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, May 21, 2014

Reflection on readings for May 21

O give thanks to the Lord,
    for God is good;
God's steadfast love endures forever!
(adapted from Psalm 118:1)

1 Samuel 29:1-31:13
The commanders of the Philistine army don't trust David to be loyal to them in a battle against his own people. After they destroyed a city and took captives, including David's wives, he did turn against them. He led an attack and rescued the spoils including his wives. After the battle, David established the rule that the active and reserve soldiers should share in the spoils. He also dispersed proceeds to elders in the communities.

The Philistine army attacked the army being led by King Saul and killed three of his sons, including Jonathan. Saul committed suicide.

John 11:55-12:19
Judas and Mary. He is male, a close associate who has been entrusted with the money, yet not loyal. She is a woman, as far as we know has not been traveling with then but has been staying there in Bethany, but does recognize the importance of Jesus.

She takes a large quantity of an expensive perfume and uses it to anoint his feet. She realizes that a great sacrifice on her part is appropriate because of his greatness. Later, Jesus will command his disciples to wash each other's feet.

Judas pronounces her actions as wasteful, "That money could be spent on the poor." But, he is not thinking of the poor. He's planning to use the money for himself. And Jesus knows this.

His rebuke to Judas should not in any way give us permission to ignore the needs of the poor. Rather, since they are always with us, we should always be thinking of ways to continue to show Christ's love through our own actions.

Think about the conflict between Mary and Lazarus on how funds entrusted to them should be spent, then think about how your congregation uses the funds entrust to them. How much of your offerings go to supporting your own congregation--salaries and operating costs,? According to an article in New World Outlook written by Scott Brewer in 2008, those items accounted for about 85% of church spending. The remaining 15% was used for mission and ministries outside the local congregation (including support for denominational costs).

Psalm 118:1-18

Proverbs 15:24-26
For the wise the path of life leads upward,
in order to avoid Sheol below.
The Lord tears down the house of the proud,
but maintains the widow's boundaries.

Prayer for Today: O Lord our God, guide us into caring for what you care for. Amen.

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