Offertory Prayer

Invitation to the Offering
The offering you made last week empowered ministry within our congregation and in response to the needs of our community. It also helped support the work of ministries beyond the local church that reach people who are in desperate need to feel the touch of love and reconciliation. Through the Episcopal Fund, your church not only supports the Bishop who serves your conference, but the global work of our United Methodist episcopal leaders. Your giving makes possible their witness for the whole church in many areas including evangelism, justice ministries, global health and working with the world’s poor. This ministry happens thanks to the generous support of United Methodists like you. I invite you once again to give generously as we worship God through the sharing of our gifts, tithes and offerings.

Learn more about the work of the Council of Bishops of the UMC at: http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/council-of-bishops

August 3, 2014 -- Eighth Sunday after Pentecost/in Kingdomtide

God of abundant grace and compassion, you heap blessings on us with the reminder that we have been blessed to be a blessing. As we offer our tithes and offering this morning, we remember that we live in a world where so many don’t have enough to eat or clean water to drink. The words that Jesus spoke to the disciples ring loud in our ears: “You give them something to eat!” As we put these gifts in your hands and lift our eyes in gratitude, bless the gifts and multiply them to ease the need in places we may never go for people we may never meet. We ask this in the holy name of Jesus, the Christ. Amen. (Matthew 14:13-21)

"Prayers by Ken Sloan. Copyright General Board of Discipleship. www.GBOD.org Used by permission."

Monday, February 28, 2011

Offertory Prayers for March 2011

Betsy Schwarzentraub, Director of Stewardship, General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church has written Offertory Prayers for March.

Transfiguration, a Reflection on Matthew 17:1-9

I've been reading Stanley Hauerwas' commentary on Matthew as the lectionary has led us through this gospel. And I'm glad that I am.

For example, he points out that "six days later" points us to the creation story so that Jesus' transfiguration is the seventh day thus bringing God's work to completion.

Peter, James, and his brother John are there on the mountaintop with Jesus. They witness his transfiguration. They see him changed, and they see Moses and Elijah. Peter, as usual, speaks first. He offers to build three dwellings. We aren't told explicitly what Peter had in mind, but we can speculate that he wanted to keep Jesus on the mountaintop--usually a significant place in the Scriptures--along with those two important figures, Moses who had led the people out of slavery and brought them the law from the Lord and Isaiah the prophet who told them the Lord's word as they emerged from exile.

Perhaps Peter was attempting to live out this passage from Leviticus 23:
33The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 34Speak to the people of Israel, saying: On the fifteenth day of this seventh month, and lasting seven days, there shall be the festival of booths to the Lord. 35The first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not work at your occupations. 36Seven days you shall present the Lord’s offerings by fire; on the eighth day you shall observe a holy convocation and present the Lord’s offerings by fire; it is a solemn assembly; you shall not work at your occupations....


As Peter was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud, a voice speaks to them, repeating the words spoken at his baptism (Matthew 3:13-17) "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased" and adds some words not heard at that time, "listen to him!"

The immediate reaction of the disciples is fear. They fall to the ground.

They have seen light, heard the voice, and they are scared.

Jesus responds to their fear by coming to them and touching them. He tells them to get up and not to be afraid. Thomas Long, in his excellent commentary on Matthew, reminds us that Jesus has touched the leper (8:3), the hand of the fevered woman (8:15), and the eyes of the blind men (9:29) and healed them. Thus, as Jesus can heal blindness, fever, and leprosy, so can he heal fear.

When they look up, Moses and Isaiah are not visible. It's time to leave the mountain. On the way down, Jesus tells them not to tell anybody about the vision they have witnessed until after the resurrection.

Fred Craddock, in Preaching through the Christian Year A, explains:
If the disciples understood who Jesus was only after the resurrection there certainly was no reason to assume the crowds could. After all, if the baptism and prediction of passion seemed a contradiction of the terms "Messiah" and "Son of God," how much more would the cross? The people are not ready for the Transfiguration story because the disciples are not ready to tell it.
And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Daily Prayer, Monday, February 28, 2011

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 95
O come, let us sing to the Lord.
....
We come into your presence with thanksgiving
....
for you are a great God
....
We kneel before you, our Lord, our Maker!
We are the people of your pasture, the sheep of your hand.
....

Psalms 1, 2, 3, 5

Daily Lectionary Reading, Matthew 17:1-9

Lectio Divina
While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, "this is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!" (Matthew 17:5)

Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? (Psalm 2:1)

Conclusion to Intercessory Prayer
You revealed your glory and presence
in your beloved son, Jesus the Christ.
In receiving our prayers,
reveal the glory and presence of your Spirit
alive in the world today,
free us from all doubts,
and empower us to act as a transfigured people. Amen.
(page 72, Revised Common Lectionary Prayers, Fortress Press).

Midday Psalm 119:1-8

Evening
Psalms 6, 7, 8

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Judgment--Who and When, a Reflection on 1 Corinthians 4:1-5

Paul is writing to the Corinthians, a fractious community. They are critical of each other and also of Paul. We can read this letter historically to help us understand what Paul was trying to get the Corinthians to understand, and we can read it to help us to work through conflicts within our congregations.

Paul reminds them and us that, after all, it is not the congregation that determines how well and how faithfully he has served. Rather, the Lord is the one who does the judging. We may be reacting to what a minister is doing or saying today, but, in doing so, we should also reflect on the consequences of those actions. Some events are not immediately apparent.

