Bishop's Lectionary Reflection
Proper 24, Year B
October 17, 2021
Job 38:1-7, (34-41)
God makes it quite clear to Job that he is not in control. For Job to think that he can argue logistically on an even par with God is to muddy the waters and to render God’s clear counsel dark. In the midst of Job’s complaining God calls him to account. God calls him to an understanding of who is in charge of the universe.
How many of us secretly long to have a face-to-face conversation with God in order to tell God how better to run the world? We long to argue logistically with God about how things could be better. We forget that God designed and created the world and knows best how it operates. Over what part of your life do you need to relinquish control to the God who created you and completely understands you?
Psalm 104:1-9, 25, 37c
This psalm is an appropriate, prayerful response to the reading from Job regarding God’s control and sovereignty over the world. The psalmist opens his soul to the beauty of God’s world and to God’s presence in that world. God is in the light of the heavens, in the waters, winds and mountains of the earth. God set the earth upon its foundations and his hand formed the hills and valleys. There is no place that God is not.
Take a walk outside in your own world and notice the manifold works of God and his presence in all of them. Express your thankfulness to God.
On the surface, this reading is about vocation to the priesthood. But if we read and absorb this Scripture prayerfully, we can understand that it applies to all of our vocations as Baptized Christians, as people called by God to do His work. Our vocations are not of our own making but are designated by God: “And one does not presume to take this honour, but takes it only when called by God.” So our vocations are gifts…and everyone receives such a gift. The way that we step into that vocation and see it through to fruition is through obedience. The way that we become who it is that God wants us to become is by submitting to His way…one day at a time…one step at a time…one prayer at a time.
Who is God calling you to be today? You cannot get off the hook by thinking that you do not have a Christian vocation, because all who follow Christ are called to be something. Who does God want you to be?
We don’t usually think of Christianity as being a competitive sport – a religion where we must strive to be more important than others. To be in Christian community is not to trample and climb over the backs of others to get ahead and become the most important. But James and John are not even trying to hide their competitiveness. They ask Jesus directly to grant them the most important positions: “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left in your glory.” Jesus’ response is to teach them that importance is gained in the Kingdom of God through sacrifice. Even later, when the other disciples express anger at James and John for their ego and self-importance, Jesus reminds everyone that the way forward and up in the Kingdom is through service, self-sacrifice and “going down.”
All of us would enjoy being the most important in God’s eyes. How can we take ourselves “down” in importance by engaging in acts of service and sacrifice? Is that not what Jesus did for us in his own atoning work?
Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.