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.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Reflection on the readings for November 9

O give thanks to the Lord.
You are good.
Your steadfast love endures forever.
(adapted from Psalm 107:1)

Ezekiel 20:1-49
The Lord instructs Ezekiel to remind the people of the pattern of their history: The Lord God gave them gifts and instructed them how to live; they took the gifts but didn't follow the rules; they suffered as a result; the Lord forgave them, rescued them again, and they responded badly again. And again. Yet, God is prepared to forgive, "I will deal with them for the sake of my name not according to what they deserve."

Hebrews 9:11-28
The writer of this epistle is again comparing the sacrifice made by Christ with that of the high priests. They made offerings over and over. He made one offering--himself.

And that one offering is enough to cover for sins of all people.

We Christians can read this as reassuring.

We should be grateful but not triumphalistic.

Further, we should be careful not to misinterpret the phrase, "dead works."

According to Allen & Williamson's Preaching the Letters without Dismissing the Law
The "dead works" should not be confused with the mitzvoth of torah. "Dead works" are not "deeds of loving kindness"; they are sins that pollute the conscience.
Christ will return, we are told, but not to deal with sin. That's been dealt with. He will appear to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Is that good news, or not?

What does "eagerly waiting" mean"?

If you do read ahead, you'll find some rather scary judgment talk (see 10:26-27).

Psalm 107:1-43
Sometimes we are praying because ritual requires it--a kids' baseball game is about to start, a meeting is ready to begin, we're all sitting around the table to eat. And those prayers though routine can be heartfelt.

But, sometimes we pray because we really, really need God's help, and we really, really know it.

Psalm 107 is a reminder of how God has cared for a wayward people before--and often. The beginning of this psalm  is a prayer that we can continue to use as a model for our own gratitude to gifts and lessons from God.
Give thanks to the Lord.
God is good.
God's steadfast love endures forever.
When our ancestors were wandering, literally wandering, lost and hungry, God showed them the way to go. When they were in trouble, God rescued them. In our own wildernesses--actual and metaphoric, we can continue to ask God for comfort and direction, when  we need to be shown the straight path throughout the journey we are on.
Let those who are wise give heed to these things,
and consider the steadfast love of the Lord.
Psalm 107 gives thanks for deliverance from many troubles: refugees (4-9); prisoners (10-16); people suffering from illness (17-22); sailors and travelers on ships (23-32). As I read verses 33-37, I am struck that although they can be read quite literally, they don't have to be. That is, God is the creator of our earth, the source of the rain necessary for life to continue. But, God is the source of what Jesus called living water. God works through us turning our parched lives into fruitful ones.

Sometimes, it is appropriate to look for fault and assess blame, but, it is always appropriate to seek the help of the Lord--directly and also through the work of scientists, economists, and politicians.

And, it is appropriate to give thanks.

Proverbs 27:11
Be wise, my child, and make my heart glad,
so that I may answer whoever reproaches me.

Prayer for Today: O Lord our God, as we travel difficult paths through our lives, show us the way. Forgive us for those times we have turned in the wrong direction. Show us the way. Amen.

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