Keyword Search

  • Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company
    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

Proper 11 | Ordinary Time 16

An important connecting link among most of these texts is the emphasis on the qualities or attributes of God as these are perceived by the People of God through their experiences. These texts, therefore, are among the most theological of all texts in our biblical canon. God is perceived, however, always in relation to people, to the People of God who are in covenant relationships with God.

Genesis 28:10-19a
In this Bethel Jacob’s Ladder dream account God is revealed to Jacob as the Lord, the God of Jacob’s grandfather Abraham and of his father Isaac. The Lord is perceived as relating to Jacob by means of angels ascending and descending to Jacob on the ladder and as renewing the promise first made to Abraham of the land of Canaan, numerous descendants to fill and possess the land, the blessing and presence of the Lord among the descendants of Jacob, and the responsibility of the descendants to be a blessing to other people. The account also provides a consecration of the altar at Bethel and an etiology of the name Bethel that Jacob designates for the stone pillar set up by Jacob to mark the holy place where the Lord had appeared to Jacob.

Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24
The psalmist acknowledges that the Lord knows everything, including every detail about the psalmist and the psalmist’s life. The Lord is perceived as knowing the thoughts and the words of the psalmist even before the psalmist knows them. There is no place the psalmist can go that the Lord is not present, whether it be in the skies, the farthest sea, or the silence of the psalmist’s grave; even in the deepest darkness the Lord is there and sees everything about the psalmist. The psalmist is pleased to be so completely understood and encompassed by the Lord.

Wisdom of Solomon 12:13, 16-19
The universal perception of God is reiterated here in Wisdom of Solomon 12:13. God is said to be concerned about the welfare of all persons and is acknowledged as the fair and just judge of each person. Because God is sovereign over all, God can act gently and mercifully with every individual, using God’s power sparingly, and only when needed. Therefore, the righteous person must be kind and gentle just as God is kind and gentle, using one’s power over others only when absolutely essential and for the good of the other.

This wisdom perception of power and of the right use of power is similar in many respects to the wisdom teachings of Confucianist China regarding the Chinese concept of Te, the correct and appropriate use of power. Certainly this is a concept that is needed today, both on the national and world scene and on our interpersonal levels.

Isaiah 44:6-8
The description of God within this prophetic oracle that was probably expressed initially during the exilic experiences of a few Israelites in Babylon provides much information about an important period and step in the theological development of the Israelites and Jews and in our own Christian theological development as well. Here we catch a glimpse of the transition of Israelites who remained faithful to the Lord during their exile in Babylon from their earlier henotheism in which they perceived God as the personal, supreme God of the nation Israel within the geographical boundaries of the nation in which there should be no other Lord to their later perception that the Lord is the one and only God of all time and space. We see here the very important transition many Israelites made from a civil religion perception of God to a universal perception of God.

Psalm 86:11-17
Our Christian tradition attributes to Jesus perceived as the Risen Christ within the Four Gospels many of the same qualities that Psalm 86 attributes to the Lord God of Israel. Our studies of what we can know about the Jesus of history indicates that the Jesus of history exhibited in his life many of the same attributes the writer of Psalm 86 attributed to the Lord God of Israel. This was most likely an important factor in the success of the Jesus of history in pointing his fellow Jews so effectively toward the Lord God. This in turn caused attention to be focused on Jesus himself, and contributed directly to the decision by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate to order the Jesus of history be crucified so the oppressed Jews of Galilee and Judea would remain frightened, subdued, and economically oppressed.

Should we not also exhibit the same characteristics attributed to the Lord God of Israel, the Jesus of history, and Jesus perceived as the Risen Christ in our biblical accounts? These characteristics, of course, are to be apparent in our actions, and God is met, in part at least, when these actions occur.

Romans 8:12-25
In this text God is perceived as the Redeemer not only of those in whom the Spirit of God dwells, but also the Redeemer of the universe. The creation itself will be delivered from its labor pains and will be set free to become the home of the children of God. That is Paul’s hope in this text.

Within this text we see considerable additional theological reflection to complement the Psalm 86 and Isaiah 44 readings. Here the one God, the only God, is said to operate through the Spirit of God, helping us, guiding us, interceding for us, sighing for us in our weariness, and searching our hearts.

It is essential that Paul’s terminology be employed throughout the Church, in all denominations, and not limited to certain “spiritualist” groups in which this terminology is emphasized. This is important for the unity of the Church and for our spiritual health and growth.

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
This parable of the wheat and the tares growing together until the harvest (the day of the judgment and destruction of the Roman occupational forces in Galilee and in Judea) is included only here in the Gospel According to Matthew and in the Gospel of Thomas 57. In the Gospel of Thomas it is in a shorter, more primitive form and does not have any of Matthew’s highly allegorized explanation.

