Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A
Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 17), Year A

PROPER 16 (21) Tenth Sunday after Pentecost Year A

Exodus 1:8-2:10 and Psalm 124 • 
Romans 12:1-8 • 
Matthew 16:13-20 

The biblical text was a written work of art, meant to be read - 
consumed in fact - time and time again...until it became memory. 

Sometimes it's fun to look at different translations to appreciate the 
drama that specific words can add. And so, this week, from the King 
James Version: 

Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. (Exodus 1:8) 

Sounds a little foreboding, eh? 

Or how about this, from Paul's letter to the church at Rome: 

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of 
God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable 
to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this 
world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you 
may discern what is the will of God--what is good and acceptable and 

Quite a challenge to be transformed rather than conformed. We feel 
confronted by this challenge daily. 

Or perhaps from the Gospel of Matthew (imagine the red letters of your 
study bible as you read...): 

"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not 
revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my 
church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you 
bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth 
will be loosed in heaven." 

This week as we read the scriptures, we were reminded that life 
doesn't always unfold the way that we expect it to. Sometimes it takes 
dramatic turns. It's a little bit like being on an ever-changing 
amusement park ride. Sometimes its like floating in a swan boat on 
quiet water. Sometimes it is like a death-defying set of corkscrews 
at 75 miles per hour. Sometimes it is smooth track and other times 
it's the classic wooden coaster that knocks your head around and jars 
your vertebrae. And you don't really ever quite know what is next. 

Joseph has been a favorite of Pharaoh, and as a result, the Hebrews 
have been able to prosper and grow in Egypt. But there arose a 
Pharaoh that wasn't buddies with Joseph. Gulp. Now, the story frames 
the birth of Moses and his placement in the household of Pharaoh, but 
let's imagine Joseph's dread as he watched his favor disappear, his 
people falter, and grief and fear come upon them. How often are we 
moving along when circumstances change and everything we thought we 
knew evaporates. (We're thinking, in part, about the economy. How 
about you?) 

The psalmist is lifting praise for God's saving action. Israel, by 
the time the Psalms were written, has seen good times and bad. And 
through it all, they've come to respect God's action, even when it 
doesn't always make life simple. In general, the psalmist believe 
that even the bad times would have been much, much worse without God's 

In Matthew's gospel, we see Jesus as he is really getting in to the swing of things. Before this scene he has had a serious interaction with the Phairsees and Saducees, and he has had some sort of shaky interactions with the disciples that seem to have left him a little frustrated with them. He was not being warmly welcomed with open arms. And now 
remember that Simon Peter was destined to be a fisherman. But with 
Jesus he's become a fisher of men. And he's now being told that he is 
the rock upon which Jesus' church will be built. Do you suppose this 
was a radical departure from his expectations? And Jesus is sort of 
cornering Simon Peter - Who do you think I am? And when Simon Peter 
confesses his faith that this Jesus is the Messiah, he's blessed as 
the Rock. Umm...change of destiny? And then, by the way, don't tell 
anybody. Poor Peter. 

Finally, in Paul's letter to the church in Rome, he uses the language 
of sacrifice, a concept that would have been well-understood by 
observant Jews at the time, and turns it on its ear, suggesting that 
the believer should offer themselves as holy and LIVING sacrifices. 
This believing requires that you give something of 
yourself, that you remove yourself from the world in some way, and 
that you will use your gifts to the benefit of others. He claims that 
we all have gifts - not all the gifts, just a few - that the community 
needs. Now what if you want to have the gift of prophecy and get the 
gift of teaching? Start teaching. 

So what hairpin curves have been thrown your way of late? In what ways 
has this ride called life flipped your stomach? Or maybe you're 
enjoying a quiet ride right now? 

Where is God on the journey? 

God, we scratch and fight every day to have things be 
a little easier. 
And they get tougher. 
We try hard to be responsible 
and understand 
and plan 
and look ahead. 
And then the things we counted on 
and we have to 
start over. 
Forgive us when we curse 
our circumstances. 
Forgive us when we are so focused 
on the frustrations 
of re-navigating. 
Be with us as we continue to learn to trust 
and keep walking 
toward You. 

© matt & laura norvell 2011 we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be with you.


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