From The Church Through The House: a Reflection on Psalm 147:1-11, 20, Isaiah 40:21-31, 1 Corinthian
The text in Isaiah reminds us that there is a distinction between the God who sits above the circle of the earth and those who inhabit the earth. However, there is a dynamic relationship between the two. The interaction in that relationship changes things for others. God’s power and our powerlessness, when embraced, makes for an exciting interplay in the world in which we live and on the lives of those who are looking for a better way to live.
As followers of Jesus, we have a mission. Our lives are winsome and those whom we encounter will begin to ask why our lives are different and how that difference came about. We are to take the encounter with God into the real world. We gather for worship to hear the story of redemptive history. And then we go away from this campus and tell the story of redemptive history, in word and deed, to those who are on the journey of life with us in whatever sphere of influence we enter.
The healing of Peter’s mother-in-law is the briefest healing narrative in the gospels. In antiquity, fevers were perceived as the illness itself, not a symptom. The healing was immediate and complete. Peter’s mother-in-law served Jesus and the disciples a meal after the synagogue service. She was overtaken by overwhelming enthusiasm in and through her encounter with Jesus.
It is all about a life changing relationship. Life changing relationships engender overwhelming enthusiasm.
With Paul, we must affirm that there is no basis for boasting when individuals and faith communities proclaim the gospel in word and deed. Instead, we must remember that sharing the good news is our duty. Fulfilling the obligations of our faith brings blessing…violating them brings curse. The text in 1 Corinthians is succinct in this regard. We meet God in prayer, worship, study, solitude, and service. We meet God in the everyday stuff of life. We meet God in others.
The text in Psalms begs three questions: What is the equivalent of God “Building up Jerusalem” today? Well, the equivalent is seeking the welfare and prosperity of our cities. We are to seek the best for the citizens in our communities, schools, and workplaces. Who are the outcasts that God is embracing? Through each one of us, God embraces the brokenhearted, disenchanted, suffering, hurting, lost, and bewildered. How is the faith community to function as the holy city (Jerusalem) that shines as a beacon to the larger world? We are to show up, worship God, be quipped for ministry, pray for the welfare and prosperity of our communities and others, and then gratefully go.
Scripture readings are taken from Year B in the Revised Common Lectionary which follows the liturgical calendar and begins on the First Sunday of Advent.
The questions are taken and adapted from Elizabeth C. Knowlton in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, editors, Feasting on the Word Year B, Volume 1 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 323.