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 2, 2014

Reflection on the One-Year-Bible readings for December 2

I lift up my eyes to the hills--
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth. 
(Psalm 121:1-2)

Daniel 9:1-11:1
A prayer of confession for the sins of the nation. A promise of rescue.

1 John 2:18-3:6
Avoid substitutes for Christ.

John writes, "Even the world realizes that we are children of God." We are accustomed to recognizing that Christ is the Son. How do we think of ourselves as sons and daughters? How does the world know that we are? What does the world think that being children of God means? Who else do we think is eligible to be children of God?

"We will be like him." In what ways? Will we love? Will we suffer? Will we overcome suffering? Will we reach out to the unlovable? Other ways? Any or all of these?

John is both reassuring us and challenging us. Hope for what we may become helps us to make the effort now.

After the reminder, "You know that he was revealed to take away sin and that in him there is no sin." John issues an indictment (a warning?), "No one who abides in him sins. Anybody who sins doesn't even know him."

But John does not allow us to give up or in. "Do what is right."

(I offer these comments with thanks to William Loader, First Thoughts.) Here's more from him:
This then enables us to see 3:1-7 in perspective. It is not about how many morality boxes we can tick to qualify ourselves as righteous or as a child of God. It is about whether love flows. Here, too, it is not about how many acts of love we summon up our energies to perform - ticking the goodness boxes, but how much we open ourselves to receive the love which God gives, which in turn flows through us to others. Love gives birth to love. Later the writer will speak of our loving because we were first of all loved by God (4:19). The author might say today: no amount of doing good deeds and no amount of having impressive spiritual experiences will count for anything if it is not connected to a real change that is relational. It may be cosmetic goodness and religion, but without that love it is nothing much. Paul made much the same point in 1 Corinthians 13.
Psalm 121:1-8
On my bookshelf is a book I read years ago and return to from time to time, Openings, a Daybook of Saints, Psalms, and Prayer by Larry James Peacock, published by Upper Room Books.

In his discussion of Psalm 121, he points out that in encompassing day and night, near and far, present and future, all of life rests under the protection of the Lord.

The Lord is always awake. The Lord is always with us. The Lord protects us in all our comings and goings, now and forever.

Can I have the confidence in the Lord that the psalmist expresses? Do I usually look for help from the Lord, or am I more likely to try something else first?

Proverbs 28:27-28
Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing,
but one who turns a blind eye will get many a curse.
When the wicked prevail, people go into hiding;
but when they perish, the righteous increase.

Prayer for Today: O Lord, we have heard your commands. Sustain our willingness to keep them. Amen.

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