Leap Day's Lesson of Humbleness
Throughout the year, the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ produces the Daily Lectionary for use by churches. These are the suggested readings for Saturday, February 29th: Psalm 51; Isaiah 58:1-12; and Matthew 18:1-7. I would encourage you to read these short selections as part of your Lenten practice.
Today’s a bonus day. A day observed every four years to keep our calendars in line. Without it, every four years the calendar would creep an unaccounted day forward. Let that pass 31 times and January begins in February. Let it continue and we have December in the middle of summer. The calendar is a human invention. It doesn’t control time; it only measures it.
There’s an important lesson of humility in this.
One of today’s readings is Psalm 51. Authorship is credited to King David after he had raped Bathsheba. We don’t need to mince words about this story. The king’s palace is situated on the highest peak in Jerusalem. David looks down on the city below him. A woman is bathing in her own home. According to custom, this takes place on the privacy of her roof.
David sees her and is aroused. He has wives and even concubines aplenty. Instead, he sends soldiers to bring her to his palace. Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, is off fighting one of the king’s wars. David rapes Bathsheba and sends her home. The story only degenerates further as it goes along and rape leads to murder.
God takes notice and rebukes the king through the intervention of the prophet Nathan. The king may have thought himself above the laws of morality and decency, but God humbled mighty David. Psalm 51 is credited as David’s words of contrition and repentance.
Here is another lesson of humility. Power and stature may convince people that they are beyond accountability, but we need to remain humble and to realize that before God no one can brag, no one can claim priority over anyone else. A sure, historical phrase of Jesus was “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.”
This sentiment is repeated in the Matthean passage shared today when Jesus says, “‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’”
As Christians we find honour in humility, acknowledgement in service. Lent began with the humble act of public penitence with ashes placed upon our foreheads. We all fall far short of the ineffable sacrifice of Christ crucified. In the cross’ shadow no one can boast. The humbleness of this season counters the egoism of the world. It helps us to look beyond ourselves and to see the equal worth of others.
I invite you to come worship as part of our community tomorrow, to become a part of the body of Christ where we must all function together in humbleness for the good of the whole.
Faith, love and chitchat.
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