Beverly Gaventa, Texts for Preaching:
For those Christians who find even the term "judgment" to be distasteful, Paul's comments stand as a powerful reminder that all human beings are God's servants and stand responsible before God for their behavior. No one escapes that accountability. For those Christians who, on the other hand, savor the prospect of judgment because they have already made judgments of their own, Paul's insistence that it is God who judges may cause the tongue to pause mid-accusation. Paul's not-too-subtle point is that God requires no help or recommendations about the judgments of others.

Or for a post that I wish I had written, see Nadia Bolz-Weber's take on this passage.

Daily Prayer, Sunday, February 27, 2011

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 24

Psalms 147, 148, 149

Daily Lectionary Reading, 1 Corinthians 4:1-5

Lectio Divina
I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. then each one will receive commendation from God (1 Corinthians 4:5).

O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time on and forevermore (Psalm 131:3)
.

Prayer for today:
O God of all the nations,
you manifested your love by sending your only Son into the world
that all might live through him.
Pour your Spirit on your Church,
that it may fulfill his command to preach the gospel everywhere;
send forth laborers into your harvest;
defend them in all dangers and temptations;
give the grace to bear faithful witness to you;
endue them with zeal and love, that they may turn many to righteousness;
through the same your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(UMBOW 314)


Evening
Psalms 144, 145

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hope in the Lord, a Reflection on Psalm 131

Psalms 120 through 134 all begin with the superscription, "A song for ascents." According to the notes in the Jerusalem Study Bible, there are several theories about the designation "ascents," the English translation for "ma'alah." Among these theories are the early rabbinic tradition that deduced that there 15 of these psalms to match the 15 steps of the Temple (see Ezekiel 40:26, 31). Some modern scholars connect these psalms to the return from exile. Others have a allegorist understanding; that is, the ascent is of the individual to God.

Psalm 131 begin with an assertion of humility, "O Lord, my heart is not proud nor my look haughty; I do not aspire to great things or to what is beyond me." I'm pausing here to ponder how honestly a typical modern can pray this psalm. Do we think a heart should be proud? Is it hard for us to admit that some things are beyond us? How willing are we to limit our aspirations? Or, I'm wondering if we, on the other hand, can pray this psalm quite honestly. Our humility is part of what drives us to our places of worship. Of course, we can't do everything. Of course, we don't understand why some things turn out the way they do. But, I'm still having trouble with the not-occupying myself part. I, at least, if not we, do tend to worry about a lot of things.

Back to the psalm.

The words of the psalm links the one on the way to the Temple (or on the way home from exile, or the one seeking the presence of God) to a small child with its mother. From an assertion of humility to an example of it. It's hard to come up with a relationship in which one party provides for the needs of the other--even when that other isn't behaving particularly well at all--than the mother and her child.

This week's passage from Isaiah used the same metaphor in responding to the fear that the Lord had forsaken Israel, "Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb?"

Daily Prayer, Saturday, February 26, 2011

Morning

Invitatory Psalm 67
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way be known upon earth....

Psalms 141, 146

Daily Lectionary Reading Psalm 131

Lectio Divina
O Lord, my heart is not lifted, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me (Psalm 131:1).

O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time on and forevermore (Psalm 131:3).

Prayer for today:
O Lord God, your chosen dwelling is the heart of the lowly.
We give you thanks that you revealed yourself in the holy child Jesus,
thereby sanctifying all childhood in him.
Make us humble in faith and love, that we may know the joy of the gospel
hidden from the wise and prudent and revealed unto babes.
This we ask in the name of the one, who, wearing our mortal flesh,
grew in wisdom and in favor with God and all people,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
(UMBOW 313).



Evening
Psalm 140, 142, 143

Friday, February 25, 2011

Monthly Reading of Psalms

I've made some changes in the Schedule for reading Psalms.

When Despondent, a Reflection on Isaiah 49:13-16a

Doesn't this passage sound like a familiar pattern we religious people follow? First, a call to everyone to worship God including a very good reason to do so. Then, we recognize and admit that we have had disappointments, that we have had experiences that have given us doubt. And into our doubt comes the assurance that yes, God will remember to take care of us.

Doubting God's presence doesn't keep God from caring about us.

Daily Prayer, Friday, February 25, 2011

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 118
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!
....
Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
With the Lord on my side I do not fear.
What can mortals do to me?
....

Psalms 131, 132, 133

Daily Lectionary Reading, Isaiah 49:13-16a

Lectio Divina
But Zion said, "The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me." Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you (Isaiah 49:14-15).

O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time on and forevermore (Psalm 131:3).

O Lord, in those times that we despair, remind us that we are yours. Rekindle our hope. Amen.

Midday Psalm 119:169-176

Evening
Psalms 137, 138, 139

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Show Yourselves, a Reflection on Isaiah 49:8-12

They have known defeat, have been sent into exile, and now are being promised restoration.

They have been helped, and now they have a job to do.

Isaiah describes the role that Israel is to play: to say to the prisoners, "Come out," and to those in darkness, "Show yourselves."

As I read these verses, I am assuming that the original interpretation centered on those exiles being the prisoners and those in darkness could have also meant the exiles or it could mean the people who were left in Judah and were forced into collaboration and cooperation.

