According to Jesus, chances are good that there's not going to be much left of us once we've admitted to just how often stumbling blocks stand in our way. Whether others put them there or we find ways to place them ourselves, they trip us up, keep us from moving forward, get us off track.
Monday lectionary email, archived here on Friday.
Our proclivity for greatness is rather embarrassing, isn’t it? No wonder the disciples keep their mouths shut when Jesus inquires about the topic of their conversation on the road. We want it, and we want it big time—recognition, sway, importance—but we also get that we shouldn’t admit this out loud.
Each time I read these words from the beginning of Proverbs, I can't stop thinking about how much I would like to hear a child read them in worship.
In the Talmud, there is a story of a group of rabbis arguing over the status of a particular clay oven. Is it clean or unclean? Rabbi Eliezer stands alone against the interpretation given by his fellow sages, and he begins to call upon nature to confirm him.
My first piano teacher, Mr. Jackson, was the best. I didn't like him.
When I was in my mid 20s, I came down with pneumonia bad enough that I had to spend two weeks in the hospital. I felt cut off from everything. I had no idea what things were like on the outside.
When Martin Luther wrote, "I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer," I don't imagine that he meant to squeeze another three hours of work and relationships into the hours that remained.
In my Bible, this week's reading from Ephesians bears the title, "Rules for the New Life." The text reads like a laundry list of more or less unrelated instructions. Put away falsehood. Speak the truth, be angry but don't sin, and do not make room for the devil. Give up stealing and work honestly. Speak only what is useful for building up; do not grieve the Holy Spirit. Put away bitterness, anger, slander, and malice.
I've always admired the prophets. Their job of truth-telling required such courage and personal sacrifice. Yet they never held back. They spoke the truth no matter the consequences. I imagine they were lonely, then. Who could stand their challenging company for very long? Personal relationships, however, weren't the prophets' priority. Their job was to tell God's truth in a way that would be heard.
My husband came home one night confused and needing to talk. A friend of his had blown him off at work, and Dan couldn't figure out why. "I was standing there, waiting to talk to him, and he just walked away!" My husband was hurt and remorseful.