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, May 22, 2014

Reflection on readings for May 22

You are my God, 
and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, 
I will extol you.
(Psalm 118:28-29)

2 Samuel 1:1-2:11
David mourned the deaths of Saul and Jonathan. He intoned a lamentation that he ordered to be taught to the people.

David is anointed king, but so is Saul's son Ishbaal. Israel followed Ishbaal; Judah, David.

John 12:20-50
Where we are in the story: Lazarus died and then was raised. In response, many believed. Frightened by this belief, some reported Jesus to religious authorities. After all, their religious practices were being allowed by a government that did not tolerate actions that were considered disrespectful or disruptive. These Jesus-people could stir up the crowds thus precipitating retaliation by the Romans.

In the week before Passover, Jesus enter triumphantly into Jerusalem.

We wish to see Jesus: Among those coming to worship were some Greeks, a term that usually meant Gentiles. Yet, since they have come to Passover, we may assume that they are, although Greek, also Jews--like Paul, for example. They approach Andrew and Philip, two of the disciples with Greek names.

As we modern Christians struggle with who should be allowed to be part of us, we can remember that our group has been a diverse one from very early days.

The meaning of his death: Jesus responds to them by a series of teaching about his soon-to-happen death. Yet, as he often is, he is cryptic. He talks about wheat. He uses a paradox about love and hate and loss and gain. Then, he speaks more clearly: "Whoever serves me must follow me. Where I am, there will my servant be also."

Read Jesus' pronouncement again, "Where I am, there will my servant be also." Does that mean that if Jesus' servant is not somewhere then Jesus is not? Or, does it mean if we are not carrying out our mission to do the work that Jesus showed us that no matter what we call ourselves, we are not really his servants?

I remember when Bishop Carder would visit Mississippi churches during his service in Mississippi. Before he went to the church building, he would wander about its neighborhood. He would ask passers-by about the church, if they knew anything about it, what impact it was having. Some of the respondents would not even know that such and such a Methodist church was their neighbor. Others would have seen the building, but knew nothing else other than there was that physical structure on the block. And some knew a lot about the impact of the congregation's ministry.

Try it in your neighborhood.

"Where I am, there will my servant be also."

The crowd doesn't understand what he's talking about, can't grasp the logic of it. even when they hear a voice from heaven, they give differing explanations.

Jesus responds to them rather indirectly. The ruler of the world is going to be ousted. Yet, Jesus adds that he himself is to be lifted up from the earth. They don't see the logic in this, either.

Note that the phrase, lifted up, has a double meaning. Jesus will physically be lifted up onto the cross. And he will be exalted.

Also note that when he is lifted up, Jesus will draw all people to himself. All.

In this gospel, Jesus will no longer speak to the crowds but only to his disciples.

Psalm 118:19-29
The king prepares for entry into Jerusalem. We hear words of thanksgiving for what has been done and a call for continued protection.These ancient words still speak to us and for us.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.
(Caveat: translators disagree on this verse.)
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.
If one applies Psalm 118 to Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, it must be remembered that for the original supplicant, the valley of anguish lay in the past, on the fields of war; for Jesus, the valley lay ahead, within the walls of Jerusalem

I often used to begin the worship service by quoting the first part of 24, "This is the day the Lord has made," and the congregation would immediately respond, "let us rejoice and be glad in it."

The "us" is important. Everyone in that congregation had known some kind of pain or rejection. Yet, they could rejoice.

But, even in that rejoicing over what had been overcome, we still need the strength and support that God offers to us.

Proverbs 15:27-28
Those who are greedy for unjust gain
make trouble for their households,
but those who hate bribes will live.
The mind of the righteous ponders how to answer,
but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil.

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

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