The Divine Preference for the Poor   1 comment

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Above:  Slums, Richwood, West Virginia, September 1942

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/fsa/item/fsa2000055118/pp/)

Reproduction Number = LC-USF34-084072-E

Photographer = John Collier (1913-1992)

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The Collect:

O God, your Son makes himself known to all his disciples in the breaking of bread.

Open the eyes of our faith, that we may see him in his redeeming work,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 33

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 25:1-5 (12th Day)

Isaiah 26:1-4 (13th Day)

Isaiah 25:6-9 (14th Day)

Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19 (All Days)

1 Peter 1:8b-12 (12th Day)

1 Peter 1:13-16 (13th Day)

Luke 14:12-14 (14th Day)

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Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 25-26:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/fourth-day-of-advent/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-8-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/fifth-day-of-advent/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-9-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/devotion-for-december-29-and-30-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/devotion-for-thursday-and-friday-before-the-eighth-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/first-day-of-easter-easter-sunday-year-b-principal-service/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/proper-23-year-a/

1 Peter 1:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/week-of-8-epiphany-monday-year-2/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/07/09/week-of-8-epiphany-tuesday-year-2/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-november-27-in-advent-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-november-28-in-advent-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/week-of-proper-3-monday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/07/09/week-of-proper-3-tuesday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/devotion-for-november-27-in-ordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/devotion-for-november-28-in-ordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Luke 14:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/devotion-for-the-thirty-fourth-and-thirty-fifth-days-of-easter-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/week-of-proper-26-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/proper-17-year-c/

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How shall I repay you, O LORD,

for all the good things you have done for me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation

and call upon the name of the LORD.

I will fulfill my vows to the LORD

in the presence of all the chosen people.

–Psalm 116:12-14, Book of Common Worship (1993)

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Then [Jesus] said to his host, “When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relations or rich neighbours, in case they invite you back and so repay you.  No; when you have a party, invite the poor, the cripples, the lame, the blind; then you will be blessed, for they have no means to repay you and you will be repaid when the upright rise again.

–Luke 14:12-14, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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The Gospel of Luke offers many reversals of fortune.  The first will be last and the last will be first.  The meek will inherit the earth.  Those who mourn will receive comfort.  The hungry will eat well.  And woe to those who are comfortable, it says.  An old saying tells me that the purpose of the Gospel of Jesus is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.  This applies especially well to the Gospel of Luke.

The context of Luke 14:12-14 is a Sabbath meal at the home of a leading Pharisee.  Our Lord and Savior has already cured a man with dropsy, or swelling of the body due to excessive liquid (verses 1-6).  Although nobody uttered a critical word, we know that people present were thinking many of them.  Then, in verses 7-11, Jesus has taught regarding seeking social places of honor; be humble and let others exalt one, he has said.  Now, in verses 12-14, he goes beyond that:  do good things for those who can never repay.  That is what God has done for all of us.

Regardless of how highly we might think of ourselves and/or others, God is no respecter of persons.  And God, as we read in the Bible, has a preference for the poor.  This exists in some of today’s readings, especially Luke 14:12-14 and Isaiah 25:4-5, the latter of which reads:

Truly you have been a refuge to the poor,

a refuge to the needy in their distress,

shelter from the tempest, shade from heat.

For the blast of the ruthless is like an icy storm

or a scorching drought;

you subdue the roar of the foe,

and the song of the ruthless dies away.

The Revised English Bible (1989)

That is one thread running through the Isaiah lections.  Another is fear of death, a dread heightened by the fact the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead did not debut in the canon of Jewish scripture until the Book of Daniel.  In 1 Peter that doctrine is present, reinforced by another one–the resurrection of Jesus.  If the original audience of that epistle was blessed to live in an age in which salvation in God had become manifest in a new way, how much more fortunate are we who live nearly 2000 years later?

One common belief of earliest Christianity was the Jesus would return within the lifetime of many people in what we call (after the fact) the first century of the Common Era.  That did not come to pass, obviously.  One unfortunate consequence of that common belief was an acceptance of the social order as it was.  God, people said, would fix everything soon.  My spiritual heroes, however, include those who, compelled by the love of Christ, have confronted society (as Hebrew prophets did) and changed it frequently.  Thus I admire Abolitionists and modern Civil Rights activists, for example.  Their legacies tell me not to wait, but to speak up–to refuse to consent to injustice when I perceive it.  And much injustice is economic.  The ruthless still exploit the poor.  Too often a living wage is nothing more than a dream for many while corporate profit margins swell.  There is enough for everyone to have enough in God’s economy.  Artificial scarcity is a sin of human economics, however.

God is watching us.  When God judges the ruthless for exploiting the poor, do we want to be among the ruthless?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 15, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT:  THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BENSON POLLOCK, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM PROXMIRE, UNITED STATES SENATOR

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/devotion-for-the-twelfth-thirteenth-and-fourteenth-days-of-easter-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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One response to “The Divine Preference for the Poor

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  1. Pingback: Devotion for the Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Days of Easter, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary) | LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS

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