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.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Running Away, Reflection on Jonah 1


Things are not going well in Nineveh, but Nineveh is a long way away. And foreigners live there. Foreigners who do not worship the Lord our God.

As far way as Nineveh is, God cares anyway.

The Lord calls Jonah: Go right now to Nineveh. Tell them how wicked they are.

Jonah responds immediately to God's call--by jumping on a ship traveling in the opposite direction.

The Lord does not give up. The ship is caught in a big storm. Everybody on b0ard is praying--to many different gods. They have not had the opportunity to know about the Lord our God.

Jonah sleeps through the disturbance until the captain wakes him up. He demands of Jonah, "Start praying to your God. It might work." The crew has a different solution, "One of us on board must be to blame. Let's cast lots to see who is the cause of this storm."

The lot falls on Jonah. In response to their query, Jonah tells them about the God of heaven, sea, and dry land. And he tells them that he, Jonah, has been fleeing from the Lord.

After some deliberation, they finally consent to sacrifice Jonah in hopes that this act will pacify the Lord. They throw Jonah overboard, but God is not ready to give up on this reluctant prophet.

Questions to consider:
Have you slept through challenges?

Are there groups to whom you are unwilling to approach?

How far are you willing to go--literally or figuratively--to avoid answering the call of the Lord?

Considering how ready the sailors were to believe Jonah, why did it take a disaster for him to speak out? Would they have been ready to believe him without the emergency?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Restoring Her Son, a Reflection on 1 Kings 17

Her son died.

In her grief, she turned on Elijah, blaming him.

Elijah took her son and prayed to the Lord to let the child live.

The Lord heard Elijah's plea; the boy revived.

When Elijah brought her son back to her, the mother responded, "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord is truly in your mouth."

Lessons in this lesson:
People who know God turn to God in time of need.
God cares for people who aren't necessarily very important to the world.
Recipients of God's care can react with gratitude.

Monday, October 24, 2016

UNF movies about Jonah/ Louis Armstrong

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0298388/?ref_=fn_al_ch_2a
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1360790/?ref_=fn_al_ch_1a
Louis Armstrong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6VvhFDpo3A

Listen and Obey, a Reflection on 1 Kings 17

Elijah was a prophet of God at a time when the king of Israel, Ahab, married Jezebel, a worshipper of Baal. God was angry with Ahab. Elijah said so. The Lord told him "Go hide by the Wadi Cherith. It has plenty of water, and I'll see you get food." Elijah did what he was told, and things worked out for a while. Then the wadi ran dry (16:29-17:7).

The Lord told Elijah where to go for food.
I'm thinking about how unlikely the choice might have seemed to Elijah. The place was at the center of Baal worship. The person he was supposed to get help from was a woman. He, a stranger, was supposed to approach a woman. Moreover, she was a widow; that is, she wouldn't be expected to have much in the way of financial resources.

But, the Lord had included the assurance, "I have have commanded her to feed you."

Elijah trusted the Lord enough to comply with the instruction.

When he got to the widow's place and asked her for some food, she told him, "As sure as the Lord your God lives, I have only enough for me and my son to have one small meal and then we'll die."

Apparently although she lives in Sidon, she knows about the God that Elijah worships--and obeys.

Elijah responds to her, "Do not be afraid. Go ahead and fix the meal for you and your son, but, first, make me a little cake. The Lord God of Israel will provide you with all the food you need for as long as you need."

She did. And the Lord did.

She trusted God's word that came to her through a prophet, a foreigner.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Kingdom with No End, Reflection on 2 Samuel 7:1-17

David had been victorious over his enemies--internal as well as external ones. He has been made king over all of Israel. He has brought back the ark of God from where it had been hidden during the battles. they put the ark in a tent and made offerings to the Lord.

David is living in a house and decides that the ark should have a house as well.

The Lord tells Nathan what to tell David about this idea.

The Lord is responsible for the beginning of David's story, his success against his enemies, and for David's future. David has it backwards if he thinks that it depends on him to provide a house for the Lord.

