It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Reflection on readings for January 24

The Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
The name of the God of Jacob protect you!
(Psalm 20:1)

Genesis 48:1-49:33
Before he died, Jacob adopted Joseph's sons Ephraim and Manasseh as his own. In a echo of what his own father had done, Jacob, also almost blind by this time, reversed the blessings of the elder and younger sons. Joseph tried to get his father to reverse this, but he wouldn't.

As he neared death, Jacob called all his sons together so he could tell them what was going to happen to them. He named their failings: Reuben had bedded his father's wife. Simon and Levi had killed men and harmed oxen. On the other hand, he praised Judah, Zebulun, and Joseph. Issachar was a slave; Dan, a snake and viper; Gad, a raider.

Matthew 15:29-16:12
Since Matthew, like Mark, describes two feeding incidents, look for similarities and differences between them. Or, as I did, read Thomas Long's commentary on Matthew. In chapter 14, Jesus is by the sea; in chapter 15, he is on the mountain. The mountain, in Matthew, is where important events occur; e.g., the Sermon on the Mount. I don't know how to interpret Asher's and Napthtali's outcome.

In both cases, the crowds come to him, and he heals many. (Long suggests comparing the list of infirmities with those found in Isaiah 35:5-6, an indication that Jesus is the one promised by the prophets).

And along with the healing, he feeds many. As in chapter 14, the disciples don't think their small resources are sufficient to handle the great need. But, again they are willing to take what they possess and distribute it to the crowd.

The church continues to be faced with great needs. We continue to doubt whether our current resources and abilities will be able to make even a dent in those needs. Even looking back at what we used to be able to do doesn't always convince us that we can still be helpful.

The next time your congregation gathers for Holy Communion, think about the actions described in verse 16: He took the elements, blessed then, broke them, and gave them to the crowds. Then consider acting out those steps in the life of the church.

Prayer for Today: Lord, as we read Jacob's judgment of his sons, help us to be the kind of children that you would judge favorably. Today, we ask that you grant of the wisdom to carry out the responsibilities that you have given us as a congregation to understand your will and to use our resources as you would intend for us to do. Amen.

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