We live in an intergenerational household that includes a toddler. From the adults’ example, she learns what behaviors our family considers important, whether in showing love through hugs, respectful conversation, and kisses, or practical applications like using her words, saying “please” and “thank you,” or putting away her toys. She is developing into an independent, compassionate human being who fits into and adds to our family dynamic. Research shows that children do best when adults set limits and provide clear expectations of appropriate behavior. This not only keeps kids safe (“We hold hands when we cross the street”) but also teaches kids self-discipline. Similarly, God has given us a series of limits and appropriate behavior.

Today’s verse names Moses and Aaron as chosen by God “that they might keep [God’s] statutes and observe [God’s] laws.” In Deuteronomy 4:40, Moses tells his people, “Obediently live by [God’s] rules and commands which I’m giving you today so that you’ll live well and your children after you—oh, you’ll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you” (the message). Jesus says that the greatest commandment is “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them” (Matt. 22:37-40, the message). Christians and faith communities throughout the centuries have followed the Great Commandment, the Ten Commandments, Jesus’ teachings, and other specific guiding principles. Saint Benedict of Nursia encouraged “keeping every rule for the love of Christ.” John Wesley offered these three rules: Do no harm, do good, stay in love with God. What are the rules and principles that guide your life?

Gracious God, help me follow the statutes and laws you have given me. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 16:21-28

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Lectionary Week
August 24–30, 2020
Scripture Overview

Moses has fled Egypt and is living in the desert, where God calls him to return and free the Israelites. Moses resists, but God does not relent. In many of the Psalms, the psalmist reviews God’s record of faithfulness. Psalm 105 is no different and highlights the calling of Moses. In Romans, Paul addresses practical ethical concerns. How should we treat those who treat us poorly? We should never repay evil for evil, but instead should bless those who harm us. This goes against our natural instincts, yet the gospel is countercultural and calls us to a higher standard. In Matthew, Peter has just had a tremendous moment in declaring his faith in Christ. Now he stumbles in failing to understand that Jesus’ path to glory will pass through suffering.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Exodus 3:1-15. What sacred encounter might have been your burning bush? How did you know God’s presence was with you in the encounter?
Read Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45b. How does obedience to God shape your life? Recall an instance where your obedience to God’s call or teachings made a difference.
Read Romans 12:9-21. When has working toward a common goal helped you better love your family, friends, or community?
Read Matthew 16:21-28. When have you had to trust God and accept that you “have no idea how God works”? How did your trust help you through the situation?

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.” 

View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.