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.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Restoration, a Reflection on Job 42:1-6

The Lord has been speaking to Job (Ch 38-41) reminding him, "I am powerful, I have created the order by which all elements, animals, and people live. I am the giver of all, the One who knows all. Can any human do what I do."

Job replies, "I know you can do everything, that nothing is impossible for you. Hear me now."

What Job wishes for the Lord to hear is "I thought I knew you, but I lacked knowledge. Now that I see you clearly, I recant and repent."

Allen & Williamson in Preaching the Old Testament remind us that Job 42:6 is difficult to interpret:
Some scholars think that Job recognizes that both the Deuteronomic viewpoint on blessing and curse (represented in the book of Job by the friends) and Job's persistent demands to understand this notion in another framework of meaning comes up short. Having been addressed directly by the awesome God, Job recognizes that chaos is innately a part of creation and neither chaos nor prosperity can be neatly explained. While chaos is powerful, God's speeches in chapters 38 through 41 assure Job that it will not destroy the patterns of life through which God supports the world.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Remember who's in charge, a reflection on Job 38:25-27

Four of Job's friends have visited him and gave him not very helpful counsel. The last one to visit was Elihu who told him that nobody could find the Almighty, "He is powerful and just but won't provide answers" (Job 37:23-24).

Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind. The Lord reminded Job of who was in charge (38:1-34). And who was not (35-38).

Questions that may arise from reading this passage: Is the Lord accessible to us? If the Almighty is almighty, what is our responsibility? Do we expect God to speak to us, to guide us, punish us?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Post-prandrial boatride, a Reflection on John 6:15-21

The meal that Jesus provided, like that of the original Passover, was about more than food on one day. And it was about more than satisfying physical hunger.

When the Jews in Egypt needed rescue, the Lord had sent Moses. Hear the echoes of the Exodus story in this week's passage from John's gospel. A meal, shared. And rescue from the threatening waters.

Another echo--Jesus identifies himself to the disciples as "I am."

Another tangent: The disciples were at sea because it was dark and Jesus had not yet come to them. What responses have we made to darkness and loneliness? How has Jesus come to us even when we were in some boat in the dark? And, did he get in the boat then or not?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

God Replies, a Reflection on Job 38:1-11

Reposting of earlier entry:
In the Job text, the Lord does speak, and, to emphasize the importance of the words, is speaking for the first time in the book.

"Man up. Answer these questions. Where were you when I was creating? Who gave me any help or advice about anything?"

Tangent 1: Please note that later the Lord will say "I'm angry with those three guys who kept mounting pious arguments to Job when he was suffering. Job is the one who has spoken right of me," (42:7-10). Thus, I'm asserting that God is okay with our needing to express laments.

Tangent 2: Allen & Williamson in their excellent Preaching the Old Testament quote Charles R. Balisdell's suggestion to exercise what he calls "tone of voice exegesis,"
that is, noticing that the way one inflects the text--the tone of voice--makes a significant difference in the meaning that one assigns to the text. The reader can intone the divine speeches with feelings as different as anger, arrogance, impatience, disdain, humor, or compassion

Monday, July 18, 2016

a reflection on Job 31:35-37

Job insists that he is innocent of all the charges that his friends have given as reason for punishment--so insistent that he says that if anybody would write an indictment, he would wear it publicly, and take it to the Almighty and tell him that he was innocent.

Note that Job, like his friends/accusers, accepts that God makes the rules and decides who is following them.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

I'm reading Elaine Heath's "God Unbound, Wisdom from Galatians for the Anxious Church." Here's an excerpt:
It is time for us to ask a better set of questions about being a vital church. Rather than counting Sunday morning worship numbers and the amount of money in the offering plate, let's raise questions about how people are living through the week. How is the church contributing to the flourishing of its neighborhood? In what ways are people in the church being equipped to bear the gospel into their own neighborhoods and workplaces? In what ways is the church living up to its baptismal vows to resist evil and injustice in whatever forms they present themselves? Questions like this help us live as bread and wine, given to the world.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I Know My Redeemers Live, Reflection on Job 19:23-27

Job had replied to those who had been reproaching him, "How long will you torment me?" He recounted a list of people who had failed him, forgotten him, despised him. Attacks. Laments. 

Then this. Job speaks confidently that he will be rescued and that he will be in God's presence. Many commentators and other readers assume that Job is talking about God when he says redeemer. For example, hear an excerpt from Handel's oratorio, Messiah: 

I know that my redeemer lives

Monday, July 11, 2016

Reflection on Job 14:7-15, Is there hope?

As I read this Editorial in the Dallas Morning News and reflected on the violence and the hopeful aftermath, I thought about the woes of Job

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Reflection on Job 7:11-21

Job has pled with his friends to rescue him, "Tell me what you think I've done wrong. I am innocent. Rescue me." (6:22-30).

Dissatisfied, disappointed, Job is ready to give up. Death would be better than the life he has now. God has deserted him. In despair, he says to God, "What have I done to deserve this? Whatever it is, forgive me so this punishment can end and I can just die."

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Who's to blame, a reflection on the book of Job

According to Job 2, it's the Adversary, not the Lord, that causes the disasters to fall on Job. But, the Lord allows it. Do we need to make a distinction between what God does and what God allows to happen?

Monday, July 4, 2016

Unhelpful help, a reflection on Job 3:1-10; 4:1-9

The adversary in an attempt to prove to God that he could cause Job to stop being loyal to God.  Job has lost his sons and daughters and has been struck with severe sores all over his body.  His wife in desperation and despair cries out to him, "Curse God and die!"

Job replied that God who can send good is certainly capable of sending bad.

Three friends show up to comfort him. After a week of silence, Job curses the day he was born. One of his friends, Eliphaz, speaks to Job, "You have performed many good deeds. You have offered encouragement to many people."

He adds, "Now, that you are suffering, shouldn't you depend on religion for comfort? After all, nobody who does the right thing is destroyed. God destroys sinners."

Question: How often do we say stupid, harmful things that are based on our own sincere beliefs? How often do we assume that someone else's tragedy is really his own fault?