The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

The main thing [readings for Sunday, October 26]

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Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln famously said (or is famously said to have said) that if he could find a church whose credo was the golden rule, he’d join it.  He never found one.

Religious leaders confronted Jesus with a question of essence rather like that.  You’d think it would be the first thing Christians learn, and that for which they’re mostly known.

“Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”

Jesus said, “”Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ 38This is the most important, the first on any list. 39But there is a second to set alongside it: “Love others as well as you love yourself.’ 40These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

Lincoln might have been good with that.  It’s an astonishing thought, really—that everything in the Law and Prophets (most of the Hebrew Bible, or, most of what Christians call the Old Testament) was dependent upon loving God and others.  And maybe even, in the best sense, self.

What we call the gospels, then, must be the stories of Jesus living like loving God, others, and self-in-the-best-sense was the test on which everything rose or fell.

Radical.

Read on to see the rest of this week’s Bible readings.

Proper 25 (30)/October 26, 2008

Deuteronomy 34:1-12
Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17
or
Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18
Psalm 1
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Matthew 22:34-46

Matthew 22:34-46

The Most Important Command

34When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. 35One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: 36″Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”

37Jesus said, “”Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ 38This is the most important, the first on any list. 39But there is a second to set alongside it: “Love others as well as you love yourself.’ 40These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

David’s Son and Master

41As the Pharisees were regrouping, Jesus caught them off balance with his own test question: 42″What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said, “David’s son.”

43Jesus replied, “Well, if the Christ is David’s son, how do you explain that David, under inspiration, named Christ his “Master’?

44God said to my Master,

“Sit here at my right hand

until I make your enemies your footstool.”

45″Now if David calls him “Master,’ how can he at the same time be his son?”

46That stumped them, literalists that they were. Unwilling to risk losing face again in one of these public verbal exchanges, they quit asking questions for good.

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

1So, friends, it’s obvious that our visit to you was no waste of time. 2We had just been given rough treatment in Philippi, as you know, but that didn’t slow us down. We were sure of ourselves in God, and went right ahead and said our piece, presenting God’s Message to you, defiant of the opposition.

No Hidden Agendas

3God tested us thoroughly to make sure we were qualified to be trusted with this Message. 4Be assured that when we speak to you we’re not after crowd approval–only God approval. Since we’ve been put through that battery of tests, you’re guaranteed that both we and the Message are free of error, mixed motives, or hidden agendas. 5We never used words to butter you up. No one knows that better than you. And God knows we never used words as a smoke screen to take advantage of you.

6Even though we had some standing as Christ’s apostles, we never threw our weight around or tried to come across as important, with you or anyone else. 7We weren’t aloof with you. We took you just as you were. We were never patronizing, never condescending, but we cared for you the way a mother cares for her children. 8We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did.

Leviticus 19

Various Laws

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy. […]

15 ” ‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

16 ” ‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.

” ‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the LORD.

17 ” ‘Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.

18 ” ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Psalm 1

1Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers;

2but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.

3They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.

4The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

6for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989
by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.


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