Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The faithful and joyous reception of God’s word



Prayer for the Day
In you, O Lord our God,
we find our joy,
for through your law and your prophets
you formed a people in mercy and freedom,
in justice and righteousness.
Pour your Spirit on us today,
that we who are Christ’s body
may bear the good news of your ancient promises to all.
This we ask through Christ, the way.
Amen.


Theme for the day
Howard Wallace[1] describes today’s readings as being “about both the faithful and joyous reception of God’s word seen in the people, and about the faithful proclamation and interpretation of that word to the people….”
Psalm 19 celebrates the ancient and silent Word shouting God’s glory in all creation,  and finishes focusing on the "law of the Lord." Nehemiah tells the story of  Ezra and the Levites reading the law those returned from exile. Luke has that Word present in the life, action and teaching of Jesus.
Wallace goes on to say, “Finally, we note the response of the people to the word. In Psalm 19 the psalmist celebrates the word of God, as perceived first in ‘nature’, and second as it is understood in the written law or torah. It is sweeter than honey, more desirable than fine gold etc. That same love of the law appears in Nehemiah 8. It is the people who first love the law. They urge Ezra to read the law (v. 1), they are attentive (v. 3), and according to the Hebrew of v. 4, they build the platform for Ezra to use for his reading. Ezra does not force the law upon them, they desire to hear and understand it… On this holy day, the ‘joy of the Lord is (the people’s) strength.’ The way in which the law is relevant and applicable to the people of Ezra’s time is part of the joy to be found in it. Similar joy is found in the Psalmist’s exquisite words of praise for the law in Psalm 19, and in the amazement of the people who heard Jesus’ proclamation (Luke 4:22).... In this combination (of faithful proclamation and interpretation), the fruitful joy, amazement, and worship that God’s word engenders comes forth. The word of God, however we understand the phrase, comes to life. The emphasis in the passage is not on some abstract reverence for the ‘law of Moses’. It is about the life-giving, renewing, releasing, freeing, sight-giving nature of God’s word, the joy that it can engender, and the joy of wanting to hear it. These are suitable words to hear in this season of Epiphany when we celebrate the presence of God’s word in Jesus present with us.”[2]


[1] http://hwallace.unitingchurch.org.au/index.html
[2] ibid.

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