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, August 31, 2014

Reflection on the readings for August 31

Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord?
Awake, do not cast us off forever!
Rise up, come to our help.
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.
(Psalm 44:23, 26)

Job 37:1-39:30
Job and each of his friends have done a lot of discussing what has happened and why, but now, for the first time in the book of Job, the Lord speaks.

"Man up. Answer these questions. Where were you when I was creating? Who gave me any help or advice about anything?"

Tangent: Please note that later the Lord will say "I'm angry with those three guys who kept mounting pious arguments to Job when he was suffering. Job is the one who has spoken right of me," (42:7-10). Thus, I'm asserting that God is okay with our needing to express laments.

The Lord has appeared to Job out of the whirlwind. Commentators tell me that this word can mean thunderstorm. I've seen more thunderstorms than whirlwinds, so I'm translating it that way. I'm imagining looking out the window (or, since I'm from Texas, standing out on the porch) watching the lightning, the trees swaying, loose objects bouncing down the street. In the days after the storm, I can observe how dust has become a flower bed.

The Lord says to Job, "Who can do this? Can you?" then asks, "Who do you think can you provide a way that wild animals can be fed, that birds can find food?"

God has provided a world in which flowers grow and lions lunch--and sometimes I get glimpses of all of this, and when I'm not looking, this world keeps revolving. Sometimes I get a glimpse of God but even when I'm not looking, God is still there, still at work.

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:10
Paul writes to the Corinthians that he and they have the same spirit of truth that is in accordance with scripture, "I believed, and so I spoke." Allen & Williamson, in their Preaching the Letters, find the source of that scripture to be Psalm 116. So, I looked this psalm up: "I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live."

Paul is testifying that his knowledge of the Lord enables him to do that testifying. What the Lord has done for him, the Lord can do for him. And for them, as well.

And for some others, too. Read verse 15 again. It contains assertions that are we aren't to find contradictory:  Everything is for our sake. Grace extends to more and more people. The extension of grace results in an increase in recognition of God.

For some of us, belief has to come before grace. For others, we felt the result of grace and then were able to believe.

But, just who is included in this "more and more people" that Paul refers to?

Belief in God is not belief in some magic power that will ensure that we will never suffer, never face hard times, never have losses. Paul writes to people whose lives are difficult.

Pain is real but temporary. God's glory lasts forever.

Commentators differ on the message that Paul is delivering in the opening verses of chapter 5. A common interpretation is that he's saying that our physical bodies on earth will decay, but we are assured of a heavenly home. On the other hand, Beverly Gaventa in Texts for Preaching has found another interpretation, that rather Paul is not referring to resurrected bodies of individuals but rather is referring to the new creation in which believers will find a home.

Can we, as Christians, find as much assurance in the notion of a transformed earth for everyone as we do in the notion of being individually transported to a home far away from this earth?

Psalm 44:9-26

Proverbs 22:13
The lazy person says, "There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!"

Prayer for Today: O Lord our God, sustain us through our times of difficulty. Strengthen our faith in our times of difficulty. Then in times of ease and comfort, jog our memory of your presence. Amen.

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