Did you hear about the nun that recently won “The Voice Italy”? Sister Cristina, yes, she is a real nun, has just released a single, a remake of Madonna’s semi-scandalous song “Like a Virgin”. Sister Cristina has not altered any of the lyrics but when she sings it, and with the imagery used, it takes on a totally different meaning. Check it out.
This Sunday, in some mostly Lutheran churches, is Reformation Sunday. On that day many church remember the work of Martin Luther (all Lutheran denominations) and John Calvin (Presbyterian, Baptist, and other denominations). Less celebrated, but equally important, is the founding of the Anglican Church and the less heralded rise of the Anabaptist churches (Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren). Those are the four prongs of the Protestant movement of the sixteenth century (1501-1600).
Our readings for this Sunday are:
Deuteronomy 34:1-12 – This is the report of Moses’ death. Moses was not allowed to enter into Canaan because of a (slight?) misdeed recorded at Number 20:1-13 (compare to Exodus 17:1-7). He goes up the mountain as God commanded and God gives him a vision of all the land which will be inhabited by the Israelites. At verse 10 Moses is call the greatest prophet of Israel.
Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17 – This psalmist begins by praising God for God’s greatness through eternity. Then, in the skipped verses, the psalmist states that the people Israel are suffering due to God’s anger and wrath with the people’s sins. In the final verses, the psalmist pleads with God to turn back and bless the people, working through them to do God’s work.
Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18 – Moses is given more “laws” for the people. God wants the people to be holy because God is holy (verse 2). Then follows a long list of “don’ts” some of which carry the death penalty: honor father and mother; keep Sabbath; no idols; eat the meat of sacrifices in 2 days for on the 3 day it becomes an “abomination” (this word could also be translated as “taboo” and it has a ritual understanding); leave gleanings in the fields at harvest time; don’t steal; don’t swear falsely; don’t defraud neighbors; and don’t revile the deaf or cause the blind to stumble. In the last part of our reading we have injunctions against unjust judgments, slandering, or profiting at the neighbors expense. The prohibition against hating, taking vengeance, and bearing a grudge is about the neighbor within the tribe, clan, or family. Compare this with what Jesus says in our Matthew reading below and also with the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.
Psalm 1 – “Happy are those who delight in the laws of the Lord!” Pretty much says it all.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 – Paul reminds the people of the church in Thessalonica of his time with them, how he brought them the Gospel with no expectation of monetary gain or adulation. He gave them the Gospel and he gave them himself.
Matthew 22:34-46 – Since Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem the priests, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees try to trick him into giving unpopular answers to various questions. The first part of this reading is the last challenge to Jesus: what is the greatest commandments. The question calls for one greatest commandment but Jesus gives them two. (Quick Quiz: What are they?) Jesus then asks them a question about whose son the Messiah is. Jesus’ answer depends on a slightly skewed reading of Psalm 110:1.
Have a great week serving God in Christ by serving other in all you do?
Peace in Christ,