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.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Reflections on readings for January 12

The wicked shall depart to Sheol,
all the nations that forget God.
For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
nor the hope of the poor perish forever (Psalm 10:17-18)

Genesis 26:17-27:46
The usual interpretation is that Jacob and his mother teamed up to trick Isaac into giving him the blessing that should have gone to Esau. Wes Howard-Brook in his "Come Out My People!" offers a radically different theory. He posits that since Isaac certainly would have recognized Jacob's voice, been able to tell the different between human skin and goat skin, as well as known how goat stew tasted and not mistaken it for wild game, that he was complicit with Rebekah in the ruse.

When Isaac gives his blessing to Jacob, Esau is so furious that he threatens fratricide. Rebekah sends Jacob away to live with her brother Laban. He will be more likely there to get a bride that Rebekah approves of rather than one of the Hittite women as Esau had. Howard-Brook suggests that "getting Jacob back to Laban to find a suitable wife was the purpose of the plot all along."

Matthew 9:1-17
Jesus has returned home. Not everyone approves of what he does. When the religious insiders called him a blasphemer for forgiving the paralyzed man his sins, Jesus responded by healing him as well. Next he initiated contact with a tax collector, even going to eat at his house. The insiders were incensed that he would associate with someone who collaborated with the Roman authorities and other sinners. He responded by quoting Hosea that God prefers that we show mercy over demonstrating religious rituals then adds, "I have come not to call the righteous but sinners."

John's disciples also questioned him. They asked "Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples never do?

What religious practices do we practice because we are members of a particular church that thinks we should? Which  practices help us to live out God's intentions? Are some practices appropriate at some times for some people but not helpful for others?

Jesus said that new wine is not to be put into old wineskins. What wineskins does your church need to discard?

Prayer for Today: God, keep reminding us who you are, what you have done, and what you expect of us. Mold us into the kind of church that will do your will. Restrain us from judging others and from being afraid to be around people who are different from us. We want to be righteous in your sight. Keep us on the path that leads to our discipleship. Amen.

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