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.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Reflections on the readings for January 11

Why, O Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
(Psalms 10:1)

Genesis 24:52-26:16
His mother Sarah had had so much trouble getting pregnant that she had directed her husband to have a child by their servant. Now, after twenty years of marriage, his wife seems to be barren. Isaac prays for Rebekah and the Lord grants his prayer. She becomes pregnant--with twins.

The twins do not get along even in the womb. Rebekah asks the Lord if she has to put up with this, why does she have to live. [Aside: God's people have permission to complain to God about bad things.] In Rebekah's case, the response is that the twins will keep on fighting and so will their descendants--and one of them will be stronger than the other. Furthermore, contrary to the way things usually were, the elder would serve the younger. [Another aside: God's people don't always fit what society thinks they should be like.]

Esau is born first, but Jacob comes out gripping his elder brother's heel. As they grow up, they are very different.  Esau has lots of red hair and is a good hunter. His father likes him better. Jacob likes to cook. Once when Esau was feeling famished, he agreed to sell his birthright to Jacob in exchange for some bread and lentil stew.

Another parallel with Abraham and Sarah is that Isaac and Rebekah face famine and travel to Gerar. Like his father, Isaac is prepared to give up his wife to the ruler Abimelech, but the ruler realizes that they are married and gives her back to Isaac.

Isaac becomes a successful farmer. So successful, that Abimelech makes him go back home.

Matthew 8:18-34
One point: Some people may have become Christians because of the rewards they expected to garner. For example, when I was in college, my marketing professor told us that we should join a church immediately because it was a great way to build the customer base for your business. Or, I know people that joined a church because they thought it was a ticket to heaven. I can testify from my own experience that belonging to a church is rewarding in many, many ways.

But we also need to heed Jesus's caution. Being a disciple can be hard. It can require re-ordering our priorities.

A second point: Jesus doesn't necessarily hang out in the place with the biggest crowds. He has chosen a few people to accompany him leaving behind the crowd (Also see Matthew 5:1-2).

Third point: Traveling with Jesus can be uncomfortable at times. These disciples got in a boat at his direction and a storm blew up.

Fourth point: Not everyone reacts positively to the work of Jesus. When he healed a man,the whole town begged him to leave. 

Psalm 10:1-15

Proverbs 3:7-8

Prayer for Today: O Lord, we continue to give our thanks for the healings you have already offered. Strengthen us to be part of your ministry to all. Heal us from any attitudes of exclusion that keep hinder us from showing you to others. Help us to learn from those who have gone before us, both what to do and what we shouldn't do. And, Lord, when we think that we have learned it all, test our arrogance. Amen.

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