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, October 31, 2014

Reflection on the readings for October 31

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me
(Psalm 103:1a)

Lamentations 4:1-5:22
The original audience for this poem were the people who had experienced the disaster of having a foreign power take over their country, destroying the capital and deporting many of the citizens. Those who had lived in comfort were now destitute. They responded to the catastrophe by asserting that God had been angry because of their faithlessness. We moderns may not have been through tragedies as extensive as theirs, but in our despair, we may look for a reason for our losses.

In their despair, they plead with God to notice them, to care for them.

Hebrews 2:1-18
Again quoting from Frances Taylor Gench's commentary on Hebrews and James:
The Son who lives in glory lived down here with us, like us. He showed us how humans could live, how a human being could be completely obedient to God. He showed us how to face death without fear. And because we know that he suffered, we know that he can understand what suffering is like for us.
The author of the letter to the Hebrews presents us with a paradox: God made Jesus perfect; yet, we share with him flesh and blood. More than that, he was like us in every respect. Every?

Another puzzle: We are told that through death, he destroyed the one who has the power of death; that is, the devil. One explanation of this claim is that Jesus showed us that a life without sin is possible.

Psalm 103:1-22
The psalm begins "Bless the Lord, O my soul." The psalmist would not have been aware of our attempts to separate body and soul--the Hebrew word connotes the entire self. We might give ourselves the reminder, "Pay attention, devote your thinking and doing and feeling, recognize and be grateful to the giver of all that you have and will need."

The psalmist lists specific benefits given by the Lord: forgiveness, healing, redemption.

He needs to remember these gifts. And he needs to remember that the Lord will continue to satisfy his needs and to restore his strength.

But, it's not just about him. In verse 6, the psalmist reminds himself that the Lord is not focused on only this one individual: "The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed."

It is right for me to pray prayers of thanksgiving, and it is right for me to remember that the Lord cares for more than just me.

Reread Hebrews 2:2, then Psalm 103:8-14. Are we comforted or irritated by the assertion in Psalm 103 that God does not deal with us according to our sins, does not repay us for our iniquities?

Proverbs 26:23
Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel
are smooth lips with an evil heart.

Prayer for Today: O Lord, forgive us for those times that we have ignored the needs of others. Forgive us for the times that we have ignored your commands. When we feel lost from you, restore us to yourself. Amen.

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