Thursday, December 10, 2009

Struggling with the Daily Lectionary in Advent

Even though reading the daily lectionary has been a good discipline for me to engage in this Advent, it sure has been challenging with the last chapters of Amos and Matthew in particular has been very straining with their words of condemnation and warning. But maybe that's just the sort of thing we need to hear. I mean, even though many of us have felt the effects of the financial downturn over the last year we all still have quite a lot of stuff and if we are not planning an extravagant Christmas it will most likely not be one of nothing and just another day for most of us. In other words, we're mostly all still pretty well off.

So then, reading today's passage from the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus speaks out against the scribes and Pharisees may be a word to us, even if we are tempted to think Jesus' words apply only to those people he was berating 2000 years ago. In chapter 23 of Matthew we read the following:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others.

When I read those words a little while ago it got me thinking about how much actual time do we spend thinking and praying about the weightier matters of the law; of justice, mercy and faith. You know what I mean don't you? How often are our conversations, church study groups and sermons for that matter focused on treating others in our society with the justice and mercy of God? How often do we spend talking about what it would mean to live in relation with others in our world based solely on faith and not be influence by politics, status, economics or credential? How often are our concerns and arguments tied up in things as seemingly insignificant as mint, dill, and cummin?

Maybe especially in these weeks leading up to the Advent of the Christ we need to think about how the birth of Jesus changes everything; how Jesus in our lives effects every relationship we have whether the most intimate bonds of family or the most hard to imagine bonds we have with those who are profoundly other, but none the less Children of God endowed with the capacity to love and be loved. What if we really took our preparations and celebrations of Jesus into account in such a way?

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