This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on November 6th, 2016.
This is no easy text to preach, but it poses an additional challenge for those preachers who observe All Saints Sunday on the Sunday following All Saints Day (Nov 1st). Add to the difficulty of the text itself the reality that many loved ones will be in attendance to remember those saints (“soulmates”) who have passed on, and many preachers will be passing on this text in favor of one of the other lectionary options. There’s also an opportunity that accompanies this challenge, though, to offer theological interpretation over and above sentimentality.
The Sadducees, most likely deriving their name from Zadok (righteous), the first high priest of Solomon’s temple, did not believe in the resurrection. They followed the Torah, but not any oral traditions, which put them at odds with Pharisees. Because the Torah did not allude to an afterlife, the Sadducees did not believe in it. As they follow on the heels of consecutive stories in chapter 20, where Luke highlights the attempts of the religious establishment to ensnare Jesus in religious legalese, the Sadducees bring up a practice from Deuteronomy 25 known as Levirate marriage. We see a couple examples of this in the Old Testament and the Ancient Near East, the most prominent being the story of Ruth and her kinsman-redeemer, Boaz.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on July 24, 2016.
Alright, Pastor. The lectionary has called upon you to preach a passage that many congregants will have some familiarity with. In fact, this passage may be all they know of the entire book from which the verses come. And, given current cultural sensibilities, what your parishioners may know of Hosea is likely viewed as patriarchal, misogynistic and akin to child abuse. The tasks for this Sunday will require a great deal of work to get to the fruitful core of the message of Hosea 1:2-10. But, it can be done.
Some thoughts on how to do this:
Be upfront and honest about what the text does not voice, while acknowledging what your parishioners are likely thinking as they hear this passage read. Hosea, Gomer and the brood are presented as actors on the stage dramatizing the relationship between God and Israel. The text is unconcerned with any of these actors aside from their relative parts. Within this passage, God is the only voice heard. We may wonder how Hosea felt about taking on an unfaithful woman as his wife. We may wonder why Gomer was unfaithful and how motherhood did or did not change this. We may wonder how the children lived with such painful monikers despite their relative innocence–notwithstanding their relative’s guilt. The scripture does not wonder about these things. It directs hearers and readers right past these concerns. A faithful Biblicist will acknowledge our natural inclination toward these questions while directing us to dive deeper into this incarnational metaphor as the text clearly wants. Ask your parishioners to suspend their concerns about gender, parenting and praxis and just listen to the text. The recognition that Hosea the prophet does not even speak within these first 10 verses may assist them. This passage is to be visualized as Hosea lives out this metaphor. This passage is to be heard as God speaks from heartfelt sorrow and pain.