Setting Your Mind on Divine Things

Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost
Proverbs 1:20-33
Psalm 19
Mark 8:27-38

Wisdom is saying some weird things, and quite publicly too.

In my tradition, we follow the semi-continuous readings from the Old Testament as outlined in the Revised Common Lectionary for the Season After Pentecost. Unlike the lectionary readings during such seasons as Easter and Christmas, the first reading and psalm are not chosen to jive with the readings from the New Testament. But there is a certain convergence in these readings for this coming Sunday, which is perhaps not so surprising given that they are all biblical texts. Read more

Solomon: Unedited and Uncut

Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost
1 Kings 2.10-12, 3.3-14

And the Academy Award for Selective Biblical Editing goes to…the architects behind today’s assigned reading from 1 Kings! The lectionary for this Sunday instructs us to read three spare verses of chapter two, followed by twelve more carefully curated verses from chapter three. From these selections, we are introduced to young King Solomon as son of David, builder of the great Jerusalem Temple, and the very embodiment of wisdom, as evidenced by his prudent, faithful, and selfless prayer in chapter three: “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?” Pleased by Solomon’s request for wisdom, God responds with this promise to seal the deal: Because you have asked this… I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. (1 Kings 3.11-12) Read more

Wasting Time in the Banquet Hall

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14 OR Proverbs 9:1-6
Ephesians 5:15-20
John 6:51-58

My children have a beloved book called Clown of God by Tomie de Paolo. I will not give much detail here so that if you haven’t yet read this book, you can enjoy the book’s surprises. Yet I don’t think I give away too much of the story to say that in this beautifully illustrated book set in medieval Italy, readers discover that yes, someone as silly-looking as a clown – even someone who “only” juggles for a living – is a follower of Christ.

I mention my kids’ book because I think this week’s lectionary readings are about discovering what it takes to become a wise fool, a clown, for Christ. This week’s first readings are variable depending on your tradition, but whether you’re reading in 1 Kings (2:10-12; 3:3-14) or Proverbs (9:1-6), you’ll find each author describing God’s wisdom in contradistinction with human wisdom. Read more

Rebuked

Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Proverbs 1: 20-33
Mark 8: 27-38

Ah, it has finally begun to cool off where we live. There is a hint of autumn crispness in the air. The new school supplies are bought and our son has begun grade four. In the lectionary we have been learning too – what might be new things about Jesus for us, if we have been paying attention in class. Like how even Jesus is a little surprised to find himself debating with a Gentile woman, who is seeking healing for her daughter, and opening the hearing and speaking of a Greek man. A Jesus surprised about the direction his mission is taking may not be what we are used to envisioning.

We get yelled at this week. Yelled at by both Wisdom and Jesus. In public. Read more

Wisdom and Folly

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Matthew 25:1-13 (32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time)

At first glance the gospel lesson this week seems to encourage the kind of smug dualism that has characterized this long electoral season. (Can it really be coming to an end this week?): Some people are wise and some are foolish and thank God I’m among the wise ones.

Such readings (of political campaigns, of scriptural texts) do more to entrench our worst tendencies toward self-righteousness (and disdain for others) than to illuminate the larger complexities of life in a polis or the Gospel’s good news for all people. Read more