Weekly Introduction to Readings of the Revised Common Lecitonary (Proper 22B; Ordinary 27B)

Hebrew Bible Reading–>Job 1:1, 2:1-10

Our Hebrew Bible reading begins a four week look at the book of Job. The story of Job is the story of a righteous, wealthy, and happy man who loses everything (his wealth, his family, and his health) as the result of a series of tests he subjected to by the “accuser” (translated “Satan” in the NRSV).  The tests are to see if Job will still praise God when all the “good” things in life are taken away. Our reading covers the last of Job’s losses (the loss of his health). Job is inflicted by the accuser with painful boils from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head.  Job’s own wife comes to Job in his misery and says, ‘Do you still persist in your integrity?’  Job’s answer is among the most faithful responses to adversity found in scripture, “Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?”

Psalm 8

Psalm 8 begins by speaking about the majesty of God in the earth and the heavens.  The psalmist is so taken with this majesty that he/she cannot imagine a God who is mindful of humans in light of the grandeur of creation.  “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you are for them?”  The psalmist goes on to marvel at the fact that humanity has been given glory and honor as the crown of creation, and thus humanity is given dominion over the works of God’s hands.

Epistle Reading–>Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12

The book of Hebrews is an apologetic piece of literature with a goal to encourage Christians facing hardship by showing that Jesus is the great high priest who fulfills perfectly the Jewish system of sacrifice, and is above all in majesty and superiority.  Our text explores Jesus’ superiority to the angels (even though for a little while he was made “lower than the angels”–a reference to Psalm 8 mentioned previously).

Gospel Reading–>Mark 10:2-16

Our gospel reading this week contains Jesus’ controversial words on the subject of divorce.  There is much that could be said about this text that space and time do not allow.  Suffice it to say Jesus views marriage as God ordained–it is a God made union (“what God has joined together , let no one separate”)  Marriage in many ways is to be an example of the ideal community.  Two become one in marriage, in much the same way that three become one in the divine economy.  When humans achieve this goal by the grace of God it is a reflection of the divine reality.  When we fail to achieve this goal in spite of God’s grace it is something less than divine.  Jesus’ words are hard to hear, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”  Jesus understands divorce as the break of covenant–which is a deeply spiritual matter.  However, it is important to remember that all of us come to God as covenant breakers (even those of us with the assumed “picture perfect marriages”), and God redeems us.  There is a balm in Gilead!  God heals.

It is interesting to note that Jesus’ words of concern for children immediately follow this text.  Before the arena of social science gave us much to consider in the way that children of divorce struggle at times we have the Son of God who invites the little children to him.

Celebration of Worship

As you prepare your thoughts, hymns, and prayers for Sunday consider a God who considers you!  The ancients could not believe the personal nature of God in light of God’s vast creation.  Never before have we been able to know just how VAST that creation is!  Yet still we are presented with a God who knows us and considers us.  God considered his servant Job.  And Jesus invited little children into his lap.  In all our sufferings, whether physical, or relational (such as divorce),God is present and ready to heal.

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