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.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Reflections on readings for January 20

I love you, O Lord, my strength.
I call upon the Lord,
who is worthy to be praised (Psalm 18:1, 3a).

Genesis 41:17-42:17
Joseph, rejected by his brothers, sold as a slave, falsely accused and sent to prison, was able with God's help to interpret the dream of Pharaoh. Pharaoh was pleased with the interpretation and implemented Joseph's advice. Joseph was made governor,  a position of great authority, was given an Egyptian name and wife.

When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he sent his sons for help.

Contrast Joseph's early relationship with his brothers, his travels, his name change, and his meeting again with his brothers with Jacob's.

Matthew 13:24-46
The Lord God spoke to the exiles in Babylon. "You deserve every punishment; yet, I will forgive you. I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of a cedar, plant it on a high mountain so that it will produce boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar. Under it every kind of bird will live; in the shade of its branches will nest winged creatures of every kind" (from Ezekiel 16:59-17:24).

Jesus tells a similar parable.
a small beginning, a great and very visible outcomea source of sustenancea promise of protection, a homeplace
Jesus left the crowds and went into the house. That's Matthew's way of saying that he's talking to those closest to him. he has, at their request, explained the parable of the weeds to them. His explanation ends with a ominous vision of what will happen when the weeds are plucked out of the kingdom.

In 13:24-30, Jesus is speaking to the crowd, telling them a parable. In 36-43, Jesus is speaking to his disciples, inside the house, responding to their request to explain the parable. Even those closest to Jesus don't immediately get everything he is saying. Being in the house enables a disciple to get closer to Jesus, that is, ask for explanation.

Jesus tells them about the furnace of fire. If we are accustomed to making distinctions between the OT God and the NT God, we need to remind ourselves of this passage and try to think where eternal punishment is mentioned in the OT.
The kingdom is on the earth.The evildoers will be taken away; the righteous will be left to shine like the sun.
Why is it helpful to us to know that the wicked will be punished?

They can't stay in the house. The field is in the world. Go to the official UMC website, and click on the tab Our People to see the following inclusionary list that describes what people of the United Methodist Church do:
Help people in their community. Accept you for who you are. Offer a place to belong. Care for and support each other. Show respect for other religions. Support people facing difficulty. Welcome diverse opinions and beliefs. Guide others to find deeper meaning.
As I read this list, I feel good about the Methodist Church. I want to be the kind of person that helps, accepts, cares for, supports, welcomes, and guides. Is anything on this list in conflict with the parable describing the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 13:24-30? When Matthew was telling the church not to get so upset about weeds, was he assuring the church of his time that God would pull the weeds? Or, was he aware that we might not be able to distinguish between good plants and bad ones? Or, is each of us a hybrid plant that needs to have the weed-part extracted from us?

When God rules your entire life, what would your life be like? If the church went about its affairs in the way that God intended for it to do, what would such a church be like? What would the lives of those touched by the church be like?

Prayer for today: Choose a prayer for Martin Luther King Day from the GBOD website.

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