Proper 22 (Yr B) 10/7/12

20 Sep

Job 1:1, 2:1-10

or Track 2 Genesis 2:18-24 & Psalm 8

Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12

Mark 10:2-16

Psalm 26

Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and mind.

For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to you.

Opening Question

  • Who are you today?
  • Who do you want to be tomorrow?
  • What do you need to do to get there?

Appointed Passages

Job 1:2, 2: 1-10

1:1 There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.

2:1 One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. 2 The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 3 The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.” 4 Then Satan answered the LORD, “Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives. 5 But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” 6 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life.”

7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes.

9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

  • How does Job’s integrity show his relationship with God?
  • Is integrity more precious than life itself?

Hebrews 1: 1-4, 2: 5-12

1:1 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3 He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

2:5 Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. 6 But someone has testified somewhere,

“What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals, that you care for them?

7 You have made them for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned them with glory and honor,

8 subjecting all things under their feet.”

Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, 9 but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10 It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, 12 saying,

“I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”

  • What level of suffering is healthy and how does it enhance our potential salvation?
  • Is salvation a state you achieve, a condition you must maintain, or perhaps both?

Mark 10:2-16

2 Some Phar’isees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.’ 7 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

10 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

{Montreal Commentary: Children are receptive; a child has no status and makes no claim to power. Whoever is not receptive to God’s gifts will not enter the kingdom. There is no place there for human status and power.}

  • If divorce and remarriage is by definition adultery, can it be forgiven?
  • Can adults experience the naïve receptivity of a child?  If so, when is it appropriate and how do we achieve it? 

Comment

Note that Job does not allow extreme challenges to disturb his relationhip with God.  The Pharisees challenge Jesus in suggesting Moses allowed a relationship between a man and a woman who have become “one flesh” through marriage to be severed by divorce.  Jesus simply suggests that divorce is a form of adultery.  How do we apply these scriptures beyond simply saying keep your relationship with God and don’t commit adultery?

I think the answer is one of defining what a healthy relationship should be – and how we both contribute to it and are shaped by what we get out of it.  This topic is certainly too broad to tackle in a brief comment about scripture, but allow me a few observations.

Forgiveness – First is that the unsaid but vital element of our humanity is the capacity for forgiveness.  In the face of dramatic personal injury inflicted at the hand of another, our ability to embrace the reality of human capacity for mistakes and heal, then grow in spite of them is fundamental to our ability to strengthen character and successfully evolve.  I continue to believe that one of the most important elements of our Christian faith (that not enough people devote time to thinking about) is what an important role forgiveness plays in our ability to adapt.

Integration – I also included after the quotes today a graphic attempting to illustrate some hierarchy in relationships.  What is the distinction between our relationship with God, our parents in early years that shapes our outlook and lives, the community and friends with whom we compare ideas and express ourselves, and certainly the one person, our partner in life with whom we share the most intimate of bonds.  The whole person is affected by all of these relationships in different ways at different times, but the way we embrace the value of each of these in our actions to support others or be supported by them remarkably influences who we are.  In fact, perhaps a reasonable metric of assessing the quality of life may be the measure of our success in each of these areas.

Open Mind – I think one of the important aspects of relationships that Jesus reminds us about in todays guidance is that of being open.  Note the phrase “… whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” I read this as a clear reminder of the importance of our maintaining mental flexibility to be open to God’s grace through other people.  This is not an easy thing for people who have been “seasoned” by the suffering life invariably requires.

May each of us be reminded of the importance of these things – and incorporate them actively to enhance the quality of our relationships.

Quotes for Today

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

Mohandas K. Ghandi

Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction.

Antoine De Saint-Exupery

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.

Audrey Hepburn

Integration

Key Relationships  Character & Integrity

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