The Lord will build David's house.

The house and kingdom shall last forever.

A problem arises for us as we read these verses. David's son, Solomon, did build a temple--that was destroyed by the Babylonians. After the return of the exiles, a temple was built to replace it. Did the people think that God meant only for David not to build a temple? How did we discern that great houses of worship are appropriate and helpful?

We usually read the word "house" in this section to also mean "family." That is, we interpret God's promise to mean that David's descendants would rule Jerusalem forever. How long is forever? Foreign powers overtook their land. David's house was taken into captivity.

Another problem with the promise of forever. Would that mean that no matter what David or his children, grandchildren, and great (and so on) grandchildren did, that God would remain in relationship with them, provide for them? That is, does sin matter to God? Are we not being help responsible for our actions? See 1 Kings 9:4-7 for a statement of the conditional covenant).

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Don't Gloat Too Soon, a Reflection on 1 Samuel 2:1-10

What people today can sing Hannah's song with gratitude and sincerity? Who hopes to see God act in the way that Hannah describes?

How could the powerful be happy about the promise that their weapons will be destroyed? Or, how could people who now have full stomachs look forward to having to accept jobs that pay barely enough for food?

Do those rich, powerful, well-fed folks somehow think they deserve what they already have? Hannah thought differently. "Get over yourself," she said.

God cares about the poor, Hannah promises.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Lack of Perception, a Reflection on 1 Samuel 1:9-20

Hannah did not have what society valued in a woman and what she herself wanted desperately. The other wife had many children but lacked the love of their husband. She acted out her resentment and jealousy.

Elkanah did notice that Hannah was upset but didn't know or wouldn't admit knowing why.

We can generalize and modernize this situation. Some people have more things than others do. The haves sometimes lord it over the have-nots. Jealousy affects us badly. People in authority sometimes are clueless.

In Hannah's case, she was determined to make her life better. Her solution was prayer.

When he saw her praying, the religious authority assumed she was drunk. Was he also clueless? Or, was he that unaccustomed to seeing fervent prayer?

Hannah responded to his criticism by explaining who she was and what her situation was.

Eli may not have discerned her sincerity before, but after hearing, he could. He told Hannah that God was going to grant her petition.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sin and Intercession, a Reflection on Exodus 32:7-14

While Moses is on the mountain receiving instructions from the Lord, the people have remained below. They've been there a long time, and they think that Moses has deserted them. Without Moses, they think they have lost the Lord. They want a visible substitute; they demand that Aaron make new gods for them. Read Exodus 31:18-32:6.


When we think about what the modern day equivalent of the golden calf would be, we need to reflect on what helps us to feel confident enough to continue with our journeys and to what we are willing to make sacrifices. Note: journeys and sacrifices can be literal or metaphorical in this analysis.


The Lord looks down and sees them partying. The Lord says to Moses, "I ready to destroy them." But Moses intercedes with three arguments:

1. These are your people. You saved them from slavery.

2. You showed their captors how powerful you are. Do you want them to think you saved them just so you could be the one to kill them?

3. Remember your promise to their ancestor Abraham that you would provide descendants for him.


After hearing what Moses had to say, the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on the people.


We continue to offer intercessory prayers pleading with God to change what is happening to us--even, or especially, those outcomes that we may deserve.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Losing Sight of God, Reflection on Exodus 32:1-6

In Egypt before Pharaoh had released them, on the way out of Egypt when Pharaoh had changed his mind, and over and over in the wilderness, these people have personally witnessed saving acts of the Lord.

Moses is not around at the moment. Without him, they seem to think God is gone, as well. "Let's make some gods for ourselves," they say to Aaron. We are not told what Aaron thinks or what Aaron fears, but we are told that he complies with their wish. Or does he?

When he formed the golden calf and built an altar, he then proclaimed that the festival would be to the Lord. What was he thinking?

How easy or difficult is it for us to distinguish between what looks like Lord-worship and what is actually something-else-worship?

Who or what is Moses to us?
What substitutes are necessary?
Are we capable of remembering what God has already done for us?