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.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Reflections on readings for January 15

But I trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because the Lord has dealt bountifully with me
(Psalm 13:5-6).

Genesis 31:17-32:12
Jacob had fled from home after tricking his brother out of his blessing. He's returning after tricking his uncle out of considerable wealth. Laban pursues him. After angry words and accusations, the two erect a pillar marking their agreement not to harm each other if Jacob stays on his side of the marker. Jacob has made peace with his father-in-law but is still very concerned about how Esau will react to his return. He sends presents ahead, and prays, reminding God whose idea it was that Jacob make this trip and asking for protection. 

Questions: Why did Rachel steal the household gods? Why did Laban and Jacob have different names for the pillar? Do we ever pray like Jacob (32:9-12) for deliverance from danger, danger that we may deserve, by reminding God that we think we are due this care?

Matthew 10:24-11:6

I'm looking at the headings in Chapter 10 in The Life with God Bible (formerly The Renovare' Spiritual Formation Bible): first, is "The Mission of the Twelve," then three ominous ones, "Coming Persecutions," "Whom to Fear," and "Not Peace, but a Sword."

Matthew is speaking to the church of his time and to ours. Discipleship can be tough.

Then I look at the heading of the last section: Rewards. Discipleship can have rewards. Matthew tells them (and us): Some will welcome you. You have given up a lot in order to take the message to them. Some will respond, and in responding, will be rewarded.

In Chapter 11, John the Baptist sends his disciples to question Jesus about the source of authority of his work. Jesus responds by telling them to look at the results: the blind can see, the lame can walk, the lepers are clean, the deaf can hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have received good news. Jesus then adds, "And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me."

We can look at the list of results that Jesus uses to support his authority. We can then look at the list of results of our own discipleship to judge whether our congregation (or each of us individually) can claim that God is our source of authority. 

And we can look at what others do that offends us and at what we have done that seems to offend other people. What kinds of healing seems to be offensive? Or, what category of people?

Psalm 13

This psalm begins with the lament, "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?" and ends with "I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me." 

This psalm and the many other psalms that are laments give us permission to cry out to God, to complain about our situation, to complain that God doesn't seem to care all that much about what is happening to us right now. We feel forgotten.

The commentary on this psalm in The Life with God Bible reminds us:
Feeling forgotten does not mean we are forgotten, but these phrases are honest reflections of how we feel when we're impatient and desperate.
Prayer for Today: Choose a prayer from Joan Stott's website Timeless Psalms

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