joseph and brothers

One Big Happy Family

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Genesis 37:1-28

Typology has gotten a bad rap in modernity, but Scripture isn’t Scripture without it. So both Old Testament passages on offer this week invite theological reflection on a provident God who orders deliverance to and through Jesus of Nazareth. I’ll concentrate on Genesis 37.

“This is the story of the family of Jacob” (37:2)—our story, people of God. It isn’t pretty. Bad reports, preferential loves, internecine hatred, braggadocio followed by “even more” hatred (37:8), conspiracy to kill, deception, and betrayal for 20 pieces of silver. This story of the family of Jacob—our ecclesial story—puts ugly on display. Read more

Birth of Jacob statue

Jacob, Despite Jacob

JacobIn Preaching and Reading the Lectionary: A Three-Dimensional Approach to the Liturgical Year, O. Wesley Allen Jr. advocates for a what he calls a cumulative preaching strategy that focuses more on the sweep of a year’s worth of preaching than any one particular sermon.  As Allen explains “all pastors know (or at least hope), deep in their hearts, that the great power of preaching lies less in the individual sermon and more in the cumulative effect of preaching week in and week out to the same congregation, to the same community of believers, doubters and seekers…sermons offered Sunday after Sunday, month after month, year after year weave together to have an immeasurable cumulative influence on individuals’ and the congregation’s understanding of God, self, and the world.” (ix)  To that end, Allen examines the patterns of the lectionary and the way the lectionary can be used a whole year at a time.

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All Things Shining

Revised Common Lectionary, Second Sunday after Pentecost: 1 Kings 17: 8-16, 17-24; Luke 7:11-17 / Catholic Lectionary, Feast of Corpus Christi: Genesis 14:18-20, Luke 9:11-17

Ordinary time. Words not crafted to stir the soul. “Ordinary” here, of course, refers to the numbering of Sundays outside of festal and penitential seasons, but that’s far too abstract to make up for its dull connotations. Even in times of sadness, we may feel new life in Easter season. It’s far more difficult when spring is past.

The liturgical color for Ordinary Time is green. Green for life, growth, renewal. Focusing on the ordinary, the Humean predicament of “one damn thing after another,” it’s easy – perhaps inevitable – to miss how life’s greenness marks our lives as cottonwoods in the desert line a river or tap an aquifer.

I suspect it’s always been the case, but steady bad news makes it difficult to ignore the mess we’ve made of the ordinary. No longer content merely to sacrifice the lives of our children or the tops of mountains for the material comforts of a fossil-fueled economy, we lay waste oceans – over an already designated “dead zone” – in ways our words have yet to capture. Less a “spill” than a “spew,” less an “accident” than a predictable event, the baleful consequences of extractive science are made, not for the first or last time, visible. Read more

raphael66

Kings?

I Kings 2: 10-12, 3: 3-14; Psalm 111 or Psalm 34: 9-14; Ephesians 5: 15-20; John 6: 51-58

The Old Testament reading this week culminates the summer-long focus on the David cycle throughout I and II Samuel. We’ve followed David from his anointing by old Samuel while David was a young shepherd boy through his confrontation and victory over Goliath, his rivalry with and eventual succession of King Saul, his consolidation of power and making Jerusalem his capital, bringing the Ark of the Covenant to the city and his ecstatic dancing before it, to his adulterous and murderous relationship with Bathsheba, his confrontation with the prophet Nathan, to the death of his son Absalom while trying to overthrow his father. Finally, this week, we read the verse “Then David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David” (I Kings 2:10). Wow! What a story. Read more

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Sex in Public

2 Samuel 11:1-15 (Eighth Sunday After Pentecost)

So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her.

For the next two Sundays, churches that follow the Revised Common Lectionary will hear the familiar story of David and Bathsheba—a cautionary tale often invoked to warn against the dangers of sexual temptation in our own time and/or to demonstrate the humanness of the oft-idealized King David in his.

It’s interesting to note the military context of David’s sexual conquest. It is the time of year, we are told, when “kings go out to battle.” But David, after dispatching his general, Joab, and all his officers and regiments to the front lines, “remained at Jerusalem.” While his troops are ravaging the Ammonites and besieging the city of Rabbah, King David—bored and gazing about the neighborhood—sets out to ravage and besiege the married Bathsheba, a woman of the Bible like so many others: silent and helplessly complicit in her own victimization. Read more