This reading comes right after last week's, when Jesus expels a demon from a man during what we'd call a church service. Imagine you're at church, trying to pay attention instead of thinking about what you have going on with the kids or the house or whatever (I can't imagine they were all that different then us). Then this guy starts screaming at another man, and the second man acts in the person of God and expels a demon. Can you imagine what that would be like? It'd be crazy! Then everybody makes their way home, only to have this man start healing people and driving out demons. Even without catching all the implications and connections to the Old Testament, that would have been quite the thing! How fortunate we are to see both the immediate effects of the story and the connectivity witht he big picture!
In other news, we are just a few short weeks away from Lent. This season is designed to give us some special time to prepare for Easter. Naturally we should always be preparing for and celebrating the coming of the Lord, but Advent and Lent provide us fixed dates to remind us since so few of us discipline ourselves well. I missed out on much of Advent due to my surgery, so I am praying Lent is much more productive spiritually.
A Psalm of Asaph. The mighty God, even the LORD, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.
Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me. I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.