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.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Reflection on readings for February 7

Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily.
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me.
(Psalm 31:1)

Exodus 26:1-27:21
Moses is on the mountain--and will stay there for several chapters (a 40-day sojourn). We read in Chapter 25 the  instructions on building the dwelling for the chest that will hold the covenant document, the table, its poles, and the lamp stand, and so on. We now read about the dwelling that will hold these sacred objects. It is a tent, but not like any tent that any of us may use for camp-outs. I understand the tent. They are on a very long journey and couldn't very well transport a 60-foot long tent. But, the instructions for the dwelling's courtyard do raise some questions. It seems unlikely to me that they would be putting up posts and hanging drapes on every stop for years and years.  Many commentators think these instructions describe a tabernacle built after they are settled in the promised land and are retrojected into the wilderness story. What do we do with parts of the Bible that seem implausible on quick readings? 

Matthew 25:1-30
Bridesmaids: Jesus describes what the Kingdom will be like. Some will be prepared for its advent. Some will not. If you are wise, you will prepare. Delay in the coming should not make you think the event just isn't ever going to happen. As you read the news each day, do you doubt that God's way will overtake the world's way of being? Or, do you remain vigilant and keep prepared?

Talents: I think that I always interpreted the word "talent" as meaning "talent." I mean although I understood that Matthew was talking about money, I just assumed that he had an allegorical intent. So, I was surprised to read in Boring & Craddock that the use of the term "talent" came into the English language in the Middle Ages. Matthew was talking about money. I find that I can't let go of the allegorical meaning anyway. Yet, I am able to read the term as including money. And it's a lot of money. A talent would have taken a laborer fifteen years to earn.

Can we sympathize with that third slave? His master had entrusted him with an amount of wealth that he would never have been able to accumulate on his own. Shouldn't he be careful?
How willing are we to restrict our actions and speech because we fear the cost of saying and doing something that will offend our financial supporters?

The master comes back and rewards the slaves who had put his money to risk. "You've done so well that I'm going to trust you with even more," he tells them. What Matthew does not tell us is what the result would have been if the two risk-takers had lost all their master's money. Are they being rewarded for being successful or for being willing to try? How do we define successful, anyway?

On the other hand, some commentators read this parable as encouragement for the Christians who were surprised that Jesus had not already come back. "What should we do while we are waiting for his return?" they asked. This parable indicates that using the resources entrusted to them by their Lord is the appropriate action for Christians.

This part of Matthew's gospel is very harsh: those who have a lot will get even more; those who don't have much, will lose even the little that they have. That may be the way that bankers decide who should get the loan that will enable a business to expand, but how do we interpret it to be the way God decides which of us receives gifts?

Isn't prudence a virtue? Prudence is punished. Or, is it cowardice that is being punished? Or, is it a lack of trust in the Master?

Proverbs 8:1-11
This passage opens with the question, "Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice?" I get it that this is a rhetorical question; yet, I find myself pondering it as if I need to gather evidence for a yes answer. Is wisdom calling? Or, should I be asking whether I'm listening.

This proverb reminds us that wisdom is all around us as we travel-on the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads. And wisdom is with us at the end of that trip to town--beside the gates and at the entrance of the portals.

Wisdom has a message for us, a message we need to heed. Wisdom can tell us what we need to know in order to live our lives the way God intended for them to be lived.

Note, but no commentary: Wisdom is perceived as feminine in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament, the Spirit is masculine. Go figure.

Prayer for Today: I take refuge in you today, Lord. And, reflecting on the parables of the kingdom, I ask for your guidance in improving my judgment and my actions. In addition, today, I pray for the continued well-being for Amy Pearson, and in gratitude to you for sending her to St. Luke's.

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