Lessons for Proper 27, Pentecost 23   November 12, 2017

Joshua 24: 1-3a; 14-25

The Book of Joshua confirms early in its text, ”As I was with Moses I will be with you.”  Joshua has inherited the leadership of the tribes of Israel.  The text notes that Joshua repeats many of Moses’ actions.  Today’s passage is similar to that at the foot of Mt. Sinai where Moses requires his people to drop other gods and pledge their lives to the One God.    Near the final words of the book, we have this conversation between Joshua and the people who have taken possession of some of Palestine.  Joshua demands the people put away the gods they had in Egypt; Yahweh is our God.  This solemn covenant is made in Shechem, a legal contract binding the Israelites to the One God of their forebears.

 

I Thessalonians 4: 13-18

The apostle Pauls’ devotion and full-fledged commitment to the resurrection of Jesus and to its meaning for new converts in Thessalonica is certainly without question in this passage.  Paul is forming community; he is writing to new Christians who live in a society that rejects them.  Paul cannot be wishy-washy in his words.  Death lurks around the corner; indeed for some in this community it has arrived.  But in grieving for them, Paul says, know that they will be with Christ, “caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord.”

 

Matthew 25: 1-13

The parable of the ten bridesmaids requires the reader to crack the code:  who are the bridesmaids and who is the groom?  It seems reasonable that the wedding banquet is a symbol of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the long-awaited bridegroom is the Son of Man, Jesus Christ.  This leaves the bridesmaids who represent Christians then and now.  Some bridesmaids prepare for a long delay in the bridegroom’s coming, they have extra oil; others are not prepared, they expect action soon.  The parable thus illustrates the necessity of Christians to prepare, to maintain their faith. For the day they meet the Lord cannot be scheduled.