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 4, 2014

Reflections on the readings for January 4

Answer me when I call, O God.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer (from Psalm 4).

Genesis 8:1-10:32

God had given them everything, and they had messed up. Noah and his family have been given a new start. In the verses preceding this week's lection, God has told Noah what is to be expected of human beings.

Now, God announced to Noah, "I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you: No more floods to destroy the earth."

But not just those on the ark. God expands the promise to every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.

Let's try to remember two things:

God's covenant is everlasting.
God's covenant is with all people on the earth.
The sign of the covenant is the rainbow. The New Interpreters' Study Bible reminds us that the Hebrew word is simply bow which in the rest of the Old Testament always refers to a weapon. "Thus the divine instrument of war and death, perhaps recalling the flood, is laid aside in the clouds and becomes the sign of the peace and life assured in the covenant."

Let us consider what weapon we need to lay aside.

Reflection on Matthew 4:12-25

I live in a part of the world that is majority Christian. It is the default option, you might say. So, I am struck by this passage from Matthew. Following Jesus means leaving home--including abandoning their father and their profession.

Leaving their father--where will they now get financial resources? who will make sure that their father is all right? What would be the contemporary parallel to Jesus' call to these four disciples; that is, what does discipleship require of us? what would we have to give up (are giving up)? Or, can't we just metaphorize this passage and stay at home with our same jobs?

Their response was immediate.

As usual, Thomas Long is helpful.

....In these stories of the calling of the disciples, then, Jesus disrupts family structures and disturbs patterns of working and living. He does so, however, not to destroy but to renew. Peter and Andrew do not cease being brothers; they are now brothers who do the will of God (Matt. 12:50). James and John do not cease being sons; they are now not only the children of Zebedee but also the children of God. All four of these disciples leave their fishing nets, but they do not stop fishing. They are now, in the kingdom of heaven, fishers for people. Their past has not been obliterated; it has been tranformed by Jesus' call to follow.
Reflection on Psalm 4
Psalm 4 is a traditional choice for night prayer. The next time you are kept awake from anxiety, try praying it yourself.

This psalm begins with a direct address to God:
Imperative--what the psalmist wants God to do.
Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
Reminder--what God has already done.
You gave me room when I was in distress.
Imperative--an echo of what the psalmist wants.
Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.
Then the psalm addresses adversaries
Accusation--Read this portion as God speaking to us:
How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame? How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies?
But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself.
the Lord hears when I call to him.
When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Offer right sacrifices,and put your trust in the Lord.
Then the psalm returns to an address to God:
There are many who say, "O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!
Proverbs 1:20-23

Wisdom cries out in the street;
in the squares she raises her voice.
At the busiest corner she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
Give heed to my reproof;
I will pour out my thoughts to you;
I will make my words known to you. [Common English Bible]

Prayer for TodayPeace-loving God, you come quietly and gently into our
living, offering us rest and peace as we relinquish all
those things that hold us back from you. Empower us
to see and respond to the warmth of God’s loving presence
as we bow in worship before our God; and at the end of
each day, may we go to our rest in the peace and quiet joy
that comes from the security of God’s merciful presence. Amen.
[If used in shared worship, please provide an acknowledgement as follows: © 2012 Joan Stott – "The Timeless Psalms" RCL Psalm Year B, used with permission.]

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