Scripture reading for Aug. 14, 2011

Matthew 22:34-46

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked Jesus a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to them, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’ Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: ‘What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?’ They said to him, ‘The son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How is it then that David by the Spirit* calls him Lord, saying, 44 “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet’ ”? If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?’ No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.


We all deal with a myriad of questions during the course of a day. Usually no one is trying to trap us, as is the case of Jesus in this passage, but some questions remain unresolved. We can, as poet Rilke suggested, “live the questions” but there are some essential questions that need to be addressed to live a meaningful life.

    1. For the church, the question of authority is an essential question. Where do you think authority resides for the church? (i.e., scripture, Holy Spirit, personal experience)
    2. Where does the authority for your personal faith and action reside?
    3. What are those “essential questions” for you?

        Paula Northwood
        Minister of Education
        Plymouth Congregational Church

About PlymouthSpirit

Plymouth Congregational Church is a progressive faith community grounded in the Christian tradition. We are spiritual, loving, relevant and transforming.
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3 Responses to Scripture reading for Aug. 14, 2011

  1. Paul Price says:

    I agree with Cynthia that at a certain perimeter authority rests with personal experience-this the tricky territory of “subjective”/”objective”/”intersubjective.” At the same time, there is a degree of referencing the personal that is psychotic, paranoid or egomanical-they blend together. I need a referent “outside” of me to keep me out of the miasma of my subjectivity.

    I look to scriptures, experienced people, ministers, priests, politicians, writers of every sort, painters, drawers, ceramicists for “authority,” but I confess that I am almost always judging the authority, exercising the “smell test,” my gut, my ego. I further confess that if the “authority” (a scripture, person, art, music) has a compelling, driving, well-crafted, conviction based flow of communication, I can sway, be enthralled, delighted, engaged to think responsively.

    For me one of the most basic questions is what is the “divine”/”godly” purpose of a tumor, suffering, oppression, disability, exploitation . . . How do I reconcile this with the divine, or even consider these in some way part of the divine. Somehow I think they are related to the challenge posed by many traditions to “lose one’s life,” which I have been very unwilling to do.

  2. Cynthia Callanan says:

    Personal experience is where the authority resides. For aren’t we always using our personal interpretation of scripture, or our personal interpretation of our experience with the Holy Spirit? Even the commandment “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” can be interpreted in a variety of ways depending on your cultural background, family of origin, etc.

    • Joan Smiley says:

      Paula, I have listened on the computer to your sermon last Sunday. Actually, I have listened to portions a numer of times as there is so much content to ponder. You closed
      the sermon inviting the congregation to share with you a sampling of their
      ‘essential questions’. My reply (while awake during the night I thought of world/planet earth problems I wished I could solve and why don’t I get to enjoy a closer relationship with my grandchildren who all live in distant places) in the bright of day is to ask:
      “Considering my life experience, my learnings and my perspectives how can I best help to make the world and my community a better place?” Perhaps others live with a similiar question, sense of purpose in mind. Joan

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