August 27, 2015 – Pentecost: Proper 17

FIRST LESSON: Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9
EPISTLE: James 1: 17-27
GOSPEL: Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

1. Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9

The word Deuteronomy comes from a Greek word that means “second law.”  However in a Hebrew Bible, the name of the book is “elleh hadevarim” or “devarim” for short, which is a translation of the first few words of the first sentence of the book: “These are the words…”  When and where was the book of Deuteronomy written, and how does that affect the importance is given to v. 9, which emphasizes passing God’s commands to the next generation?

2.  PSALM 15

Psalm 15 strongly suggests that the practice of usury (i.e. collecting interest on borrowed money and debt) is an impediment to living in God’s dwelling place.  Given that much of our economy today is based on credit, debt, and interest; how are we to interpret this psalm?  Can one be holy and still charge and/or pay interest?

3. James 1: 17-27

I love what James says regarding the quality of our religion being immediately tied to how tight a rein we keep on our tongue.  James is pointing out a common problem among religious people (ok, all people!) – and that is the problem of hypocrisy.  Christians are often criticized for going to church on Sunday, and badmouthing people the rest of the week.  What guards your tongue?  Do you agree with James, that there is a correlation between what we say and our religion?

4.  Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23

The Gospel reading today picks up on the theme from James.  What is your take on how Jesus felt in regards to what people said while worshipping God versus what they said during other times?  How did Jesus feel about this hypocrisy?  Where does this reading meet you today?  What does it look like for a person to live with integrity in terms of what they say?  


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