Speaking our faith

Lent 1 (February 17, 2013)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 91; Romans 10:8-13; Luke 4:1-13

We spent much of this week finishing reports for the past year and plans for the coming year.  February 15 is one of two annual reporting deadlines for MCC partners and projects.  Everyone is happy when these deadlines are in the past!

A young Syrian boy with his grandfather at the Za'atari Refugee Camp (Reuters photo by Muhammad Hamed)

A  Syrian boy with his grandfather at Za’atari Refugee Camp (Reuters photo by Muhammad Hamed)

Cindy continues to teach Friday morning English classes at the Chaldean Catholic Church in Jabal Webdah.  Her students are Iraqi refugee children, living in Amman while waiting with their families for resettlement to third countries.  Daryl contributed an article about Syrian refugees in Jordan to the Thirdway Café this week.

Ten years ago this week, Daryl was in the second week of a 40-day fast during which he wrote daily letters to President Bush, urging him to consider alternatives to war with Iraq.

In the region this week:

Wafa Goussous with children at Za'atari Camp, where 2,750 pairs of children's boots were distributed, Feb. 5, using MCC funds

Wafa Goussous, director of the Orthodox Initiative,  with children at Za’atari Camp.  MCC purchased 2,750 pairs of children’s boots, which were distributed on Feb. 5.  (photo by Azmi al-Edwan)

The Common Lectionary readings this week are about speaking our faith – in good times and bad.

In the Old Testament reading – even while they are still wandering in the wilderness – Moses instructs the people that, when they enter the “Promised Land” and benefit from its bounty, they are to take some of the first fruits of the harvest to the priest and recount their story:

“A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous.  When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression.  The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.  So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.” (Deut. 26:5-10)

Books like these were purchased for children at the Zaatari Camp

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem purchased boots like these for children at the Zaatari Camp, using MCC funds (photo by Azmi al-Edwan)

In times of terror, trouble and destruction, the psalmist reminds us to call out to the Lord, saying, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” (Ps. 91:2)  The psalmist promises that God will send angels to guard, protect, deliver and rescue us (vv. 11-16).

In the Epistle reading Paul urges Christians living in the heart of the Roman Empire to “confess with their lips that Jesus is Lord.” (Rom. 10:9) By implication, the Roman emperor is not Lord.  “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” writes Paul (v.13).

The Gospel reading describes the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.  Three times Jesus resists the devil’s temptations to grandeur and greatness by reciting the Scriptures he knows to be true (Luke 3:4, 8, 12).

Our faith becomes powerful when we speak it aloud. It helps us remember our story and our identity.  And it helps us remember that it is God who saves and delivers us.

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