Bible Readings for Tuesday March 1th, 2011 – The 8th Week of Epiphany
*Click on each bible passage to expand the text.1. Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great. You are clothed with honor and majesty,
2. wrapped in light as with a garment. You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
3. you set the beams of your chambers on the waters, you make the clouds your chariot, you ride on the wings of the wind,
4. you make the winds your messengers, fire and flame your ministers.
5. You set the earth on its foundations, so that it shall never be shaken.
6. You cover it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.
7. At your rebuke they flee; at the sound of your thunder they take to flight.
8. They rose up to the mountains, ran down to the valleys to the place that you appointed for them.
9. You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.
10. You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills,
11. giving drink to every wild animal; the wild asses quench their thirst.
12. By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches.
13. From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
14. You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth,
15. and wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart.
16. The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17. In them the birds build their nests; the stork has its home in the fir trees.
18. The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the coneys.
19. You have made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.
20. You make darkness, and it is night, when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.
21. The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God.
22. When the sun rises, they withdraw and lie down in their dens.
23. People go out to their work and to their labor until the evening.
24. O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
25. Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great.
26. There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.
27. These all look to you to give them their food in due season;
28. when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29. When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
30. When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.
31. May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works–
32. who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke.
33. I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.
35. Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD!1. Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”
2. The word of the LORD came to him, saying,
3. “Go from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the Wadi Cherith, which is east of the Jordan.
4. You shall drink from the wadi, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”
5. So he went and did according to the word of the LORD; he went and lived by the Wadi Cherith, which is east of the Jordan.
6. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the wadi.
7. But after a while the wadi dried up, because there was no rain in the land.
8. Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying,
9. “Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.”
10. So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.”
11. As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”
12. But she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
13. Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son.
14. For thus says the LORD the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the LORD sends rain on the earth.”
15. She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days.
16. The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah.6. I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, “Nothing beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against another.
7. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?
8. Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Quite apart from us you have become kings! Indeed, I wish that you had become kings, so that we might be kings with you!
9. For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to mortals.
10. We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute.
11. To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless,
12. and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure;
13. when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day.
14. I am not writing this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.
15. For though you might have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.
16. I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me.
17. For this reason I sent you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ Jesus, as I teach them everywhere in every church.
18. But some of you, thinking that I am not coming to you, have become arrogant.
19. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power.
20. For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power.
21. What would you prefer? Am I to come to you with a stick, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?
- When you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. – Psalm 104:28
- Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son.
For thus says the LORD the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the LORD sends rain on the earth.” – 1 Kings 17:13-14
- For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift? – 1 Corinthians 4:7
In today’s reading, the prophet Elijah – who is starving himself – instructs a starving woman to care for his needs first before her own. The reward is unending food for the duration of the drought and famine upon the land.
If you’re like me, my gut-reaction is, “What a douchey thing to do, Elijah!? I don’t care if you’re a prophet, why don’t YOU care for the woman first and be blessed yourself??”
However, since we are good thinking Christians, we must examine the Word through reason, experience, grace, metaphor and the filter of Christ.
You see we are not only to see ourselves represented by the woman in this story. If fact, few of us would act as the woman chose to, so perhaps it is not the woman at all who is to represent us in this metaphor. Perhaps it is Elijah? The “wise one” who has “all the answers”, and yet cannot provide for himself. If not for the steadfast faith and sacrifice of the woman, his pleas for sustenance would have fallen on deaf ears and a hardened heart. But since the woman represents the exemplary human, she listens with compassion and selflessness and acts according to the will of God and is miraculously rewarded.
If you’re like me you’re thinking, “That’s all well and good, however, in REAL LIFE I would never endanger my own interests for the interests of another. I have no guarantees that there will be any divine rescue on the other side of my actions. How am I to act compassionately towards others if I starve to death? Only a fool would have such faith…”
And that’s the kicker, folks. What we proclaim in public is not what we hide in our hearts. We are a faithless people and are un-trusting of God. We are all congregants of the “Church of Later“: we proclaim all things good and compassionate and intend to live them out… later… after… just not right now…
If Jesus had thought as we do, he would have never died on the cross. He would have simply recanted and the world would be a much different place.
When pushed, we then predictably protest, “But this is basically suicide, to be willing to lay down your life for others, without thought of consequence to yourself or your family!”
13. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
And that’s where the “crazy” part of being truly Christian comes into play. We are all called to be as Christ. To live as endless copies of his life, passion and sacrifice. An ever-increasing multitude of compassionate possible-martyrs, willing to die for The Other, to give the very last of what they are for the sake of The Other.
When one man lived this way over 2000 years ago it changed the world. When two men lived this way half a century ago it changed the face of India and the US.
Missiles and guns and armies can only accomplish so much, but one man, one woman, or even a child who lives this way changes the world forever.
We as Christians are called to do this. This is not hyperbole. This is the reality of faith. This is the reality of being human!
How about it? Feel like changing the world? Yes, YOU… how about it?
Me? I totally will, after… ummm… I will, I totally will… later.