People like rituals. We like predictable, daily rhythms as we progress from early morning to bedtime. We mark time by the changing seasons and the calendar of special occasions.

It was no different when the psalms were being composed, often to commemorate special events through the year. The beginning of Psalm 81 is a travel psalm people might have sung on their way to the Temple for a festival to mark the transition from one year to the next.

The rest of the psalm, however, shows that the people had forgotten the original reason for the celebration: the Lord’s freeing them from bondage in Egypt. The Lord who brought them up out of slavery is ready to fill their open mouths again, but the people will not listen. They will not submit to Yahweh, so the Lord gives them over to their stubborn ways.

Can you sense God’s disappointment and frustration? It reminds me of someone who has tried in vain to help a family member overcome an addiction. Again and again the long-suffering relative or friend provides empathy, money, lodging, and trips to professionals, only to have the one suffering with the addiction get into trouble again. Sometimes these cycles are too much for humans, and the only healthy thing to do is trust in God. But God always comes to people, in ancient Israel and in modern situations, inviting us away from death and destruction toward health and wholeness.

We are slow to remember God’s saving grace but quick to turn God’s interventions into reasons to celebrate. God has to intervene continually with each new generation. Thanks be to God that God is more than willing to do just that.

God of our past, our present, and our hope for the future, thank you for coming to us when we neglect to come to you. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 14:1, 7-14

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Lectionary Week
August 22–28, 2022
Scripture Overview

Jeremiah had the unenviable task of speaking truth to power. While others were proclaiming how good things were, he was called and compelled to insist things were not all that great. The people kept ignoring Yahweh’s persistent invitations to abandon their pseudo-gods and focus on Yahweh. The theme of God’s hospitality continues in our texts from Hebrews as the author reminds readers that when we extend a genuine welcome to strangers, we may actually be hosting the Lord God. Luke picks up the hospitality thread by proposing a radical new way of deciding whom to include. He extends God’s compassion for all humanity by suggesting that we start our invitation lists with those who would not typically be included. God’s central message to humans through the centuries, through the scriptures, and most certainly through Christ, is consistent: You, personally, are invited to be God’s precious guest on the journey through life.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Jeremiah 2:4-9. When have you needed to tell authority figures that something was wrong? Where did you find your courage to deliver the message?
Read Psalm 81. What treasured traditions do you have in your family or with your friends?
Read Hebrews 13:15-16. Where do you observe people going out of their way to show compassion to others? Where have you received unsolicited kindness?
Read Luke 14:12-14. When have you extended hospitality to someone who couldn’t pay you back?

Respond by posting a prayer.

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