This week’s lessons are rich with imagery and opportunities to learn. So much so, that it’s difficult to glean a single topic. You read them and see if you agree that “Eyes on the prize” is one topic. The Sirach lesson reminds of the compassion of God. The psalm paints a most beauteous picture of what prize awaits us. The epistle (below) shows the God who supports us. And the gospel is a stark reminder that we are humble servants of God. Upon reading, consider those things that put distance between us and the prize. Sometimes we may forget it is God who loves us (Sirach). Other times, we may lose focus of the heavenly reward (Psalm). None can deny that busyness distracts us (2 Timothy). And, of course, our ego often puts blinders on us (Luke). Enjoy the study.
[Head nod to the Civil Rights Movement of the fifties and sixties that used “Eyes on the Prize” as the rallying cry.]
Post your thoughts on our website.
2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18
I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
From sermon4kids.com: “Jesus was not the least bit impressed with all of the boasting of the first man. . . . Jesus said that we should be humble — like the second man. After all, when we compare our goodness to the goodness of Jesus, it just doesn’t stack up, does it?”
Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Reflection: What is prayer? When we hear the prayers of the two men in the temple (Luke 18:9–14), what does Jesus’ appreciation of the tax collector’s prayer tell us about the purpose of prayer?
Practice: There are times when the “race” is hard. How do you face these times? If you are so moved, post your comments to our website.
Brain Food: “Humble Pie” by Janice Love;
poem (lyrics of hymn “Fight the good fight”)
Fight the good fight with all thy might! Christ is thy strength, and Christ thy right;
Lay hold on life, and it shall be Thy joy and crown eternally.
Run the straight race through God’s good grace, Lift up thine eyes, and seek His face;
Life with its way before us lies, Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.
Cast care aside, lean on thy Guide; His boundless mercy will provide;
Trust, and thy trusting soul shall prove Christ is its life, and Christ its love.
Faint not nor fear, His arms are near, He changeth not, and thou art dear;
Only believe, and thou shalt see That Christ is all in all to thee.
“Look what I’ve done” by Linda Fabian Pepe.
NEW this week: Saint Focus: In the musical Nunsense, Sister Hubert reminds us “It’s not that hard to be a saint.” And our church teaches us that all of us are, in our own way, saints. So each week Faith@Home will focus on one saint whose feast day is near the coming Sunday. This week, we lift up Fr. Kano, an American priest of Japanese ancestry. Living in Nebraska, Fr. Kano was arrested in 1941 and detained in internment camps for several years. During his internment, he continued his ministry serving others in the camps.
This week, the saints under consideration were :
- 23rd, Saint James of Jerusalem, Brother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and Martyr, c. 62;
- 24th, Hiram Hisanori Kano, Priest, 1986;
- 25th, Tabitha (Dorcas) of Joppa;
- 26th, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Scholar & Social Reformer, 1902
- 26th, Alfred the Great, King of the West Saxons, 899
Study guide—none this week, group activity
The line is sometimes not clear between noticing a job you have done well and becoming conceited. The line between honest self-disclosure to God and maudlin staying stuck in the sin can be confusing.
How can we be alert to this distinction in ourselves? What part of you do you see in the Tax Collector? in the Pharisee? Share your thoughts on our website, if you wish. [excerpted from Lessons that work from The National Episcopal Church]
The gospel reading in the liturgy today has to do with our approach to God in prayer. It is not the proud Pharisee’s bragging prayer but the humble confession of the sinner which brings God’s response.
The writer of Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus) tells us much the same as the reading from Luke. When we approach God in pride, our way is blocked by our own ego. When we confess our wrongdoings, God hears and responds with forgiveness.
The second reading is presented as Paul’s final words to Timothy when Paul was in prison and facing his imminent death. That approaching martyrdom finds Paul confident in the good he has done, but, like the tax collector, he is aware of his total dependence upon God.
We, the community of faith, are put into right relationship with God not because of our success being good, but because we place our whole trust and confidence in God. We strive to give up all and follow Jesus not in order to earn God’s favor, but as our response to the unswerving love God has for us.
From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.