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.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Reflection on readings for May 25

Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes,
and I will observe it to the end.
Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord,
your salvation according to your promise.
(Psalm 119:33, 41)

2 Samuel 7:1-8:18
David had been victorious over his enemies--internal as well as external ones. He has been made king over all of Israel. He has brought back the ark of God from where it had been hidden during the battles. they put the ark in a tent and made offerings to the Lord.

David is living in a house and decides that the ark should have a house as well.

The Lord tells Nathan what to tell David about this idea.

The Lord is responsible for the beginning of David's story, his success against his enemies, and for David's future. David has it backwards if he thinks that it depends on him to provide a house for the Lord.

The Lord will build David's house.

The house and kingdom shall last forever.

A problem arises for us as we read these verses. David's son, Solomon, did build a temple--that was destroyed by the Babylonians. After the return of the exiles, a temple was built to replace it. Did the people think that God meant only for David not to build a temple? How did we discern that great houses of worship are appropriate and helpful?

We usually read the word "house" in this section to also mean "family." That is, we interpret God's promise to mean that David's descendants would rule Jerusalem forever. How long is forever? Foreign powers overtook their land. David's house was taken into captivity.

Another problem with the promise of forever. Would that mean that no matter what David or his children, grandchildren, and great (and so on) grandchildren did, that God would remain in relationship with them, provide for them? That is, does sin matter to God? Are we not being held responsible for our actions? See 1 Kings 9:4-7 for a statement of the conditional covenant.)

John 14:15-31
When they had asked him to show the the Father, Jesus told them they had already been able to see the Father. He added "Even if you don't believe my words, you've got my works to convince you."

Believe what you have heard me say. Or, believe what I have said. Or, let what you have seen me accomplish be proof.

Then he extends this pattern to include them: Those who believe in me will also be able to do the works that I do.

Jesus has just told them, "The one who believes in me will do the works I do." Believing is more than just sitting somewhere alone feeling smug. Believing is doing, and it's doing what Jesus did.

And not just doing but how we do or the attitude we have or the basis for doing--"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." Remember his words in 13:34-35, when he gave them the commandment, "that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Note that each "you" is plural. Jesus is talking to the church.

He's leaving them. But, the world will not lose what he has been able to do. The ability that Jesus has demonstrated to help them out will continue after the physical separation.

"In a little while, the world won't be able to see me any more, but you will."

"The Father will send an Advocate for you, the Holy Spirit."

Jesus outlines the work of the Advocate: to teach them and to remind them of everything that Jesus had said to them.

Jesus had spoken the words of the Father. The Holy Spirit will continue to speak to them--and to us.

Read ahead to John 15:7-15 to hear this commandment repeated.

Loving others is important to Jesus.

But, it can be hard.

If Jesus were physically standing there next to us watching every move, would it be any easier? He was preparing them for his physical absence. After he was no longer visibly among them, they were supposed to keep on doing what he had already told them to do.

They were not going to have to do this alone. He gave them the promise that God would send to them an Advocate, the Spirit of Truth, who would abide with them and be in them.

They are sitting around the supper table. Jesus is preparing them for what is to come. He's told them that one of them will betray him. He has commanded them to love each other. He has reassured them that he is not leaving them without support.

And they will know more than the world knows, "In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me."

How do we Christians see Christ in a way that the world does not? How do we show Christ to the world?

He adds to the promise of vision a promise of life, "Because I live, you also will live."

How does the church demonstrate that Christ lives? How does each congregation? Do congregations recognize that their existence as the church rest on the presence and promises of Christ?

Charles Cousar in Texts for Preaching points out that the world may not particularly value what the church is doing--especially when it is most faithful to Jesus' directive.

How has a denomination or congregation upset the world by doing or saying something that demonstrates our loving Christ and following his commands?

Psalm 119:33-48
If you see any of these signs, please pay attention.

Warning signs are intended to help us. So, are God's statutes.

"Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes, and I will observe it to the end," the psalmist speaks.

In Weavings, Marjorie J. Thompson calls obedience the deepest passion of love:
What transformation of our notions of obedience might be effected if we simply saw God's will as the deepest yearning of God's love for us--the passionate divine desire for our human fulfillment in God's unimaginably lovely design! Can we trust that what God yearns for in this creation is abundantly good and that we are intended to be vital links in the intricate web of cosmic life?
Can we pray for God's will to be done in and through us because we know it to be a light yoke with an achingly exquisite purpose with which we yearn to work in harmony? God is a sovereign whose supreme expression of ruling is to die for us out of fiercely loyal and immeasurably tender love. Perhaps if we were to grasp this truth with heart as well as head, we would be ready to help realize God's loving will on earth as it is realized in heaven.
Proverbs 15:33
The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
and humility goes before honor.

Prayer for Today: O Lord, you have sent many teachers to us. Help us now and always to heed the true word. Help us now and always in everything that we do and say demonstrate the love that you have shown the world through Christ. Amen.

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