Our passage today is from Paul’s letter to the Christian converts in Thessalonica—one of his earliest missionary journeys. Paul affirms the people: “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit.”

It’s hard for us to imagine the experience of this community, which holds the message of a new faith in a community that has never experienced Christians before. Paul visits for a time, living with, teaching, and orienting people to the new faith. And then they are left on their own, holding on to what has been given to them. Living, as most of us do, in a predominantly Christian culture, we have no frame of reference for the experience of these early Christians.

Yet we can identify with their experience of having been called to live a life that is countercultural. As Christ followers, we are called “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with [our] God” (Mic. 6:8).

When we follow Jesus, we are called to Christ’s ministry to the poor, the sick, the prisoners, the hungry, and the stranger. We are commanded to welcome the refugee among us. To provide for those who are hungry and homeless. To work for justice for the LGBTQ members of our communities. To hear and respond to the cries of those who have been assaulted or abused by persons they had trusted. To break down systems that oppress and imprison a greater proportion of black and brown bodies. These “Christian values” are often in conflict with the prevailing actions of our societal and political leaders. May we follow in the steps of the Christ who marked and named us, that we may “[show] all the Christians in the countries of Macedonia and Greece [and the United States and Canada and all the world] how to live” (nlt).

God of love, guide our steps so that we may follow the Christ who claims us. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 22:15-22

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Lectionary Week
October 12–18, 2020
Scripture Overview

Popular images often portray God as a passive grandfather figure. However, this is not the picture scripture provides. God’s presence has a profound impact on the physical world. In Exodus, Moses feels insecure about the calling on his life and asks to see God’s glory. God in part grants this request, but no one can experience the presence of God completely and live. The psalmist describes how God is exalted and how God’s holiness shakes the earth itself. The New Testament readings explore different themes. Paul opens his letter to the Thessalonians by commending them for their faith and partnership in the spreading of the gospel. In Matthew, the Pharisees attempt to trap Jesus in his words, yet he confounds their efforts.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Exodus 33:12-23. When have you struggled to believe that God is with you? How did you find a sign of God’s presence?
Read Psalm 99. How has God heard your cry? How can you listen with God for the cries of others?
Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10. When does your faith call you to live in a countercultural way? How do you show the world how to live?
Read Matthew 22:15-22. You belong to God. How do you feel God’s call on your life?

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.