Saturday, August 31, 2013

September 1 - Ordinary Time

Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C
Jeremiah 2:4-13
Psalm 81
Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
Luke 14:1, 7-14
Today’s Reflection:
The start of school brings students to new schools with the challenge of finding their place. Unfortunately schools copy greater society with a social hierarchy and everyone finds, or is put in, their level. One new girl sat by herself the first few days. She was clearly shy as she hardly responded when I greeted her as I made my way around the tables. I make it a point to speak to every lunch table so no one feels left out and every student has some access to me each day. On the fourth day, I noticed a group of girls approach her table and invite her to join with them at lunch. They quickly engaged in “getting to know you” banter and asked the girl why she changed schools. She shared her story of being bullied and always left alone. The girls assured her she was safe with them. They, knowingly or not, lived Jesus’s directions for interacting with one another as found in the scriptures today.

The Old Testament passages from Jeremiah and the Psalms relate times when the people’s relationship with God failed to live up to the covenant. God right away challenges the people to name the fault their ancestors found in him knowing there was no such fault. Nevertheless, the people in the time of the prophet Jeremiah had fallen far from the covenant by adopting gods and a culture taken from other peoples. Their actions took them away from God’s plan. God laments the direction of his people as they live in ways that do not honor him or lead to a prosperous nation. The people of Israel, just like the Christians today are challenged to keep the right relationship with God.

One reason keeping the right relationship with God is such a challenge is because as Christians, we are called to reflect that relationship through the way we treat others. The Hebrews and Luke passages direct us to care for all people no matter what their circumstances - actually focusing on the care we should show for others in spite of their circumstances with mentions of those in prison, those being tortured, the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Despite the class system that so quickly sorts people in society, we are to ignore that system and carefully consider how we value ourselves against the standing society has determined.

God is consistent and his promises are true. The passages direct us to care for those who have needs greater than our own for that care directly reflects our faith in the promises of God. While at first glance the focus of the Old Testament passages and the New Testament passages seem to have a completely different focus, upon reflection we see how closely tied our relationship to God is with our relationship with all people. When we lack faith in God, it becomes quite easy to ignore our duty to the poor, the ill, and the imprisoned for we ourselves fear becoming one of “them.” When our relationship is right with God, we live with the certainty that even if we become one of “them,” God’s promise to meet our needs remains, so we can meet someone else’s needs with joy.
Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts.