Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lectionary notes

(Proper 13 Year A)
The Second Sunday after Pentecost
26 June 2011
Once again, I have been caught short this week and the notes are not as complete as I might like, but as half a loaf is better than no bread, here goes.

Neither the Sentence nor the Collect seems to have any particular connection to the readings appointed in Year A. The 8:30 congregation will notice that we also use the Collect for the Feast of the Nativioty of St John Baptist, since by the rules of the old Calendar that day is kept with an Octave and Commemorated on the Sunday.

The Readings
On the Second Sunday after Pentecost the lectionary resumes the sequence of readings that was interrupted through Lent and Easter. In fact we resume a sequence of readings already in progress.
Genesis 22.1–14: God Tests Abraham
I. 1-8. Abraham’s willing preparation for the sacrifice.
In the story of Abraham (Genesis 11.27-25.18), rabbinic tradition recognized ten trials and seven blessings (for a list of the trials and blessings, see NJBC 2:18). The call to sacrifice his son Isaac was the last and greatest of the trials, and is followed by a renewal of the promises (see 22.16-18). It is, above all, a story of trust and faith.
1-3: Abraham is told by God to offer Isaac in sacrifice.
1. After these things is a conventional introduction to a new section. Chapter 21 ends with the account of Abraham’s dealings with King Abimelech (21.22-34) and the notice that Abraham ‘sojourned many days in the land of the Philistines’. Tested, that is put under trial to see whether he would obey in faith (12.4; compare Heb 11.17-19). Here I am is a statement of complete availability.
2. Your only son is not literally accurate; Isaac is his only son by Sarah, but he will have other sons. The sense here is beloved, and is meant to emphasize the greatness of the sacrifice, as if to say that God knows right well how much He asks. This is particualry poignant when the passage is read at the Great Vigil of Easter and we rememkber that God does indeed know. The mountain in the land of Moriah is idenitifed in 2 Chronicles 3.1 and later tradition as the Temple mountain in Jerusalem. Scholars are not certain of the accuracy of this identification. More interesting is the fact that the name Moriah is from the Hebrew verb ra’a, ‘to see’, a word on which there is some important play in this passage
3. Abraham obeys immediately and without comment (contrast his response in Genesis 18) we are told nothing of his inner emotions, but left to infer them.
4-8: Abraham and Isaac journey to the place.
4. The third day may be a conventional description of a short journey.
5. Boy translates a word that could mean anything from a small child to a young man and also meant ‘servant’. The story does not give us any chronology from which to guess Isaac’s age.
6. That Isaac bore the wood for the burnt offering is a prefiguring of Christ carrying his cross. Note how “the two of them walked on together” is repeated in verse 8.
7-8. Skinner noted many years ago: “The pathos of this dialogue is inimitable : the artless curiosity of the child, the irrepressible affection of the father, and the stern ambiguity of his reply, can hardly be read without tears.” In Abraham’s answer “God himself will provide the lamb” (8), we meet the verb ra’a, to see, once again. As the NJBC notes, he is not trying to decieve Isaac; this is “evidence of Abraham’s handing everything over to God.
II. 9-14: God sees to the Sacrifice
9-10: The preparation for the sacrifice is described in detail.
11. Suddenly the angel of the Lord intervenes to stop the sacrifice. We know from the very first verse—though Abraham did not—this this was only a test, and that God did not change his mind. The repetition, Abraham, Abraham, expresses urgency ; as 46.2, Ex 3.4, and 1 Sam 3.16. Note that Abraham once again replies with complete obedience: Here I am.
12. Now I know: the essence of the sacrifice was the willingness and readiness to give all.
13. Abraham sees (that verb again) a ram and takes it to offer in place of Isaac. Horrifying as it may be to us, infant sacrifice was common in ancient Canaan and Phoenicia, and in Phoenecian colonies such as Carthage. By its condemnation of the practice the OT shows that it was even done in Israe; (2 Kings 16.3’; Micah 6.7). In the Law, the first-born belonged to the Lord, but was to be ‘redeemed’ rather than sacrificed (Exodus 13; 34). Here we have the first such redemption of a child. See also Luke 2.23-24.
14. The passage concludes with the naming of the place, Jehovahjireh, which means, The Lord will provide, a further play on ra’a. The meaning of the saying "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided" is not certain: other possibilities are “'In the mount where the LORD is seen” and “In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen”
Psalm 13
Usquequo, Domine
This Psalm is identified as a prayer for deliverance from personal enemies.
1-2: The Psalmist’s complaint: he is sick, and aparently in danger of death.
3-4: He prays for help lest because of his trouble his enemies take heart, rejoice, and triumph over him.
5. His trust in the Lord.
6. A promise of praise to the Lord.

The Epistle: Romans 6.12-23
The overarching aim of Chapter 6 of Romans appears to be a defense against the charge that Paul’s message of free salvation in Christ was really a message of lawlessness. The opening verse states the objection: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?This objection is restated in verse 15 (see also 3.8). In 15-23 Paul gives the answer: Free forgiveness? What does that mean? Freedom to sin? Far from it. That would be a return to the old slavery. Christians have been rescued from the slavery of Sin, and have become the slaves of God. As their slave-service of Sin led to death, so their service of God leads to holiness, and, in the end, to eternal life. For the wages of Sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.
Because our baptism into Christ is a baptism into his death (verse 3) and a raising to new life, we are now to live ‘as those who have been brought from death to life’, no longer slaves to sin, but servants of God. To ‘present ourselves to God’ means to put ourselves at his disposal: like Abraham in the first reading, we are to say “Here I am” when God calls.
Verse 14 is a word of encouragement. The thought is, that, if Christians were still under the Law of Moses, they would still be under the power of Sin, for the Law, instead of bringing with it helps for its fulfilment, was nothing but a cold, and challenging, and threatening set of commands and prohibitions. But in the new economy grace is given so abundantly that God's will is gladly fulfilled. The contrast is sometimes put thus : the Law" said "Thou shalt," and only multiplied sin : Grace says, "Thou canst," and gives strength for the victory over Sin. Thus it is that the freedom of grace is not lawlessness, but the power of righteousness.

The Holy Gospel: Matthew 10.40-42
On the Sundays after Pentecost, the Gospel passages follow in sequence. Matthew 10.24-39 is appointed for the Gospel on the Sunday between 19 and 25 June (Proper 12), but was not read last week because it was Trinity Sunday. It is helpful to set this short passage in context. Chapter 10 of Matthew contains the second great discourse of this Gospel, the Lord’s commissioning and instruction of the Twelve Apostles for their Mission. Like the Sermon on the Mount, it was compiled by the Gospel-writer; several of the sayings appear in different contexts in the Gospels according to Mark an Luke.
40. This saying shows both the honour and the responsibility of the Christian’s mission. Compare Luke 10.16, John 13.20. for Jesus’ self-identification with his disciples see also Acts 9.4
42. Compare Mark 9.41, Matthew25.35-40. Little ones refers to the disciples of Jesus: see 18.6. Mark 10.24; Matthew 11.25. A cup of cold water: in a dry season this would be the most valuable of gifts.

26 b The Second Sunday after Pentecost
27 c
28 d Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, c. 202 Mem
29 e Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles HD
30 f
1 g The Anniversary of Confederation, 1867: Statutory Holiday2 A
3 b The Third Sunday after Pentecost

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