But, whoever was the first to hear Isaiah's words, many of us who have come after them need to heed them as well:
Come out of whatever it is that is keeping you from freely following God.

Quit keeping your loyalty to God a secret.


And, let us read those ancient promises as still holding for us. As we emerge from our fears and insecurities, we will travel a path toward much blessing. We will be sustained along the way. The Lord has sent us a guide and a leader.

And, as we are asked to cast off our timidity about being God's people, we are to demonstrate and practice that life of care for others who just never have had a chance to hear about it before.

Daily Prayer, Thursday, February 24, 2011

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 150
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty firmament!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his surpassing greatness!
....

Psalms 125, 126, 127, 128, 129

Daily Lectionary Reading, Isaiah 49:8-12

Lectio Divina
Thus says the Lord: In a time of favor I have answered you, on a day of salvation I have helped you; I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages; saying to the prisoners, "Come out," to those who are in darkness, "Show yourselves..." (Isaiah 49:8-9a).

For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken (Psalm 62:5-6).

The Lord is Sovereign; let the people tremble in awe.
God is enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth shake.
The Lord is great in Zion, and is high above all peoples.
Proclaim the greatness of the Lord our God,
and worship Yahweh upon the holy mountain (UMBOW 318)
.
Midday Psalm 119:161-168

Evening
Psalms 135, 136

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Do Not Worry, a Reflection on Matthew 6:32-34

Yes, the rent comes due, the utility bill must be paid, clothes have to be replaced. (I'm granting that personally I may have more concern about just what those replacement clothes look like that Jesus would think that I needed to).

But, he was thinking about our thinking when he said, "So do not worry about tomorrow." Let us remember he's not in any way asking us to blow off the needs of our community or to live as if what we do doesn't matter. Rather he's making a distinction between healthy worry and unhealthy worry:
...this command "do not worry about tomorrow" is not an invitation to finesse the exam or waltz into the job interview unprepared. Rather, it speaks to the deeper. more basic fear that something is out there in the future that can destroy our basic worth as a human being, something finally stronger than God's care, some silent killer shark swimming toward us from the future....
Those who know that God summons the sun to rise are confident that, whatever tomorrow brings, it will also bring God with it..... (Thomas G. Long, Matthew).

Daily Prayer, Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into his presence with singing.

Know that the Lord is God.
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures for ever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalms 120, 121, 122, 123, 124

Daily Lectionary Reading, Matthew 6:32-34

Lectio Divina
For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today (Matthew 6:32-34).

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother (Psalm 131:2a).

O Lord, you remind us that you care for those that we may neglect to notice. And you remind us that what we so often care about is not really that important. Instill in us the will to direct our efforts to what you consider important. Still our worries about what is not. Amen.

Midday Psalm 119:153-160

Evening
Psalm 130

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Prioritizing, a reflection on Matthew 6:27-32

Repeat from Thanksgiving 2009:
As I ponder verses 25-30 in Matthew 6, I wonder what I am thankful for and what Jesus wants me to be thankful for, and what am I anxious about.

I really can't imagine not worrying about my life or my diet or, sadly, even my wardrobe.

Was Jesus trying to comfort me or discomfort me? What is the size of my faith?

Thank you, Matthew, for including verses 31-32. Although I do worry about things that are really all that important, I do at least recognize that they aren't all that important.

My prayer today is to keep remembering that God knows what I need, to keep remembering, and to live as if I am remembering, that the kingdom of God and God's righteousness are of first priority to me.

Daily Prayer, Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Morning

Invitatory Psalm 63
O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my thirsts for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
....

Psalms 97, 98, 99, 101

Daily Lectionary Reading, Matthew 6:27-31

Lectio Divina
And yet can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? (Matthew 6:27)

I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me (Psalm 131:1b).

O Lord, help me focus on you and the gifts you have provided. Direct my attention away from the unimportant. Amen.

Midday Psalm 119:137-152

Evening
Psalms 115, 116, 117

Monday, February 21, 2011

What Are You Worried About? a Reflection on Matthew 6:24-26

I read in Stanley Haurewas' Commentary on Matthew: Trust is a witness to God's care for creation. God has given us more than we need.

But, I do worry. Or, should I say--I choose to worry. I look around me and can see the riches that God has lavished on our earth, and what do I think? Do I think, "How grateful I am that God has provided all this"? Or, do I think, "Will there be enough for me?" And, of course, when we worry about getting enough, we are really worrying about getting much more than enough.

Jesus said to his disciples, "No one can serve two masters." Either I put my efforts and thoughts and cares into what God intends, or I focus on my own needs to the neglect of anyone else's.

Daily Prayer, Monday, February 21, 2011

Morning

Invitatory Psalm 95
O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving'
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.

Psalms 94, 96

Daily Lectionary Reading, Matthew 6:24-26

Lectio Divina
No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth (Matthew 6:24).

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high (Psalm 131:1a).

O Lord, remind us when we seek to please the wrong master. Remind us that you are our Lord. And, O Lord, calm our fears and concerns about getting more and more. Remind us that we have higher concerns than food and fashion. Amen.

