Genesis 16:1-14 NRSV
A Reading from the Book of Genesis.
Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, and Sarai said to Abram, “You see that the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my slave-girl to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Your slave-girl is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she ran away from her.The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her.” The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude.” And the angel of the Lord said to her,“Now you have conceived and shall bear a son;you shall call him Ishmael,for the Lord has given heed to your affliction.He shall be a wild ass of a man,with his hand against everyone,and everyone’s hand against himand he shall live at odds with all his kin.”So she named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are El-roi”; for she said, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?” Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Hebrews 9:15-28 NRSV
A Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews.
Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant. Where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Hence not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment had been told to all the people by Moses in accordance with the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the scroll itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God has ordained for you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.Thus it was necessary for the sketches of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves need better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
The Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.
Psalm 98 NRSV
Sing a new song to the Lord *
for he has worked wonders.
His right hand and his holy arm *
have brought salvation.
The Lord has made known his salvation; *
has shown his justice to the nations.
He has remembered his truth and love *
for the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen *
the salvation of our God.
Shout to the Lord, all the earth, *
ring out your joy.
Sing psalms to the Lord with the harp *
with the sound of music.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn *
acclaim the King, the Lord.
Let the sea and all within it thunder; *
the world, and all its peoples.
Let the rivers clap their hands *
and the hills ring out their joy.
Rejoice at the presence of the Lord, *
for he comes to rule the earth.
He will rule the world with justice *
and the peoples with fairness.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
John 5:19-29 NRSV
A Reading from the Gospel According to John.
Jesus said to the crowd, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.“Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”
The Word Of Our Lord.
Thanks be to God.
A Reflection on
Perhaps one of the greatest mistakes we can make in working for the Lord is made in the process (or lack thereof) of discerning what work the Lord would have us to do. Too often, we formulate plans, create programs, gather resources, etc., and then after all of that is done, we ask the Lord to bless the endeavor that we are about to go on. This can happen on both the individual and the organizational levels. By the time we start communicating with God, our prayers become all about hoping that God will join us in our human efforts. Instead, it could be all about aligning ourselves to join God in the work that he is doing.
It would be wise to take this example from Jesus. Jesus only did what he saw the Father doing. He did not do anything on his own accord. He watched to see what the Father was up to, and then mimicked the work of the Father. The life and ministry of Jesus are the example of what it looks like to live a life faithfully to what God calls you to do in every aspect of your life. It is the life lived by the power of the Holy Spirit. And it is a life that seeks God first, and then joins him in his restorative work.
The great news is that this truly simplifies participating in the mission of God. We don’t have to rely on our limited creativity to stir up something that is going to reach the next person for Christ. We don’t have to rely on our limited understanding to work through all the logistics of some kind of initiative we might take. We, by listening to the Holy Spirit within us can know the will of God, and we can discern where he is already at work. And if we can discern where God is working, it is certainly in our best interest to join him in the work that he has already started.