Proper 14 (August 8, 2010)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Gen. 15:1-6; Ps. 33:12-22; Heb. 11:1-3, 8-16; Lk. 12:32-40
This week we welcomed two returning International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP) participants and said goodbye to two young Jordanian women who will be IVEPers in Canada for the next 11 months.
The temperatures in Amman were above 104 degrees (40 C) much of the week and we took a short respite at the Dead Sea with our son Jeremy and his friend Lyndsay. We also traveled to Karak to visit friends and tour the ancient Karak Castle – a “Crusader castle” and the historical setting for the movie Kingdom of Heaven.
In the region this week, a cross-border clash between Israeli and Lebanese soldiers resulted in the deaths of five persons and highlighted increasing tensions in the region. On a more pleasant note, results of the post-high school Tawjihi exams were announced, Aug. 7, in Jordan. Families whose children did well celebrate with fireworks and horn honking.
The Common Lectionary readings this week are about placing our hope and trust in God and in God’s promises -- rather than in our current circumstances or in material things.
In the Old Testament reading, God promises the elderly and childless Abram that his offspring will be as numerous as the stars (Gen. 15:4). In spite of the fact that he and his wife were well past childbearing age, Abram believes God.
The psalmist warms that “a king is not saved by his great army” and “a warrior is not delivered by his great strength” (Ps. 33:16). Rather, God’s protection rests on those who fear God and hope in God’s steadfast love (v.18).
The Epistle reading states that faith “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1). The writer of Hebrews goes on to describe many biblical characters who demonstrated faith by acting on God’s promises. Amazingly, “All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them.” (v.13)
In the Gospel reading, Jesus assures his followers that God is pleased to give them the kingdom (Lk. 12:32-40). Therefore, they can live lightly, trusting God and storing up treasure in heaven rather than on earth.
It is much easier to place our trust in the things that we can see, feel and control – money, material possessions, weapons of war and our own schemes and plans. The journey of faith is about learning to depend on God’s steadfast love even when we don’t feel it, and to trust that God’s promises are true even when we do not yet see them fully realized.
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