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Jesus wants to emphasize a point. It’s not just about people following tradition, rather than God’s word. It’s about knowing the human heart as the source for both good and evil. It can be tempting to read these passages and point a finger at church leaders or “certain types” of...

Holy Spirit, teach me how to search my heart with honesty before you. Help me learn how to cultivate a heart from which true life flows in my words and actions. Amen.


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Lectionary Week
August 23 29, 2021
Scripture Overview

The poetry of Song of Solomon is thick with romantic imagery, and most scholars agree that these lines mean what they say on the surface; they are written from the author to the beloved. Psalm 45 echoes the refrain of admiration and desire. Such desire is not wrong if it is awakened at the proper time, as the author of Song of Solomon says elsewhere. James argues that ethical living is done not in word but in deed. True religion is not putting on a show but displaying mercy and controlling the tongue. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus rebukes some of the religious leaders on this very account because they talk of obedience to God but do not live it out. What we say and what we do should match.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Song of Solomon 2:8-13. The narrative poetry of Song of Solomon invites us into scripture in a different way than other texts. How does God speak to you through this poetry?
Read Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9. How do your relationships honor the gift of love?
Read James 1:17-27. When do you find yourself as merely a “hearer” of the word and not a “doer”? What motivates you to act on God’s word?
Read Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23. What human traditions or rituals do you tend to make too important?

Respond by posting a prayer.

To anyone considering the 2022 Spiritual Formation in Today’s World: Ask yourself if you are ready and willing to give your heart, mind, body, and soul to the experience. If you are, you will be changed in ways you may not even know you need. And it will continue to shape you into the future.” 


Learn more about Spiritual Formation in Today’s World: A One-Year Online Offering from The Academy for Spiritual Formation here.