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 3, 2014

Reflection on readings for February 3

Lord, listen to my voice
when I cry out--
have mercy on me and answer me!
(Psalm 27:7)

Exodus 17:8-19:15
Moses continues to lead his people from dangers--Pharaoh's army, hunger and thirst, another enemy army. He's old and tired, needs physical support to do his job.

From war to welcome: His father-in-law recognizes that Moses needs even more support than physical. He suggests delegation.

On the third day, they come to the mountain and hear the words of the Lord. Well, Moses hears and then transmits them to the people.

Matthew 22:34-23:12
The Pharisees and Herodians disagreed on a lot of things, but they did agree with one thing--they both saw Jesus as a disruption. They tried to trap him by asking the question about paying taxes, but he didn't fall into the trap.

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Saducees, they decided to make yet another attempt. They addressed him as "Teacher," (were they being sarcastic? surely, they didn't think Jesus could teach them anything?) They asked him "Which commandment of the law is most important?"

Were they trying to get him to say that some of the law was less important than the others? Do we believe that? What distinctions do we make? What the difference between naming what's most important and summarizing the law? When prophets summarized the law (see Micah 6:8; Isaiah 33:15-16; 56:1; Amos 5:14-15), were they saying that the rest of the instruction is unimportant?

Jesus responds to them by quoting scripture (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18). Is he saying the rest of the instruction is unimportant? Or, is he saying all the instructions that the Scripture gives us is intended to help us do these things: Love God and love neighbor?

Now Jesus questions the Pharisees. He asks them directly to describe the meaning and the source of the Messiah. They know the answer because they know the psalms. They respond, "The Messiah is the son of David."

Some examples from the Psalms that the Pharisees could be using: from Psalm 2. The anointed of the Lord is the King of Zion and the son of the Lord; from Psalm 89, David is my anointed one. I will make him the firstborn; from Psalm 132: One of David's sons will be set on the throne. The Lord will reside in ion forever. David is the anointed one.

Note: the Greek word translated here as Messiah is christos, which meant "the Anointed One," and is the source of the English word, Christ.

Jesus then quotes Psalm 110 and asks them, "How can David both be Lord and be son to the Lord?"

They couldn't answer his question. They wouldn't dare to ask him anymore.

We, by our lives, are continuing to answer Jesus question, "Who do you think is the Anointed One of God?"

Psalm 27:7-14
The psalmist has recognized God's protection and has shared the recognition. Not silently, either, but with shouts of joy (verse 6). I'm pausing here to wonder how a typical church congregation would react to someone actually shouting at church. Then, I'm beginning to wonder how we do show our appreciation to God and how we tell others that we do have this appreciation.

In the psalm after the gratitude for what has happened in the past, the psalmist then continues to pray for continued help. Because we have suffered in the past, we recognize that hard times can come again. Because we have been helped in the past, we have confidence of where to turn for help in the future. And, we say all this joyfully and publicly.

John H. Hayes in Preaching through the Christian Year A summarizes this, "Courage and confidence would culminate in celebration.

Prayer for Today: Lord, focus us on you today, on your presence, on your guidance, on your care. Instill within our lives ways to show our appreciation to you for all you are doing for us. Amen.

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