Lectionary Preview study materials: Pentecost 14 (29 August)
(Study on 25 August)
*Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9
Song of Solomon 2:8-13
Psalm 45:1-2, 7-10
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
Old Testament (Track 2)
Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9
Moses said: So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God with which I am charging you.
You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!” For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him? And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?
But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children.
Domine, quis habitabit?
1 Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle? *
who may abide upon your holy hill?
2 Whoever leads a blameless life and does what is right, *
who speaks the truth from his heart.
3 There is no guile upon his tongue;
he does no evil to his friend; *
he does not heap contempt upon his neighbor.
4 In his sight the wicked is rejected, *
but he honors those who fear the Lord.
5 He has sworn to do no wrong *
and does not take back his word.
6 He does not give his money in hope of gain, *
nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
7 Whoever does these things *
shall never be overthrown.
OR (Track 1) (Ecusa study version)
Song of Solomon 2:8-13
The voice of my beloved!
Look, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Look, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
looking through the lattice.
My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away.”
Psalm 45:1-2, 7-10
Eructavit cor meum
1 My heart is stirring with a noble song;
let me recite what I have fashioned for the king; *
my tongue shall be the pen of a skilled writer.
2 You are the fairest of men; *
grace flows from your lips,
because God has blessed you for ever.
7 Your throne, O God, endures for ever and ever, *
a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom;
you love righteousness and hate iniquity.
8 Therefore God, your God, has anointed you *
with the oil of gladness above your fellows.
9 All your garments are fragrant with myrrh, aloes, and cassia, *
and the music of strings from ivory palaces makes you glad.
10 Kings’ daughters stand among the ladies of the court; *
on your right hand is the queen,
adorned with the gold of Ophir.
Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act-they will be blessed in their doing.
If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
When the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.’
You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
ECUSA Bible Study Material
Pentecost 14 August 29, 2021 Rita Carson Kendagor
RCL: Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9; James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Song of Solomon 2:8-13
Everyone loves a good love story. And it is tempting to choose not to see that these verses in the Song of Solomon are indeed a love story. While it is appropriate to view these words as a metaphor for our relationship with God, it is also a very holy act to allow the story to stand on its own and appreciate the tenderness that is woven throughout this love story.
This is the only time in the three-year lectionary that a reading from Song of Solomon is included. Maybe we can just ignore it for three more years, or perhaps, just perhaps – like the two lovers in our reading – we can wrap ourselves in the joy that can come from intimate relationships. God-given intimacy. Beautiful words, poetic words – and words that maybe make some of us blush…. just a little.
- Take a moment to view this story as a metaphor. What does intimacy with God look like for you?
- Read verses 11-13 again. Perhaps nature is God’s intimate and creative gift to us. What are some ways that nature reveals intimacy to you? Write your own 2-to-4-line poem, using imagery of nature that is meaningful to you.
Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9
Another love story. The presence of Psalm 45 in this lectionary series perhaps is a response to the Song of Solomon passage. This psalm is written from the viewpoint of a wedding guest, as the writer describes the loving relationship between a fair king, who rules from the basis of equality, and his bride. Jewish and Christian scholars alike interpret the words of this psalm as pointing us toward the Messiah.
Practically speaking, the fragrances – myrrh, aloe, and cassia – are spicy, sweet smells that today are known protections against infections and promoters of calming emotions. Romance, protection, equality, and a king who upholds fair treatment. Words of beauty, love pure and holy, words of hope. Yes, this psalm is a love story of hope to the reader.
- In today’s pandemic atmosphere, what are the words that bring you hope?
The Bible tells many stories about widows and orphans. You have Elijah and the widow – where Elijah appears to take the widow’s last amount of oil and flour, only to have blessed her to have an over-abundance. Jesus encounters a widow and restores life to her only son. During Biblical days and beyond, a woman without a man was doomed to a life of poverty and destitution. So, this passage makes it clear to us that true religion, true and authentic worship, has nothing to do with your yearly pledge or your prestigious position, but with how you treat the widow and the orphan or the least of those among you.
This passage in James also reminds us that words matter. It’s not only what we say that matters, but also how we speak our words. When we speak with rage, we are hurtful and we dehumanize ourselves and the other person. When we are living out the word of truth, we are aware when our words become weapons. We are aware when the widow and orphan among us need our truth and support. And we become active parts of the generous giving from above.
- Take a moment to remember a time when your words expressed an unhealthy rage. At what point were you able to stop and recognize the impact of your words?
- In what ways can speaking the truth and caring for the least of those among you be simultaneous?
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
We have learned over the past year in this age of Covid-19, that we can be very much physically defiled by not washing our hands. In the early days of the pandemic, we learned that we should even keep from touching our faces. So, what is Jesus talking about? Is Jesus trying to encourage eating with dirty hands? Of course not. But Jesus is making a point to the scribes and Pharisees: It is not what is outside, but what is in your own heart that defiles you.
Jesus warns that when we place human traditions over God’s directions, our hearts become wicked. He gives a substantial list in verses 21-23, teaching that these terrible things do not come from not washing our hands, but they come from within our own hearts – for it is the unclean heart that defiles us.
And these are some rather tough words to swallow: wickedness, defile, murder, slander – and the list goes on. We could very easily skim right over the words with the thought, “Well, I don’t do any of these things!” But try instead to keep it simple and ask yourself, “Am I honoring God with my lips, while my heart is far from God?” This is not an invitation to beat yourself up, but an opportunity to bring your heart in line with your traditions.
- Think of an example in your own congregation where something continues to be done because of tradition. Does this activity reflect the true mission of the church? Why or why not?
Rita Carson Kendagor was born and raised in Kansas City, Kan., and has lived in several regions of the U.S., as well as in Kenya. Currently living in Lenexa, Kan., she works as a clinical social worker. She is a student at the Bishop Kemper School for Ministry, working toward ordination as an Episcopal priest. She is a certified spiritual director and has a growing passion for learning more about the contemplative lifestyle and meditative practices. She hopes to be trained in teaching meditation. She is widowed and a single parent of two young adult children.