Introduction to the readings for October 26, 2014, Peace Sabbath and the twentieth Sunday after Pentecost.
Our reading from the Hebrew texts this morning comes to us from the final chapter of the book of Deuteronomy.
Like many United Church congregations across the country, we here at Knox, have been reflecting on stories from the “Moses’ Saga” for a couple of months now. Moses, who first came into our view this summer with the story of his arrival at Pharoah’s court as a tiny, vulnerable baby sleeping in a basket nestled in the bulrushes on the River Nile in Egypt, in today’s story is now 120 years old.
Over the last 10 weeks, we have been treated to various vignettes of Moses’ life read for us from both Exodus and Deuteronomy as Moses and as his followers weather many blessings and hardships on their 40 year journey through the wilderness.
Here, this morning, imagine yourselves standing with the ancient Israelites or the first early listeners to the text, poised at the edge of the River Jordan, anticipating arrival after a lifelong journey into God’s Promised Land, knowing full well that your leader, still vigorous and sharp, though aged, cannot go with you.
A reading from Chapter 34, verses 1-12, “Moses dies and is buried at Moab”:
Many of you will recognize the words of our responsive Psalm #90 which forms the basis for our hymn, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”, one we often sing on Remembrance Sunday. Here, this morning, we will be sharing in the words and the refrain of the communal lament that calls us to be mindful that God’s undeserved compassion, comes to be, not in our time, but in God’s. We begin with the refrain found at p.805 in Voices United
Our gospel message this morning from Matthew brings us to “Round Three” of theological questions posed for Jesus by his adversaries, the religious leaders in Jerusalem. Set once again in the days immediately following Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the conversation takes place once again within the Temple. Here this morning, we sense the tension underlying seemingly polite questions posed by the Pharisees who feel disrespected, offended, and threatened on their home turf by Jesus and his radical interpretation of Torah. Listen with care as to how Jesus portrays a fresh perspective on the law. A reading from the 22nd chapter of the gospel according to Matthew, verses 34-46
“Love God; love your neighbour as yourself.”
Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church. Thanks be to God, amen.