Friday, August 7, 2020

Lectionary 19 a - Romans 10:5-15

“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek…” is as radical a statement as any Paul made. Israel was a nation specifically set apart to be God’s own people. The psalmist declares “God has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation…” (Psalm 147:19-20) They were distinct from other people through adherence to the Mosaic Law, through a restrictive diet, by the practice of circumcision. They were warned repeatedly to remain pure to avoid the ruin of the nation, by God’s own hand no less! But now Paul declares the “new thing” that was promised through the prophet Jeremiah that even he could not have anticipated. The law that set Israel apart has itself been set aside for the sake of nations long denied equal access to the God of Israel. In Jesus Christ “God come down” the Word is as close as our own breath and the beating of our own heart. Of course we have made new distinctions; defining exactly how someone must “call on the name of the Lord to be saved” or what must be believed in order to qualify as one who will not “be put to shame.” Maybe we need an equally radical expression of the grace of God who apparently after a thousand years or so with Israel was willing to be less exclusive when it came to who qualifies as “my people.”

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Lectionary 19 a - Psalm 85:8-13

Psalm 85:8-13
There is no peace when righteousness is held captive to self and salvation is defined by personal piety devoid of compassion or mercy. Salvation near to you is near to me for the way faithful people turn their hearts to God is to turn to neighbor. You cannot love God without loving neighbor. So when steadfast love and faithfulness meet together righteousness and peace engage in a PDA (public display of affection) and the people prosper. That’s not to say all paths are the pathways to God. Jesus, betrayed by a friend with a kiss, is the righteousness that goes before the Lord so that in “Peace be with you” faithfulness might spring up in the most unexpected of places, the human heart.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Lectionary 19 a - 1 Kings 19:9-18

1 Kings 19:9-18
In the previous chapter of 1 Kings, before the “very zealous for the Lord” Elijah crawled into the cave, he called down fire from heaven on wet wood that consumed both altar and sacrifice in a flash.  So why is he hiding in the hills? Maybe the “very zealous for the Lord” is not as zealous as he claims to be? So instead of fire and smoke on a mountain God speaks in a still, small voice, a whisper on the wind, to still the heart of the very zealous but fearful prophet. So it is with us who may have seen and believed the wonder of the Lord before but in this current crisis doubt that lightning can strike the same place twice. A still small voice, a whisper on the wind, calls to us to come out of hiding, (albeit with mask and social distancing) to come out of fear, to come out of fretful forecasts of gloom and doom and believe that the Lord knows our need and will provide in the present as God has provided n the past.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Lectionary 18 a - Matthew 14:13-21

Matthew 14:13-21
“When Jesus heard this he withdrew to a lonely place…” What Jesus heard was that his cousin John had been beheaded by Herod. Overcome by grief Jesus needs to get away. And maybe the Messiah also realized John’s violent death meant his days were numbered as well and the powers that be would not be satisfied stilling the voice of the Baptist but would come for the One who John claimed was “greater than me.” But Jesus can’t get away for long as the crowds clamor for more miracles, more entertaining parables, more in your face confrontations with Pharisees and temple big wigs. Compassion for the crowd calls him out of his own need for healing. The disciples short on vision and compassion would send the crowds away to fend for themselves in villages already closed for the night but Jesus has one more trick up his sleeve and multiplying a meager meal makes a feast of five loaves and two fish. If Jesus is the self expression of God’s personality then this is not a God who demands payment upfront but whose own need for solitude and quiet and healing can be interrupted by crowds well fed who not long from now will forsake “hosanna” for “crucify”.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Lectionary 17 A - Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Matthew 13:31-3344-52
Despite the disciple’s “Yes” what we understand about “all these things” is that we don’t really understand the kingdom. That is not to say we don’t know how to package new treasures in the old ones and keep the kingdom safely within the boundaries of what we know, which usually means we make the kingdom of heaven conform to the kingdoms we create in our own image, That is true for Christians on both sides of the aisle, those who make social justice the defining characteristic as well as those who see the kingdom through the prism of personal piety. Truth is the kingdom cannot be contained by human constructs and like a mustard seed produces more than one could image while like yeast it works unseen and hidden like a pearl waits to be found.