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, August 14, 2014

Reflection on readings for August 14

Let your steadfast love, O Lord,
be upon us, even as we hope in you.
(Psalm 33:22)

Nehemiah 7:73-9:21
The priest Ezra reads Scripture to the gathered people. They all listen attentively because those ancient words about their ancestors are words that continue to affect their lives.

When they heard the Scripture, when they heard the interpretation, when they understood what God meant for them to do, they wept. 

The words were old even in their time but they were words for their time.

Their leaders told them not to despair but to enjoy--and to share--the gifts that the Lord had provided for them.

Ezra recounted for them how their ancestors had disobeyed the Lord's commands over and over, and that the Lord had shown them mercy over and over. This reminder was not an excuse for future misdeeds.

In our own time, in our own places, someone will be standing before a roomful of worshippers and reading ancient words about long-ago people and times. And in our own time, in our own places, we will hear those words with understanding, and our lives will change. Won't we? Won't they?

1 Corinthians 9:1-18

Psalm 33:12-22
The first readers of verse 12 of course were Jews and they would have sung this psalm as an affirmation that God had picked Israel out of all the nations to be the special people. How do we Christians today read it? Don't we really think that God likes us best of all the rest?

As I read verses 13-15, I am reminded of the conflict in the early church (see Paul's letter to the Galatians for example) when those of them who had always been faithful, practicing Jews began to concede that non-Jews could also be good Christians. Back to us--can we read verse 13 as a reminder and an affirmation that God cares for more people than just us?

And what do we care about? Where do we place our faith? our trust? Verses 16-17 are reminders that we have often tried to substitute things that we have control over for the unmatchable power of God.

Yet, this psalm allows us to admit that God's people are not free from fear or pain--see verse 19 with its explicit reference to death and famine.

Thus, it is with an open realization that the world has dangers and that we can't control those dangers no matter how powerful we are, that we rely on the care of the Lord.

Proverbs 21:14-16
A gift in secret averts anger;
and a concealed bribe in the bosom, strong wrath.
When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous,
but dismay to evildoers.
Whoever wanders from the way of understanding
will rest in the assembly of the dead.

Prayer for Today: Pray Psalm 33:12-22

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