Midday Psalm 119:129-136

Evening
Psalms 110, 111, 112, 113, 114

Sunday, February 20, 2011

No Reason for Boasting, a Reflection on 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23

I used to live in a city built on Yazoo clay--it expands when moist then contracts when dry--so I have observed up close problems caused by foundations. The house two doors down from us moved off its foundation as the earth underneath shifted. Cars could get stranded in large pot holes. I now live in a city that has a seismic history. Lots of money must be spent retrofitting buildings that were erected without considering potential earth-shifting.

Having seen the difficulties caused by poor foundations, I can recognize the value in a good foundation. As God's temple, we, the church, are built on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

But, what we build on that foundation is also important. Paul cautions the Corinthians not to think that they are wise--or to attempt to appear wise to other people. Christianity requires its practitioners to do a lot of things--say, love your enemy--that appear right out foolish to other people.

He quotes what we call the Old Testament to underlie this point, "he catches the wise in their craftiness," (Job 5:13) and "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile" (Psalm 94:11).

After all, not one of them had built anything alone. They all had help. And they all shared in the benefits of the efforts of others. What they have now and will have in the future will be there. And now and in the future they will belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.

Daily Prayer, Sunday, February 20, 2011

Morning

Invitatory Psalm 24
The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
for he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the rivers,
....

Psalms 90, 92, 93

Daily Lectionary Reading, 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23

Lectio Divina
Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.... (1 Corinthians 3:18-19a)

See, I have longed for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life (Psalm 119:40).

Prayer: I give you thanks for all those who have preceded me, prepared a way for me, supported me on my own journey, and who continue to help me every day. And I give my thanks to you, O Lord, for being the origin of all that I have accomplished and can accomplish. Help me to remember that I can not do what you need me to to do without your continuing, continuous help. Amen.

Evening
Psalms 108, 109

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Obedience, a Reflection on Psalm 119:33-40

"Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes, and I will observe it to the end," the psalmist speaks.

In Weavings, Marjorie J. Thompson calls obedience the deepest passion of love:
What transformation of our notions of obedience might be effected if we simply saw God's will as the deepest yearning of God's love for us--the passionate divine desire for our human fulfillment in God's unimaginably lovely design! Can we trust that what God yearns for in this creation is abundantly good and that we are intended to be vital links in the intricate web of cosmic life?

Can we pray for God's will to be done in and through us because we know it to be a light yoke with an achingly exquisite purpose with which we yearn to work in harmony? God is a sovereign whose supreme expression of ruling is to die for us out of fiercely loyal and immeasurably tender love. Perhaps if we were to grasp this truth with heart as well as head, we would be ready to help realize God's loving will on earth as it is realized in heaven.

Daily Prayer, Saturday, February 19, 2011

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 67
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God'
let all the peoples praise you.
...

Psalms 82, 84, 85

Daily Lectionary Reading, Psalm 119:33-40

Lectio Divina
Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes, and I will observe it to the end (Psalm 119:33).

Confirm to your servant your promise, which is for those who fear you (Psalm 119:38).

Evening
Psalm 107

Friday, February 18, 2011

Love Your Neighbor, a Reflection on Leviticus 19:16-18

After the instructions not to defraud or judge unjustly your neighbor, the Lord through Moses tells them more about appropriate neighborliness. Do not slander. Do not profit by the blood of your neighbor. Even reproving a neighbor will bring guilt on you. No vengeance. Not even bearing a grudge. What would our world be like if we even began to follow these instructions?

And, how did we get so confused about holiness that we have forgotten that generosity and fairness and kindness are all demonstrations of it. As Leviticus sums it up for us, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord."

Daily Prayer, Friday, February 18, 2011

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 24
Psalms 80, 82
Daily Lectionary Reading, Leviticus 19:16-18
Lectio Divina
(Leviticus 19:18)
(Psalm 119:37)
Midday Psalm 119:121-128
Evening
Psalm 106

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Don't Lie; Don't Block, a Reflection on Leviticus 19:11-15

The Lord told Moses what to tell the people: You shall not steal nor deal falsely or lie.

Not only are you not to steal, you shouldn't delay paying your workers what they have earned.

It's not just money that we aren't to steal or hold back for a while, it's their dignity and ability to earn that wage as well. The Lord said, "You shall not revile the deaf nor put a stumbling block before the blind.

As a personal aside: Several years ago I injured my knee and had to use a wheelchair for a few weeks. Every restaurant, every store was completely, easily accessible. Almost no churches were.

Daily Prayer, Thursday, February 17, 2011

Morning

Invitatory Psalm 150

Psalms 73, 76

Daily Lectionary Reading, Leviticus 19:11-15

Lectio Divina
You shall not defraud your neighor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the Lord (Leviticus 19:13-14).

Turn my heart to your decrees, and not to selfish gain (Psalm 119:36)
.

Gloria to God in the highest,
and peace to God's people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.

....

For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen (UMH 83)

Midday Psalm 119:113-120

Evening
Psalm 105

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Surely God Wasn't Asking This, a Reflection on Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-10

For some Bible verses, we might be reading for history, but these prompt us to think about what we're doing now. The Lord reminded Moses that when they got to their home, they were to be holy. Let's not restrict the meaning of holy. God was talking about more than we may usually consider to fall under that description.

For example, the Lord told them that when they reaped the harvest from their land, that they were not supposed to keep all the crop for their own use. "Leave some for the poor and the alien."

As we Americans consider such difficult topics as health care and immigration, we might look back at these verses and ponder just what God meant for us to do.

Daily Prayer, Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Morning

Invitatory Psalm 100

Psalms 71, 72

Daily Lectionary Reading, Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-10

Lectio Divina
When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your G0d (Leviticus 19:9-10).

Turn my heat to your decrees, and not to selfish gain (Psalm 119:35).

O Lord, let these words help remind us who provided the harvest for us and the purpose for which you intended your bounty to be used. Amen

Midday Psalm 119:105-112


Evening
Psalm 104

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Perfection Can Be Rather Difficult, a Reflection on Matthew 5:43-48

If not hitting back isn't hard enough, or if giving to anybody who asks for something isn't, then comes a rule that may seem impossible to some of us--love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

The reason that Jesus gives for loving our enemies is that we have to do it so that we may be the children of our Father in heaven. Try this for an exercise today: as you read the newspaper or watch cable TV, every time you get mad at something somebody says something you absolutely know is wrong or stupid, pause for a moment to consider loving them even a little. Can you do it? Can you believe that God wants you to? Yes, I know it would be better for me to be using "we" rather than "you" here.

Jesus could well have been much more familiar with the teachings of Proverbs than we have bothered to be. For example "Do not rejoice when your enemies fall, and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble, or else the Lord will see it and be displeased... (I'm omitting the troubling part)" (24:17-18a).

Jesus demonstrated God's love for everyone--people they like and people they don't, by reminding them that God makes the sun rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. In a kingdom ruled by God rather than by our own needs and prejudices, we are supposed to do the same.

Daily Prayer, Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Morning

Invitatory Psalm 63
....
My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
....
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
....

Psalms 65, 66, 70

Daily Lectionary Reading, Matthew 5:43-48

Lectio Divina
You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? It's good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can't be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house (Matthew 5:13-15, Common English Bible).

Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart (Psalm 119:34).

Midday Psalm 119:97-104

Evening
Psalms 102, 103

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hard Teachings, a Reflection on Matthew 5:38-42

Jesus continues his teachings that are stricter than the law.

The law of "eye for eye" was intended to limit violence and revenge. But Jesus goes further than that. He says that if someone hits you, don't just hit them no harder than they did, but, instead, he says to let them hit you again. He adds that if somebody sues you, then give them even more than they asked for.

Then he makes this pronouncement, "Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you."

Being a Christian would be really hard if we actually tried it.

For some indications of how Methodists are trying to be Christian, check out UM News Service.

Daily Prayer, Monday, February 14, 2011

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 95

Psalms 57, 61, 64

Daily Lectionary Reading, Matthew 5:38-42

Lectio Divina
You have heard it said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also (Matthew 5:38).

Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes, and I will observe it to the end (Psalm 119:33).

Midday Psalm 119:87-96

Evening
Psalms 87, 88, 91

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Church Growth, a Reflection on 1 Corinthians 3:6-9

I am not good at memorizing, but passages like this one make me want to be. Paul tells this congregation that has competing loyalties to quit quarreling and to end their jealousy. "After all," he says, "who's really doing the accomplishing?"

We each have a part to play in accomplishing the work that God has given us to do, but we shouldn't ever think that the work is ours entirely. Neither should we think that we deserve all the credit.

As Paul puts it, "For we are God's servants, working together; you are God's field, God's building." I'm remembering when I was a child, that when riding through the country, my grandmother would look out at the fields and comment on whether the cotton or corn was looking good for that time of year. Now, I'm imagining someone observing a local congregation, God's field, and noticing how it was doing.

Only God gives the growth, but we church people sure can provide some weeds.

Daily Prayer, Sunday, February 13

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 24
The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
....
Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
....

Psalms 52, 53, 54, 56

Daily Lectionary Reading, 1 Corinthians 3:6-9

Lectio Divina
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.... For we are God's servants, working together; you are God's field, God's building (1 Corinthians 3:6, 9).

I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous ordinances. I will observe your statues; do not utterly forsake me (Psalm 119:7-8).

Evening
Psalms 78, 79, 83, 86

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Baby Food for Babies, a Reflection on 1 Corinthians 3:1-5

"You weren't ready to hear it yet," Paul told the Corinthians, "and you aren't ready yet."

"I've told you some, but there's more to this Christianity stuff than you are able to grasp."

It may be disconcerting to us moderns to consider the basis for his diagnosis of immaturity--jealousy and quarreling among the church members.

Background information: The word "flesh" in Greek is "sarx." According to Carl R. Halladay in Preaching through the Christian Year A, sarx in the New Testament almost always has a negative connotation, "signifying an outlook that is essentially centered on the self and pursues one's own interests."

How many of the quarrels that we have in our congregations are based on our needs and interests and how many of the needs and interests of what Christ would have us think more important? Are we ready to hear more of what Paul had felt the Corinthians were not yet ready to hear? Are we ready to get ready?

Daily prayer, Saturday, February 12, 2011

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 67
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.
....
The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, has blessed us,
May Cod continue to bless us;
let all the ends of the earth revere him.

Psalms 50, 51

Daily Lectionary Reading, 1 Corinthians 3:1-5

Lectio Divina

... For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? (1 Corinthians 3:3)

Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord
(Psalm 119:1).

