Today’s entry continues a series of short musings about lectionary texts that may soon appear in your line-of-sight. These entries may prove helpful in interpreting a Sunday’s appointed lessons with sensitivity to the realities faced by those who are older.
It seems appropriate to look at biblical texts from the viewpoint of older adults, who were among the original writers, hearers and subjects of Scripture. Not every lectionary text connects this way, but there are still surprising moments when these texts speak directly to those of us who are older!
The lessons that comprise November’s lectionary may present a challenge for students of Scripture. The texts wade deeply into disturbing matters: The end of all things, the final judgment, troubling events in the natural world, fear, even revenge at the hands of the righteous. All of these themes come our way during these last days of the church year.
During this month, the lectionary texts apply equally to all cohorts within the people of God. If there is anything that might strike older adults, though, it might be the matter of “last things”, the notion that everything will eventually come to an end—perhaps even in an unpleasant way. Those of us who are elderly know these thoughts well, so perhaps that’s enough to make November’s texts especially meaningful.
Sunday, November 3, 2019 (Time after Pentecost—Lectionary 31, Cycle C, CEV)
Isaiah 1:10-18 – After a lifetime of observing religious rituals, we see maybe that that’s not what God wants? Righteous living is more important in these difficult political times. Thankfully, our sins are white-as-snow forgiven!
Psalm 32:1-7 – The longer we wait to confess sins from long ago, the worse the outcomes. And the older we get, the more of them there are! Forgiveness waits for our confessions.
2 Thessalonian 1:1-4, 11-12 – In spite of trouble and suffering, we keep the faith. Not for our own good, but to continue to honor the name of Jesus.
Luke 18:1-10 – As difficult as this may be, forgiveness also invites actions of repentance, especially when it comes to ill-gotten material wealth.
Sunday, November 3, 2019 (Martin dePorres, Renewer of Society (Cycle C, CEV)
Hosea 2:18-22 – Accepted by God—at whatever age and in whatever condition—we get the gifts of justice, fairness, love, kindness and faithfulness. Nothing we deserve, and valuable later in life.
Psalm 94: 1-15 – Be patient. No matter how long it takes, the Lord punishes the guilty. God knows who they/we are.
Romans 12:9-21 – Among these “Rules for Christian Living” are comforting reminders: Never give up, hope can make us glad and don’t let evil defeat us. Like dePorres, we can hold on and keep going even though we may be despised.
Luke 6:20-36 – “Being blessed” looks different from the viewpoint of having lived a long time. How do we want to measure our whole life’s work? We can read Jesus’ ideas about living the faith and be comforted by our history of loving others.
All Saints Day (Cycle C, CEV)
Daniel 7:1-13, 15-18 – As we celebrate the passing of loved ones, it’s good to remember that our days are part of the larger scope of God’s reign—big-picture changes as well as terrors.
Psalm 149 – Humility (in old age?) is rewarded by “victory”—whatever that might be. But how can we “praise God with a sword in our hand”?
Ephesians 1:11-23 – Pre-dating themes from the coming Christ the King Sunday, we are reminded about God’s providence and love as seen in Christ. Good to remember when we try to connect our lives to something greater than our own accomplishments.
Luke 6:20-31 – Blessings, yes. But also woes—some of which come uncomfortably closer to home than reasons for being blessed. How do our lives stack up to The Golden Rule (verse 31)?
Sunday, November 10, 2019 (Time after Pentecost—Lectionary 32 (Cycle C, CEV)
Job 19:23-27a – An older man, suffering everything imaginable, looks with hope to his vision of his bodily resurrection! No matter what, we can trust that fact, too.
Psalm 17:1-9 – If we’ve lived long enough, we know this prayer of an innocent person. And the longer we live, the more we may want to pray it, over and over again.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17 – An apocalyptic warning: the Wicked One (and Satan) are still out there, sometimes even hiding in plain sight in our places of faith. Lying all the time, tempting us to do evil rather than believe the truth. How easily we can be fooled.
Luke 20:27-38 – Because the Lord is God of the living, “Everyone is alive as far as God is concerned.” That’s some hope for both right now and the end of life, too.
Sunday, November 17, 2019 (Time after Pentecost—Lectionary 33, (Cycle C, CEV)
Malachi 4:1-2a – The Day of Judgement is coming, but it will be a time of victory. Question: What constitutes a “victory” at the end of all things? At the end of our lives?
Psalm 98 – People and the natural world join together in worship because of the coming judgment. The moment when everything is finished is also the moment of final and complete salvation.
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 – No matter how tired we might be, we can’t give up on doing what’s right. This is part of the hard work we keep doing. Our devotion to duty is implied, but so is satisfaction when looking back on our lives.
Luke 21:5-19 – The coming end of the world is accompanied by a long list of terrors. In spite of our fear, we remain faithful. After all, “the end” is not really the end at all!
Sunday, November 24, 2019 Christ the King (Cycle C, CEV)
Jeremiah 23:1-6 – We don’t have to be old spiritual grouches like Jeremiah to wish for an honest, wise king. And what a name that present (and soon-to-come) king will have: The Lord God gives justice!”
Psalm 46 – “A mighty fortress” indeed! No matter our age, we don’t have to be afraid—fortresses are safe places.
Colossians 1:11-20 – In the middle of life’s chaos, a “Christ Hymn”—something positive and assuring to focus on. Beginnings and endings are wrapped up in the person and work of Savior Jesus!
Luke 23:33-43 – In the middle of a tortured death, Jesus promises Paradise to a convicted robber/terrorist. Because of Jesus’ death (and resurrection), the promise applies to us as well!