You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
for your name's sake lead me and guide me.
Ezra describes the journey from exile to Jerusalem: selection of priests, allocation of silver and goal for the temple, then the deliverance from ambushes on the way. When the exiles had arrived in Jerusalem, they offered worship to the Lord and reported to the king's officials.
Ezra was told that during their time in exile, the people had mingled with foreigners. He prayed that God would forgive them for all their sins. They had deserved every bad thing that had happened to them, but God stuck with them anyway. It is time now that they repent and change.
Troubling to us moderns may be the specific method of repentance that Ezra pronounces, no more intermarriages with people who do not worship the Lord.
1 Corinthians 5:1-13
Paul asserts that just saying you are a Christian isn't enough. You need to act the way Christ would expect. He then instructs the community to expel sinners--sexually immoral persons, the greedy and robbers, idolators, and drunks. How to we adapt these few specific verses to the rest of Paul's message? Is this prohibition applied only to that specific community with its specific population and problems?
Much of the Bible is speaking to us (often telling us what God wants us to hear) or telling us about something that someone did or learned a long time ago. But, some portions of the Bible are words that we can use to speak to God. The Psalms, in particular, are addressed to God.
Psalm 31 begins with a plea for rescue. Listen to me. Protect me. Deliver me.
We talk like this to someone we believe can do what we so desperately need--and right away.
The metaphors that demonstrate the capability of salvation that are used in this psalm are rock and fortress--images that are solid, strong, capable of keeping the bad away.
And, sometimes, we are already in the bad and need rescue from it. Verse 4 says "Take me out of the net hidden for me," and then verbalizes the wish for rescue and the assertion that the Lord is capable of doing that rescue, "for you are my refuge."
To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Prayer for Today: O Lord, direct our thoughts and actions to doing your will, to living the way you intend for us. When we are in difficulty, remind us of the care that you have given us. Remind us of the times that your care has come to us through our community. Prompt us to extend your care to others. Amen.