Texts for the Day
- Semi-continuous: Exodus 33:12-23 and Psalm 99
- Thematic: Isaiah 45:1-7 and Psalm 96:1-9, (10-13)
- 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
- Matthew 22:15-22
Commentary and Reflection
God in History – “I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe; I the Lord do all these things.” This verse, from the end of the Isaiah reading, depicts God as the architect of history. The first verse even refers to Cyrus, emperor of the Persians, as the Messiah (i.e. anointed), for his role in ending the Babylonian exile.
How do you feel about this? If God causes history, how should we respond to tragedies? What does this do to the idea of free will?
Thessalonians – This week begins another series of readings from the epistles. This time, we spend five weeks in 1 Thessalonians. A usual, this first week would be a good time to read the epistle in its entirety. The first letter to the Thessalonians is regarded by most scholars as the first letter from Paul that we have and the oldest book of the New Testament. (Some others give that distinction to the letter to Galatians.) It is a letter of encouragement to a community Paul has founded. When you read it, what do you notice that you might have missed hearing it piece by piece on Sunday morning?
Church and State – It is often claimed that because church and state are separate in our government, that politics and religion should not be mixed. Whatever the truth of that claim, it is not possible this week. Jesus is asked a question which demands a political answer. Questions for reflection:
- What contemporary issues in our country require both religious and political answers? As with paying taxes in first century Palestine, are there places where we simply can’t ignore the religious implications of political questions?
- What can we learn from Jesus’s answer to address these situations? Is he simply being evasive or does his answer reveal a deeper truth about how we should live in the world?
- What do you think about religion and politics? In what ways should religious leaders be involved in the way our government makes decisions? What should they not do?