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.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Reflection on readings for August 8

Sing praises to the Lord, 
O you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
(Psalm 30:4)

Ezra 7:1-8:20
The Persian king permitted rebuilding the temple and aided in its financing.

1 Corinthians 4:1-21
Paul is writing to the Corinthians, a fractious community. They are critical of each other and also of Paul. We can read this letter historically to help us understand what Paul was trying to get the Corinthians to understand, and we can read it to help us to work through conflicts within our congregations.

Paul reminds them and us that, after all, it is not the congregation that determines how well and how faithfully he has served. Rather, the Lord is the one who does the judging. We may be reacting to what a minister is doing or saying today, but, in doing so, we should also reflect on the consequences of those actions. Some events are not immediately apparent.

Beverly Gaventa, Texts for Preaching:
For those Christians who find even the term "judgment" to be distasteful, Paul's comments stand as a powerful reminder that all human beings are God's servants and stand responsible before God for their behavior. No one escapes that accountability. For those Christians who, on the other hand, savor the prospect of judgment because they have already made judgments of their own, Paul's insistence that it is God who judges may cause the tongue to pause mid-accusation. Paul's not-too-subtle point is that God requires no help or recommendations about the judgments of others.
Or for a post that I wish I had written, see Nadia Bolz-Weber's take on this passage.

Psalm 30:1-12

In the bible I'm using today, Psalm 30 has two superscriptions (what I would have called headings if I didn't also read commentaries). It is either a thanksgiving for recovery from grave illness or it is a song at the dedication of the temple. Or, it is both. 

Verses 1-3 are all in the first person singular. Keep reading. Any one of us may have prayer for our own individual need, but Psalm 30 also includes the rest of us in the requirement to express gratitude. See verse 4.

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.

It then directs the congregation to also give thanks.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.
It ends with the recognition that expression of gratitude is to be made openly and publicly:
You have turned my mourning into dancing;you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
As a person can be grateful for being healed from some personal sickness, a nation can be grateful for its restoration after a great disaster.

The notes in the Jewish Study Bible suggest that the psalm could have been used when the temple was rebuilt after exile, 515 BCE, or at its rededication after the victory of Judas Maccabaeus, 164 BCE. This psalm continues to be read on Hanukkah as well as part of the introductory liturgy for the daily, Sabbath, and festival morning services.

Proverbs 20:28-30
Loyalty and faithfulness preserve the king,
and his throne is upheld by righteousness.
The glory of youths is their strength,
but the beauty of the aged is their gray hair.

Prayer for Today: O Lord our God, direct us toward obedience to your word. Direct us away from judging each other. Amen.

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