January 11, 2005


Luke 10:21-42 21 At that, Jesus rejoiced, exuberant in the Holy Spirit. “I thank you, Father, Master of heaven and earth, that you hid these things from the know-it-alls and showed them to these innocent newcomers. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way. 22 “I’ve been given it all by my Father! Only the Father knows who the Son is and only the Son knows who the Father is. The Son can introduce the Father to anyone he wants to.” 23 He then turned in a private aside to his disciples. “Fortunate the eyes that see what you’re seeing! 24 There are plenty of prophets and kings who would have given their right arm to see what you are seeing but never got so much as a glimpse, to hear what you are hearing but never got so much as a whisper.” Defining “Neighbor”

25 Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?” 26 He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?” 27 He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence – and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.” 28 “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.” 29 Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?” 30 Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. 31 Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. 32 Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man. 33 “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. 34 He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. 35 In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill – I’ll pay you on my way back.’ 36 “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?” 37 “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded. Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”

38 As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. 39 She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. 40 But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” 41 The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. 42 One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it – it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

Genesis 18

1 God appeared to Abraham at the Oaks of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance of his tent. It was the hottest part of the day. 2 He looked up and saw three men standing. He ran from his tent to greet them and bowed before them. 3 He said, “Master, if it please you, stop for a while with your servant. 4 I’ll get some water so you can wash your feet. Rest under this tree. 5 I’ll get some food to refresh you on your way, since your travels have brought you across my path.” They said, “Certainly. Go ahead.” 6 Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. He said, “Hurry. Get three cups of our best flour; knead it and make bread.” 7 Then Abraham ran to the cattle pen and picked out a nice plump calf and gave it to the servant who lost no time getting it ready. 8 Then he got curds and milk, brought them with the calf that had been roasted, set the meal before the men, and stood there under the tree while they ate.

9 The men said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” He said, “In the tent.” 10 One of them said, “I’m coming back about this time next year. When I arrive, your wife Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was listening at the tent opening, just behind the man. 11 Abraham and Sarah were old by this time, very old. Sarah was far past the age for having babies. 12 Sarah laughed within herself, “An old woman like me? Get pregnant? With this old man of a husband?” 13 God said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh saying, ‘Me? Have a baby? An old woman like me?’ 14 Is anything too hard for God? I’ll be back about this time next year and Sarah will have a baby.” 15 Sarah lied. She said, “I didn’t laugh,” because she was afraid. But he said, “Yes you did; you laughed.”

16 When the men got up to leave, they set off for Sodom. Abraham walked with them to say good-bye. 17 Then God said, “Shall I keep back from Abraham what I’m about to do? 18 Abraham is going to become a large and strong nation; all the nations of the world are going to find themselves blessed through him. 19 Yes, I’ve settled on him as the one to train his children and future family to observe God’s way of life, live kindly and generously and fairly, so that God can complete in Abraham what he promised him.” 20 God continued, “The cries of the victims in Sodom and Gomorrah are deafening; the sin of those cities is immense. 21 I’m going down to see for myself, see if what they’re doing is as bad as it sounds. Then I’ll know.” 22 The men set out for Sodom, but Abraham stood in God’s path, blocking his way.

23 Abraham confronted him, “Are you serious? Are you planning on getting rid of the good people right along with the bad? 24 What if there are fifty decent people left in the city; will you lump the good with the bad and get rid of the lot? 25 Wouldn’t you spare the city for the sake of those fifty innocents? I can’t believe you’d do that, kill off the good and the bad alike as if there were no difference between them. Doesn’t the Judge of all the Earth judge with justice?” 26 God said, “If I find fifty decent people in the city of Sodom, I’ll spare the place just for them.” 27 Abraham came back, “Do I, a mere mortal made from a handful of dirt, dare open my mouth again to my Master? 28 What if the fifty fall short by five – would you destroy the city because of those missing five?” He said, “I won’t destroy it if there are forty-five.” 29 Abraham spoke up again, “What if you only find forty?” “Neither will I destroy it if for forty.” 30 He said, “Master, don’t be irritated with me, but what if only thirty are found?” “No, I won’t do it if I find thirty.” 31 He pushed on, “I know I’m trying your patience, Master, but how about for twenty?” “I won’t destroy it for twenty.” 32 He wouldn’t quit, “Don’t get angry, Master – this is the last time. What if you only come up with ten?” “For the sake of only ten, I won’t destroy the city.” 33 When God finished talking with Abraham, he left. And Abraham went home.

Psalms 11

1 I’ve already run for dear life straight to the arms of God. So why would I run away now when you say, 2 the evil bows are bent, the wicked arrows Aimed to shoot under cover of darkness at every heart open to God. 3 The bottom’s dropped out of the country; good people don’t have a chance”?

4 But God hasn’t moved to the mountains; his holy address hasn’t changed. He’s in charge, as always, his eyes taking everything in, his eyelids Unblinking, examining Adam’s unruly brood inside and out, not missing a thing. 5 He tests the good and the bad alike; if anyone cheats, God’s outraged. 6 Fail the test and you’re out, out in a hail of firestones, Drinking from a canteen filled with hot desert wind. 7 God’s business is putting things right; he loves getting the lines straight, Setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall, we can look him straight in the eye.

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