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 7, 2014

Reflection on readings for August 7

Ascribe to the Lord, "O heavenly beings,"
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
(Psalm 29:1)

Ezra 4:24-6:22
King Darius (aka Artaxerxes) of Persia decrees that the house of God is to be built. The exiles have been allowed to return to Jerusalem but they are not completely free of foreign rule.

1 Corinthians 3:5-23
I am not good at memorizing, but passages like this one make me want to be. Paul tells this congregation that has competing loyalties to quit quarreling and to end their jealousy. "After all," he says, "who's really doing the accomplishing?"

We each have a part to play in accomplishing the work that God has given us to do, but we shouldn't ever think that the work is ours entirely. Neither should we think that we deserve all the credit.

As Paul puts it, "For we are God's servants, working together; you are God's field, God's building." I'm remembering when I was a child, that when riding through the country, my grandmother would look out at the fields and comment on whether the cotton or corn was looking good for that time of year. Now, I'm imagining someone observing a local congregation, God's field, and noticing how it was doing.

Only God gives the growth, but we church people sure can provide some weeds.

I used to live in a city built on Yazoo clay--it expands when moist then contracts when dry--so I have observed up close problems caused by foundations. The house two doors down from us moved off its foundation as the earth underneath shifted. Cars could get stranded in large pot holes. I now live in a city that has a seismic history. Lots of money must be spent retrofitting buildings that were erected without considering potential earth-shifting.

Having seen the difficulties caused by poor foundations, I can recognize the value in a good foundation. As God's temple, we, the church, are built on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

But, what we build on that foundation is also important. Paul cautions the Corinthians not to think that they are wise--or to attempt to appear wise to other people. Christianity requires its practitioners to do a lot of things--say, love your enemy--that appear right out foolish to other people.

He quotes what we call the Old Testament to underlie this point, "he catches the wise in their craftiness," (Job 5:13) and "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile" (Psalm 94:11).

After all, not one of them had built anything alone. They all had help. And they all shared in the benefits of the efforts of others. What they have now and will have in the future will be there. And now and in the future they will belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.

(Footnote in my Cokesbury Bible: Note that in verses 16 and 17 the Greek word for "you" is plural.)

Psalm 29:1-11
This psalm begins by reminding us of those qualities that the Lord possesses, the ones that we need to remember that the Lord possesses, and that we are to worship the Lord. The Lord that saves. The Lord that announced to Jesus, "You are my Son."

There shouldn't be any secret to this. The Lord's voice has spoken in a way that we should be able to recognize. Thunders. Powerful. Full of majesty

One evening, I was watching television while sitting in my well-padded recliner. Comfortable, head leaning back, feet propped up. All was well. Then, through the window next to me, I saw a flash of lightning . Almost immediately, I heard a loud crash of thunder. The TV show lost my attention.

Since I spent my formative years in Texas, I have the Texas attitude toward storms. As soon as we hear thunder, we're outside looking at the sky. Thunder gets our attention.

You don't have to be a Texan to notice thunder.
A thunderstorm will interrupt your life.
You'll turn your attention from what you're doing to this interruption.
Proverbs 20:26-27
A wise king winnows the wicked,
and drives the wheel over them.
The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord,
searching every innermost part.

Prayer for Today: We turn to you, O God, to ask you to keep us mindful of your teaching and mindful of our responsibility to live out those teachings in our communities. Amen.

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