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.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Reflection on readings for February 27

Why are you cast down, 
    O my soul,
and why are you 
    disquieted within me?
Hope in God; 
for I shall again praise 
    my help and my God.
(from Psalm 43:5)

Leviticus 20:22-22:16
Modern pastors don't have to follow the specific rules for priests that are outlined in Leviticus, but they may impose on themselves (or have strongly suggested to them by parishioners) of ways they act and dress. Rules in Leviticus indicating the importance of offerings are not followed, but we still believe that offerings are essential.

Mark 9:1-29
Peter, James, and John were helped in their understanding of who Jesus was by the events on the mountaintop. They witnessed a change in Jesus' body. They saw him clothed in white as was the Divine One described by Daniel (7:9). And they saw Moses and Elijah, great figures in the history of their people, both who had spoken the word of the Lord.

They are terrified.

Then a cloud overshadowed them. And from the cloud came a voice.

What Jesus has known (1:11) is now told to these disciples: The voice tells them, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!"

And what he first tells them is not to tell anybody else until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. Fred Craddock in Preaching through the Christian Year B, explains this command: They may have heard that Jesus is the Son, the Beloved, but they haven't yet heard everything they need to know to be effective disciples. They are not yet ready to be witnesses nor are their audiences yet ready to hear it.

Off on a tangent: Look back at Exodus 19:16-20 that tells of the appearance of a thick cloud on a mountain and the voice of the Lord; also Exodus 24:12-18, Moses and Aaron go up the mountain, the glory of the Lord appears in the cloud, then Moses enters the cloud. Other references to the cloud as a symbol of the divine presence include Numbers 14:10; Ezekiel 1:4; Daniel 7:9-14; Mark 13:26; 14:2. (Thank you once more, Allen & Williamson, for your Preaching the Gospels.)

They came down from the mountain to find the other disciples arguing with scribes as a large crowd watched. When Jesus asked what was going on, a man said that he had asked the disciples to heal his son, they said they couldn't do it. Jesus responded by saying "Everything is possible to one who believes." The man cried out, "I believe; help my unbelief!"

Hooker says that he had enough faith for the first step--the faith to respond, but this half-faith must continue to grow.

Psalm 43:1-5
Many times when we pray, we are expressing gratitude for what has already been provided for us. But, sometimes, we are in situations of despair, of loss, of fear. Psalm 43 gives us the words to pray to God when we have been treated unfairly:
Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; from those who are deceitful and unjust deliver me!
We ask for defense and for refuge.  And when we need defense and refuge, we turn to God. We ask God to spread light on our situation so we will know what we should do.
O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me.
We have known this, and we have to re-know it from time to time.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.
Caution: William Holladay, in Long Ago God Spoke, reminds us that the word translated as soul, nephesh,  should not be understood as some religious part of us but rather as all that makes up our total being.

Proverbs 10:18

Prayer for Today: O Lord our God, help us to trust your ability and willingness to help us through hard times. Amen.

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