Lectionary Preview study materials: Pentecost 16, Season of Creation (19 september)
(Study on 15 september)
It was the Lord who made it known to me, and I knew;
then you showed me their evil deeds.
But I was like a gentle lamb
led to the slaughter.
And I did not know it was against me
that they devised schemes, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
let us cut him off from the land of the living,
so that his name will no longer be remembered!”
But you, O Lord of hosts, who judge righteously,
who try the heart and the mind,
let me see your retribution upon them,
for to you I have committed my cause.
Deus, in nomine
1 Save me, O God, by your Name; *
in your might, defend my cause.
2 Hear my prayer, O God; *
give ear to the words of my mouth.
3 For the arrogant have risen up against me,
and the ruthless have sought my life, *
those who have no regard for God.
4 Behold, God is my helper; *
it is the Lord who sustains my life.
5 Render evil to those who spy on me; *
in your faithfulness, destroy them.
6 I will offer you a freewill sacrifice *
and praise your Name, O Lord, for it is good.
7 For you have rescued me from every trouble, *
and my eye has seen the ruin of my foes.
James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a
Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.
Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
Jesus and his disciples passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
Pentecost 17 September 19, 2021 Kristen Gunn
RCL: James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a; Mark 9:30-37
James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a
This section from the Letter of James is situated in a wider discussion of the tongue and who can be trusted to teach (3:1). It would seem from this reading of James that the trustworthy teacher is the same one who is “wise and understanding”—who lives a “good life” and whose “works are done with gentleness born of wisdom” (v. 13). A red flag that someone who wants to teach might not be ready yet is that “envy and selfish ambition” keep showing up in them, even internally (vv. 14 and 16). This kind of internal disorder may result in “boastful” speech rather than sound teaching (v. 14).
If you, like me, desire to bless others with your words but find yourself noticing difficult things internally, don’t give up hope. The author of this epistle includes himself among those who “make many mistakes” (3:2), but his holy teaching has, by the grace of God, made it down to us through the millennia. His final advice in the passage assigned as our lesson for today also speaks to me. Wherever you are in your Christian life, wherever you find yourself, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (4:7-8). There is always hope for the person who is willing to yield to God’s Spirit. In fact, it’s what the Christian life is about!
- How does this picture of wisdom compare to the picture of a wise life given in the other readings for today?
In this run of interwoven passages in Mark’s gospel, Jesus’ disciples are thinking (as we all do, unaided by God’s grace) along pretty unfailingly earthly lines. This section takes us straight into the heart of the tension between natural and grace-assisted ways of thinking. Earthly habits of thought, as we see in verses 30-32, can’t begin to comprehend the mystery of the Resurrection. And the disciples don’t comprehend it on their own. We are told they are too “afraid to ask” (v. 32). Jesus’s mercy in this case pierces through their silence. Instead of rebuking them for their human preoccupation with rank and order (v. 34), he gives them an object-lesson (really a human-being-lesson) and an example when he takes a child into his arms. He takes the lowest-status person in the house—who is also probably the simplest and least complicated—and embraces him. And not only that: he says that to embrace the low status, simple child in his name is to embrace God. Whoever recognizes this and does it is on the way to true greatness.
- What does it mean to welcome someone “in [Jesus’s] name?” Does this verse/teaching mean the same thing as it would without the phrase “in my name?”
- How might you be called to welcome Jesus this week? Is there a “child” in your midst?
Kristen Gunn is a student at Nashotah House Theological Seminary, where she is happily plucking away at a Master of Theological Studies degree. A Houston native, she started reading C.S. Lewis and the Bible on her own in high school and has never been the same since. Before moving to Wisconsin, she earned a bachelor’s degree in religion and linguistics and taught English to refugees through an Episcopal fellows program in Dallas. She loves all kinds of water recreation, petting other people’s cats, and dancing in the patristics section of the library when she thinks she is alone.