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Proper 27 | Ordinary Time 32, Cycle A

Sunday between November 6 and November 12 inclusive

Within the Amos 5:18-24, 1 Thessalonians 5:18-24, and Matthew 25:1-13 texts there is the theme of watching and waiting for the coming of the Lord and living in ways that are appropriate in preparation for that coming. Other situations are addressed within the other texts selected.

Amos 5:18-24
This is a tremendously important text, relevant for us and for all People of God in every time and place. It is stated that the demands for justice and for uninterrupted righteousness must be heeded. Those who are waiting for the Day of the Lord are addressed. In the life situation of this text, however, the Day of the Lord is a day of darkness and of judgment, not merely of the darkness of the night in which the Lord will come to rescue us, but the darkness of death for those whose religiosity is not accompanied by their caring for those who are poor and oppressed. There are no maidens with lamps here as there are in the Matthew 25:1-13 parable. This text, unlike Matthew 25:1-13, is addressed to the oppressors rather than to the oppressed. The oppressors must end their oppression and use their resources to help those whom they have oppressed immediately, before the Lord comes to destroy them.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
The major issue in the document that is known to us as 1 Thessalonians is concern for matters related to the parousia of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul wanted those who would read his letter to live quietly, to “mind their own affairs,” and to work with their hands while they waited for the Lord Jesus the Risen Christ to come to liberate them from the oppressive political situation in which they were expected to submit to the absolutist claims of Caesar and the Roman State.

In 4:13-18 the specific concern Paul addressed was the anxiety of followers of Jesus in Thessalonica that those among them who had died would not be taken with them with the Lord in the clouds when the Lord came to rescue them. Paul assured them there was no need for them to worry about that while they were waiting. Those who had died would not be left behind when the hour of liberation would come. That assurance continues for us after billions of Christians have died.

Matthew 25:1-13
The point of this parable is easily seen. The details are taken from marriage customs in Galilee and Judea during the first century. The hour that is awaited is the hour of liberation from the oppressive Roman rule, although the specifics of that liberation could not be spelled out openly in the Gospel According to Matthew without endangering the followers of Jesus even more than they already were. It was relatively safe to use the coded terminology “the kingdom of heaven” and “the coming of the kingdom of heaven” to depict the hour of liberation. How shall we in our time depict the hour of liberation for us? What is the oppression that endangers our lives? Who is and what is oppressing us? Is it our own sin, guilt, fear of loss of health, anxiety about our own aging and impending death, anomie, meaningless existence?

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
There are some similarities between what is depicted in this account of the covenant with the Lord ceremony that Joshua is said to have established for the people of the tribes of Israel after they had been established in the land and our nationalization ceremony for citizenship in the USA. In both instances there is the requirement of a renunciation of previous allegiances and a commitment to service in and loyalty to the new political/religious entity. This has relevance for us as we consider and adapt our national immigration policies and the possibilities in some instances for some forms of dual citizenship. How is our religious citizenship related to our political citizenship?

Psalm 78:1-7
The psalmist desires that the wisdom derived from experiences of the people with the Lord in the past be shared with future generations. The people and their children should be continually reminded of all the Lord has provided for them, and they are to live their lives in accordance with the commandments and the will of the Lord.

Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-16
The beauty of wisdom personified in a female form is acclaimed here as easily accessible to those who are receptive to her. Those who are wise will focus their attention on her and will not have anxiety about anything.

Wisdom of Solomon 6:17-20
The person who desires to be taught will attain wisdom. Wisdom in this sense is a characteristic of deity, of God. Those who are receptive to wisdom and pursue wisdom will be assured of immortality, of nearness to God in a life in which God is the ruler.

Psalm 70
The psalmist cries out to the Lord for deliverance from those who are inflicting pain and injury on the psalmist. There is great urgency in the psalmist’s cry. The psalmist has faith in God that those who seek the Lord will rejoice when the Lord has saved them.

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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