Lectionary Preview study materials: Pentecost 16 (12 september)
(Study on 8 september)
O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Wisdom cries out in the street;
in the squares she raises her voice.
At the busiest corner she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
Give heed to my reproof;
I will pour out my thoughts to you;
I will make my words known to you.
Because I have called and you refused,
have stretched out my hand and no one heeded,
and because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when panic strikes you,
when panic strikes you like a storm,
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.
Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently, but will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
would have none of my counsel,
and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way
and be sated with their own devices.
For waywardness kills the simple,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
but those who listen to me will be secure
and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.”
1 The heavens declare the glory of God, *
and the firmament shows his handiwork.
2 One day tells its tale to another, *
and one night imparts knowledge to another.
3 Although they have no words or language, *
and their voices are not heard,
4 Their sound has gone out into all lands, *
and their message to the ends of the world.
5 In the deep has he set a pavilion for the sun; *
it comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber;
it rejoices like a champion to run its course.
6 It goes forth from the uttermost edge of the heavens
and runs about to the end of it again; *
nothing is hidden from its burning heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect
and revives the soul; *
the testimony of the Lord is sure
and gives wisdom to the innocent.
8 The statutes of the Lord are just
and rejoice the heart; *
the commandment of the Lord is clear
and gives light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is clean
and endures for ever; *
the judgments of the Lord are true
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
more than much fine gold, *
sweeter far than honey,
than honey in the comb.
11 By them also is your servant enlightened, *
and in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can tell how often he offends? *
cleanse me from my secret faults.
13 Above all, keep your servant from presumptuous sins;
let them not get dominion over me; *
then shall I be whole and sound,
and innocent of a great offense.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my
heart be acceptable in your sight, *
O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.
For wisdom is a reflection of eternal light,
a spotless mirror of the working of God,
and an image of his goodness.
Although she is but one, she can do all things,
and while remaining in herself, she renews all things;
in every generation she passes into holy souls
and makes them friends of God, and prophets;
for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom.
She is more beautiful than the sun,
and excels every constellation of the stars.
Compared with the light she is found to be superior,
for it is succeeded by the night,
but against wisdom evil does not prevail.
She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other,
and she orders all things well.
1 I love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my supplication, *
because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.
2 The cords of death entangled me;
the grip of the grave took hold of me; *
I came to grief and sorrow.
3 Then I called upon the Name of the Lord: *
“O Lord, I pray you, save my life.”
4 Gracious is the Lord and righteous; *
our God is full of compassion.
5 The Lord watches over the innocent; *
I was brought very low, and he helped me.
6 Turn again to your rest, O my soul, *
for the Lord has treated you well.
7 For you have rescued my life from death, *
my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling.
8 I will walk in the presence of the Lord *
in the land of the living.
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.
How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue– a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Pentecost 16 September 12, 2021 Kathy Lawler, OEF
RCL: Proverbs 1:20-33; Psalm 19; James 3:1-12; Mark 8:27-38
The Book of Proverbs is part of the wisdom literature in the Hebrew Scriptures. An important aspect of this literature is to guide the people of God in ways of right living. In this passage from early in the first chapter, Wisdom is personified and moves amid the bustling activity in the core of the city. She calls out with a focus on those who are not following God’s wisdom. She warns them of the calamity that befalls those who do not listen and root their lives in the fear of God—the following of and reverence for God. She warns that disaster looms for those who go their own way based on their own knowledge. She bluntly calls them fools.
This passage draws a stark distinction between the outcomes for those who listen to and follow God’s ways and those who do not. She calls out to us in all the daily busyness of our lives to listen and follow God’s wisdom by painting a vivid picture of what happens for those who do not. It’s a disquieting passage that invites us to reflect on where we root the actions of our lives.
- How are God’s knowledge and wisdom different from learning not grounded in God?
- Given the difficulties and challenges everyone faces in life, what might it mean to live at ease, without dread of disaster, by following God’s Wisdom?
Psalm 19 is a beautiful response to today’s lesson from Proverbs. Where do we listen for God’s knowledge and words that Wisdom so longs for us to attend? Psalm 19 holds before us two places where knowledge of God can be encountered: creation and the law, the scripture. We hear of creation wordlessly singing of God’s glory, carrying a message for all the world. We also hear of the beauty and clarity of attending to God’s word in scripture, allowing deep meditation on the words to help align our lives with God’s wishes for us.
- Where do you most easily hear God’s wisdom?
- What experience have you had of the words of scripture reviving your soul?
- How have you heard creation singing God’s glory? What has that meant for you in your life?
This lesson from James marks about the halfway point in the letter. It continues one of the main themes in James: how our actions should reflect our faith. This portion of the epistle turns to a sometimes less obvious aspect of our actions—how we use our words.
The epistle writer raises a paradox. The tongue we use to praise God is the same tongue that is often used to cause harm to others. We are challenged to consider that this paradox should not exist—for how can fresh and brackish water come from the same place? How can words denigrating other people of God come from a tongue that professes faith in Christ Jesus? The damage done by sharp tearing words can be the small flame that grows into a large fire. The dignity of every human being is at stake. Do we build up or do we tear down? This passage from James asks us to question how we use our words and how they reflect our discipleship.
- In today’s world, how are words used to praise? How are they used to curse others? What are some concrete examples of the paradox that James presents to us?
- How does this lesson challenge you to use your words in a way that reflects your faith?
The gospel writer makes an important turn in this passage from Mark. For the first time, Jesus begins to teach the disciples about his suffering, death, and resurrection. He is nearing the time when he will start the journey toward Jerusalem. At this moment, he raises an important question with them: How do you understand who I am? With confidence, Peter confesses that Jesus is the Messiah. Then Jesus begins to teach them what is in store for the Son of Man. This provokes Peter to rebuke him. Responding, Jesus rebukes Peter so severely that he calls him Satan. Peter both understood and didn’t understand all; he knew that Jesus was the Messiah and didn’t comprehend what that would mean. When Jesus began to teach them, it wasn’t what Peter expected.
It is easy to think we understand. But we so often understand from our perspective as humans and not from the perspective of divine things. We can cling tightly to our ideas about what is happening. Jesus insists the disciples, Peter, and all of us let go of these things, and instead attend to the life of following Jesus, wherever that leads, even if it means unexpected directions, places where we might not otherwise choose to go.
- How can we learn whether we are following Jesus’ way rather than simply human ways?
- Whom do we have to rebuke us when we need to grow in our understanding of divine things?
Sr. Kathy Lawler, OEF, is a Franciscan, a member of the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans. She is a candidate from the Diocese of Northern California in her final year of low-residency M.Div. studies at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (Class of 2021). Her initial training in chemistry informs much of her ministerial focus. She is particularly enthusiastic about helping folks find connections between spirituality and science. She also teaches about the congruence between Christian faith and modern science. Kathy enjoys gardening, listening to audiobooks, and being in the beauty of God’s good creation.