Week of Proper 14: Tuesday, Year 1   21 comments

Above:  Moses Window at Washington National Cathedral

Image Source = Captain Phoebus

“Be Strong and Be Bold”

AUGUST 15, 2017

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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Deuteronomy 31:1-8 (Richard Elliott Friedman, 2001):

And Moses went and spoke these things to all Israel.  And he said to them,

I’m a hundred twenty years old today.  I’m not able to go out and come in anymore.  And YHWH said to me, ‘You shall not cross this Jordan.’  YHWH, your God:  He is crossing in front of you.  He’ll destroy these nations in front of you, and you’ll dispossess them.  Joshua:  he is crossing in front of you, as YHWH has spoken.  And YHWH will do them as he did to Sihon and to Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, that He destroyed them.  And YWHH will put them in front of you, and you shall do to them according to all of the commandment that I’ve commanded you.  Be strong and be bold.  Don’t be afraid and don’t be scared in front of them, because YHWH, your God:  He is the one going with you.  He won’t let you down and won’t leave you.

And Moses called Joshua and said to him before the eyes of all Israel,

Be strong and be bold, because you will come with this people to the land that YHWH swore to their fathers to give to them, and you will get it for them as a legacy.  And YHWH: He is the one who is going in front of you.  He will be with you.  You shall not fear, and you shall not be dismayed.

Psalm 111 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Hallelujah!

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,

in the assembly of the upright, in the congregation.

2 Great are the deeds of the LORD!

they are studied by all who delight in them.

3 His work is full of majesty and splendor,

and his righteousness endures for ever.

4 He makes his marvelous works to be remembered;

the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.

5 He gives food to those who fear him;

he is ever mindful of his covenant.

6 He has shown his people the power of his works

in giving them the lands of the nations.

7 The works of his hands are faithfulness and justice;

all his commandments are sure.

8 They stand fast for ever and ever,

because they are done in truth and equity.

9 He sent redemption to his people;

he commanded his covenant for ever;

holy and awesome is his Name.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;

those who act accordingly have a good understanding;

his praise endures for ever.

Matthew 18:1-6, 10-14 (J. B. Phillips, 1972):

It was at this time that the disciples came to Jesus with the question,

Who is really greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?

Jesus called a little child to his side and set him on his feet in the middle of them all.

Believe me,

he said,

unless you change your whole outlook and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.  It is the man who can be as humble as this little child who is greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.

Anyone who welcomes one child like this for my sake is welcoming me.  But if anyone leads astray one of these little children who believe in me he would be better off thrown into the depths of the sea with a mill-stone round his neck!…

Be careful that you never despise a single one of these little ones–for I tell you that they have angels who see my Father’s face continually in Heaven.

What do you think?  If a man has a hundred sheep and one wanders away from the rest, won’t he leave the ninety-nine on the hill-side and set out to look for the one who has wandered away?  Yes, and if he should chance to find it I assure you he is more delighted over that one than he is over the ninety-nine who never wandered away.  You can understand then that it is never the will of your Father in Heaven that a single one of these little ones should be lost.

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The Collect:

Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The reading from Deuteronomy is at the tail end of the Torah.  The Israelites are preparing to enter the promised land of Canaan.  Moses knows that he will not be with them, so he delivers his farewell address and passes the torch of leadership to Joshua, son of Nun.

Among the pieces of advice Moses gives to the people as a whole and to Joshua individually are to trust in God, obey the commandments, and to “be strong and be bold.”  All of these are consistent with each other.  Do not fear, Moses says, for God will go with the people.  So boldness is a sign of trust, that is, faith, and fear indicates the opposite.

It is easy to trust God when our lives go well and circumstances are favorable to us.  But the real test is whether we trust God the rest of the time.  I admit freely that I have failed by this standard many times, some of them in very recent memory.  I have been fearful, not bold.  I have worried, an activity which does not lead to practical solutions, when I should have been duly concerned then sought said solutions.  I am no spiritual giant, just a person trying to do his best, with mixed results.

Moses would not be with the Israelites in Canaan, but Joshua would.  One Joshua took the Israelites across the River Jordan into the promised land, and another Joshua (“Jesus” in Greek) became the central figure of the New Testament and of the Christian faith.  Each leader offered a form of liberation within specific circumstances of time and space.  The second Joshua continues to live, although no longer in human form, for he is part of the Trinity (however that works).  So there is no need to be fearful if one trusts in him; there is ample cause for holy boldness.

Many negative actions flow from the failure of nerve, the lack of faith.  But our strength is not the central issue; that of God is.  And that strength will never fail.  Yet we fear needlessly, and therefore we lash out at each other, making scapegoats instead of seeking good solutions.   When we do this we do not love our neighbors as we love ourselves, as God loves everybody.  And so we sin again.

Greater amounts of constructive faith which rests upon the active love of God would make the world a better place.  So may we be bold, and thereby improve our local area, at least.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/be-strong-and-be-bold/

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21 responses to “Week of Proper 14: Tuesday, Year 1

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