I began reading the gospel of Luke in January with the intent to finish it by the end of the month. Now, as I write this, it’s February 10th, and I’m only on chapter 10. But, we’re saved by grace through our faith, and not by works, so I’ll live into this grace and keep reading. I’ll continue to read Luke and Acts throughout Lent, and I’d like to share some of my thoughts, questions, and insights with you along the way.
In the first 2 chapters, we have three songs that have become an integral part of our worship traditions. From these songs (the Magnificat, the Benedictus, and the Nunc Dimittis), we learn that Jesus is the savior who has been proclaimed for generations, that the world as we know it will be turned upside down, and that Jesus has come for the Jews and the Gentiles. In the beginning of Luke’s gospel, the author intentionally includes events and descriptions about the ‘Jewish-ness’ of Jesus and his family. It’s important to the original audience that Jesus is legitimately Jewish.
When the Pharisees get mad at Jesus for plucking grain and eating it on the Sabbath, I thought they were upset because Jesus breaks the seventh commandment: “You shall not steal.” But really, it’s because Jesus is doing work on the Sabbath, and not resting. This is such an interesting entry point into culture! My American culture has a practice of possessing and accumulating things – houses, cars, land, crops, money. When I hear of Jesus eating grain from a field, I immediately think, “Whose field is that? Won’t they get mad that a bunch of people are trampling through their fields and eating their crops?” But the Jewish culture of the time was one that intensely honored Sabbath. I have never had one day in my life where I spent the entire day in prayer or worship or rest. I ironically read this on a Sunday, and I was already thinking of the things I need to get done that day, that week, the rest of the month. What would it look like in our Christian tradition if we practiced Sabbath – take a break from our daily business, our concerns for the world and simply rested? It would be so counter-cultural! What would our relationships with ourselves, God, creation, and others look like if we spent one day resting?
At Gustavus a couple of years ago, the daily chapel service was re-named ‘Daily Sabbath’. At first, I was turned off to the name; the word ‘sabbath’ is old fashioned and different from what I was used to calling it (how Lutheran of me to dislike change). But 10:00 – 10:20 became a time of rest and worship and community. This daily worship sustained me throughout the day, and this year, it has been different not to have a daily sabbath. I try to spiritually rest in other ways, like reading the scripture, running, or playing hymns on the ukulele, but it is difficult to do it by myself. Especially as we enter Lent today, I am curious about what you do to rest and sustain your relationship with God. Let me know your ideas if you’re willing to share..
Luke 7:1-10 Healing of the Centurion’s servant
I don’t have as much to say about this, but it’s a good reminder that people will go to great lenghts to provide for their community and their neighbors. I am still surprised when people are still so kind and hospitable towards me, even though I have already been here for five months.
Luke 8:4-15 Parable of the Sower
Something new I noticed while reading this passage is that the sower sows seeds everywhere. Not just on their own fertile fields, but on the path, the thorny weeds, the rocks, everywhere! Wouldn’t it be more efficient and profitable if they threw seeds only on the nice, fertile ground? God isn’t like that. God’s word is abundant and is everywhere, and is not just for those who are the good soil. Knowing this, how can we create a community where people can become the good soil?