October 8, 2018
So teach us to number our days
That we may apply our hearts to wisdom
[Psalm 90:12]
The lectionary readings for this coming Sunday, October 14, 2018, the 21st Sunday after Pentecost, are as follows:
I have a birthday coming up soon.
I'm not saying that so you can send me birthday wishes or greetings or a present. While any of those would be nice, my birthday is the most clever way I can think of to make a connection with the lectionary readings for this coming Sunday.
I read Psalm 90 (see verse 12 above) every time my birthday rolls around because it reminds me that each day of this earthly life is a gift. Verse 10, which is not a part of our reading, states that:
The span of our life is seventy years, perhaps in strength even eighty.
And as the birthday candles pile up, I am thankful to have accumulated so many of them and to have been so blessed.
If you look up verse 12 in different translations of the Bible, you'll find that each one reads quite differently. I came across a paraphrase that reads as follows:
Teach us to value each and every day, LORD,
so that we will be wise enough to make the most of them.
What does it mean to value each and every day? We all obsess to varying degrees on living. Take, for example, the young man in our Gospel reading who asks Jesus the question, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus' final answer, "Sell all you own, and give the money to the poor," is not what he wanted to hear.
If our life is going well, we want to live forever. Most of us plan ahead to make sure that we will live at our accustomed level of comfort by stashing money into retirement accounts and the like. We become more preoccupied with our own possessions and indifferent to the needs of others who might benefit from our generosity.
But that sort of thinking can be easily uprooted by any financial upheaval or reversal of fortune. Ask folks in North Carolina, many of whom had their homes and possessions wiped out by the severe flooding caused by the effects of Hurricane Florence. I could pile on an endless amount of examples of natural disasters that have devastated millions around the globe.
Each such catastrophic event gives pause to wonder whether it will give us new ears to consider the gospel's perspective on discipleship, possessions, and abundance.
What Jesus tells the young man, and by extension to us, is that there's more to life than financial security, or anything else that gets in the way of putting Jesus first in our lives. Without the spiritual dimension of life, something is really missing. Our life is empty, devoid of meaning.
The readings for this Sunday are an invitation to make time for God and God's word, living and active, to penetrate your life and judge the thoughts and intentions of your heart; to experience the freedom and fullness of life to which God is calling us.
May we value our days so that we may be wise to make the most of them. Whether it be life in the present or in the world to come, we can be certain that we have the loving arms of God around us.
Tuesday I will be at Peace Lutheran Church in Ashland to meet with the rostered ministers of the Richland-Ashland Conference.
Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m., I will be among the people of God at the Lakewood Campus of Good Soil Lutheran Ministries to worship with them and install their Call Committee members. Good Soil is our newest Lutheran congregation in the Northeastern Ohio Synod, a consolidation of the former Faith Lutheran Church in Lakewood and Our Savior Lutheran Church in Rocky River.
This week and always, may we live as people who know and appreciate what God in Christ has done for us, and trust in God's goodness and promise of life eternal.
+Bishop Abraham Allende