Frail but not forgotten

Proper 21 (September 27, 2009)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Num. 11:4-29; Ps. 19:7-14; James 5:13-20; Mk. 9:38-50

On Friday, Daryl ran-jogged-waddled-walked 20 miles (32 km) in preparation for the Amman International Marathon, to be held Oct.17. His legs and lungs offered constant reminders that he is no longer 25 years old!

MCC staff visit Elijah's birthplace in northern Jordan during Sept. 2008 retreat

This weekend we begin a three-day retreat for MCC workers in the region. These annual gatherings are an opportunity to update each other on our work and to worship, laugh and play together. We look forward to this time each year.

This week the UN General Assembly opened a new session in New York. Presidents of many nations spoke. Some offered visionary speeches. Others spent their time assigning blame to others while ignoring or soft-peddling their own shortcomings.

Iran announced that it is constructing a second uranium enrichment plant, which triggered swift and broad international condemnation.

The Common Lectionary readings this week focus on human frailty and God’s offer of help.

In the Old Testament reading, Moses, who is fed up with the whining of the people, appeals to God, “I am not able to carry all this people alone, for they are too heavy for me” (Num. 11:14). God responds by sending God’s spirit to rest on 70 elders who can assist Moses, and by sending quails for the people to eat.

The psalmist offers praise for God’s law, which revives the soul (Ps. 19:7a), makes wise the simple (v.7b), gives joy to the heart (v.8a), enlightens the eyes (v.8b), and warns against errors (vv. 11-12).

In the Epistle reading, James urges those who are suffering and sick to use the tools God has provided for healing and wholeness. They are to pray (James 5:13), call on the elders to anoint them (v.14), and confess their sins to one another (v.16).

In the Gospel reading, Jesus warns his disciples not to cause children to stumble (Mark 9:42) and to take decisive action to prevent themselves from stumbling (vv.43-48).

The Lectionary readings offer us a choice. We can wallow in the fact that we (and those around us) are frail, likely to make mistakes and prone to harm others. Or we can be thankful that God is faithful to provide all that we need for health and wholeness.

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