Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
(Psalm 29:1, 4)
Although this passage is set inside the account of the trek through the wilderness, it certainly sounds like instructions for people living within a settled community. The theme centers on protection and obligation of property rights. Much would not seem suitable for today, but some fits well into our ways and time. For example, if you borrow someone's property, you should take care of it.
Don't spread false rumors. Don't collaborate with evil people. Don't take a bribe.
Don't mistreat or oppress an immigrant (both 22:21 and 23:9 in today's reading and in readings to come).
Make sure that the poor get some food to eat. Take a day off every week so your animals, your servants, and the immigrants get a rest.
These instructions are written to a certain class of people--well-off males. How would they be revised if written to us moderns?
Jesus said to watch out for the false Messiahs and prophets. For some of us, some of the time, whenever the familiar changes, we feel threatened. New ways of being religious, or new places, or inclusion of new people--any of these phenomena can cause upheavals in our congregations or denominations. How do we go about distinguishing between false and unfamiliar?
One evening I was watching television while sitting in my well-padded recliner. Comfortable, head leaning back, feet propped up. All was well. Then, through the window next to me, I saw a flash of lightning. Almost immediately, I heard a loud crash of thunder. The TV show lost my attention.
Since I spent my formative years in Texas, I have the Texas attitude toward storms. As soon as we hear thunder, we're outside looking at the sky. Thunder gets our attention.
You don't have to be a Texan to notice thunder.
A thunderstorm will interrupt your life.
You'll turn your attention from what you're doing to this interruption.
Prayer for Today: Lord, when we are prosperous, show us ways to use our prosperity to aid your goals. Lord, when we are secure in our social position, show us ways to include others that have not been so secure. Lord, when our contented lives are disrupted by unsought after new ideas and peoples, help to discern whether these ideas are helpful or harmful to our being able to serve you. Amen.