9.01.2011

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 18), Year A

Exodus 12:1-14 and Psalm 149
Romans 13:8-14
Matthew 18:15-20


"I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me
to see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
I thought that you were gone, but now I know you're with me.
You are the voice that whispers all I need to hear."
(from CROSSINGS by Y.M. Barnwell (c)1992) Recorded by Sweet Honey in the Rock

What are the memories and rituals and rules and laws that guide your
daily actions? We're not talking about the progression through a
four-way stop here - we're talking about root values (and maybe that
means we are talking about a four-way stop afterall). What governs the
way that you understand your relationship with family, with
co-workers, with neighbors nearby and across the globe?

Our scriptures for this week include stories and instruction intended
to guide us in a right way. But they caused us to wonder about
different types of instruction and how it shapes us not just our
behavior, but who we are in the deepest parts of our soul from
generation to generation.

The book of Exodus is the story of the Israelites flight from Egypt
and their time in the wilderness under Moses' leadership. (We're
really fond of this story. We have a dog named Moses and he's
currently leading us through wilderness. He's not handy with the water
from a rock trick yet, however.) Anyway... We're reading a dramatic
moment here. The plagues to this point have had little affect on
Pharoah, and God has decided that something drastic must be done. He's
giving instructions for how the Israelites should sacrifice and
prepare their homes so that they are "passed over" by the final plague
- the death of the firstborns. By marking their doorposts with blood,
they can be assured that the Lord will pass over their homes and leave
their firstborns unharmed. In order to remember all that the Lord has
done, faithful Jews today observe many of the ritual suggested in this
passage in their Passover seder. They remember by doing and in doing
they are shaped. And their shape should affect the way they make daily
choices about their life.

The psalms is praising the Lord's action and remembering how the
people are saved by such actions. The psalms were written as acts of
worship - praise, petition, lament - so that the community could
remember and attribute to God the appropriate response at similar
times.

In the passage from Matthew's gospel, Jesus has come down from the mountain after
the transfiguration and has been teaching lessons that clarify or cast
question on the Law and how it is enacted and what it really means.
In the verses read this week, Jesus is teaching the proper ways to
handle conflict among the disciples. He recognizes this is bound to
happen. We don't know about your life, but there are about 15
practical applications of this teaching in our life DAILY. Imagine
reviewing this prior to staff meetings or visiting it at a family
dinner once a week. These are practical guidelines - especially for
groups working together in love. If we truly are living out the
command to love one another, doesn't this set of guidelines help us
out?

And finally, in Paul's letter to the church at Rome, Paul has been
teaching about authority and has turned to Love - not the love of self
but a guiding love of "other," of the neighbor, that he understands
should permeate our lives. He's providing guidance - the commandments
he references all come down specifically to loving with selfless care
and concern another person.

We are where we are today because of the places from which we have come and the rituals and practices that have shaped us.

God, help us as we attempt to
focus our energies
on loving
and respecting
each other
while we
remember
the ways
we have been
loved
and
respected.
Amen.

© matt & laura norvell 2011 www.settingourstones.org we want to share
this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that
you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be
with you.

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