Wrestling with God?

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost; 2 August 2020; Proper 13A (RCL); Genesis 32:22-31; Psalm 17:1-7, 16; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:13-21.

Jacob is about to face the consequences of all his trickery up to this point. He is on his way to meet his brother Esau, and is worried about what Esau might do. He has divided his caravan into two, so that Esau falls on one half and destroys it, the other half might escape. Having sent them all ahead, he wrestles with a stranger at the river’s edge.

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Living in the kingdom

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost; 26 July 2020; Proper 12A (RCL); Genesis 29:15-28; Psalm 105:1-11, 45b; Romans 8:26-39; Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52.

The wonderful thing about parables is that they are so multivalent. There is not single meaning. We have a string of parables here (and one limiting interpretation to one of them), and then an instruction about how to teach.

The parable of the mustard seed includes a bit of humor. Mustard is a scrappy weed. It is not a well-shaped tree, and at least in some varieties, will take over a field if left alone. And when Jesus says that it provides shelter for the birds of the air, he is comparing it to the cedars of Lebanon, a majestic tree, often used as a symbol for empire in the Old Testament.

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Itinerant teaching

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 10A (RCL); Genesis 25:1934; Psalm 119:105-112; Romans 8:1-11; Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23.

I’m always curious when we leave out verses in a reading. The bit left out of the Matthew reading has to do with teaching, and people not understanding. God has hardened the hearts of the hearers, so they hear and don’t understand. Not the happiest of Jesus’ sayings.

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The yoke of law

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost; 5 July 2020; Proper 9A; Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67; Song of Songs 2:8-13; Romans 7:15-25a; Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30.

What a mish-mosh of readings for this Sunday! If some stranger walked up to me in the town square and put a gold ring in my nose, I’m not really sure how I would react. I might think he though I was a cow. Different times. And then we get Paul’s schizophrenic rant on the law. And Jesus offering an easy yoke.

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