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, February 10, 2014

Reflection on readings for February 10

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.
(from Psalm 32)

Exodus 30:11-31:18
The Lord told Moses that the people throughout the generations were supposed to keep the sabbaths, specifically, not to do any work. How do we moderns follow this command? Do we consider that any day is holy? If we don't see anyway we can stop working, are there other ways that we shape our lives that get to the spirit of this command?

Matthew 26:47-68
One of his supporters used his sword in an attempt to prevent Jesus' arrest. Jesus told him to put his sword away. Thomas Long, in his commentary on Matthew, outlines the three reasons Jesus gives: 1) Violence is stupid because it just escalates into greater destruction; 2) God has other ways of getting the work done; and 3) what is going to happen must happen so that the scriptures be fulfilled.

Jesus then chastises the crowds, "Why do you think you need weapons to arrest me?"

All the disciples deserted him and fled. Long reminds us that Jesus had forecast this: See 19:27; 26:31.

Under arrest, he is taken to the Jewish high priest. Peter follows at a distance. The council tries to find proof that Jesus is deserving of the death penalty. They are even willing to accept false testimony, but weren't able to. They need to protect themselves, their status, and his words and acts have disrupted their security.

The high priest demands that Jesus testifies under oath that he claims to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus responds, "You say so. And you are going to see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven."

That is enough admission for the high priest. He doesn't need any more witnesses. The council agrees that Jesus' words are blasphemy and deserving of the death penalty.

Psalm 32:1-11
"Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven."

"As long as I wouldn't admit my errors, I suffered. But, when I confessed my sins to the Lord, I was forgiven."

It's time to reflect on our choices--the ones we have already made and the ones that it is time to make. We need to stop doing what we shouldn't even have started doing. We need to confess and to ask forgiveness.

And confession and forgiveness are not the end of the story according to this psalm. Once we have gotten right, we need to stay that way. "Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, who needs to be curbed with a bit and bridle."

The alternatives are stark, according to this psalm: The wicked will live in torment, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord. We are being asked to change our ways so that we can live out the command:
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

Proverbs 8:27-32
Wisdom was with the Lord from the beginning, being helpful, like a master worker. I'm reading seriousness into that statement. Then I read Robert Alter's translation of verses 30-31, "And I was by Him, an intimate, I was His delight day after day, playing before him at all times, playing in the world, His earth, and my delight with humankind."

Alter quotes Fox that not only is Wisdom useful, but that it is also fun.

Prayer for Today: Lord, forgive our sins and direct us toward the life we should be leading so that we too can rejoice. Amen.

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