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.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Reflection on readings for August 30

For not in my bow I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes,
and have put to confusion those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to your name forever.
(Psalm 44:6-8)

Job 34:1-36:33
Elihu warns that Job is misleading them, that God gives people what they deserve to get. God sees everything. Then Elihu specifies certain sins that will be punished; e.g., not helping the poor.

He continues, "Your wickedness and your righteousness affect other people, Remember, God doesn't listen to an empty cry."

Elihu exalts God's greatness and warns of God's anger.

2 Corinthians 4:1-12
Paul was writing to the early church, the post-transfiguration, post-crucifixion, post-resurrection church: Those other apostles have been misleading you. They have thrown a veil over the true gospel. The light that has enabled us to see is the light that will enable you to see. That light comes in the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

The light was there for the Corinthians, but they had allowed themselves to be blinded by the false apostles.

He wrote to the Corinthians of what seems like a paradox, that extraordinary power belongs to God but we who follow God may not always appear very powerful. Look at Christ, Paul says, he suffered and died. We may undergo afflictions, suffering, persecution. Keep looking at Christ. His life is now made visible in what we do.

The church is the Body of Christ.

An example of a Christian who was willing to suffer, even to give up his life, was Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  He led a resistance movement against the Nazis, returning to Germany from safety in America. He loved God, and because of this love, he loved God's people.

Here is an excerpt from his The Cost of Discipleship:
In the fellowship of the crucified and glorified body of Christ we participate in his suffering and glory. His cross is the burden which is laid on his Body, the Church. All its sufferings borne beneath this cross are the sufferings of Christ himself. .... For while it is true that only the suffering of Christ himself can atone for sin, and that his suffering and triumph took place "for us," yet to some, who are not ashamed of their fellowship in his body, he vouchsafes the immeasurable grace and privilege of suffering "for him," as he did for them. No greater glory could he have granted to his own, no higher privilege and the Christian enjoy, than to suffer "for Christ," ....
Although Christ has fulfilled all the vicarious suffering necessary for our redemption, his suffering on earth is not finished yet, He has, in his grace, left a residue of suffering for his Church to fulfill in the interval before his Second Coming (Col 1:27). This suffering is allowed to benefit the Body of Christ, the Church....
The Christian may now serve so that "Christ may be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death" (Phil 1:20). Such vicarious activity and passivity on the part of the members of the Body is the very life of Christ, who wills to be formed in all this. We are simply following the first disciples of Christ.

However, not many of us will face imprisonment or execution because of our claim to be Christian. Yet, we are called to make Jesus visible in our lives. Beverly Gaventa, in Texts for Preaching B,  points out:
This passage may be particularly important for those churches that were once referred to as "mainline." The frantic search for answers to declining membership and for new identity for denominations might well be set in a larger context, one that at least considers the possibility that in some sense the church's ministry cannot be defeated, despite all appearances to the contrary.
Psalm 44:1-8
How much of our success, how many of our achievements, do we attribute to our own hard work, to our own efforts? How willing are we to give God credit?

Proverbs 22:10-12 (adapted)
Drive out a scoffer, and strife goes out;
quarreling and abuse will cease.
Those who love a pure heart and are gracious in speech
will have the king as a friend.
The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,
but overthrows the words of the faithless.

Prayer for Today: O Lord, help us to discern your presence in this world that we inhabit. Help us to live the way that Christ taught, even in those times that it is inconvenient for us. Amen.

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