one a bit odd.  It doesn't say "the Israelites... did things that were evil," but rather "the Israelites... did things that the LORD saw as evil." (emphasis mine) Perhaps the distinction is purely academic. If God sees something as evil, surely it is! But why does this particular passage describe the situation this way?
  • I'm glad to see that Deborah's story is getting covered at least in part, especially so soon after thinking about her (and other women of the Bible) in the light of Scot McKnight's recent visit. I actually didn't remember that Deborah had a husband. Who remembers Lappidoth? The passage certainly makes clear that the Israelites were coming to her for help, and not to him. The passage gives us Lappidoth's name, and then he's gone from the story entirely!
Psalm 123:1-4

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
  • To read this passage, I can't help but think that Paul didn't have a very high opinion of the evening. I wonder how much of this passage is using imagery (that is, it's all about light and darkness, but not so much about saying "nighttime is evil, and good Christians shouldn't go out at night") and how much Paul really does mean to say that Christians should be people of the daytime.
Matthew 25:14-30
  • I always find myself wondering what it is that's so "evil" about the "one coin" servant (I've never really disputed the "lazy" part, but surely "evil" isn't just limited to laziness). Surely it would have been worse if the servant had run off and spent the master's money on himself!  That I could see being called "evil." What if the servant had gone and done business with the coin (as the other servants did), but it turned out to be a bad business, thereby again meaning that the original money is lost? Would the master have been pleased, indicating that the parable is more about the effort than the result?
  • Of course, the "meaning" of the parable (as it is given in verse 29) is itself troubling. How does such a teaching reconcile with the idea that "the last shall be first, and the first shall be last"?  That little bit of teaching shows up not once, but twice, just within the gospel of Matthew itself (to say nothing of the other gospels)!

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