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 B - Season after Pentecost - 2021, Part 1
Trinity Sunday to first Sunday of September
One of the things I like about Year B with its focus on Mark is that we get a fuller reading of the Gospel text. A richer, more detailed hearing of Mark's narrative, of Mark's testimony, of Mark's proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ. The questions I ask myself in each of the commentaries below are always: "Why was this Good News at the time of Jesus?" and "Why is this Good News for us, here and now?" I pray you will be able to use these offerings to respond to those questions in your own context.
This summer is also your opportunity to preach Chapter 6 of John in August, so make sure to plan your vacation for then! Just kidding! Sort of. Diving more deeply into John has transformed my faith, and my connection to the visceral Good News that Jesus proclaims. Chapter 6 is a good way to get into the flesh, blood, and bread of the reality of Jesus.
Note that in Pentecost, the Sundays are numbered as "after" Pentecost Sunday. So the first Sunday after Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, is Pentecost 1. And because the dates of Easter and Pentecost change each year, so do the number of Sundays that follow Pentecost. In the listing below, a lesson is shown as Not Used This Year if its date does not follow Trinity Sunday.
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May 23, 2021
"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 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
"Whatever else we may want to say on this day of Pentecost about the Spirit, it is important to notice that Jesus always refers to the Spirit as the Spirit of truth. And in John truth is always the way, the life, the light, the joy, the friendship."
May 30, 2021
"Being born anew / from above is a huge transformation, since it means quite literally starting over with a new "family of origin.'"... (It) relocates our identity and resets possibilities for our character and life choices / opportunities."
Not Used This Year
"Jesus' response successfully rebuts the Scribe's challenge by quoting an ancient proverb. This is a double victory because it demonstrates Jesus' knowledge of wisdom lore, and his ability to think on his feet - to use popular knowledge to come up with a witty, punchy reply. Score 2 for Jesus; 0 for the Scribes."
Not Used This Year
Mark 2:23 -- 3:6
"So what are we religious people to do with this lesson? On the one hand, like the Pharisees, we want to live our lives in accord with the Bible. But on the other hand, we find Jesus using the Bible to challenge understandings of what the Bible tells us to do!"
June 6, 2021
"Here is the Good News: Jesus is not out of his mind; Jesus is not filled with demonic spirits. Rather, Jesus has the mind of God; Jesus is filled with the Holy Spirit - and invites all of us to be of the same mind and same Spirit in a new family as his sisters and brothers."
June 13, 2021
"The comfort in this parable is to consider the possibility that the most helpful thing I could do to advance the Kingdom of God is to take a nap."
June 20, 2021
"The moral of this story is NOT: run to Jesus when you are in a crisis and he will make the storm go away. Rather the moral is: run to Jesus when you are in crisis and learn from him the source of his calm."
June 27, 2021
"Once again, it is important to remember that in the Bible, "faith" is NOT about "beliefs," or "ideas," or "understandings." It is about trust. And so Jesus' observation: "My daughter, your faith has made you well" is better understood as: My daughter, your trust / loyalty / bonding with me has made you well."
July 4, 2021
"The reference to "son of Mary," with no mention of his father would not so subtly remind everyone of the shaming gossip about Mary being pregnant before getting married. And who would believe the story that Mary tells about who the real father is?"
July 11, 2021
"All of this background is very interesting and helpful, but my original question remains: Where is the Good News? Perhaps there is none, and this is precisely Mark's point. Just in case we are getting too excited and thinking this business of being a disciple of Jesus is going to be a piece of cake, is going to be a story of ever increasing fame, miracles, and wonders, Mark gives a story of a good man being executed because of weakness, capriciousness, and vengeance."
July 18, 2021
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
"Try posting this note on your office door / Facebook / Twitter / blog / voice mail / memo to your Board:
'Gone to the fields to be lovely.
Be back when I'm through with blooming.'
And say a grateful, gleeful prayer of thanks all the while for the poetry of Lynn Ungar."
July 25, 2021
"These stories try to open our eyes, hearts and minds to see the hidden truth that is in plain sight. They are trying to train us so that we too can SEE where is the bread of life. ... So that we can SEE Jesus and welcome him into our frail boats on the stormy sea."
August 1, 2021
"The challenge here is to SEE which things perish and which things endure, and to embed ourselves - to abide in, to focus our living on - the things that endure. Because only the things that endure truly satisfy, and only the things that endure bring true life."
August 8, 2021
John 6:35, 41-51
"But the whole point of this passage is that while earthly bread nourishes earthly life (all of which will pass away), Jesus has been sent so that we might come / see / hear / learn / trust / eat the bread from heaven / the true bread that gives eternal life."
August 15, 2021
"The crowd has looked at Jesus through the distorted lens of their longing and seen 'king.' Jesus is asking us to reverse our gaze. To look through the lens of himself at our longing."
August 22, 2021
"John wants us to hear the word, 'abide,' as being as viscerally real as 'flesh' and 'blood.' And to hear the words, 'flesh' and 'blood,' as dynamically real as 'abide.'"
August 29, 2021
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
"The struggle that every community in every age - including our own - faces is how can the 'tradition of the elders,' which has given us our identity, now be changed so that what was good in it - the desire to live according to the will of God - can actually be expressed in our current circumstances."
September 5, 2021
"The racial and religious differences between Jesus and the Gentile woman are unchanged. But what has changed is that courage and caring for a daughter have been shown to be acceptable to God - even when they come from a Gentile heart; even when they come from a woman's heart; even when they come from the heart of a woman who has publically shamed herself by being out alone, by speaking to a man, and by daring to speak back to a man."
* 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.