Jesus Christ may be “the same yesterday today and forever” (Heb. 13:8), but that requires us to keep changing and growing rather than holding tight to our unchanging past. Human souls, churches, and the world have a long way to go to catch up with Christ. Perhaps this is why Jesus says that those who are “trained” in the ways of God’s rule are able to “bring out . . . what is new and what is old” in themselves and the world at large.
Healthy human psyches and groups maintain a good balance between the need to conserve and the impulse to change. Too much change too fast can unsettle and unbalance us in matters both great and small. On a long trip, while enjoying exquisite Italian food in Rome, I suddenly found myself making a beeline to a McDonald’s restaurant for three consecutive meals in one day. The new and different was suddenly too much. I needed familiar American fare. Social systems experiencing too much change eventually face resistance and backlash. Conversely, holding on to the security of the familiar can blind us to what needs to change in family, social, or religious life.
Make no mistake: The grace of God in Christ is out to change us, to expose and heal the ways we resist goodness, to challenge the ways our hearts are closed to compassion, and to upend the injustices we take for granted. The Jesus of the Gospels is far from meek and mild. While he affirms the best in the Judaism of his day, he forthrightly challenges the parts of ritual law he sees as barriers to love and justice. His keen eye sees both the potential in those he loves and the baggage they must give up to grow to full stature. Creative change, rooted in the good practices of the past, honors both old and new.
God of all growth, root me in time-tested good and show me the best of the new. Amen.
Jacob has tricked his brother out of his birthright and has tricked his blind father into blessing him instead of his older brother. This week the trickster is tricked, and his desire to marry Rachel will cost him dearly. The psalmist reflects on the faithfulness of God. God has made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the author is confident that God will honor that covenant. Paul builds upon his argument to the Romans about the power of the Spirit. The Spirit helps us pray to connect with God, and nothing can separate us from the love of God. Jesus continues to teach about the kingdom of God using parables. Finding our way into the kingdom is worth far more than anything else.
Read Genesis 29:15-28. How does a wise faith help you discern between differing loves?
Read Psalm 105:1-11, 45b. How is your faith journey an extension of God’s covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
Read Romans 8:26-39. How have you experienced prayer as an opening of yourself to God’s Spirit rather than a petition for yourself or others?
Read Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52. How are you growing in Christ? If your faith has become stagnant, what “sorting” might help you to continue to grow toward proficiency in being Christlike?
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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