Perhaps Christ gave us the church because it is too hard to follow him alone. Sometimes pride prevents us from reaching out to others for help. We may be ashamed of our vulnerability. We may tell ourselves no one else can understand or help. Yet the community of...
God of light, I cannot find you in my darkness. I sink into despair instead of standing in faith. I am afraid to hope and too wounded to love. Send your angels and saints to strengthen and build me up. Encourage me with the witness of others who believe when I cannot believe. I claim refuge in your church, the living body of Christ. Amen.
Like us, the Israelites struggle to be consistently faithful to God. God therefore allows a foreign king to rule them until the people come to their senses and cry out for help. The prophet Deborah gives instructions for the battle that will begin the deliverance of the people. The readings from Psalms and Zechariah demonstrate that this pattern of unfaithfulness and restoration has occurred frequently in the history of God’s people. In Thessalonians, Paul echoes what Jesus says in last week’s Gospel reading: We must always be prepared for the return of Christ because we do not know when it will occur. God gives us resources to use for the kingdom, and in Matthew Jesus indicates that God will ask for an account of how well we have used them.
Read Judges 4:1-7. Who has been a judge—someone who helps you discern—in your life? How can you help others discern the way?
Read Psalm 123. How do you focus on God through conflict and struggle?
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. When have you encouraged someone in a time of darkness? When have you been the one in need of encouragement?
Read Matthew 25:14-30. What would change if you considered your dreams and desires as from God? What first step can you take to enact your desires?
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