11.04.2011

Twenty-first Sunday After Pentecost, Year A

Joshua 24: 1 - 3a, 14 - 25
Psalm 78: 1 - 7
1 Thessalonians 4: 13 - 18
Matthew 25: 1 - 13

Think back on your commitments - on the big promises you've made in your life. What motivated you to make those commitments? Ambition? Fear? A promise of something? Reward?

Here on the brink of the KC commitment retreat, we can't help but read this week's text through the lens of commitment. How do our motivations affect our commitments? What do we expect to happen to our commitments? Do our past commitments affect those we make going forward? In the KC community, we reconsider our commitments annually. Are their other places we should/shouldn't do that in our lives?

Hmm.

Joshua addresses the gathered Israelites in a farewell address. They are in the Land, and Joshua is challenging them to renew their covenant to One God, Yahweh. Joshua knows the hearts of these people well, they've been through a lot together. And so he's not looking for an easy promise. He challenges them, reminding them of their faithlessness. He warns them that God is a jealous God who will not tolerate their infidelities. But they insist - they will serve only God. We sort of wonder if Joshua walked away shaking his head, knowing that the commitments they made were beyond their human capacity.

The psalmist reflects on promises the Israelites have made to look to the past and tell future generations about the covenants made and returned to time and again between God and God's chosen people.

The parable of the 10 bridegrooms can be a little daunting. Jesus is teaching about end times and encouraging the gathered to wait with readiness. A coming of end times was a prevalent belief in Jesus' time. He was foretelling a thing foretold by prophets for hundreds of years. For this week, we're tuned into his warning to be ready. Ready for what? And how do we commit to being ready? Do we assure that we're not left trimming our wick without a bridegroom by making some special commitment? It kind of feels like we've heard it interpreted that way - turn or burn sort of stuff, you know.

In Paul's letter to the church at Thessalonica, he's addressing the community's grief over those who have died before Jesus' return. Like many of Paul's letters, he's encouraging the community to care for one another in uncertain times. He's also addressing God's commitment to believers, assuring them that they need not fear being separated from their earlier departed loved ones - all of them will be gathered up into the clouds at the appointed hour. Paul interprets that as a commitment that Jesus made in some way. How does the commitment of Jesus differ from our commitments to the world?

God, save us from making
Commitments we don't intend to keep.
Save us from making
Commitments out of fear.
Save us from making
Commitments out of personal ambition.
Help us to
(as best we can)
be pure with our intentions
be pure with our commitments.
Help us as we attempt to
Commit whatever portion of our lives
we are able to Commit
to You.
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.

No comments: