New Revised Standard Version
Scripture Summaries for September 2021 – Year B
Scripture Summary for the 15th Sunday after Pentecost - Year B (Sept 5) by Rev. Shelley
Proverbs 22:1,2; 8-9, 22-23: Proverbs is a book laden with spiritual and practical wisdom. These short verses deal with how we treat those who are poor. The James reading will also take up this theme. Rich and poor are equal in God's sight because God is the creator of all. Treating the poor with contempt is sure to bing the judgement of God.
Psalm 125: This Psalm compares those who trust in the Lord with whose who are surrounded by high mountains. As these mountains protect Jerusalem, so the Lord protects his people. Finally the writer speaks directly to God, asking for God to deal with those who do good with his own goodness.
James 2:1-17: St. James asks his brothers and sisters in Christ a crucial question. Do your actions really show that you believe in Christ or do they deny Him? Dishonour the poor, whom God has made rich in faith – this denies Christ. Show favouritism to the rich – this denies Christ. Judge without mercy and you will be judged without mercy. Faith that is true faith will manifest itself in good deeds.
Mark 7: 24-37: In our gospel stories today we are shown that Jesus' healing power will ultimately be for all people. Both miracles take place outside the confines of Jewish territory. They are both unusual healings. Jesus seems unwilling to perform the first healing. His “hour had not come” to show Himself to the Gentiles. Yet this Gentile woman's sassiness melts his resistance. The second healing occurs not because the man came to Jesus. It was his friends' initiative that brought him to the Lord. Jesus heals him too.
Scripture Summary for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost – Year B (Sept 12) by Rev. Shelley
Proverbs 1:20-33: Proverbs pits Lady Wisdom against Mistress Folly. Throughout the book both characters vie for our allegiance. They call out in the street for our attention. Listen to wisdom and you will lead a life free from ruin and worry. You will sleep well at night. Follow foolishness and your life will be a whirlwind with distress and anguish as your companions. There are 31 chapters in this book. Why not take a month with 31 days and read a chapter a day.
Psalm 19: Two voices are heard in this Psalm; the voice of the cosmos, and the voice of Scripture. Both point to the Creator God. Day and night the universe speaks wordlessly, yet “their voice goes out through all the earth”. Scriptures provide all that the human being needs to begin to meet God – soul reviving, heart rejoicing, enduring forever, precious as gold, sweet as honey. The Psalmist ends with a petition for a clean heart. The final verse is one that we often repeat during our liturgy: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer”.
James 3:1-12:. Here James reminds his readers of the power of that tiny part of the body called the tongue. It is what gets us into trouble so often. Horses can be controlled by tiny bits. Large ships can be controlled by small rudders. To control the tongue is much more difficult. Out of the same mouth come blessings and curses. This is as unnatural as a spring of water pouring forth both fresh and salt water. James says that if we can control our tongues we will have achieved a major victory.
Mark 8:27-38: All three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) include this story. Here Jesus asks a pivotal question that is still relevant 2,000 years after He spoke it. “Who do people say that I am?” From the ancient councils as they formulated the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds to the current search for the “historical” Jesus, people are still asking this question. Jesus then asks an even more telling question “who do you say that I am?” It is a question that it is wise to ponder as we go through life. From the passage we know that Peter got the answer right, but Jesus still needed to show him that his right answer would be lived out in a way that Peter could never have imagined.
Scripture Summary for the 17h Sunday after Pentecost – Year B (September 19) by Rev. Shelley
Proverbs 31:10-31: The concluding chapter in the book of Proverbs veers from Mistress Folly and Lady Wisdom and settles on a real woman. Her wisdom is evident in all that she does. She is faithful to her family; providing for their needs. But her reach is more than domestic. She is in the marketplace buying and selling. But she is not just a merchant – she also reaches out to the poor and needy. She fears the Lord – which we are told is the beginning of wisdom. Her family all praise her. The plea of the author is that she be acknowledged in the place of power (the city gate), and given her share in her own fortune.
Psalm 1: The Psalter of 150 psalms begins with this song/poem. It too is talking about the wise and the foolish way to live life. You become like the company you keep. If you want to be happy don't take advice form wicked people, walk their paths, or sit on their sofas. Delight in God and in God's scriptures. You will then be like an evergreen tree – always blossoming. The wicked are like chaff – lightweights, with only the judgement of God and their fellow humans to show for the harm they bring to themselves and others.
James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a: The author of James is also writing about the wise and the foolish. If you want to show your wisdom then do it by living a good life. This means a life filled with peace, gentleness, and mercy. Live a bitter, envious, selfish life, and it will only show that you are not a wise person. Often we live this way because we are envious and covetous of what others have. To break out of the unfulfilling life can only by done by submitting to the God who loves us and will supply for our needs. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you”.
Mark 9:30-37: Our Mark does not mince words in his depiction of Jesus' disciples. Jesus is trying help his followers to understand the rough road that lies ahead for Him (and ultimately for them). They do not understand what he is talking about, and are too afraid to ask Him. Instead they are arguing about what they think is a much more pressing matter - who is the greatest among them? This time their silence before Jesus is due to embarrassment, rather than fear. Jesus then show them what true greatness looks like in God's realm – being last, being a servant to others, welcoming the most vulnerable into their lives. Do this and the God will feel that welcome and enter your life as well.
Scripture Summary for the 18h Sunday after Pentecost – Year B (September 26) by Rev. Shelley
Esther 7:1-6, 9-10, 9:10-22: The amazing story of Queen Esther gets short shrift in our lectionary reading today. This is the one book in Scripture where God's name is not mentioned once. Yet God's provision is amazingly evident as coincidence after coincidence occur. Beauty pageants. Jealousy. Insomnia. Spies and intrigue. This is a narrative of the oppression of an entire tiny nation and how God used the most unlikely circumstances to prevent the death of his people. God can redeem all that happens in life. Take time to read the entire story this week. It will take less than an hour.
Psalm 124: The Psalmist invites the Israelite people to praise God because they have been delivered from the hand of their enemies. The writer compares their rescue as a great escape from the flood waters. They were close to being swallowed alive. The raging water was nearly upon them. They were like birds caught in a cage. But then someone broke the snare, and they escaped. The Psalmist says that the agent who released people from this captivity was God.
James 5:13-20: James here gives a summary of what Christian community life will / can / should look like as we live out our faith. Pray when people are sick. Sing when we are happy. Put the elders to work doing this prayer and anointing ministry to the sick. Confess your sins. Forgive. Don't give up on people, even if they've wandered away from the truth. This kind of Christlike behaviour covers a multitude of sins.
Mark 9:38-50: Salty, peaceful living. That's what Jesus says following Him will look like. No wonder the disciples were confused. They wanted to stop someone from healing in Jesus' name because he was not part of their group. Jesus' vision was much bigger than that. “Who ever is not against us is for us”. Jesus is willing and can work with even a tiniest amount of non-opposition. Yet here He also calls his followers to a seemingly impossible task. Don't offend anyone who is seeking the kingdom of God, even if it requires you to cut off all the things that are most precious to you. Only Jesus can show us how to live like this.