Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Lectionary 13 A - Psalm 89

Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18Psalm 89 is a love song to the Lord written by Ethan the Ezrahite, a cymbal player in Solomon’s temple band. His hymn of rejoicing was penned during Israel’s golden age even though it anticipates Solomon’s kingdom split between the lines his sons established, neither of which would last forever. The Northern Kingdom fell first never to rise again and while the Southern Kingdom survived captivity it would never again know the glorious days of Solomon’s reign. The portions of the psalm that we don’t read promise punishment when the children of Israel forsake the law and violate the covenant. Even so God promises never to remove steadfast love from Israel or be false to God’s faithfulness to Judah. When “I could sing of your love forever” is based on human kingdoms and thrones established by the strength of sword and shield, even if the glory is given to God, the song is less than praiseworthy. To trust in God’s faithfulness forever is to sing, “I love you, Lord” when the enemy is at the gate and the city is overthrown and the temple is burned to the ground. That is true for us as well who love the Lord in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer. If we claim God’s love for us is unconditional then it follows that our love for God must be as well. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Lectionary 13 A - Jeremiah 28:5-9

Jeremiah 28:5-9
Jeremiah’s “Amen!” should be read as an “Oh really?” because the weeping prophet knows none of the exiles are coming home and the things that were taken are gone for good. Hananiah may have had his reasons to hope or he may have just been blowing smoke but it doesn’t matter because in a year he’ll be dead and peace will be a pipe dream for the people weighed down by the iron yoke of Babylon. Even so it’s not necessarily a doom and gloom vision like so much commentary on the state of the economy or the health of the planet or prospects for peace in the Middle East. Jeremiah prophesies political events but he is really speaking to the hearts and minds of individuals, calling them to turn back to the Lord, to forsake false hopes and not to trust in temporal power to save. Jeremiah is a truth teller and sometimes the most difficult thing to be told is the truth. But with the truth comes the opportunity to be reformed and renewed and restored. “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 God promises to be found by the exiles who seek the Lord even while living under the iron yoke of Babylon. And so it is with us when we live beyond our limited vision and into the plans God has for us.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Lectionary 12 A - Matthew 10:24-39

Matthew 10:24-39
The less than gentle words of Jesus – whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me… are tempered by the hairs on our head numbered promise that we are of more value than any number of sparrows. That is not to say we should take Jesus’ challenge lightly. It is a fair criticism that in reading the Gospels through the lens of Paul we make Jesus more Gentile than Jew and lose the understanding of law as life and as gift. But in the same way that Paul’s admonition to holy living is grounded in dependency on unconditional grace Jesus demand for radical obedience depends fully upon the disciple being like the teacher. In the end the life we find in Jesus is better than whatever life we may lose. So we trust that we find our life when with hairs on our head numbered valued more than a two sparrow per penny we take up the cross and follow.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Lectionary 12 A - Romans 6:12-23

Romans 6:12-23
The “therefore” of Romans 6:12 is made possible by the new relationship with God that begins with death. Not the kind of death that in the end everyone dies. Not a “wages of sin” death either, the kind of death that withers the soul when as slaves to self we receive no advantage from things of which we should rightly be ashamed. No, the death that makes “therefore” possible is a death for life, if you will. Jesus dies first, as Paul writes in Romans chapter five, while we were weak, while we were still sinners, while were God-haters, so that reconciled with God we might also dare to die. Dying with Christ we die to self and are born into a life of righteousness which is not nearly as narrow as some make it out to be. It is not a life bound by law, limited by piety, constrained by rigid rules. It is a life bound by justice, limited by kindness, constrained by humility. (Micah 6:8) Therefore, live as those who have died and have already been set free to live today the new life that is eternal.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lectionary 12 A - Psalm 89

Psalm 89
Psalm 89 is a love song to the Lord written by Ethan the Ezrahite, a cymbal player in Solomon’s temple band. But his hymn of rejoicing was penned during Israel’s golden age and one wonders if anyone was still singing such a song when Solomon’s kingdom split along the lines his sons established, neither of which would last forever. The Northern Kingdom fell first never to rise again and while the Southern Kingdom survived captivity it would never again know the glorious days of Solomon’s reign. That’s the trouble with “I could sing of your love forever” because of kingdoms and thrones established by the strength of sword and shield even if the glory is given to God. To trust in God’s faithfulness forever is to sing, “I love you, Lord” when the enemy is at the gate and the city is overthrown and the temple is burned to the ground. That is true for us as well who are called to love the Lord in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer. If we claim God’s love for us is unconditional then it follows that our love for God must be as well.