The psalmist mentions several major offenses that the Israelites at the base of Mount Sinai commit. Then he dramatically sings about how Moses stands in the breach to change God’s mind about destroying the Israelites. Today’s psalm verses capture the essence of the ancestors’ sins at Horeb while the Exodus passage fills in the details of how they wronged God in an effort to ease their own anxiety. The people make a calf of gold to worship, thereby breaking the first two commandments related to loving God wholly and making no graven images.
How do you perceive the “lessons” sung or told in today’s scriptures? I do not believe that the songs and stories of the Bible exist to scare people into avoiding sin. I believe that the retelling of people’s experiences with God reminds us of God’s response to human iniquity: God’s love and grace.
Intrinsic value resides in the telling, hearing, and process- ing of others’ and our own experiences. Storytelling about interactions with God can provide comfort and counsel in the midst of tribulation. When stories are told, songs then follow to help us further remember God’s provision through the rhythms and intonations that synchronize with our mind, body, and spirit.
How does your life keep rhythm with the beat of God’s commands? What stories about God’s presence and participation have you been telling? How can you synchronize your heart, actions, and soul with the beat and words of the Divine?

Lord, who listens and sings to us always, we thank you for never giving up on us! Help us learn the songs and stories that you compose with our lives. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 22:15-22

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Lectionary Week
October 16–22, 2017
Scripture Overview

In Exodus 33 Moses successfully argues that without Yahweh’s merciful presence Israel is no nation and that Yahweh’s and Moses’ efforts have come to naught. Psalm 99 mentions Yahweh’s royal rule, which brings to mind the human agents of that rule: Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. Each of these leaders facilitated Yahweh’s conversation with the people and Yahweh’s rule over them. The opening lines from First Thessalonians raise a question about the church’s understanding of evangelism. Paul and his coworkers experience a change in themselves because of the Thessalonians, who become a living proclamation of the gospel by virtue of their ready acceptance of it. In the Gospel reading, Jesus answers a question with a question and confuses his “audience” both then and today.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Exodus 33:12-23. When have you most longed for a glimpse of God’s glory? How did God give you the assurance you needed?
• Read Psalm 99. Where in your life is forgiveness needed to restore a loving relationship? How have you experienced “a forgiving God”?
• Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10. As your Christian faith has developed, how have you seen it move “from head to heart to hands”?
• Read Matthew 22:15-22. How do you give to God “the things that are God’s”? What are some of those things Jesus wants you to give?

Respond by posting a prayer.

This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”

Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.