The economic problem caused by the presence of ta zizania in the wheat fields has probably been known wherever wheat has been grown, at least until modern times when more pure seed grain is available. The stalks of this weed, which we represent in English as tares, darnel, cheat, or chess, look like wheat, like particularly healthy wheat, until the heads of grain appear. The seed kernels produced by this weed are poisonous when eaten by cattle or humans. For this reason, this weed is a very appropriate illustration to use to present the problem caused by members of a religious community who look like the other members, and may even for a time appear to be more attractive than the others, but who eventually prove to be poisonous within the community of faith. There was apparently a serious problem when informers allied to the Roman occupational forces in Galilee and Judea during the time of the Jesus of history and allied to advocates of Roman Civil Religion later mingled with followers of Jesus. It was a problem also for us in Arizona during the mid-1980s when informers allied to certain of our governmental agencies mingled among us in worship services and Bible study groups in order to gather evidence that some women among us had provided sanctuary for female refugees from severe oppression in El Salvador.

Regardless of whether the problem of these human “tares” and whether dealing with that problem in the form of a parable cryptogram was known prior to the time of the Jesus of history, whether this parable about the wheat and the tares originated with the Jesus of history, or whether the parable had its origin among some of the early followers of Jesus, the parable is used in Matthew 13 to say something about the qualities and attributes of God. Even without allegorizing the parable fully, in Matthew 13 and in the Gospel of Thomas 57 it is stated that “God does not pull weeds!” We may wish God would pull weeds so that the grain will be pure at the time of the harvest, but with the single notable exception of the Noah and the Flood account, our religious traditions depict God as permitting “good wheat” and “evil zizania” to grow together until the time of the harvest.

Leave a Reply

  • Get Your FREE 30-day Trial Subscription to SermonSuite NOW!
    Chris Keating
    The Double-Dog Dare Days of August
    August’s lazy, hazy dog days quickly became a deadly double-dog dare contest between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, the supreme leader of North Korea. Both nations have been at odds with each other for nearly 70 years. During his working golf vacation in New Jersey last week, President Trump responded to North Korea’s rhetorical sword-rattling by launching a verbal preemptive strike of his own.
         Call it the Bedminster bombast, or the putt that rocked Pyongyang. But the duel between the two countries is more than fodder for late-night comedians. It’s a deadly standoff with history-changing repercussions.
         There is no vacation from matters of national security, or the orations of war. Indeed, much of the war of words between Washington and North Korea seems to confirm Jesus’ counsel in Matthew: “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” The contrasts between these barbed exchanges and the biblical understanding of peacemaking offers an intriguing opportunity to hear Jesus’ words in a world filled with double-dog (and even triple-dog) dares....more
    Feeding The 5,000
    The assigned Gospel text for this week skips over a couple of sections in Matthew's story. Matthew 14:34-36 cites Jesus' journey to Gennesaret. The crowds of people recognized him immediately and all of the sick came to him for healing. Just a touch of Jesus' garment brought healing to many. The crowd in Gennesaret recognized Jesus. They came to him in their need....more
    Wayne Brouwer
    Religious balkanization
    One dimension of religious life we have in common across faith traditions and denominational lines is the incessant divisiveness that split our seemingly monolithic communities into dozens of similar yet tenaciously varied subgroups. A Jewish professor of psychology said of his tradition, "If there are ten Jewish males in a city we create a synagogue. If there are eleven Jewish males we start thinking about creating a competing synagogue."...more
    C. David McKirachan
    Jesus Is Coming, Look Busy
    Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
    I had a parishioner who would walk out of the sanctuary if he saw a djembe (African drum) out in front to be used in worship.  I asked him about it, in a wonderfully pastoral manner, and he told me that things like that didn’t belong in worship.  I said that it was in the bible to praise God with pipes and drums (I think it is).  He told me he didn’t care what the Bible said, he knew where that thing came from and he wouldn’t have it.  I asked him why things from Africa would bother him.  He told me that he knew I was liberal but that didn’t mean he had to be.  I agreed with him but cautioned him that racism was probably one of the worst examples of evil in our world and I thought he should consider what Christ would think of that.  He asked me who paid my salary, Christ or good Americans....more
    Janice Scott
    No Strings Attached
    In today's gospel reading, Jesus seemed reluctant to heal the Canaanite woman's daughter. He told her that he wasn't sent to help foreigners, but only his own people, the Chosen Race. The words sound unnecessarily harsh, but perhaps this is an interpretation unique to Matthew, for this story only appears in Matthew's gospel, which was written for Jews....more
    Arley K. Fadness
    Great Faith
    Object: Hula Hoop or circle made out of ribbon, twine or rope
    What an amazing morning to come to church today. I am so glad to see you and talk to you about a wonderful story from the bible. Let me begin by showing you this circle. Now let's get into this circle. (Physically, all move into the circle) It's fun for us all to be together in this circle. We don't want anyone to be left out. To be left out is to be sad. To be kept out is even more sad and painful....more

Authors of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Norman A. Beck is the Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and the Chairman of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Norman A. Beck
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen