Years ago, I kept a gratitude journal. Without much space to jot down more than a thought or two, its narrow pages became a genuine and authentic way for me to reflect on all I had to be thankful for at the end of the day: God, thank you for Mike, who jump-started my car this morning. Thank you for a lovely conversation with Holly. Thank you for getting me through the day.

I wonder if this is part of what it means to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God.” By the final chapter in Hebrews, readers should know who God is and what God has done on our behalf. All the heroes of the faith in chapter 11, all the instruction on correct living, and all of the other truths and teachings packed into the book of Hebrews point to one thing: Jesus Christ. Is there any proper response but praise? How could we not give thanks to God? The unknown author of Hebrews uses the metaphor “fruit of lips” to paint a picture for the reader. Although fruit most often describes produce, fruit can also mean the results of our actions. We should praise God for Jesus’ personhood and God’s good gifts throughout the day. After all, what other choice do we have but praise?

Today’s passage makes me want to get back into the practice of praise and thanksgiving. Perhaps I’ll begin another gratitude journal, or I may hang a sticky note with the words, “Give thanks!” over my kitchen sink. Either way, I want the fruit of my lips to exude gratitude.

O God, my God, there is so much to thank you for, to whisper and shout and speak praise to your name. May this be a ritual in my life and of my lips. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 14:1, 7-14

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Lectionary Week
August 26—September 1, 2019
Scripture Overview

Jeremiah (the “weeping prophet”) is not very popular in his time. In this passage he relates a message from God that the people have forsaken God (living water) and put their trust in things that can never satisfy (leaky cisterns). The psalmist expresses similar frustration from God. Israel will not listen to God’s voice or receive God’s provision, so God allows them to experience the unfortunate consequences of their choices. The author of Hebrews provides practical advice for living the Christian life: showing hospitality, caring for those in prison, honoring marriage, and avoiding materialism. This ethical living is an offering to God. Jesus reinforces this in his parable of the banquet. We should be generous to those who need it most, not just to those who can provide us some benefit in return.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Jeremiah 2:4-13. When have you missed the fountain of living water springing up before you?
Read Psalm 81:1, 10-16. How is God seeking to provide for you? Are you willing to accept God’s satisfying provision?
Read Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16. How do you or your faith community share hospitality? Do you distinguish between friends and strangers?
Read Luke 14:1, 7-14. Whom do you invite to your home and to your church? Do you invite those who cannot repay you or only those who can?

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.