Weekly Reflection: July 3, 2011

Lectionary (Year A) Revised Common Lectionary: Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67, Psalm 45:10-17 or Psalm 72, Romans 7:15-25a, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

Theme: Third Sunday After Pentecost

Message:

The season of Pentecost provides us with the ongoing opportunity to invite Christian believers to renew their faith. This is a time for the church to refocus on evangelism, empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and deeper relationship with God. Today’s New Testament passages present three distinct messages that challenge Christians to renew faith in Christ.

In Matthew 11:16-19, Jesus speaks prophetically to “this generation,” who remains unchanged despite hearing both his and John The Baptist’s message. Jesus compares the people of Israel to pampered children who were never satisfied. They rejected John The Baptist because he lived the strict ascetic life of a Nazirite; he was too demanding; he was too tough. They rejected Jesus because he ate and drank with everyone. People accused him of being a drunkard and a glutton; he was too soft. Nothing seemed to satisfy that generation. This passage invites us to reflect on our lives. Do we make unreasonable demands of God, others, or ourselves?

In Matthew 11:25-30, Jesus publicly gave thanks to God that people, whom the so-called wise considered childlike in faith, would be able to hear and receive God’s message. Jesus invited people to exchange the burden of the “yoke of the law”—the unreasonable demands of the laws enforced by the Pharisees—for rest experienced by accepting the yoke of Christ. This passage invites people an godly alternative to living in oppressive situations.

In Romans 7, Paul deals with the purpose of God’s law and its effect on human nature. The awareness of the law helps us recognize what sin is and when we sin. This awareness creates an inward struggle; as righteousness compels us in one direction sin entices to go the opposite way.

In today’s passage, Paul gives us a gift—the transparent admission of his struggle to do what is right while fighting the temptation to do what is wrong. Paul’s struggle reflects the common challenge faced by us as we journey with Jesus. Are their opportunities within your local church to share such raw honesty without condemnation? Where can people turn for help? Thankfully, Paul provides guidance for us. He directs us to Divine help with our inevitable battle against sin when he says, “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:24-25 NRSV)

Three passages, three messages, three appeals to deepen our faith in Christ. Will we accept the invitation to be transformed? If we do, we will have a story to tell others about the goodness of Jesus Christ.

Quote(s)

“Nothing makes one so vain as being told one is a sinner.”—Oscar Wilde

“Sin is not hurtful because it is forbidden, but it is forbidden because it is hurtful.” –Benjamin Franklin

“The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that’s the essence of inhumanity.”—George Bernard Shaw

“Other men’s sins are before our eyes, our own are behind our backs.” Seneca (1st century AD philosopher)

“Pleasure is the bait of sin.” Plato

Music:

  • To God be the Glory
  • He Leadeth Me
  • If It Had Not Been For the Lord on My Side
  • Be Thou My Vision
  • In the Lord I’ll be Ever Thankful
  • Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet

Prayer of Confession:

(Based on Matthew 11:16-19)

Dear God,

Today, with these questions, we pause to reflect on our relationship with you:

With each new day, how long do you wait in silence for us speak to you?

When you desire our attention, how often do we act as if you need to audition for our devotion?

When we do talk, what really happens? Do we strain to hear you or do we plop down our demands believing we can compel you to grant us a wish?

When you send us in your name do we go or do we say “only if you do something for me”?

When we hear your commandments do we accept them or do we complain that they are too difficult?

What happens when you tell us to love everybody? Do we share your love or ignore your command so that we can justify hating our enemies?

Where do we stand with you today?

(Silent reflection)

We pray that we have not allowed selfishness to become a habit.

For the times we have focused on our ways more than yours, we ask you to forgive us.

Now we ask that you strengthen our resolve to turn confession into repentance.

(Silent reflection)

Words of Assurance

Hear the Good News. Jesus Christ is faithful and just and forgives us!

We take comfort in the assurance that Jesus is quick to restore us when we repent.

May we rise from this place ready to forgive and to be reconciled with anyone who has offended us.

Amen.

 

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