Lectionary Text for Nineth Sunday after Pentecost:
Hosea 1:2-10: “When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” 3 So he went and took Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. 4 And the LORD said to him, “Name him Jezreel; for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.” 6 She conceived again and bore a daughter. Then the LORD said to him, “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have pity on the house of Israel or forgive them. 7 But I will have pity on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God; I will not save them by bow, or by sword, or by war, or by horses, or by horsemen.”
When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. 9 Then the LORD said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not my people and I am not your God.” 10 Yet the number of the people of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor numbered; and in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.”
Luke 11:1-13: He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.” 5 And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7 And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. 9 “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Nineth Sunday after Pentecost Comment: It is one thing to read a story, written in the language of metaphor, like the parables of Jesus, but it’s another thing altogether, when you are living out a metaphor like that of Hosea. “The LORD said to Hosea, Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” v.2 Now, to add salt to the wound, the names of Hosea’s three children are also metaphoric expressions of Jehovah’s mind and intent towards the kingdom of Israel.
I read in a commentary that the problem in Hosea’s day was that of “syncretism,” which simply meant a blending or incorporating the worship of the Canaanite god Ba’al into the worship of Jehovah. The Israelites knew the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses to be the God of great power. He rescued the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. Jehovah nurtured and defended and cared for these ex-slaves in the wilderness and formed them into a mighty nation. Jehovah gave them the very land they presently called home.
This land that the Israelites lived in was arid, where adequate amounts rain was a daily concern. All the inhabitants needed the land to yield its food for both human beings and beasts. Ba’al, the Israelites learned from their Canaanite neighbors, was the god of rain. “Syncretism,” suggests thinking that Jehovah who parted the Red Sea and destroyed Pharaoh’s army, was not particularly interested with these lowly, ordinary, habitual work-day tasks. So let Jehovah come to our rescue when we deem times too tough for us to handle. After all God, Jehovah gave humanity common sense!
In Luke’s narrative, we find the disciples asking Jesus to teach them how to pray. The disciples witnessed the miracles that occurred after Jesus had these private prayer times. Read Luke chapter 5. So, Jesus teaches them what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” He then tells a story and draws on the imagery of our most basic food, bread, to teach the power of prayer when it is undergirded with persistence. Jesus uses more graphic illustration to interpret the parable. We are reminded that the God who sits on the ‘throne of heaven’ and uses the ‘earth as a foot stool’ (Isaiah 66:1) is concerned about our routines and activities of daily living. God is impressed by our persistent faith.
I would like to make a suggestion: Every morning, let us recite the “Lord’s Prayer.” If any word or phrase leaps out, then that word or phrase becomes our focal prayer for the day. Recite it, meditate on it.
Once I experienced, the words, “lead me not into temptation,” come to mind when an occasion presented itself for me to speak and act in a hurtful way. Not only did I keep my unkind comment to myself, but the negative emotions inducted by the experience, vanished. Anger and grief were replaced with gratitude. Surely it was not “by bow, or by sword, or by war, or by horses, or by horsemen,” (Hosea 1:7) but prayer that saved me! God’s faithfulness needs nothing else!
O LORD, we moderns do not like the language of “whoredom” given to the behavior of infidelity. Nor do we want the title of “whore” applied to us when we are unfaithful. Let “your will be done on earth,” in us, “as it is in heaven,” to keep us faithful. Teach us to pray… “Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen.
Extraordinary blessings even during Ordinary Times…
©July 22, 2010
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