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Monday, October 15, 2007
God’s people are called to persistence in discipleship – persistence in prayer and meditation, proclaiming God’s word, and seeking justice. In the readings this week, the longing for justice and the coming of God’s reign are palpable. In such times, Jesus urges us to stand firm, with bold confidence that God will prevail. Luke 18:1–8 In chapter 17, the gospel of Luke reports Jesus’ response to the questions of the Pharisees concerning the timing of the coming of the God’s reign. Jesus’ parable in the focus passage is part of the response to these questions. However, it is not a story about signs and forecasts, but about the final hope of those who are held in low regard by society. The first of two parables about prayer in Luke 18, this story is Jesus’ call to disciples to “pray always and not to lose heart.” In ancient Israel, the duty of a judge was to maintain harmony in relationships and settle disputes among Israelites. Disputes involving widows and orphans were not uncommon in Israel (Psalm 82:3–4; Jeremiah 5:28–29). The law did not allow a widow to inherit her husband’s estate, which passed on to the deceased man’s sons or brothers. If these relatives did not act with justice and honour toward the widow of their father or brother, a judge was called in as the widow’s final and only hope. For those of Jesus’ hearers who were poor or without status in society, a story about a widow with no power or influence and a judge with no compassion would seem “business as usual.” They might assume justice would be denied again. However, in this story the widow’s persistence wins the day. The beautiful surprise of this story is that justice triumphs! No wonder the author of Luke interprets Jesus’ story as being about not losing heart. Whatever happens, God’s way of justice will prevail. Such hope – such certainty that God’s justice will finally come – is no easy thing. The author of Luke leaves Jesus’ question in verse 8 hanging for us to answer: will faith be found when the reign of God comes in its fullness? Those who are persistent in prayer do not lose heart as they wait and work for the coming of God’s reign. Jeremiah proclaims, “The days are surely coming” in Jeremiah 31:27–34. Regardless of how devastated and hopeless things may seem in the present, the prophet is confident to declare that there is a time coming when the people’s knowledge and experience of God will be so intimate that God’s will and desires will be imprinted in the very centre of their lives. Jeremiah’s words are a call to persistence in aligning one’s heart and one’s actions with God’s hopes for all creation. Intimate and persistent connection with God’s law, according to Psalm 119:97–104, brings wisdom and understanding. The concept of law in the Hebrew Scriptures is more than a codified set of rules. The whole story of God’s relationship with humankind is contained in this understanding of law. There is urgency in Timothy’s ministry to proclaim the message with which he has been entrusted. In 2 Timothy 3:14—4:5, the writer asserts that, for many, it will be easier to find messages that suit them than to persist in claiming the truth of God’s word. Many life experiences call for persistence. God will never be diverted from seeking to institute justice, peace, and grace everywhere. As disciples, we are called to embrace the discipline of persistence in prayer and in seeking the gifts of God’s reign for all. What is the role of the faith community in supporting persistence in individual members? What does it mean for you and your church to live with confidence that God will prevail?

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Kairos-Milwaukie UCC Blog

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary by Rev. Rick Skidmore and Rev. Jim Ogden.

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