Evening
Psalm 75, 77

Friday, February 11, 2011

Happiness, a Reflection on Psalm 119:1-8

A way that Christians have used to express disdain for Jews--and Protestants for Catholics--is to say that they are obsessed with the law. Walter Breuggemann reminds us that Torah piety is a living-out of the realization that they have been disobedient but were rescued by the Lord anyway. Thus, their commitment to doing what God wanted them to do was driven not by guilt, fear, or coercion, but by joy, comfort, and well-being (Theology of the Old Testament).

Psalm 119 demonstrates this praise of the law and the law-giver.

Brueggemann again, but this time in the commentary, Texts for Preaching points out the three steps in this section of Psalm 119:

Step 1, verses 1-3, We have seen destruction and disappointment. The Lord has shown us how we can attain happiness. Step 2, But, just have been told what to do is not enough. We need continued support--verse 4 shifts to a prayer to the Lord.
The third step, verses 5-8, the psalmist expresses the
resolve to keep Torah and to establish God's instruction as the pole around which life revolves...and the joy to be found in that commitment.... At the same time that the psalmist gives voice to this resolve, however, he or she confesses the power of human ignorance and weakness. In order to keep Torah, it must first be learned (v. 7b). And even when God's instruction has been learned, faithfulness to it is often interrupted by human weakness and sin, so that the petition in v. 5 becomes a necessary one for the poet to raise.

Daily Prayer, Friday, February 11, 2011

Morning

Invitatory Psalm 118
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever.
....
Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
With the Lord on my side I do not fear.
What can mortals do to me?
....

Psalms 41, 42, 43, 47

Daily Lectionary Reading, Psalm 119:1-8

Lectio Divina

Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord (Psalm 119:1)

You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! (Psalm 119:4-5)


Midday Psalm 119:73-88

Evening
Psalm 74

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's Your Choice, a Reflection on Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Returning from the exile, they could look back at how they had acted when they had first gotten there. Deuteronomy looks back and reviews, thus is also a look forward into how they should do it this time.

And not just them. And not just then. As we move through this time between Epiphany and Lent, we also can review the gifts we have received from God, God's expectations of us, and how we responded.

God said to that ancient people, "I've told you the ways that will lead to a good life for all of you. If you don't do what works, you'll find yourself in trouble."

God summed it up in a way that may seem reassuring or it may seem ominous, "It's your choice."

Daily Prayer, Thursday, February 10, 2011

Morning

Invitatory Psalm 150
Praise the Lord!
....
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

Psalms 39, 40

Daily Lectionary Reading, Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Lectio Divina
But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve the, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and you descendants may live (Deuteronomy 30:17-19).

You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! (Psalm 119:4)

Midday Psalm 119:68-77

Evening
Psalm 69

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

JustPeace, a Reflection on Matthew 5:31-37

My take-away from this: The law says something hard. Jesus says something either harder. Or, the law says something necessary, and Jesus emphasizes how necessary.

A current, real-world example of a way to live out the requirements underlying this passage from Matthew is the JustPeace Center.

The mission of the JustPeace Center for Mediation and Conflict Transformation is to prepare and assist United Methodists to engage conflict constructively in ways that strive for justice, reconciliation, resource preservation and restoration of community in the Church and in the world.

Here are their values:
We are created for relationships of interdependence with other human beings and with God—with all Creation.
When relationships are broken, we are called through the Holy Spirit to work toward reconciliation, the creation of new relationships.
Shalom or right relations is God’s vision for humankind and all Creation.
Believing that conflict is opportunity, not just danger, we can engage conflict constructively, growing and learning and even experiencing divine revelation.
The justice we seek is not retributive justice, but restorative justice—a justice that through engagement acknowledges brokenness, affirms accountability, and looks to the future for healing and restoration of community.
The process that serves reconciliation and restorative justice is one of dialogue and mediation, not an adversarial process.
Conflict is both personal and systemic. We must engage people as well as systems, the principalities and the powers.
We are committed to being inclusive and being sensitive to all differences in the ways we engage and transform conflict.
Believing that there are skills that are critical to the process of dialogue and mediation, we are committed to learning, teaching and practicing those skills—skills we practice as spiritual disciplines.
We seek to empower both people who see this work as a career and all of us who see this work as a lifestyle.
We believe that we need to do this work together, for mutual support, spiritual discernment, and the creation of community.
We will work with all others who are committed to these principles, with humility.

Daily Prayer, Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 100

Psalm 37

Daily Lectionary Reading, Matthew 5:31-37

Lectio Divina
Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, "You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord." But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God.... Let your word by "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5:33, 37).

You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statues! (Psalm 119:3).

Midday Psalm 119:57-67

Evening
Psalms 62, 68

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Don't Even Think About It, a Reflection on Matthew 5:25-30

A list of do-nots is not sufficient to ensure a harmonious community because each of us can interpret a particular item on that list so that the behavior we justify doing what we would really like to do at any moment of temptation. Not murdering is important, but is not a sufficient means of building community. Coming to terms quickly with the person who has irritated you, as a general mode of behavior, is certainly both effective--if somewhat more difficult to achieve day after day, irritating person after irritating person.

Reconciliation is necessary for a community that is living out God's will.

And, more than that is required.

After reminding them that adultery was forbidden, Jesus then cautioned them on the kind of behavior that would be as harmful because it would lead to adultery.

Are these requirements reasonable or even possible? Can we eliminate anger and lust from our lives completely? Jesus cautions us to make the effort.

Daily Prayer, Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Morning

Invitatory Psalm 63
O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where no water is.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as log as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
....

