Proper 27 Year B (11/11/12)

10 Nov

Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17 or Track 2 1 Kings 17:8-16 & Psalm 146:4-9

Hebrews 9:24-28

Mark 12:38-44

 

Psalm 127

Unless the Lord builds the house,

those who build it labour in vain.               

 

Opening Questions

  • When you believe strongly in someone or some thing, does it enhance your capacity to change?
  • Assuming you are free to choose whom you feel strongly about, what should affect your choices?
  • Is the faith you have for a human being the same faith as you have for God?  If different, how?

Appointed Passages

Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17

1Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, ‘My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you. 2Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing-floor. 3Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing-floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. 4When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.’ 5She said to her, ‘All that you tell me I will do.’

13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the Lord made her conceive, and she bore a son. 14Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.’ 16Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. 17The women of the neighbourhood gave him a name, saying, ‘A son has been born to Naomi.’ They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.

{Montreal Commentary: “….Obed becomes grandfather of David (4:17), and here is the point of the story: David had foreign blood [from his lineage], so marrying foreigners is acceptable. (In Matthew 1:5 and Luke 3:31-32, Obed is listed as an ancestor of Jesus.)  Therefor people of all nations have a place in God’s family.}

  • What sort of security is created by forging relationships that translate into family?
  • What elements of “legacy” are important to develop through family relationships?

Hebrews 9: 24-28

24For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; 26for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgement, 28so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

  • In what ways do you make sacrifices of yourself for your family?
  • Does your relationship with Jesus resemble that of a family member?   Should it?
  • How are faith and the strength of a relationship related?

Mark 12: 38-44

38 As he taught, he said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, 39and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets! 40They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.’

41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’

{Montreal Commentary:  Certain scribes, as legal trustees of a widow’s estate, charged exorbitantly for their services. The fee was usually a part of the estate, but some took the “widows’ houses” (v. 40). Some kept up an appearance of piety. They will be judged harshly in the greatest court of all on Judgement Day.  Jesus’ disciples are not to be like them.}

  • Is one measure of character the amount of our gifts of time and wealth to others?
  • Are our motivations for giving them more important than the amount?  If so, how do you measure the “rightness” of motivations?
  • How are motivations related to faith?

Comment

How strong is your faith?  I suspect your first thought is “relative to what?”  The interesting question to me is to grapple a bit with the statement made in the opening questions above; specifically, “When you believe strongly in someone or some thing, you receive the capacity to change.”  It seems to me that our capacity for personal change (we hope for the better), is enhanced by strong convictions.

It would also seem to me that strong convictions in many cases are the response to actions of others.  Perhaps being the recipient of a gift (say an act of love that we didn’t feel we deserved).

Prudence suggests that we be appropriately judicious in deciding who is worthy of our faith.  Human beings are subject to human frailty – and we can be taken in by trusting someone whose motivations are for self interest at our expense.  But then again, life is a balancing act – sometimes we have to give of ourselves in the interest of changing those who have not experienced true love.

I’m reminded of the story in Les Miserables when the thief steals the silver from the church.  When he is caught and brought back to the church by the police, the priest, knowing the truth, simply says, “I gave them to him as a gift”.  The thief’s life was irrevocably changed.  He became committed to a life that reflected the gift he had received from the priest by actively doing things for others.

My prayer for today is that we understand the value of our ability to give the capacity of change to those who are ready to receive it – and are motivated by the example of our Lord Jesus and his love of humanity to take action.


Quotes for Today:

When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow.

Anais Nin

 

Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active.

Edith Hamilton

 

Without faith, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible.

Mary McLeod Bethune

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