Wednesday, April 10th
Throughout the year, the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ produces the Daily Lectionary for use by churches. These are the suggested readings for April 10th: Psalm 20; Habakkuk 3:2-15; and Luke 18:31-34. I would encourage you to read these short selections as part of your Lenten practice.
Yesterday’s Daily Devotional of the UCC was written by Rev. Tony Robinson. His meditation was based on the same Gospel passage we read today. He says in part, “I'm not sure the disciples were dumb, or at least that I am any smarter than they were. There are lots of times when I've heard only what I wanted to hear, not what was being said.” And I have to agree with him.
Jesus is blunt and the disciples are not stupid. They simply cannot process what Jesus reveals. They have already made up their minds who He is and what He must do. They are drawing on a thousand years of tradition that prepared them for a powerful, conquering Messiah. How do you reconcile that with “he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him …”? Not to mention, what in the world would “rise again” mean?
Our expectations are powerful and they can even silence the voice of God. Last evening was our final Lenten Discussion. Rev. Mic Comstock talked with us about the early Congregational tradition that each local church manifested the roles of Christ as king, priest and prophet.
Then he focused on what it may mean for a congregation to be the prophet. This took us an hour and from the feel of our questions it could have gone on much longer. He did, however, convey the traditional warning that personal opinion can masquerade as prophetic revelation.
The Congregational tradition reaches back to the earliest example of the church by insisting that it is the agreed upon pronouncement of the entire congregation that expresses the prophetic role. The dialogue and consensus of the community works to amplify the voice of God so that it may be heard above individual expectations.
Currently, we are becoming excessively individualized. The anonymity of the web has created platforms that elevate any and all thoughts that may cross our minds or well up from the bile in our guts. Maybe we need to return to the example of the filter of the church where discussion and argument are welcomed, but as respectful dialogues.
Rev. Comstock mentioned that along with Sunday morning and evening and Wednesday evening worship, the church community would gather on Thursdays to discuss how to live the Christian life in their then current circumstance. They would debate, for example, the Christian merits of remaining loyal to the king or rising up in rebellion for noble principles. Maybe the church can be the place where again differences of opinion may be shared and compromise found. And maybe this in itself is prophetic.
Lent is the unmistakable reminder that God does not have to follow our expectations. So may we listen for God’s voice even when it sounds so different than our own. And may this humbleness also help us to listen to each other.
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