The time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires.” The time is coming? Really? Is it not always such a time?

Is not, for most of us, the challenge also slightly different? It is not so much that our congregations will stop listening to us and turn to authorities more conducive to their lifestyle preferences and privileges. That may happen, but it is probably not under our control—especially with so many false prophets who comfort the comfortable and afflict the downtrodden surrounding us. No, the more common challenge is that we get worn down. We learn to hold our tongues. We let important hard truths soften as we seek to maintain membership numbers, the flow of donations, and a positive atmosphere for everyone. Our fundamental calling is, of course, to love the people among whom we minister. But to love them involves communicating that they are acceptable to and accepted by the Source of wisdom and compassion while also leading them to someplace new. And sometimes they lead us more than we lead them in acts of service, justice, and witness.

To my ears this passage is for preachers. I actually question if these verses should be read as a part of public worship at all. The portrayal of the assembly is harsh, but the advice to preachers is sound, if complicated. Be patient, even as you endure suffering, but convince and rebuke. Encourage, but proclaim “the message.” Be always sober and persistent . . . and loving and courageous and clear and prophetic and . . . Easy enough, right?

Dear God, we give thanks for preachers and for the challenge to preach a word that sustains the weary. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 18:1-8

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Lectionary Week
October 10–16, 2022
Scripture Overview

At last Jeremiah is able to bring a message of restoration and hope. God promises a new covenant with the people, and they will internalize the law in their hearts so that they will keep it. The psalmist rejoices in such a reality. He meditates on God’s law all day and has been granted profound understanding. This allows him to walk faithfully in God’s paths. The reading from Second Timothy confirms the ongoing power of God’s law in scripture, which is given by God for our good. Timothy is charged always to be ready to preach it faithfully. Luke hits on a different theme: the importance of persistent prayer. In the parable a heartless judge finally yields to a persistent widow, so we should be similarly tenacious with our prayers to God.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Jeremiah 31:27-34. How have you broken your covenant with God? How has God responded?
Read Psalm 119:97-104. The Jewish laws of the Hebrew scriptures are part of our Christian heritage. How can you delight in the law?
Read 2 Timothy 3:14–4:5. How can you learn or teach from scriptures you do not normally read?
Read Luke 18:1-8. Through the familiar call to pray always, the author reminds us that we are called to pray for what God wants. What is at stake when you pray for justice and mercy?

Respond by posting a prayer.