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.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Reflection on readings for September 23

God, be gracious to us and bless us
and make your face shine upon us.
(adapted from Psalm 67:1)

Isaiah 41:17-43:13
In their despair, they had turned to idols for help. The idols weren't able to help. Isaiah describes their savior.

The Lord's servant, according to Isaiah will bring forth justice to the nations. Notice: not just to people like him, but to the nations. He won't be loud or violent but he will be effective and persistent.

The Lord says to him, "I have called you in righteousness.....a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring the prisoners from the dungeon."

Here is our task as the church, the body of Christ, to continue to bring justice to the nations (not just assume that God cares about us alone) and to continue the work of healing and deliverance.

Ephesians 2:1-22
Verses 1-3, What you used to be like: sinful, living according to the world's rules, giving in to your fleshly desires

Verses 4-6, What God has done: God, out of mercy and love, saved us by grace.

Verse 7, Why: so God can continue to show us the immeasurable riches of God's grace in Christ Jesus.

And, remember that God refuses to give up on any of us.

After reminding the Ephesians of what God had already done for them, the writer then tells them what they are to do in response--good works. You weren't saved by your works; you were saved to work.

Does the promise in verse 8 change when you realize that the "you" is, in Greek, plural? As are the other 2nd-person pronouns in this passage. How hard is it, for us moderns, to read this letter as being addressed to the church rather than to an individual, that is, the me who is reading it now?

Psalm 67:1-7
When reading or hearing other people's prayers, I sometimes find myself wondering: How honestly can I pray this prayer? Do I really want God to grant this particular petition?

My reservations may be based on whether I think God would want to do what we are asking or they may be based on whether I myself really want it.

This psalm, for example. I'm OK with the prayer asking for God's grace and presence. I'm OK with everybody knowing and praising God.

But, what if the way that God shines on them over there is through my actions? Just how is God's way made known anyway? Am I supposed to be demonstrating it? Whereas I can be sincerely grateful that the earth has yielded its increase, that I am fully aware that God has blessed us, can I also be as sincere and aware of my part in ensuring that these blessings are extended to all the ends of the earth?

Proverbs 23:29-35
Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
Those who linger late over wine,
those who keep trying mixed wines.
Do not look at wine when it is red,
    when it sparkles in the cup
    and goes down smoothly.
At the last it bites like a serpent 
    and stings like an adder.
Your eyes will see strange things
    and your mind utter perverse things.
You will be like one who lies down 
    in the midst of the sea,
    like one who lies on the top of the mast.
"They struck me," you will say, "but I was not hurt;
they beat me, but I did not feel it.
When shall I awake?
I will seek another drink."

Prayer for Today: Join in the praise of God expressed in Psalm 67.

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