This week’s scripture lessons have focused on the importance of remembering God’s gracious acts in Jesus Christ; our need to praise God, to have a sword with two mouths, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves; and the call to be reconciled with those who sin against us. Now we are reminded of the efficacy of prayer, the importance of Christian fellowship, and the sustaining presence of God. Jesus calls us to begin and end our efforts in prayer. Our prayer seeks reunion not victory, and that requires God’s assistance. Does prayer ensure reconciliation? As the text says, “It will be done for you, by my Father in heaven.”
If we are gathered in Jesus’ name, he is among us. This second verse reminds us that the efficacy and power of prayer are realized when we are gathered in Christ’s name. To gather in Jesus’ name requires more than invoking the name of Jesus. To gather in his name is to be aware of Jesus’ teachings and ministry as we consider our prayer request. Finally, we are assured that Jesus will be present to encourage and assist us in our efforts. With that comes the assurance that God is present to sustain us with or without reconciliation.
A Guided Meditation: Get comfortable and relax. Take several deep breaths, and rest between each of these suggestions: Give thanks for God’s reconciling love shown to you in Christ. Give thanks for your Christian fellowship. Take time to name two or three people and pray for them. Are there those from whom you need forgiveness? Name them and pray for them. End as you began, giving thanks for God’s reconciling love and continuing presence in your life.
We move forward in the story of Moses to the climax in Egypt, the tenth plague. God tells the Israelites to prepare for the terrible night to come and establishes the feast of Passover. It is to be an eternal reminder of what God has done for the people. The psalmist praises God for faithfulness and victory, including overthrowing those who would oppress them. Egypt is not mentioned specifically, yet the Passover represents just such a situation. Paul echoes Jesus in summarizing much of the Law in one simple commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus provides practical teaching on handling disagreements. Our first responsibility is to go to the other party privately and then include others only as necessary. Gossip and social media are not the ways to handle our disputes.
Read Exodus 12:1-14. How has the story of Passover shaped your faith?
Read Psalm 149. How has God called you to seek freedom from oppression for yourself or others through praise and through action?
Read Romans 13:8-14. What does it mean to consider love a driving force rather than a warm feeling? How does this understanding change the way you act toward yourself and your neighbors?
Read Matthew 18:15-20. When have you participated in or witnessed true reconciliation? How did you see compassion at work?
Respond by posting a prayer.