Pondering for Sunday, February 26, 2023

Eucharistic Readings for the First Sunday of Lent: Year A

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7Psalm 32Romans 5:12-19Matthew 4:1-11:

“It is written.” (Matthew 4:1-11)

Scripture reports that God writes the Ten Commandments to Moses for the freed Israelites, of which, the first four are about our relationship with God. The following six are about our relationship with one another. All of the laws are written and our lord Jesus responds with those written words about our relationship with God. We are to have the deepest love we can for God.

We, Episcopalians have been called the “People of the Book,” perhaps because of our fondness of our Book of Common Prayer (the BCP). There was a time when Confirmation classes required Confirmands to remember the Outline of Faith or the Catechism (p. 845 of the BCP). The Catechism is a series of questions and answers that covers the range of what Episcopalians are supposed to believe.  The bishop, when he or she comes on the big day, would ask the questions and the Confirmand would answer. The teaching priest would stand back nervously hoping the Confirmands would answer all, or most of them correctly.  Having some of it memorized today is still maybe not a bad thing.

Our Lord Jesus’ response can also be reduced down to His twin commandments of Love the Lord your God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself.  This Commandment is reminiscent of the first part of the Jewish “Shema,” that is “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  (Exodus 6:4-5)  And to this, our Lord Jesus adds “and love your neighbor as yourself.”  Personally, I like the words of the Gospel of John where our Lord Jesus says for us to love our Neighbor as He loved us.  And remember, He loved us all the way to the cross.  I like saying “I trust in the Creating Word through the Holy Spirit of the Incarnate Word, in whom we live and move and love and have our being, and to whom we must give an account.”  This is my creed.

So much is written that we could quote, especially in our times of challenge. Whether the source is the Bible or the Prayer Book, or a combination of both, or words that you have crafted for yourself as I have, latch onto something that will anchor you to right behavior as Jesus did. He said “it is written, and thus thwarted evil.  Even if you write it, you will be able to say, “For, it is written.”  

Please keep up your thoughts and prayers and hopes for Ukraine.

As we listen to what the Spirit of God is saying to us, let us live to love and serve, and to teach others to love and serve, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

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