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 28, 2014

Reflection on readings for May 28

My soul languishes
    for your salvation;
I hope in your word.
My eyes fail with watching
    for your promise;
I ask, "When will you comfort me?"
(Psalm 119:81-82)

2 Samuel 13:1-39
Amnon, David's eldest son, became infatuated with his sister Tamar. He pretends to be sick. When the king visits his sickbed, Amnon asks him to send Tamar to bring food to him. The ruse worked. Tamar showed up with the food. Amnon told everyone else to leave the room. When Tamar refused his advances, he raped her.  Afterwards, he was filled with loathing for her and told her to go away.

Her brother Absalom tried to comfort her, but she couldn't be comforted. David was angry but didn't do anything. Two years later, Absalom killed Amnon. It took three years until David was able to take Absalom back.

 In our towns and in our churches are today's Tamars and Amnons and Davids and Absaloms. We don't always know how to care for and support the persons who have been abused by family members. We haven't figured out how to prevent any of the Amnons on acting on their urges. We may love both the victim and the perpetrator and now be able to step into the situation with a good solution. We are Absaloms. Someone has hurt someone, and we want revenge.

John 17:1-26
Those of us who may limit the meaning of "eternal life" to heaven can get a richer meaning from this prayer. Jesus defines eternal life as a life shaped by knowing God and knowing Jesus Christ who has been sent by God. In their commentary on John, Gail O'Day and Susan Hylen say "Jesus makes God known to people (They suggest looking at verses 6, 24, and 26) and, in so doing, provides eternal life.

Jesus asked God to glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you. Allen and Williamson in Preaching the Gospels point out that in the First Testament, "glory" and "glorification" referred to God's manifesting the divine will and power through people. They gives as examples, Exodus 16:10; 24:7; Wisdom 9:10; 2 Maccabeus 2:8.

In the days to come, these disciples will come together and scatter apart. The church still does. Jesus prayed that God would protect us so that we would be one. How unified are we? In what ways do we demonstrate that we know God? In what ways do we demonstrate that we are part of the world?

In his farewell prayer, Jesus asks that we may all be one.

He's preparing to give up his life and what he wants is for us to be not only each for him but each for each other.

This unity will both enable and demonstrate the love that God has.

God's love is not restricted or small; it is intended for the world.

Here's what Gail O'Day and Susan Hylen say in their commentary on John:
The words and work of believers are to be shaped by Jesus' life and death. As the one God sent, Jesus prays for those whom he likewise sends into the world. The relationship of the Father and Son shapes the relationship of believers to one another, and to God and Jesus.
Tangent: I'm trying to imagine what Christianity would look like if we, as in this prayer, were to become completely one. I don't think this is an argument against denominationalism any more than against congregationalism, but I think I had better think about it.

The unity of Christians would be instructive, Jesus says. The world is watching, is the modern phrase. And since they are watching, what do we think they see? How is your congregation demonstrating the love we receive?

Psalm 119:81-96
What could be hard about following directions that lead to the intended destination? This portion of Psalm 119 included some problems; e.g., we get distracted by our own problems, we may get forgetful, or the wicked may interfere with our journey.

In spite of these potential roadblocks, we can still keep on the right path. It is well lighted. We promised to do it. We need to do it. The path brings us joy.

Proverbs 16:6-7
By loyalty and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the Lord one avoids evil.
When the ways of people please the Lord,
God causes even their enemies to be at peace with them.

Prayer for Today: Read Jesus' prayer again and then pray to God to live out unity. Amen.

No comments: