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.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Reflection on readings for August 19

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
(Psalm 36:7)

Esther 4:1-7:10
Esther was distressed and wanted to help Mordecai. He told her all Jews were in danger, her included. What was different about her was that she had access to the king. She agreed to go to the king although appearing before the king without being asked could be a capital offense. 

Esther was able to attract the attention of the king who asked her what favor he could give her. She responded that she wanted to give a banquet and that Haman be invited. Two things happened the night before the banquet. One was that Haman's wife told him to build tall gallows to hang Mordecai. 
The other was that the king having trouble going to sleep had some recent history read to him and learned about how Mordecai had prevented the king's assassination. The king summoned Haman and told him that it was about time to give honor to Mordecai.

At the banquet, when the king asked Esther what she wanted, even offering her half the kingdom, she replied that all she wanted was for her people to be safe. 

Mordecai lived. Haman was hanged.

1 Corinthians 12:1-26
Look back at the first chapter of Corinthians--Paul has heard that the congregation has divided into groups and the groups are not getting along. The more things change .... you know the rest.

Paul continues to lecture and warn and remind them of what they should be concerned about.

In Chapter 12, he talks about spiritual gifts. (We aren't sure whether the Greek term should be translated as "spiritual gifts" or "spiritual persons").

Paul tells them, and through them, tells us that a congregation is made up of people with different gifts. Both words are important: different and gifts.

Gifts denotes that we don't get these talents or abilities by ourselves. The Spirit of God has passed them out to us. Different is also important because difference is essential if the whole thing is going to work.

Note the pattern from unity through diversity in order to enable unity.

Paul continues to lecture and warn and remind them of what they should be concerned about.

Different people have different talents, Paul told them. It's still true. For example, I cannot sing, but I like to stand in front of a room full of people and talk.

Paul lists several gifts that the Spirit has given to different church members. Moreover, every one of the gifts is important, even necessary.

Different talents but same source and for same reason.

Explore  your spiritual gifts

Psalm 36:1-12
Psalm 36 begins with describing the wicked--They aren't afraid of God; they don't think anyone is going to find out what bad things they have done; they cause trouble by word and deeds.

Then, the psalm changes in a couple of ways. The psalmist had been talking to us; now the psalm addresses God: Your steadfast love extends to the heavens. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains. Your judgments are as deep as the ocean.

The psalmist affirms God's love, protection, and abundant gifts then asks that it continue.

Sidelight: The Lord saves not only us humans but animals as well (v.6). I hadn't picked up on that myself until I read John H. Hayes' contribution to Preaching Through the Christian Year C.

He says:
What may initially strike us as odd in such a comparison or classification might not appear so if we give it some thought. The beast receives its blessings, its food, its livelihood witout setting out to please God or anybody; it makes no effort to measure up to any standard; it simply drinks in the benefits that come its way from the created order controlled by God. The writer is suggesting something similar is the case with humans.
Do you agree with Hayes that we receive all our good things without trying to please God?

Proverbs 21:21-22
Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
will find life and honor.
One wise person went up against a city of warriors
and brought down the stronghold in which they trusted.

Prayer for Today: O Lord, we thank you for the many gifts that you have bestowed on us, and also for the gifts that you have bestowed on others. Open us to the recognition that your love comes to us through the gifts of many, many people. Open us to the recognition that our gifts are to be used to help many, many others. And, O Lord, give us the courage that Esther demonstrated to speak out to tyranny. Amen.

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