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Luke 12

 

Reading Luke and Acts in 2020


Week 12  |  Luke 12
 


Luke 12 Reflections and Questions


By Rev. Blair Zant

“Meanwhile, the crowd gathered by the thousands. They were crushing each other.” (Luke 12:1)

Here we are. Luke 12. And Jesus’ teachings from the past chapter continue to draw crowds. The curious populace builds and builds, spilling over into the 12th chapter, and surrounding Jesus as he leaves the dinner table of a Pharisee. A week ago, I looked upon the description of this crowd in alarm, concerned that their desire to be near the Messianic spectacle was now resulting in crushed bodies and dangerous conditions. Today? Yes. I have an entirely new reality linking my angst to crowds.   

We now live in a new reality. Albeit a temporary one – in the name of Jesus, I rebuke this virus and ask quick and full recovery for all who suffer – we know this pandemic will have lasting effects far beyond what we can currently imagine. I am shaken. A little lost. And not just because my husband and I now add “homeschool teachers” to our list of job responsibilities. I am feeling lost because the way I understood school, and work, and daily schedules, and feeding ourselves, and church, and communion, and gathering in community, and the need for embrace… all of it has changed in a matter of days. In the world of our own home, we are striving to find a new normal. And honestly, we are sort of getting to know one another again. 

I am grateful for the many pastor friends who have taken to social media to preach, pray and write about all this. You are offering creative pastoral leadership, and we are immensely grateful to you. Everyone is grieving. We pray protection over you, that you would respond wisely and lovingly to us in our grief, without taking on the responsibility of fixing our grief. Because you cannot. And flock? Your pastor’s decision to move worship and bible studies online, and insist the church staff to work from home, and empower you to be the church by calling one another to check in… these are incredibly prayerful and courageous acts of faithful Christian leadership. Take a moment to thank your pastor and leaders for such decisive courage and care.

If you are still on the fence about this, let me put it plainly: your insistence to gather, despite all the warnings, is crushing us. Go home. Stay home. Rest. And revision. I read a statement yesterday that was helpful to me: When fishermen can’t get out onto the water, they stay home and repair their nets. Spend time repairing your nets, friends. Start by reading Luke 12 with me this week. It’s really long, and its implications will give you plenty to do in the meantime.

Opening Prayer:
Eternal God, whose faithfulness extends to every generation, you hear the cries of the scared and lonely, and you show compassion to those in need. I kneel in my current condition and acknowledge my own. Teach me patient obedience to your commands. Heal my fear with Your faithfulness. Show me how to balance readiness with rest. Fill me with compassion for my neighbor and for myself. Convict me of my stubborn pride, especially as it threatens the safety of my neighbors. And fill me with hope. With joy. With the fruits of the Spirit. For they will nourish me and help me to nourish others. In this shore-time, teach me how to mend my nets for your kingdom, glory, and honor. Amen.
 
WEDNESDAY, vv.1-3
  1. Jesus offers a strong warning to the disciples: “beware the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy.” He insists that the things we attempt to cover up will be revealed. That which we whisper in the dark and behind closed doors will be brought to light and announced from the rooftop! This is a tough word in a season of borderline isolation under stressful conditions. What temptations are you currently facing to indulge hypocrisy? How are you tempted to cope with your stress “in the dark”, behind closed doors, that would cause harm if and when it is brought to light?
  2. Lent is a season to practice disciplined obedience to God. How has this new reality invited you into new acts of obedience? In light of your answer to the question above, what do you need to avoid such temptation? What’s one action you can take today to fortify yourself?
 
THURSDAY, vv. 4-21
Do not fear. We read it again and again throughout the pages of scripture, and yet, we have no idea how to actually make ourselves do this. It feels, for me, beyond my control to stop myself from being afraid. Especially when I am actively operating in fear. In this part of the passage, Jesus offers us pastoral insight into how fear works, and when and where it is properly placed. Do not be afraid of what can injure or even kill you, Jesus says. But yes, be afraid of that which can eternally condemn you. But do not fear God in this way, as if God is calloused and calculating. God has calculated, yes. But regarding the number of hairs on your head. The pricelessness of knowing, and remembering, and pursing you in relationship. Do not operate in fear God’s wrath. Operate out of devotion to God’s loving provision.
  1. Speaking of provision, take a hard look at your storehouses. How are you measuring “God’s blessings?” Recently, Amazon cracked down on price gouging, which resulted in a Tennessee man having to decide what to do with the $17,000 worth of hand sanitizer and disinfectants he had stockpiled for resale. If you found yourself judging him, ask yourself: why do I feel that way? In the honesty of your answer, consider the following responses:
    1. “I find such stockpiling for resale incredibly selfish.” What do you have on your shelves that you can donate today to help a neighbor in need?
    2. “I judge his chosen way to earn a living.” Hourly and commissioned people are losing income. People are losing their jobs and businesses. What’s one way you can help supplement someone’s income or support a small business today?
    3. “Honestly, I am angry, because I am in serious need over here and I can’t find or afford what I need.” Ask for help. I know. It’s really hard. And embarrassing. But you are the only one who feels your own shame. Others would love the chance to help! They just need to know what you need. Who can you reach out to right now and ask for the help you need?
  2. In a curious revelation, Christ tells us that we could speak a word against the Son of Man and be forgiven. This is a good word for Peter to hear, just as one example. But to blaspheme the Holy Spirit? To render the Holy Spirit powerless in your own life or someone else’s? That, Jesus says, is unforgiveable.
    1. The work of the Holy Spirit is the work of repentance, change, transformation, and the unleashing of Spiritual giftedness. Who is the Holy Spirit in your life? How is the Holy Spirit currently working in your life? Are there any parts of your life you need to let the Spirit have greater access to?
    2. What spiritual gifts have you been given? How might God use you in them for such a time as this?
 
FRIDAY, vv. 22-34
  1. “And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” (Luke 12:24b) Worry doesn’t add time. It disorients it. I’m trying hard to keep myself oriented by building daily schedules for me, the kids, and our house. Today, how can you orient time, not around worry, but around simple gratitude? Maybe once an hour, you pause for 30 seconds, and count 10 blessings. Or next to your To Do list, add a column for “To Praise”.
  2. “Do not be afraid little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kin-dom.” (Luke 12:32) Write these words out today. Put them in a prominent place to read over and over. Pray them as a breath prayer: “(Inhale)Little flock, (exhale) do not be afraid. (inhale) God delights (exhale) to give you the kingdom.”
 
SATURDAY, vv. 35-40
“Be dressed and ready for action.” (Luke 12:35)  Jesus reminds his followers that expectation is an essential spiritual discipline. Our readiness to respond to both the call of Christ need be just as real as our readiness for the return of Christ! “You must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” (Luke 12:40)  Today, focus on readiness.
  1. Put on pants. Seriously. Give yourself a reason to get dressed. Even though you are not leaving the house, get up, get dressed. What affect did that have on your readiness for the day?
  2. Put on love. Yes. Clothe yourself according to Paul’s directives to the Colossians. Ready yourself for Christ today by completing one act of personal piety (devotion, prayer, fasting, bible lesson with your homeschoolers,...) and one act of mercy (call a friend to check in, make your online donation to your church, set up an amazon food delivery to your local food pantry, …).
 
SUNDAY, vv. 41-48
Here is what we discovered last Sunday: churches who risked innovation, and suspended in-person worship and moved online, experienced a SIGNIFICANT jump in online participation compared to average in-person attendance. Now. That is not the same as hugging and worshiping in person. I get it. And yet, we have the chance to the body of Christ in a whole new way, to a HUGE portion of the population who are still in great spiritual need, but who are no longer spending Sundays attending sports events, work, travel, or gathered in other forms of community. Y’all. The Vineyard is so ripe for the harvest. Get online. Worship with your home church. Or, Lean into the Connection, and attend any church you want. But don’t just watch: Worship! Jump into the comments section. Offer your prayers. Encourage the worship leaders. Click on all the prayer hand emojis you want!
And actively welcome and greet new people. While our master is still delayed in coming, and Sunday-morning-church-as-we-new-it is delayed in coming back, be a faithful, hospitable, engaged member of the body! Love hard on all the scared, stressed, and searching people willing to finally give (online) church a try!
 
MONDAY, vv. 49-59
“I came to being fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled. I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed.” Luke 12:49-50
I find this Jesus so compelling. The one who is urgent and aggressive in his mission of salvation. How does this glimpse of Jesus shape your image of Christ? Spend a moment in prayerful consideration: in this present moment, where is my sense of urgency? Is it for the things of Christ, or for my own concerns? Pray for your urgent heart to align with the urgent heart of Christ.
 
TUESDAY, 1-59
Reread the full passage one last time.
  1. What gives you comfort and encouragement?
  2. What challenges you and calls you to confront yourself?
  3. What still confuses you?
  4. What would you like to take from this week into next?
Closing Prayer:
Eternal God, whose faithfulness extends to every generation, you hear the cries of the scared and lonely, and you show compassion to those in need. I kneel in my current condition and acknowledge my own. Teach me patient obedience to your commands. Heal my fear with Your faithfulness. Show me how to balance readiness with rest. Fill me with compassion for my neighbor and for myself. Convict me of my stubborn pride, especially as it threatens the safety of my neighbors. And fill me with hope. With joy. With the fruits of the Spirit. For they will nourish me and help me to nourish others. In this shore-time, teach me how to mend my nets for your kingdom, glory, and honor. Amen.

Rev. Blair Zant is Associate Director of Congregational Excellence.
 


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