[Note: I have been somewhat lax in posting my musings on this platform on a regular basis. For your information, they are accessible, in their original format, on my Facebook page or the Northeastern Ohio Facebook page. They are also available by subscription through the Northeastern Ohio Synod website. Note also that the musings posted here do not include my weekly calendar.]

[Jesus said:] Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.

[Matthew 22:21]

It occurred to me last week that in these musings, I often refer to the lessons for the upcoming Sunday, but don’t always provide a link to those readings. So, beginning this week, I will make every effort to post links to all the readings for your convenience, in case you, the reader, would want to read them without having to look elsewhere.

Here are the lessons for Sunday, October 22:

·   Isaiah 45:1-7

·   Psalm 96:1-13

·   1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

·   Matthew 22:15-22

I always use the readings as a springboard to my weekly writing. They offer a convenient framework for my thinking, most notably on mornings when I have no idea what to write about.

The lectionary is a priceless resource for anyone who engages in the reading or study of scripture, particularly a preacher. It is rare that a lectionary preacher, on any given Sunday, cannot apply one or more of the readings to events, or issues in our world or nation that are the dominant topics of discussion in society. Jesus’ response to the trick question the Pharisees ask him in the Gospel reading from Matthew is a prime example (see above). In their sermon preparation for this week, many preachers will wrestle with how to interpret Jesus’ words in light of our current political climate. Some will choose to avoid them altogether and choose another lesson.

For those who aren’t involved in sermon preparation, the lectionary offers a disciplined pattern of studying God’s word. It is wonderful devotional material. Most of all, it is inspiring.

One of my favorite verses in scripture is Paul’s advice to his pupil, Timothy: “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. [2 Timothy 3:16-17]

Among the most perplexing issues we as humans wrestle with is discerning God’s will for our lives. The truth is, we will never fully know. But scripture offers us valuable guidance. To quote the blessed Martin Luther, “Let the man who would hear God speak, read Holy Scriptures.”

Contrary to what some may think of the Bible, it isn’t a list of laws and detailed instructions for carrying them out.  But through the reading of scripture, we grow into mature sons and daughters of God, confident of God’s love, confident of our relationship with Jesus Christ.

It is through the reading of scripture that we listen to the prompting of the Spirit, allowing it to show us the way of love in our thoughts, our choices and our actions. It is that relationship of love that moves us to respond to others in ways that reflect the love of Jesus that is in us.

This week and always, may we be ever diligent in coming to know God’s mind even better through studying the Scriptures, and may we seek out the will of God as best we can and go forward entrusting the choices we make into the hands of our loving and forgiving God.

+Bishop Abraham Allende

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