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.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Reflection on readings for April 23

Satisfy us in the morning
   with your steadfast love,
so that we may rejoice and be glad
   all our days.
Let the favor of the Lord our God 
   be upon us,
and prosper for us the work of our hands--
O prosper the work of our hands!
(Psalm 90:14, 17)

Judges 1:1-2:9
The beginning of the book of Judges begins with the Israelites planning to enter Canaan, their victories, but also some defeats. The rest of this book also describes ups and downs in their allegiance to the Lord. The people will turn away from the Lord and start worshipping other gods. The Lord will punish them by allowing them to be dominated by the political powers that also worship those gods. Then the Lord will appoint a judge to deliver them from oppression. After a while, the Israelites will again start worshipping other gods.

Luke 21:29-22:13
By the time Luke wrote this gospel, the followers of Jesus would have experienced the destruction of the temple (see Luke 21:5-6)  and of the city of Jerusalem (Luke 21:20-24). He ties together disruptions caused by humans and by nature to a promise of God's action. These words of Jesus would guide them to a response to the turmoil of their times, and us in ours.

We can be as sure of God's intervention in upsetting times as we can be of a tree's leaves indicating that summer is coming.

Notice that everybody will experience that summer. Not just especially religious people. Not just especially religious people that also go to our church. Summer comes for everyone--whether they deserve better weather or not.

We've heard this story before. We need to hear it again, and we need to tell this story to others who need to hear it. The world needed a redeemer. The world needs a redeemer.

Luke's gospel tells us Jesus' instructions for what not to do and what to do while we are waiting
1) Give up activities that distract--drunkenness and dissipation, but also plain old worry.

2) Be alert

What challenges you in this scripture?

What hope does it offer?

If you knew how much longer you had to live, what would you do differently?

What would you be sure to continue doing?

Psalm 90:1-91:16
These psalms offer an assurance of God's protection, but also speak of dangers.

In Psalm 90, we are threatened with God's wrath. In 91:9-13, we are assured that we are assured that since we are who we are that the Lord will ensure that nothing bad will happen to us. Yet, we have seen good people suffer, have evil befall them, dash their feet against a stone (actual as well as metaphorically.) So what are we to do with these assurances?

I'm not going to join Job's friends in as assertion that anybody who suffers must have done or thought something to deserve the pain. That is, reading verse 14, the promise that God makes, "I will deliver those who love me, protect those who know me," should not be read to mean that "Those who aren't delivered and protected deserve not to be."

Yet, I can pray quite honestly the opening verses of Psalm 91. I do experience God as a refuge and a fortress. I do trust God.

Here's my compromise (I don't like that word, but I can't come up with the term that better expresses my thoughts): Verse 15 is an assertion that I can agree with. I can depend on God to be present with me whenever I am in trouble. That presence is in itself rescue--I am not suffering alone, and I am not suffering without possibility of salvation.

Proverbs 13:24-25

Prayer for Today: Choose a prayer from Joan Stott's website Timeless Psalms.

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