“..For this reason… we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, SO THAT you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him...”
(House Church 7.14.2019 - Lectionary Source - Ordinary Time - Proper 10 (Year C - Track 2)
O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Old Testament: Deuteronomy 30:9-14
Moses said to the people of Israel, "The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all your undertakings, in the fruit of your body, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your soil. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, just as he delighted in prospering your ancestors, when you obey the Lord your God by observing his commandments and decrees that are written in this book of the law, because you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
"Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?' Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?' No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe."
The Response: Psalm 25:1-9
1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
my God, I put my trust in you;
let me not be humiliated,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
2 Let none who look to you be put to shame;
let the treacherous be disappointed in their schemes.
3 Show me your ways, O Lord,
and teach me your paths.
4 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
in you have I trusted all the day long.
5 Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love,
for they are from everlasting.
6 Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions;
remember me according to your love
and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.
7 Gracious and upright is the Lord;
therefore he teaches sinners in his way.
8 He guides the humble in doing right
and teaches his way to the lowly.
9 All the paths of the Lord are love and faithfulness
to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
The Epistle: Colossians 1:1-14
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
The Gospel: Luke 10:25-37
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live."
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, `Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.' Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel lessons are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA, and used by permission.
The Collects, Psalms and Canticles are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979.
NOTES + THOUGHTS:
*Liturgy means “the work of the people.” We enter into this work when we enact the scriptures together by reading and discussing them and allowing our lives to be formed by Christ and each other. Like a potluck, we each bring something to the discussion, and there is always enough.
Which passage jumped out at you the most? Why?
What thoughts / questions do you have?
What connections do you see between the readings + life?
What action or change do they invite?
Why was it included in the Bible?
Is there any disconnect between the narrators perspective and our perspective as modern readers?
In modern day America, information is king.
All too often, we hear this sentiment echoed in the halls of churches. Christians in America talk all the time about whether or not they are “being fed” by their choice of church. Individuals leave churches ad nauseam because they are not receiving enough spiritual “meat” from the lead pastor. There are significant issues with this mentality - from the amount of weight placed on a lead pastor to perform, to idolization of more and more biblical knowledge. The biggest problem though, is that growth in knowledge is not leading to more loving and generous lives. Paul writes to a church obsessed with knowledge that “knowledge puffs up, while love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1) The truth is, most of us already have more knowledge than we need to follow Jesus, and gaining more knowledge won’t help us be better reflections of God’s love in the world. What is really needed today are communities of people who are challenging each other to live more lovingly and generously.
The Old Testament:
Some helpful context from the beginning of chapter 30: “When all these things have happened to you, the blessings and the curses that I have set before you, if you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, and you and your children obey him with all your heart and with all your soul, just as I am commanding you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, gathering you again from all the peoples among whom the Lord your God has scattered you…” (Deut. 30:1-3)
Our Old Testament Reading today comes towards the end of the book of Deuteronomy. The Law has been fleshed out for the Israelites. If they choose to follow it, blessing will inevitably follow. If they choose to ignore the law, curses will come. Will they be a people defined by love for their neighbor or will they be like the rest of the world?N The choice is theirs - and the writer of Deuteronomy makes it quite clear: this way of living is not too difficult for them. In fact, it is quite simple. It all comes down to love. They didn’t need extra Divine revelation or amazing preaching. They simply needed to do what they knew was good and right.
-Where do we tend to overcomplicate what it means to be the people of God?
-Why do we tend to overcomplicate discipleship?
-Why do we seek out better teachers and more profound revelation instead of living out what we already know to be true?
“we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have”
The Apostle Paul is writing to this small church in Colossae from a prison in Ephesus. Apparently, he has never been to this brand new church; he has simply heard about them and is writing to encourage them and give them wisdom for this brand new journey they are on. And of al the things Paul has heard about them, only the one stands out: their love. This was the mark of their discipleship - not their knowledge or obedience to a new moral standard. In fact, they probably knew very little about how their theology all worked out - they knew some basics and were living in love. That was quite enough.
-If someone heard about our church, what would be the defining characteristic people would talk about?
Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
Many of us are overly familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan; so much so, that we tend to overlook just how scandalous it actually is. The lawyer puts Jesus to the test here, seeing if Jesus will support the idea of Israel/Israelites first. Instead of giving him an answer, Jesus tells a parable that will continue to challenge people for millennia to come. You cannot put boundaries around love.
I love what New Testament scholar, N.T. Wright has to say about this parable: “What is at stake, then and now, is the question of whether we will use the God-given revelation of love and grace as a way of boosting our own sense of isolated security and purity, or whether we will see it as a call and challenge to extend that love and grace to the whole world. No church, no Christian, can remain content with easy definitions which allow us to watch most of the world lying half-dead in the road.”
-Why do you think the lawyer wanted Jesus to define who his neighbor was?
-Who do we tend to exclude as our neighbor? (as a country, as the Church, as individuals)
-If we re-wrote this parable for modern hearers, who would the characters be?
This is the table of Christ. Here we remember God’s love and acceptance for humans. Here we remember our connection with all humankind. All are invited to come and eat. So come.
You who have much faith and you who have little. You who have been here often and you who are new. You who have tried to follow and you who have failed.
Come, Because it is our Divine Mother who invites us. It is her desire that we meet her here together.
Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
*Photo credit: Becky Thomas