For years, I used these words as part of baptism preparation with young couples. On one of the three evenings, I would invite them to name some of the special Christians in their lives, ones who had influenced them, and to tell what made them significant. At first they would sit and stare blankly, unable or too shy to name anyone. After I prompted them with a few stories, their own stories would emerge. They would thoroughly enjoy telling these stories of the special people of faith in their lives.
The psalmist takes an exuberant delight in the stories of the past—the marvelous activity of God, the special people in that past, the wonders and truths tucked away in history. The Israelites persistently and consistently retell the stories of God’s wonders. This psalm invites us to do the same, to savor the faith stories of the past. We tell these tales because they nourish us. We take courage in these saints of the past when we have lost our own.
In many religious traditions, the parents commit at their child’s baptism to telling him or her these faith stories. But we all need this refreshing of memory. We need to rediscover that we are all rich in such tales. Here are some questions that may call your stories to mind:
• Which biblical stories move you the most?
• Who of your previous ministers or church leaders
helped to shape you?
• Which family members have taught you about faith?
• Which contemporary Christians inspire you?
We not only recall these stories; we look for opportunities to celebrate them with other Christians.

Thank you, God, for sending us many heroes of our faith who can challenge us to greater obedience to you. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 21:23-32

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Lectionary Week
September 25–October 1, 2017
Scripture Overview

The mercy of God is a theme that surfaces this week. In Exodus 17 Israel is not sure that God is faithful or reliable. By requesting water and voicing an urgent need, Israel appears to be testing God to discover God’s power and inclination. Psalm 78 praises Yahweh for grace in liberating the people from Egyptian bondage. Yahweh’s mercy sustained and supported them. Philippians 2 begins with a statement about the need for human kindness and compassion and then moves to the work of mercy that motivates human love—the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. In the reading from Matthew, the mercy of God, which is extended to those who normally receive no mercy, illustrates not only the inclusive nature of God’s grace but also how different the kingdom of heaven is from the kingdoms of this world.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Exodus 17:1-7. When has your “speaking out” been met with negative response? Have you ever felt you were standing too “close to the cross”?
• Read Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16. Today, listen for God rather than speak of God.
• Read Philippians 2:1-13. When have you emptied yourself and become a servant?
• Read Matthew 21:23-32. How well do your actions match your words in terms of obedience to the commands of Christ?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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