OCTOBER 25, 2020 SUNDAY
Dear Beloved in Christ,
Once again, from Proper 28’s Collect — “hear (read each aloud) them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them.” Reflections and readings for this Sunday, 21st after Pentecost.
From the Collect — what if God answered this prayer personally for you? How does your faith need to be increased, or hope, or charity (love)? This is a very pertinent prayer for these days. And keep this prayer in mind as you read the Gospel for Sunday – and think about Jesus’ answer to the lawyer – all the law and prophets hang on it.
From Deuteronomy — even in death, Moses is a huge presence throughout Israel’s history. Israel mourns for thirty days, and then the next chapter, with Joshua, begins. By Moses laying hands on Joshua, the spirit of wisdom is passed on, but Moses is never forgotten. The last paragraph of the reading captures this. I have two thoughts – the Transfiguration where Moses is present, and the tradition of setting aside for special service on behalf of a community — “ordinations.” We are all ordained. The first and primary ordination is baptism into Christ and the community. The second — deacon, priest, bishop – is in service of God in the community of faith. The primary ministers are the laity.
The Psalm reflects on the mortality of all humankind. We tend to forget we are mortal and live as if we have forever. We do, but not in the way we think. We are like a dream – passing along through this world. The Psalmist implores the Lord to meet our need, and give divine assurance that results in great joy. Through times of suffering, struggle and doubt, the Psalmist reminds us the Lord never abandons us, even when he seems to “tarry.” When you look back, how quickly it goes. We return to dust — and in Christ we are robed anew. The legacy Moses implanted in Israel, lives on within and among us.
In the second chapter of First Thessalonians Paul continues to recall the relationship he shares with this church. It was not an abstract, intellectual, philosophical truth about God. It is the life of God in Christ expressed in such acts of love, as a mother cares for a child. Love of neighbor comes out of love for God. Again, this teaching prepares us for the Gospel.
In Matthew we continue stories of the controversies between Jesus and factions of religious leaders. He’s just weathered a test from Sadducees. Today, a lawyer, who interprets the Law of Moses, and a member of the Pharisee party, is sent to test Jesus. Jesus pulls the plug on them. He asks a question they can’t answer, one that foreshadows who he is, the Messiah. He is the Lord who would rule over David – a Messiah, God’s Son, they aren’t prepared to receive.
We shall look forward to worship together from our homes Sunday morning. May God’s grace and blessing continue to keep us, and strengthen us for the living of these days – Fr. Steve
21st Sunday after Pentecost – Year A
October 25, 2020
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.
Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17
Domine, refugium1 Lord, you have been our refuge * from one generation to another. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or the land and the earth were born, * from age to age you are God. 3 You turn us back to the dust and say, * “Go back, O child of earth.” 4 For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past * and like a watch in the night. 5 You sweep us away like a dream; * we fade away suddenly like the grass. 6 In the morning it is green and flourishes; * in the evening it is dried up and withered. 13 Return, O Lord; how long will you tarry? * be gracious to your servants. 14 Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning; * so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life. 15 Make us glad by the measure of the days that you afflicted us * and the years in which we suffered adversity. 16 Show your servants your works * and your splendor to their children. 17 May the graciousness of the Lord our God be upon us; * prosper the work of our hands; prosper our handiwork.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.