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.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Reflections on readings for January 21

You have given me the shield of your salvation, 
and your right hand has supported me;
your help has made me great.
You gave me a wide place for my steps under me
(Psalm 18:35-36).

Genesis 42:18-43:34
Why is the father called by his original name Jacob in this passage until 43:11 when he is called Israel (32:18)?

Joseph and Benjamin eat separately from their brothers. The Egyptians don't eat with Hebrews. Who are our usual dining companions? Who is welcome or not welcome to eat with us at church? Who's welcome to share in Communion?

No mention of Simon. Aren't the brothers curious at all? Or, are they afraid to find out? Do they not trust Joseph? Should they?

Matthew 13:47-14:12
Jesus  describes the kingdom of heaven in three parables. The kingdom of heaven is like a valuable treasure that has been hidden. It's like a pearl worth all that one owns. It's like a net thrown into the sea that catches fish of every kind, good and bad.

When he asks the disciples if they have understand this teaching, they respond, "Yes."

I think I do, too. When Jesus is describing the Kingdom of Heaven, he's not restricting his discussion to an afterlife. He's talking about here and he's talking about now. Review the Lord's Prayer. Matthew was talking to people that would have been familiar with the Scriptures--what we call the Old Testament. So, they would have known that God provides food for people in the wilderness (See Exodus 16:13-35; Numbers 11:7-9, 31-32) and that God can feed a lot of people with only a small food supply (See 2 Kings 4:42-44). [Thanks to Allen & Williamson, Preaching the Gospels without Blaming the Jews.]

Of course, Jesus' disciples would have known those texts. Why did they think that they were incapable of feeding the crowds, that the only solution for hungry folks is to find their own food?

Well, we've read the same texts, and we've read Matthew's Gospel, as well. How much have things changed?

At the last supper with his disciples, "While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, 'Take, eat; this is my body.'" (Matthew 26:26). 

We remember these steps each time we participate in the Eucharist.  

If you want to know more about how United Methodists view this sacrament, read United Methodists and the Sacraments by Gayle Felton 

The metaphorical interpretation of verse 19 as foreshadowing eucharist is not the only possible interpretation. We might read it as literally descriptive of what Jesus did that day, and, so, literally descriptive of what his disciples are called to do. Think about this verse at the next church supper you attend. Who's eating with you--only other church people or some hungry crowds?.

Prayer for Today: Choose a prayer from the GBOD page discussing Communion

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