Who Would Jesus Bless Today?
This month begins with a reminder to welcome newcomers to the faith like Jesus did, as exemplified by Jesus gathering the children to himself, identifying himself with those who were among the most vulnerable and helpless in society. Who, in our communities, is in the place of the children of ancient times? May we provide a place of welcome and care for the most vulnerable and the weakest in our society.
Oct 10 ... We meet again the rich man who comes to ask Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life. He is a good man, sincere in his asking. Jesus looks on him and loves him. Out of love, not judgment, Jesus offers him an open door to life: sell all you own and give it to the poor. Our culture bombards us with the message that we will find life by consuming. Jesus counters this message with the invitation to find life by divesting for the sake of the other.
Oct 17 ... Today’s gospel starts with disciples obsessing over who will be closest to Jesus, leading to Jesus teaching his followers about God’s take on importance and power. Here Jesus makes it explicit that the reversal of values in God’s community is a direct challenge to the values of the dominant culture, where wielding power over others is what makes you great. When we pray “your kingdom come” we are praying for an end to tyranny and oppression. We pray this gathered around the cross, a sign of great shame transformed to be the sign of great honor and service.
Oct 24 ... Can we pray the way Bartimaeus prays? People try to hush him up because by addressing Jesus as “Son of David” he is making a politically dangerous claim that Jesus is the rightful king. Could our prayers ever be heard as a threat to unjust powers that be? Bartimaeus won’t give up or go away quietly, but repeats his call for help more loudly. Do we ask so boldly? And are our prayers an honest answer to Jesus’ question, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Here at HNLC, as in many congregations, we end the month of October celebrating the Feast of The Reformation. Often treated as a sort of “Lutheran heritage” day, a time for singing chorales and remembering the theological reforms of the sixteenth century that gave birth to Lutheranism, we might also do well to remind each other of the church’s need for continual reform; the church’s history is secondary to an emphasis on the issues and needs of the church today.
The true center of this day is found in the appointed readings.
· In Jeremiah we are reminded of a new covenant and the promise that God will forgive, this promise is written on our hearts.
· In Romans Paul reminds us how “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Given this reality, how can we have any hope apart from divine grace?
· In the gospel lesson from John we are reminded that our freedom comes from Christ alone. We are neither bound to the past nor slaves to our anxieties of the present.
· Psalm 46 proclaims “God is our refuge and strength.” We can turn to God in times of crisis, or fear, trusting God to pour out mercy and forgiveness upon us. In a world of chaos, confusion, and change there is a constant: the enduring and life-giving grace of God.
On Reformation Sunday—as every Sunday—we remember that we are not ashamed of this good news, this gospel.
(Adapted from Sundays and Seasons)
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