Reflections: One of the things I like about the bible is that it deals with everyday situations and speaks truth into them. In the psalm, the psalmist is crying out to God for deliverance from Israel’s enemies. What is interesting about these enemies is that at one time they were all linked to Israel’s lineage at some time in history. The Edomites came from Esau, the brother of Jacob, who were the twin sons of Issac. The Moabites, were linked to Lot, Noah’s nephew, and the Hagrites to Ishmael (from Hagar, the hand maiden of Issac who also bore Ishmael). So we see the humanness in the patriarchs, like we see the humanness in the disciples. In spite of these broken family relationships, God continues to work his story of redemption through frail characters.
Then, in Deuteronomy, God provides for cities of refuge for he knows the human nature to lash out when we are wronged. If somebody accidentally kills someone, there are 3 cities set up for them to hang out so that the wronged party will not take revenge on them. This is not for guilty parties, who are to be tried by 2 or 3 witnesses to insure justice, but for innocent ones. We see God provides for a system of law and governance to punish evil doers, quite severely in fact, to be an example to the community of those who would wish to do likewise. Seems harsh, but one wonders if in our society, where criminals often get off with little or no penalty, if God’s way of dealing with gross evil would be a better reminder to those who wish to do such things.
In our Gospel lesson in Luke, we see 3 seemingly unrelated three short teachings that Jesus gave to his disciples. First, he reminds the disciples that those who have the light need to shine so the world will know where to find the true light, Jesus! Secondly, Jesus re-defines family as not only one’s family of origin, but all those who are sons and daughters of God. As we are born again into a living relationship with God through Jesus, we become part of God’s holy family, and all who are believers are our brothers and sisters. Finally, Jesus tells the story of the day that a storm was raging when he was out with the disciples on the sea. When the disciples awoke him in a panic, he rebuked the wind and waves, and said to them, “where is your faith?” This was another sign for them that they were truly with the Son of God.
I don’t know about you, but part of my nature is to worry about things that seem out of my control. When I am met with the winds and waves of life, often I am tempted to go to that place of “I’m going to drown, help me!” What I am trying to do more and more is to take these fears to God and realize there is nothing happening to me that God and I can’t handle if I rely on Him and speak to my fears and rebuke them in Jesus’ name.
What are you anxious about today? Remember you are a child of God and part of God’s holy family. God cares about you and wants you to take your fears to Him in Jesus’ name. As you do the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ!
A song. A psalm of Asaph.
1 O God, do not remain silent;
do not turn a deaf ear,
do not stand aloof, O God.
2 See how your enemies growl,
how your foes rear their heads.
3 With cunning they conspire against your people;
they plot against those you cherish.
4 “Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”
5 With one mind they plot together;
they form an alliance against you—
6 the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
of Moab and the Hagrites,
7 Byblos, Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia, with the people of Tyre.
8 Even Assyria has joined them
to reinforce Lot’s descendants.
Cities of Refuge
19 When the Lord your God has destroyed the nations whose land he is giving you, and when you have driven them out and settled in their towns and houses, 2 then set aside for yourselves three cities in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess. 3 Determine the distances involved and divide into three parts the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, so that a person who kills someone may flee for refuge to one of these cities. 4 This is the rule concerning anyone who kills a person and flees there for safety—anyone who kills a neighbor unintentionally, without malice aforethought. 5 For instance, a man may go into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and as he swings his ax to fell a tree, the head may fly off and hit his neighbor and kill him. That man may flee to one of these cities and save his life. 6 Otherwise, the avenger of blood might pursue him in a rage, overtake him if the distance is too great, and kill him even though he is not deserving of death, since he did it to his neighbor without malice aforethought. 7 This is why I command you to set aside for yourselves three cities. 8 If the Lord your God enlarges your territory, as he promised on oath to your ancestors, and gives you the whole land he promised them, 9 because you carefully follow all these laws I command you today—to love the Lord your God and to walk always in obedience to him —then you are to set aside three more cities. 10 Do this so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land, which the Lord your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed. 11 But if out of hate someone lies in wait, assaults and kills a neighbor, and then flees to one of these cities, 12 the killer shall be sent for by the town elders, be brought back from the city, and be handed over to the avenger of blood to die. 13 Show no pity. You must purge from Israel the guilt of shedding innocent blood, so that it may go well with you. 14 Do not move your neighbor’s boundary stone set up by your predecessors in the inheritance you receive in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess.
15 One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.16 If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime, 17 the two people involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. 18 The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite, 19 then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. You must purge the evil from among you. 20 The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. 21 Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
A Lamp on a Stand
16 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. 17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. 18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”
Jesus’ Mother and Brothers
19 Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” 21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
Jesus Calms the Storm
22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. 24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”
I will recount the gracious deeds of the Lord, the praiseworthy acts of the Lord, because of all that the Lord has done for us. Isaiah 63:7
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3
We are blessed by acts and deeds you have done for us. Our salvation through Jesus is such a wonderful event. We will never be able to thank you for your grace and peace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.