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, December 16, 2014

Reflection on one-year-Bible readings for December 16

Your name, O Lord, endures forever; 
your renown, O Lord, throughout all ages.
(Psalm 135:13)

Micah 5:1-7:20
The Lord had accused Israel of inadequate appreciation. Israel doesn't waste any effort in trying to deny that it has not exhibited gratitude for the many gifts of rescue and protection that have been freely given.

Rather, in an implicit admission of that charge, Israel asks, "How should I respond? What is it that I need to give you that would demonstrate my sincere appreciation?"

Israel seems to think that God wants some commodities, "Would calves be sufficient? How about thousands of rams or ten-thousands rivers of oil? How about my firstborn--would that make you happy?"

The Lord responds, "It's not a stack of goods that I want from you. I want you, and I want you to be the kind of person you were intended to be."

The Lord lists three requirements:
do justice
love kindness
walk humbly with your God.
We are being asked to remember what God has done for us and to act as if we do. We are not only to make a gift to the church occasionally; we are to act in the world every day and in every way to insure that those around us--and even those farther away--will have lives that will provide them with some resources, too. We are to be nice to people in church and, more than that, to keep on being nice to people outside there, as well. We are to be active participants in a way of life that assures that people will be treated well. And, we are to continue to remember who is the source of all the good things that have happened to us, to remember that we did not do it alone.

Revelation 7:1-17
John's vision is of a multitude too great to count, a multitude made up of every nation..


Yes, every. Salvation doesn't depend on which borders surround our place of birth. Rather, salvation belongs to God on the throne and to the Lamb. Therefore, everyone joins in praise and worship.

How is your congregation getting this message of every nation?

One of the elders In this great multitude of creatures addressed John asking him "Who are these, robed in white? Where did they come from?"

John turned the question back to the questioner, "You're the one who knows."

The elder responded, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation ordeal."

They didn't escape ordeal--which would be my first choice, but they did get through it.

Using 6:9-11, white robes are given to those who are slaughtered on earth for the word of God. Thus, we read this to be a description of martyrs who are victorious in heaven who, like Jesus, have given up their lives on earth.

John's words are intended to reassure people undergoing persecution on earth. How helpful are they to those of us who really don't suffer much because of our allegiance to the Lord? What is the message for us?

In the vision, one of the elders addresses John directly, promising him that God will shelter the worshippers (13-15).
They will hunger no more,
and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike them,
nor any scorching heat;
The Lamb (5:1-8) will be the shepherd.
The shepherd like the one described in Psalm 23. Also, read Ezekiel 34:11-30 in which God appoints a shepherd to oversee his sheep.

How far off is this promise? Do we have to die to collect on it? Or, is this vision of something that will happen to us on this earth--is happening to us on this earth?

Psalm 135:1-21
Recognition of what God has already done for us. Reminder that false gods can't deliver.

Proverbs 30:5-6 (adapted)
Every word of God proves true; 
You are a shield to those who take refuge in you.
Do not add to the words of God, 
or else God will rebuke you and you will be found a liar.

Prayer for Today: O Lord, guide us into ways that will encourage us and enable us to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

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