WeeklyLectionaryWebinar Readings for Sunday, July 17, 2011 Presented by staff and friends of Sunshine Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church affiliated with the Center for Progressive Christianity Ft Lauderdale, Florida, USA
Contributors Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin Sunshine Cathedral Chief Programming Minister Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Senior Pastor Sunshine Cathedral Rev. Dr. Mona West Director, Office of Formation and Leadership Development Metropolitan Community Churches Rev. BK Hipsher Virtual Chaplain Sunshine Cathedral Director of Sunshine Cathedral in Second Life Rev. Brian Hutchison Sunshine Cathedral Director of Volunteer Ministries & Assistant to the Senior Pastor
First Reading Isaiah 44.6, 8 (NIV) 6 “This is what the [ETERNAL] says… ‘I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. 8 Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.’” Rabbi Alysa Stanton, mainstream Judaism's first black woman rabbi, 2009
Second Reading Psalm 86.1-7 (NRSV) 1. Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am [in need]. 2. Preserve my life, for I am devoted to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; 3. be gracious to me…for to you do I cry all day long. 4. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you…I lift up my soul. 5. For you, O [God], are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you. 6. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my cry of supplication. 7. In the day of my trouble I call on you, for you will answer me. Prayer of the Wolf Maiden Description: Native american woman praying to her creator, with the wolf that saved her life by her side. Based on an authentic Blackfoot indian legend.
Gospel Reading Matthew 13.24-30, 36-43 (NIV)“24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a [farmer] who sowed good seed in a field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, [the farmer’s] enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27 “The [farmer’s] servants…said, ‘Didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 “‘An enemy did this,’ [the farmer] replied. “The servants asked, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 “‘No,’ [the farmer] answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
Gospel Reading Matthew 13.24-30, 36-43 (NIV)36 [Jesus] left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of [Humanity]. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of [God’s Realm]. The weeds are the people [influenced by evil], 39 and the enemy who sows them is [evil itself]. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are [messengers from God]. 40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of [Humanity] will send…angels, and they will weed out of [God’s Realm]…all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun…Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
Reflections Rev. BK Hipsher Ponderings The assurance of the Creator’s steadfastness. A pattern for praying when we are in despair. An expectation that God hears us and loves us. Hell fire and damnation! Am I a weed? How can I avoid becoming a weed? We are both wheat and weed.
Reflections Rev. Brian Hutchison Queering the Text • Isaiah 44:6-7 Queering Divinity • This passage very boldly proclaims the monotheism of the Jewish people. Though Jewish individuals and families were often influenced and found spiritual resonance with the traditions of others in the Near East (including Goddess worship), they could only worship the patriarchal God YHWH publicly. They had to hide fertility Goddess statues so that they would not be accused of idolatry. • How are LGBT people forced in traditional settings to believe in an image of the Divine that does not resonate with them? Some say there is ONLY ONE image of God. In MCC, our congregations are made up of people from pretty much every faith tradition in the world. We do not enforce one image of the Divine, though we profess (as the Israelites did) that there is one Eternal Divine Presence. Our one God has a plethora of faces. Many of them are queer, reflecting our sensibilities and lives.
Reflections Rev. Brian Hutchison Queering the Text • Psalm 86:1-7 Our Prayers Are Heard • The psalmist writes, “In the day of my trouble I will call on you, for you will answer me.” To the psalmist, God is good, forgiving, and abounding in steadfast love to ALL who call out to her. God does not filter prayers like bills from junk mail. As all are within God’s omnipresence, all prayers (even those within our minds and hearts) are in God’s Mind before we hit “send.” • Have you heard someone tell you before, “God doesn’t answer _____’s prayers.” ? (Ethnic minorities, LGBT people, “sinners”, etc.) These people attempt to build a fence around God so “those people” can’t get in. The psalmist here affirms that all have access to God’s goodness, even us “deviants.”
Reflections Rev. Brian Hutchison Queering the Text • Matthew 13.24-30, 36-43 Our Prayers Are Heard • Biblical images of “Hell” tend to scare LGBT people. We have been told so many times either personally or indirectly that we’re going to Hell that we may be afraid to even use such passages in worship. A “blazing furnace with weeping and gnashing of teeth” is not a pretty one. • Knowing the history of hell ideology disempowers those who use threats of hell against us. We know that almost all ancient cultures had their own version of hell. And guess who inhabited those places of eternal torture? Any given culture’s enemies. Matthew uses a hell image as an expression of the frustration the Jewish people had with those who continually showed them injustice. • Homophobic, heterosupremacist people and groups name LGBT people as their enemies. They are just following a long line of those who wish harm on those who are not like themselves. Unfortunately, the same people often call themselves “Christian,” though Jesus did not preach condemnation, but rather salvation from such ways of thinking and behaving.
Reflections Rev. Dr. Mona West Going Deeper with the Text · Isaiah 44:1-8. This periscope is set in the context of the Exile. Garden imagery is used in verses 3 and 4 to speak of Israel as a plant nurtured by God’s watering and care. The Exiles are ‘trauma survivors’ and this text helps them reconstruct a new identity out of the trauma of the Exile—a new identity understood in relation to the character of God. · They are called to witness to God’s redemptive action in a multicultural setting—among other nations and gods. (Isaiah rags on idols later in this chapter but then claims ‘universalism’ elsewhere)
Reflections Rev. Dr. Mona West Going Deeper with the Text · The parable in Matthew invites us to consider the ways our roots are entwined others, and the ways in which we find ‘good and evil’ entangled in our own lives. · The tare is a bearded darnel plant which is poisonous and looks just like wheat until it flowers. The problem of the parable is the impatience of the workers. · The realm of God is like this: ambiguous, tangled in the present with a hope for sorting out, patience with growing. · “Contemplation is a long loving look at what is real.” Judy Cannato in Radical Amazement · The parable is about the possibilities of continual conversion and the ways we are all interconnected.
Reflections Rev. Dr. Mona West Going Deeper with the Text · “All I’m saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we’re caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” Martin Luther King
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