Bible Study: 22 Pentecost, Proper 24 (C)

October 20, 2013

Steven King, Virginia Theological Seminary

“In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’” (Luke 18:3-5)

The Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) readings:
Jeremiah 31:27-34; Psalm 119:97-104; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5; Luke 18:1-8

Jeremiah 31:27-34

The words that the Lord speaks in this section are some of the most comforting and reassuring in all of scripture, especially in verse 33: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

God’s promise to remain our God and for us to always be held as God’s people is one that is so deeply true that God has written it on our hearts. This promise will remain true forever.

In addition to this profound and reassuring promise, God says in verse 34, “I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.” Because God is our God forever, we are free from what binds us and holds us back. We are free to love completely because God has done the same for us.

When do you most deeply experience or feel God’s love? What is that like?

How might you describe that feeling to others so that they may come to share in God’s promises and unconditional love?

Psalm 119:97-104

Verse 97 is particularly poignant: “Oh, how I love your law! All the day long it is in my mind.” I read this statement as calling me to remember God’s words, commandments, and love throughout each day of my life. Some days I am better at this than others. Some days I really struggle to tune into God’s movement in my life. In my experience, it is on those days when I am able to remain aware of God’s love and will guiding me that I am able to love those around me more readily.

I know that on some days I am quick to judge or speak negatively, and I am grateful that God is a forgiving God.

I also know that God is calling me – and all of us! – to remember that it is God who is constant in our lives even when everything else is changing. It is God who will love us completely and forgive us endlessly. Let us strive to remember not only God’s law and will for us, but also God’s love and mercy toward us, and allow that to shine forth in all that we do each day.

What guides your in your daily life with God? Perhaps it is a daily devotion or practice of Scripture reading. How does that change how you live and interact in the world?

Consider and pray about what may be blocking you from tuning into God’s movement in your life or even causing you to forget it. What helps you to become aware of God’s movement in your life?

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

This journey of faith we have undertaken as servants of God is daunting. It can be exhausting or frightening or even seem futile. Those who are outside the church can be unresponsive and even rude toward those who are believers. But in this passage, we who are believers are given encouragement to stand firm in our calling on this journey with God.

Each person’s call may be different because we have all been given different gifts, but we all still hold strongly to the saving work of Jesus Christ. It is his resurrection from the dead that gives us our ultimate hope, and we press on toward that hope even in the midst of despair and darkness. Let us encourage one another to share God’s love and hope with the world. We are called to do this so that, because we have each other and with God’s help, we cannot fail and will not give up.

What are the situations or experiences in life that can leave you feeling discouraged or afraid?

What helps you to feel hopeful? What part of your faith do you feel called to share? How might you encourage others in their callings?

Luke 18:1-8

It is fascinating to me that, in this passage, God asks, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” I find this question fascinating because our all-knowing God can – and probably does – know the answer to this question. Yet, he still asks. In doing so, I believe God is calling us to get to work to make sure the answer to God’s question is yes.

Part of the answer for how we do that is in the common themes running throughout these pieces of Scripture for today. We rest in the love of God, knowing that God has promised to be our God always and forever. We always keep in mind God’s will for our lives and let that control our wills. We press on, even in the face of despair and darkness, to share the love of God with the whole world. This is our call and this is one way we can do our part to ensure that there will always be faith on earth.

Why do you think God asks this question in verse 8?

Consider how you might participate in the work of ensuring that there will be faith on earth.

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