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.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Reflection on readings for February 16

You have seen, O Lord;
do not be silent!
Wake up!
Bestir yourself for my defense,
    for my cause,
my God and my Lord!
(Psalm 35:22-23)

Leviticus 1:1-3:17
I'm guessing that not many people have read much of Leviticus.  The quotes I can recall people making are usually one of two kids--1) to prove that the Old Testament has rules we don't care to follow or see the need of; 2) to prove that God really doesn't want you to do things that you don't want to do anyway. On the other hand, when Jesus quoted Leviticus (although I can think of only once--I'll look for more some time), he elevated it to the most important rule, "You will love your neighbor as yourself."

It is a book of rules set in between books of history.  They have completed the tent of the meeting and are poised to continue their journey. Leviticus emphasizes sacrifice, holiness, purity--how to be the people who would live in the land promised to them.

As you read the rules for offerings, consider what rules (implicit or explicit) your congregation (and you personally) have for deciding what and how to offer God.

Mark 1:29-2:12
Right after healing a man in the synagogue, Jesus and his disciples went to Simon and Andrew's house. As soon as he heard that Simon's mother-in-law was ill, he healed her, too.

We are not told that Simon's m-i-l had faith in Jesus' power to heal her. Also, interesting to me is her response. As soon as she is healed, she gets up and serves them a meal (my interpretation of "waited on them").

The word spreads. The whole town shows up including all who are ill or possessed.

Once again, Jesus won't let the demons speak because they know who he is.

Questions that linger: Do they have faith or knowledge in Jesus other than his ability to heal?

Jesus had healed a man in the synagogue and Simon's mother-in-law in their home. Relatively private places--but the word has spread. Crowds gather. The next morning while it was still dark, Jesus went off by himself to pray. His disciples went to get him, "Everybody is searching for you."

A leper approaches Jesus asking for help. The word has spread. Jesus tells him not to tell, but he does anyway.

Watch the pattern:
Word spreads.
Jesus retreats to a private place.
People find him where he is.
Off on a another tangent: Jesus told the healed man to go to a priest as Moses had commanded. The original intent was to make sure that a contagious person would no longer infect the others. So, the inspection was to help the formerly ill person to be able to rejoin the community,  and it was to make sure that a still-ill person did not endanger the community. By the time Mark wrote his gospel, the temple was gone, and this Mosaic procedure could not be enforced. What replaced (replaces) it? How to we ensure that we welcome into our midst persons that we fear?

Application for our time:
The The Global Health Initiative is major area of focus for the ministry of The United Methodist Church,which aims to combat diseases of poverty such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis as well as provide health education, advocacy and infrastructure. We have long been a key player in the fight against malaria through the hospitals, clinics and missions centers we have operated across Africa for more than 160 years.

Prayer for Today: O Lord, in time of pain, of fear, of dissension, we can turn to you for protection and consolation. Open us at all times to your steadfast love. Amen.

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