Economy of Grace

The “bookends” of this week’s lectionary readings, from Exodus and Matthew, reintroduce us to the economy of grace characteristic of God’s now-but-not-yet reign of shalom. These texts also poke at our raw spots by challenging us to recognize ourselves in them, confronting some of our deepest anxieties, and exposing our bent toward greed, envy, and pride. In reading them, and allowing them to “read us,” we are reminded of the vastness of the expanse separating God’s kingdom from the kingdoms of this world; yet we are also given hope, that God remains at work, healing Creation and transforming us, its broken members. Read more

An Offer You Can’t Refuse

1 Kings 19:4-8; Psalm 34; Ephesians 4:25-5:2; John 6:41-51

Declining an offer of hospitality is, in traditional cultures at least, an insult. Elijah, on the lam from Ahab and Jezebel, prefers to die under the shade of his broom tree, but he knows not to insult God’s messenger. In John’s gospel, however, “the Jews” (a troubling Johannine formulation – what was Jesus if not Jewish? – in light of later Christian anti-Semitism) stop short when Jesus offers himself as the Bread of Life.

Jesus tells his questioners to stop complaining (the wording echoes the “murmuring tradition” of the people of Israel in Exodus through Numbers), stating the difference between the bread he offers and the manna “your ancestors ate in the wilderness, and they died.” Read more