Daily Lectionary Reading for Year A
I have been thinking about how this time apart is changing us. I know it's only been a week, but we have been suddenly thrown off our regular path and now find ourselves more isolated than before. I imagine David knew what it was like to be alone as he worked as a shepherd. There must be an intense sense of being far removed from all others as the shepherd watches over the sheep. A shepherd has time to focus on the responsibilities of protecting the sheep from harm. But also, a shepherd has plenty of time to dream and wonder. When you are in these alone times, imagine sitting beneath the endless starry night as a shepherd. What do you see? What do you feel? Do the words, "I fear no evil," rise as a whisper in the night? Do you get a sense that you are alone, but you are really never alone?
1 Samuel 15:22-31
One of the most straightforward definitions of sin is turning from God. The story of King Saul is the personification of this. There is vanity, and there is a heightened sense of privilege. Saul loses sight of God. That's a scary feeling, isn't it? It's one thing to make some mistakes along the way, but it's another thing altogether to slip away from God. Saul is not unlike many powerful people. He tries to say all the right things and repair the damage he has caused; he is willing to lie or sweet-talk or do whatever it takes to hold onto his power. But God knows he has turned away. God knows Saul's heart. There is no going back for Saul. There will be a new King. Lent calls us into a time of confession. Can you pray honestly and openly with God, confessing the ways you have turned and felt lost? God knows your heart. Can you allow God's love to help you find your way again? Who is the Samuel-like figure in your life helping you understand things about yourself you might never have grasped before?
Ephesus. The Apostle Paul with Priscilla and Aquila visited this port town, located on the western shore of modern-day Turkey. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is believed to have died there, along with John. Ephesus was a major Greek city, which then came under the rule of the Romans. It was the city of Artemis, the revered Greek goddess. Ephesus was also a major port city. People from all around the region came through Ephesus to trade. It was a complex city full of powerful influences. Paul's letter to the Ephesians sought to strengthen their resolve. Hold fast to what is good. Once you were darkness, but now you are light, writes Paul. How do you overcome the powerful influences all around you and reshape your life to follow Christ? What are some of the complex parts of your life and surroundings? How can you best understand this complex world so that you can grow on your journey of faith?