Vindicate me, O LORD,
for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
Prove me, O LORD, and try me;
test my heart and mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in faithfulness to you. (Psalm 26:1–3)
Today the psalmist sings about living a life of integrity. She sings about her unwavering trust in God. She sings because she wants to be vindicated – she’s experiencing hardship and she wants answers from God as to why. But even though she’s experiencing difficulty, she still continues to see God’s steadfast love before her. She continues to walk faithfully toward God.
This is a particularly difficult time for us as well – with everything going on around us, within us. So the psalmist’s song today reminds us to keep God’s steadfast love as our guiding light. – rc
His way is in whirlwind and storm,
and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
He rebukes the sea and makes it dry,
and he dries up all the rivers;
Bashan and Carmel wither,
and the bloom of Lebanon fades.
The mountains quake before him,
and the hills melt;
the earth heaves before him,
the world and all who live in it. (Nahum 1:3b–5)
The prophet Nahum looks out at the world – at all of creation – and sees the majesty and power of God. The whirlwind and storm and clouds, the seas and rivers, the mountains and hills – all the earth testifies to the strength and stability of the divine. Like Nahum, I hope that we too can look around and the wonder of our world and see the power and strength of God, during good times and challenging times. – rc
And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. (Jonah 3:5)
Jonah, having been called by God – not once but twice – to go to Nineveh to call the Assyrian capital to repentance, reluctantly does so only after his encounter with the belly of a giant fish. For those familiar with the story of Jonah, you’ll recognize that this is the final outcome for the city of Nineveh – a complete and total turnaround. “Everyone, great and small” turns away from their former lives and toward the God of heaven and earth. But Jonah is none too happy with this. He mopes about, he sulks, he complains that God is too loving and accepting.
So first, thanks be to God that God is so loving and accepting that there is no one outside the bounds of divine steadfast love. And second, might we then act like God and not like Jonah – welcoming anyone and everyone with the same steadfast love? – rc
For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1–2)
Yesterday we celebrated Reformation Sunday with Martin Luther’s epic hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” a testament to the strength of God’s goodness in the face of the chaos of evil . But embedded in that hymn are these words: “And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.” Like the psalmist today, Luther reminds us that God’s strength is not some abstract comfort of ours. Instead, God’s strength is cause for us to move forward with courage, fulfilling the mission of extending God’s grace and truth wherever we go. – rc
Hear what the Lord says:
Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice.
Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the Lord,
and you enduring foundations of the earth;” (Micah 6:1–2a)
According to Micah, God has brought suit against the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. While this may not be surprising, it is something of a shock to see that creation serves as the jury! The mountains, the hills, the foundations of the earth are to hear God’s case against the people because justice, order, and peace are woven into the very fabric of creation. Therefore, there is no one who better understands the harmony God intends for the world and no one who better recognizes when that harmony has been broken. – rc
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29)
It is one thing to think about the mission field in the abstract (see Lk. 10:1–16) – that it is out there, that it is big, that it is potentially dangerous. But it is another thing to put a face to the mission field. Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan does just that, challenging our understanding of neighborliness. This challenge isn’t made in the abstract, but instead, challenges our prejudices and our biases; it is the Samaritan – the paradigmatic outsider, the other, the despised one – who not only puts a face to our work of mercy, but also serves as the model of neighborly love to be followed. – rc
Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!” (Luke 10:23)
Yesterday, Jesus sent his disciples out into the mission field, “out like lambs into the midst of wolves” (v. 3), out “to every town and place where he himself intended to go” (v. 1). And today, the disciples return with joy, delighted by the work that they had done in the name of God , blessed because of what they had seen. Blessed is anyone who sees the way our world can look when anyone and everyone is cared for, when anyone and everyone has what they need, when anyone and everyone finds their place in God’s family. – rc
“Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” (Luke 10:3)
When it comes to the work of mission and ministry, Jesus doesn’t hide the danger from his followers. So it’s no wonder why “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (v. 2). It’s no wonder why folks don’t want to “carry no purse, no bag, no sandals” (v. 4). It’s no wonder why even Jesus’ closest disciples are anxious about venturing into hostile territory.
It takes trust in the one whom you’re following to go to such places. It takes confidence in your mission to go where few others are willing to go. It takes great faith to minister to needs wherever you might be sent. – rc
I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob,
I will gather the survivors of Israel;
I will set them together
like sheep in a fold,
like a flock in its pasture;
it will resound with people. (Micah 2:12)
The prophet Micah writes (or preaches) this message of hope to a people reeling. The Northern Kingdom of Israel has been destroyed. The Southern Kingdom of Judah is being threatened. The people are mired in social, political, and economic turmoil. Micah speaks powerfully into this dark and dangerous time, assuring everyone that at the right time, God “will surely gather” everyone together again, just as a shepherd gathers the flock. This is a promise and a hope for our time as well, and yes, it will be good to be gathered together again. – rc