Holy Textures is a spot for my musings on the various Biblical texts that come our way through the Revised Common Lectionary.
My goal is to provide timely, short, easy to use and faith-provoking background commentary for your sermon or bible study preparation.
Year A - Season after Pentecost - 2020 - Up to the End of August
Note that in Pentecost, the Sundays are numbered as "after" Pentecost Sunday. So the first Sunday after Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, is Pentecost 1.
This year, Easter was almost as late as it can possibly be. And so Pentecost and Trinity Sundays come just as we in the Northern Hemisphere enter the summer season. And enter into continuing uncertainty as to how the COVID-19 infection will impact our ways of being gathered communities. The chaotic upending of life as we knew it is not new to the Biblical story. No one expected Jesus' resurrection. And just like the first disciples, we too must now ask one one another, "What shall we do now?" And like them, perhaps we too will glean some comfort and some guidance by remembering what Jesus said and did while he lived amongst us.
Having left off reading through Matthew three months ago, we pick up at the end of Chapter 9. What has happened since we last were listening to Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount back in Chapter 7?
Quite a bit actually. Jesus has been demonstrating that he can walk the talk, and he has been teaching about the costs of following in his footsteps:
- Jesus cleanses a leper (8:1-4)
- Jesus heals a Centurion's servant (8:5-13)
- Jesus heals many at Peter's house (8:14-17)
- Jesus teaches the Son of Man has no where to lay his head (8:18-22)
- Jesus stills a storm (8:23-27)
- Jesus heals two Gadarene men possessed by demons (8:28--9:1)
- Jesus heals a paralytic (9:2-8)
- Jesus calls Matthew, a tax collector, to follow him (9:9-13)
- Jesus teaches about new wine (9:14-17)
- Jesus heals a woman and restores a girl to life (9:18-26)
- Jesus heals two blind men (9:27-31)
- Jesus heals a mute person (9:32-34)
And so we re-join Jesus as his words and deeds are spreading his reputation far and wide - and therefore, also attracting the attention of - and opposition from - the authorities in Jerusalem.
And remember, "the authorities in Jerusalem," the priests, scribes, and Pharisees, are elites who are collaborating with the Roman occupation, and who are therefore also dependent on pleasing their masters for their survival. Jesus' reputation is attracting crowds and raising the authorities' fears about social unrest.
And for those who like to plan in advance, a heads up that Christmas Eve is on a Thursday this year.
May 31, 2020
"We might all hear the same words - each in our own language - but we will not all hear and understand exactly the same meaning. The problem with life, and faith, and following Jesus is always: What does this mean?"
John 20:19-23, Alternate Reading 1
"To be a spirit-filled community of peace requires that we learn and practice and experience the reality and art of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation."
John 7:37-39, Alternate Reading 2
"In John, 'thirst' has the double meaning of literal thirst for real water and physical life; and 'spiritual' thirst for a real relationship with God and eternal life. Thus, those who come to Jesus and trust him will have floods of life flowing out of them."
June 7, 2020
"These 5 short verses touch on several crucial themes: 1) The authority of Jesus. 2) The purposes of the church: go, make disciples, baptize, teach, obey, remember. 3) The presence of Jesus-now-resurrected. A congregation that is centred on these will not go far wrong. And might even get a fair bit right."
Not used this year
(Used if the Sunday following Trinity Sunday is between May 24 to 28 inclusive.)
"Having our intentions aligned with God's desires plus trusting God frees us from being anxious / worried / fearful about what will happen next; allows us to let go of expectations."
Not used this year
(Used if the Sunday following Trinity Sunday is between May 29 to June 4 inclusive.)
""It is not enough for us to hear these words of Jesus; to study them; to be inspired by them; to have hopes / aspirations / dreams based on them. We must ACT on them; practice them; live them in our everyday lives."
Not used this year
(Used if the Sunday following Trinity Sunday is between June 5 to June 11 inclusive.)
Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26
""If you stop and really think about it, the most difficult 'miracle' in today's text is not the raising of the girl from death, nor the healing of the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. The most difficult healing was including the despised tax collector Matthew back into community. Don't believe it? Try thinking of a person your community despises and invite them to church with you."
June 14, 2020
"Jesus then instructs his disciples on how to live as itinerants, what to expect, and how to handle difficulties. These teachings were important because his followers would only have known village life - relying on family and kin for sustenance - and would be totally unfamiliar with the social realities of being an outsider."
June 21, 2020
"We all know how to lose our life so that it is lost. The trick is to figure out how to lose one's life so that it will be found. And the key to that mystery is to lose our life for Jesus' sake. For Jesus' purpose, aim, or end."
June 28, 2020
"Welcoming "in the name of" means welcoming in the honour of; in the reputation of. It means welcoming in a way that is true to the integrity and character and goals of the one being welcomed. In a way that is truly worthy of the one being welcomed."
July 5, 2020
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
"A good way to open today's worship service might be to ask: Are there any here today who have never been weary? Never had to carry a heavy heart burden? Okay, you're free to go."
July 12, 2020
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
"You and I might not waste our efforts on the down trodden, the thorny, and the hardened, but God does."
July 19, 2020
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
"This is a parable about the FIELD - about the collective experience. At the end, the weeds ARE separated and burned. At the end, what is pleasing to God is taken in to God's care and keeping. But remember, think of yourself as the FIELD. At the harvest, the weeds in you are removed, and the wheat in you is gathered in."
July 26, 2020
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
"Even those who are accustomed to finding and trading fine things might still encounter a life-changing experience. Even those involved in the church all their lives might still be transformed in ways beyond their imagining."
August 2, 2020
"This lesson invites us to remember our own wildernesses, our own places of chaos, when our own insufficiencies may have been blessed, broken, and given away. And yet it was precisely in risking that impossible insufficiency that there was enough. Indeed, more than enough."
August 9, 2020
"Walking on the sea is not an idle, capricious, magic trick. After spending time alone in prayer, Jesus has stepped out onto the back of a chaotic and dangerous spirit to go and be with his friends."
August 16, 2020
Matthew 15:(10-20), 21-28
"But this incident is a beautiful illustration of the teaching Jesus has just made. Outwardly, this woman has nothing about her that is "clean." But she has two things in her heart that make her right with God: her unwavering, nagging, persistent care for her daughter; and, her unwavering, nagging, persistent trust that Jesus can cure her daughter. And these two things cause Jesus to undergo a change of heart himself."
August 23, 2020
"It is very problematic that the Lectionary separates Verses 13-20 from Verses 21-23, the first of three occasions of Jesus showing his disciples that he must go up to Jerusalem, suffer, be killed, and on the third day be raised. If we want the transformational bonding with Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God, we also can't avoid bonding with Jesus the Crucified One."
August 30, 2020
"Peter rebukes Jesus. Jesus rebukes Peter. Calls Peter - or at least Peter's rebuke - Satan. That is, Tempter, Snake in the Garden, Introducer of Hesitation, Mixer of Motivations, Flaunter of Red Herrings, Side-Tracker of Mission, Setter of One's Mind on Human Things. Well, fear of pain and death will do that to most people, and Peter was no exception."
September 6, 2020
"Real churches have - or should have - real conflicts. The only real harm that will come to a church community is to refuse to deal with conflicts. Conflicts do not kill churches. Refusing to deal with conflict kills churches."
And here are key liturgical dates for 2020.
* Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Bruce J. Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on ... The Synoptic Gospels; The Gospel of John; The Book of Acts; The Letters of Paul; The Book of Revelation; and others.
+ Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, Jewish Annotated New Testament, The Bible With and Without Jesus, Short Stories by Jesus, Entering the Passion of Jesus, and others.