Psalm 36

Daily Lectionary Reading, Matthew 5:25-30

Lectio Divina
You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery." But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28).

Happy are those who keep his decrees, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways (Psalm 119:2).

Midday Psalm 119:49-56

Evening
Psalm 55, 59, 60

Monday, February 7, 2011

Not Only Not, a Reflection on Matthew 5:21-24

If we ever think that Christianity is about "me and Jesus" or "having a personal relationship with Jesus" or something like that, we need to go back and read Matthew 5 again. Jesus emphasized that we were supposed to think about things like "me and my brother or sister" and "having a right relationship with them."

Another correction to our thought would be to quit saying things that imply that Old Testament laws are repealed or that the New Testament is so radically different from the Old that we can just forget the Old part. Jesus didn't forget it, and neither should we.

"You have heard it said," Jesus began, "you shall not murder." That law is still in effect. But, then he went on to include a lot of other behaviors that we might not have interpreted as falling under the heading of murder: being angry or calling somebody a fool. Just as the Ten Commandments were intended to help the escaping slaves to learn how to live together as God's people in the land promised to them, they still are applicable to us escaping the prison of our fears, hatreds, and resentments so we can move on to the kind of relationships that will make life better.

Besides increasing the definition of what we are not supposed to do, Jesus also provided an alternative: reconciliation.

I'm wondering about some of the discourse I listened to and read during the last elections and their aftermath. Do we somehow think that our political discourse is exempted from these sayings of Jesus?

Daily prayer, Monday, February 7, 2011

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 95
O Come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Psalm 34

Daily Lectionary Reading, Matthew 5:21-24
You have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago, "You shouldn't commit murder," and all who commit murder will be in danger of judgment. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with their brother or sister will be in danger of judgment....(Common English Bible)

Lectio Divina
Leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:24, NRSV).

Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord (Psalm 119:1, NRSV).

Midday Psalm 119:41-48

Evening
Psalms 46, 48, 49

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Spiritual Discernment, a Reflection on 1 Corinthians 2:13-16

Paul continues the contrast between what can be taught by human wisdom and what can be taught by the Spirit. What the Spirit teaches is intelligible to the spiritual, but not to those who are unspiritual.

Here's how Eugene Peterson expresses it in The Message:
[To the unspiritual,] they seem like so much silliness. Spirit can be known only by spirit--God's Spirit and our spirits in open communion.

I'm thinking of all the things we tend to be afraid of--people who don't look like us, or behave in ways that we just wouldn't, or somebody else getting to make a decision about something that affect us, and much, much more. We do spend a lot of our effort on focusing on our fears. I'm not sure that it's human wisdom that's led us astray so much as no wisdom at all. But, I'm sure that being open to what the Spirit of God had to say about such changes in our lives would help us to face them without so much fear and angst.

Also, let us not read Paul to be saying that human wisdom has no benefit at all. Rather. we are always to use and to interpret what we've learned in a way that serves God's purpose.

Daily Prayer, Sunday, February 6, 2011

Morning

Invitatory Psalm 24
The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
for he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the rivers.
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
and do not swear deceitfully.
They will receive blessing from the Lord,
and vindication from the God of their salvation.
....
(NRSV)


Psalms 32, 33

Daily Lectionary Reading, 1 Corinthians 2:13-16

Lectio Divina
Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else's scrutiny (1 Corinthians 2:14-15, NRSV).
Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes (Psalm 112:8, NRSV).

Evening
Psalms 44, 45

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Two Wisdoms, Two Spirits, a Reflection on 1 Corinthians 2:1-12

If we had created God--rather than the other way around, what kind of God would we have wanted? Paul is teaching the Corinthians what we may need to be reminded.

Paul is basing the success of his mission not on his own rhetorical skills but rather on the power of God. And what he is preaching is preaching Christ crucified.

Yet, it must be noted that Paul immediately does launch into rhetorical excellence.

He argues that if the leaders of their day had wisdom, they would not have crucified Christ. But, Christians have a knowledge that comes to them from God through the Spirit. We can learn from other people only what they have already known.

But, we, because we have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit that is from God, can understand the gift bestowed on us by God.

Daily Prayer, Saturday, February 5, 2011

Morning

Invitatory Psalm 67
....
Light up your face so we can see it--Selah
to make your path known to the earth;
your saving power to all the nations.
....
(from The Complete Psalms, Pamela Greenberg)

Psalms 26, 27, 29

Daily Lectionary Reading, 1 Corinthians 2:1-12

Lectio Divina
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:2-5).

For the righteous will never be moved; they will be remembered forever (Psalm 112:6).

Evening
Psalms 35:1-3, 9-28; 38

Friday, February 4, 2011

Happiness and Fear, a Reflection on Psalm 112:1-10

The question "What does God expect from us?" is addressed by this week's reading from Isaiah. The psalm chosen by the lectionary as response addresses a related question, "What is life like for people who are doing what God wants them to do?"

First, they are happy.

Then follows a list of attributes of happiness, beginning with they are rich--a little troubling because we know so many non-rich people that do try to follow God's will.

Because they trust the Lord, they don't get scared easily.

Also, they are good examples. They are gracious, merciful, and righteous. They give to the poor.

