Theo-Drama: The “now what?” of faith: August 2020 lectionary preview

July 21, 2020 by Rev. Dr. Neal Presa

Knowing is one thing. Evidencing the knowing through living is a whole other business. My wife and I are in the season of parenting when our sons are nearing college. This means tuition payments for us, the “world is your oyster” type of speak, and the vast horizon of learning that is set before them, and the daily prayer that what we have taught, modeled, and nurtured in their hearts for nearly two decades will bear fruit in such a way that demonstrates them to be responsible young men who are loving, kind, and compassionate.

That’s what we preachers and teachers of the Gospel pray for: that when the “Amen” is proclaimed at the end of the sermon, when the classroom lesson is finished, when the book is finished and put down, that those who have received the oral and written message will respond to live out the faith in real and tangible ways.

The 20th century Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Ur von Balthasar had an apt term for what I’m describing and which the texts for the August 2020 lectionary bear witness to: “Theo-Drama.” That phrase is the title of von Balthasar’s five-volume piece wherein he described God’s good actions towards humanity and what humanity’s response is in a divine-human encounter. And while von Balthasar’s description focused on the pivotal events of the Triduum and Easter, the divine knowing and self-disclosure evoke and provoke a human response.

In these reflections on the Pentateuchal and Gospel texts of the August 2020 lectionary, we will see this theo-drama at play. Ask yourself and ask your congregation this question: “Now what?”


August 2, 2020
Genesis 32:22-31 and Matthew 14:13-21
August 9, 2020
Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28 and Matthew 14:22-33


August 16, 2020
Genesis 45:1-15 and Matthew 15:10-28
August 23, 2020
Exodus 1:8-2:10 and Matthew 16:13-20


August 30, 2020
Exodus 3:1 -15 and Matthew 16:21-28


The Rev. Dr. Neal D. Presa is the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Presbyterian Foundation. He is Associate Pastor at the Village Community Presbyterian Church (Rancho Santa Fe, CA), Visiting Professor of Practical Theology at the International Theological Seminary (West Covina, CA), Visiting Professor and Scholar at the Union Theological Seminary (Dasmariñas, Philippines), Research Fellow of Practical Theology and Missional Theology at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa), and Fellow of The Center for Pastor Theologians (Oak Park, IL). He was the Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012-14) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).