Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12
My biggest frustrations come when I have followed all the rules and directions and yet the results do not come out as anticipated. Usually, it’s a recipe that proves my frustration and emotional undoing. The cake didn’t rise or fell apart in crumbs. Cooking, baking in particular, follows set scientific rules, so any slight deviation leads to chaos. Many people seek to have a similar set of rules for religion but today’s scriptures remind us that our attitude has much more to do with meaningful faith than any set of rules.
The people Isaiah spoke to followed the rules on every occasion. When it came to ritual they had it down. They never missed a chance to come for worship. God replied to them, “STOP IT. I am weary of your worship.” God’s frustration came because the attitude of the people did not honor him. They followed the law yet showed no care for people in the world around them. God’s direction proves challenging to us even today: stop worshiping and start doing good - take care of the needy and I’ll take care of you.
The story of Zacchaeus in Luke reinforces the idea that attitude matters more than fidelity to a worship plan. Zacchaeus was not liked or respected by the community. As an agent of the Romans, his job put him in conflict with the people, but his encounter with with Christ turned his attitude toward one of justice for all.
The prophets and Christ brought us a unified message: take care of the needy. Rules are easy to follow. A highly structured worship service is easy to attend. Ceasing to do evil; learning to do good; seeking justice; rescuing the oppressed; defending the orphan; pleading for the widow are hard. Worship, though, is worthless unless the work we do outside the church house represent God. God’s saints build his kingdom and almost none of that work is done inside a sanctuary.
Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org