Sunday, September 11, 2005

REFLECTING ON THE LECTIONARY


I typically use the lectionary readings for my devotional readings in the morning. This has been a practice of mine for a few years now and I've come to really enjoy using the lectionary. I base my youth programs around it, devotionals for group meetings usually, and even when I'm looking ahead at retreats that I'm to lead- I'll even choose the lectionary passages for that weekend (ok that's just dorky I know).

As I was reading yesterday morning from Romans I felt the words just jump out at me! I read the words again and again. "Oh", I said to myself, "if only all we Christians would read this passage and put it in our own contexts!!"

I find myself continually dismayed at how polarized the church has become by playing the same partisan political game our country engages in. If only we could find it in ourselves to look for a different framework out of which to define who we are. Maybe Romans has strong words for us:

Romans 14:1-12 (The Message)
"Cultivating Good Relationships"
1Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with--even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

(wow, lets put the confessing movement, ird and rmn in a room together and have them read this 100 times)

2For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume all Christians should be vegetarians and eat accordingly.

(or maybe some Christians feel that a homosexual couple can live together in a monogomous committed relationship while others feel that it is wrong...hmmm, and yes those in Jesus' time ,and just after, did not think it would ever be possible for gentiles to be Christian because of their diet- scripture and traditions still condemned their eating "practices")

3But since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. 4Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God's welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.

(When it comes down to it- Christ invites all to God's table. We all come to the table as God's children- brothers and sisters. We should not let family quarells get in the way of being family)

5Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.

6What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. 7None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. 8It's God we are answerable to--all the way from life to death and everything in between--not each other. 9That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.

10So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I'd say it leaves you looking pretty silly--or worse. Eventually, we're all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren't going to improve your position there one bit. 11Read it for yourself in Scripture:

"As I live and breathe," God says,
"every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
that I and only I am God."

12So tend to your knitting. You've got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.

Wow this passage just blows my mind!!! May God bless you and keep you.

shalom,
jonathon

4 comments:

Will said...

Jonathon,

I have been chewing on this one as well. Tough to live with these words.

St.Phransus said...

I hear ya bro! Me too.

jonathon

John Wilks said...

Thank you for your approach to that text. I found it very helpful and humbling.

I think if there is any hope of remaining a united United Methodist Church, that this sort of grace and humility is our only way foward.

Andy B. said...

Love it! I'm adding your St. Phransus to my daily reading. Do you know "The Conversation Matters" by Hal Knight and Don Saliers? Great book and on this topic!
Love the Conversation,
Andy B.