For an exercise, try reading the front page of your local paper. Watch your favorite news channel for about 5 minutes or so. Do you see happy there? Or, do you see scared? Can we in our lives connect God's will with actually changing our habits and attitudes? Do we believe that if we were more generous that we would be less afraid?

Daily Prayer, Friday, February 4, 2011

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 118
....
The Lord is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.
....
Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
....
This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
....


Psalms 23, 25

Daily Lectionary Reading, Psalm 112:1-10

Lectio Divina:
For the righteous will never be moved; they will be remembered forever (Psalm 112:6)

The wicked see it and are angry; they gnash their teeth and melt away; the desire of the wicked comes to nothing (Psalm 112:10).

Midday Psalm 119:33-40

Evening
Psalm 30, 31

Thursday, February 3, 2011

If/then, a Reflection on Isaiah 58:9b-12

If, then.

Isaiah calls on the people to take care of each other, to care for each other.
Remove the yoke. The United States has abolished slavery, but many of our citizens are living lives encumbered by debt. Currently under criticism by some are Pay Day Lenders:
They give people access to quick cash for necessities like medicine and utilities.
William Houck, retired bishop of Catholic Diocese of Jackson, says the businesses create "a vicious cycle of borrowing and indebtedness" with loans carrying the equivalent of a 572 percent annual interest rate.

Offer food to the hungry.

Satisfy the needs of the afflicted. Would this requirement include access to health care?

Those are the ifs.

The then: Your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.

If a nation--and the people that make up that nation--continually and continuously care for each other, making sure that each person has a life of freedom, is well-fed, and has afflictions addresses, well, what would such a nation be like? How could it be anything other than the way that Isaiah describes it.

Try it out.

Daily Prayer, Thursday, February 3, 2011

Morning

Invitatory Psalm 150
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Psalms 19, 20, 21

Daily Lectionary Reading, Psalm 112:1-10

Lectio Divina
It is well with those who deal generously and lend, who conduct their affairs with justice. For the righteous will never be moved; they will be remembered forever (Psalm 112:5-6).

Praise the Lord! Happy are those who fear the Lord, who greatly delight in his commandments (Psalm 112:1).

Midday Psalm 119:25-32

Evening
Psalms 22, 28

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

No Security Without Social Security, a Reflection on Isaiah 58:1-9a

Try this--Read the first section of the daily newspaper. Or, listen to someone complain about how things are going. Then read what Isaiah had to say about people who seem to have been a lot like us. They said they wanted to be God's people, but what they did was whatever suited themselves. They were regularly attending worship services, but they didn't let what they learned there change their lives very much.

Isaiah gives some examples; e.g., not paying an adequate wage to employees, quarreling, threatening violence. I'm struck by how timely these criticisms of behavior are. Can we accept that God does not approve of these behaviors now?

Then Isaiah speaks of what does constitute appropriate worship of God: to ensure that the poor are given opportunities to care for themselves, to share your own resources with them until they are able to do so.

It gets harder. Bring the homeless poor into your house. Get clothes for them. I'm hoping that God doesn't really expect me to take this literally but will give me credit for helping support a home somewhere that I myself don't spend the night. What do you think?

Isaiah says that if you do these things, then the Lord will take care of you. I am helped by Walter Breuggemann's commentary on Isaiah:
We may take this conditionality of "if-then" as a hard-nosed, "legalistic" requirement, that is, as a "work." But we may also regard this conditionality as a shrewd assessment about how "social security" really works. Well-being comes only in a community of neighbors. The alternative here implicitly warned against is selfishness, greed, indifference, and exploitation that are anti-community. These latter practices are never the basis of a viable life in the world, and can never be.

Daily Prayer, Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Morning

Invitatory Psalm 100

1 Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Serve the Lord with celebration! Come before him with shouts of joy!
3 Know that the Lord is God— he made us; we belong to him. We are his people, the sheep of his own pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanks; enter his courtyards with praise! Thank him! Bless his name!
5 Because the Lord is good, his loyal love lasts forever; his faithfulness lasts
generation after generation.
(Common English Bible)


Psalms 12, 13, 17

Daily Lectionary Reading, Isaiah 58:1-9a

Lectio Divina
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? (Isaiah 58:6-7, NRSV)

It is well with those who deal generously and lend, who conduct their affairs with justice....They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord (Psalm 112:5,7, NRSV).

Midday Psalm 119:17-24

Evening
Psalm 18

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Getting righteous, a Reflection on Matthew 5:19-20

Righteousness is not superficial. Righteousness is following the commands of the Lord--not just parading around acting like we are, but really, really following them. Not trying to look better than some other religious person, but to live out their intention.

Thomas Long, in his commentary on Matthew, expresses it this way:
...a righteousness that seeks to be ever expressive of the merciful, forgiving, reconciling will of God that likes at the center of the law.

Daily Prayer, Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 63
O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water....

Psalms 9, 10

Daily Lectionary Reading, Matthew 5:19-20
Therefore, whoever ignores one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called the lowest in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever keeps these commands and teaches people to keep them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. I say to you that unless your righteousness is greater than the righteousness of the legal experts and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Common English Bible).

Lectio Divina:
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:19 NRSV).

They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor; their righteousness endures forever; their horn is exalted in honor. The wicked see it and are angry; they gnash their teeth and melt away; the desire of the wicked comes to nothing (Psalm 112:9-10).

Midday Psalm 119:9-16

Evening

Psalm 11, 14, 15,16