Psalm 133 is a song of ascents, an ancient liturgical lyric of the children of Israel. They would climb a mountain to come closer to the Most High God in a high and holy place—the Jerusalem Temple—and offer their sacrifice of praise. How wonderful it is, the people’s hearts would sing, how happy we become when we, the family of faith, meet as one with the Holy One. This psalm calls all Israel to join their lives together in the kinship created by faith. In other words, as Joseph and his reconciled brothers might have said to one another, “Blest be the tie that binds” (umh, no. 557).

Those ties connect the people to the priesthood signified in the psalm by Aaron and the oil of ordination. This connection confers a blessing not only on Aaron but by extension on all who assemble together in God’s presence. The fragrant anointing of God’s Spirit in worship flows as fresh snowmelt runs down a mountainside, renewing the earth and the creatures below. As dew freely falls on the descending terrain, so God pours goodness on the faithful congregation. The people’s joy multiplies when they share their blessings with one another in a harmony of worship, a song of ascents.

The “kindred [who] live together in unity” are not only Israel, but the whole, hallowed network of humankind unified by God’s far-reaching and inclusive love. How good it still is, how pleasant, when present-day people of faith together come closer to God in worship. The prayers we pray and songs we sing were always meant to be not solos but ensemble pieces offered to the One who gathers us from north and south, east and west, to make us one community, the body of Christ.

Gathering God, may we never forget how we need one another. When we come closer to each other in worship, refresh our faith and anoint us with your presence. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 15:10-28

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Lectionary Week
August 10–16, 2020
Scripture Overview

Joseph has risen to a high position in Egypt, and now his brothers come searching for food in a time of famine. He reveals his true identity and reinterprets their evil intentions as being part of God’s plan. Sometimes we too are granted perspective to see God’s working in difficult times. The psalmist rejoices when God’s people are living in unity, as Joseph and his brothers were after their reunion. In Romans, Paul declares that his people are not rejected by the merciful God, for God’s promises are unchanging. In Matthew, Jesus teaches that God looks on the inside, not the outside. Thus, what you take into your body is less important than what comes from your heart, and God does not favor one ethnic group over another.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Genesis 45:1-15. When have you experienced God’s grace in forgiving or being forgiven? How were those needing forgiveness still held responsible for their actions?
Read Psalm 133. How has God called you to live in unity with those different from you? How do you receive God’s abundant blessing through such unity?
Read Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32. How does the eternal mercy of God’s gifts and callings sustain you when it seems like God has rejected God’s people?
Read Matthew 15:10-28. When have you, like the Canaanite woman, felt like you had to insist that Jesus come closer? How did your faith change or grow from this experience?

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