Reading Luke and Acts in 2020
Week 7 | Luke 7
Luke 7 Reflections and Questions
By Rev. Susan Gary Landry
Have you heard? Wynton Marsalis is coming to Symphony Hall in Atlanta this March 23! In case you have forgotten, Marsalis is one of our most gifted jazz musicians, known for having the talent to turn his trumpet into audio honey with cayenne. According to David Hajdu, Marsalis ruled the jazz universe in the 80s and 90s. But, by 2002, the new jazz craze was all but over, and Marsalis and his ilk were left to find another way. Marsalis lost his high fame, lost his fiancée, and found himself just another member in occasional jazz bands.
One evening, as Marsalis played from the back row in a band, he came forward for a solo, and began his own rendition of “I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You”. Somehow, with no support at all, Marsalis painted the melody in muted tones and breathtaking fermatas. The audience rose and fell with his passionate “wrenching act of creative expression”. As he came to the final phrase, plaintively teasing out the title “I….Don’t Stand……a Ghost..of a….Chance….”
Ring Ring Ring—someone’s cell phone blurted. Marsalis froze. People stirred, laughed and took sips of their drinks. Journalist Hajdu jotted “Magic RUINED”.
Marsalis then brought the trumpet back to his lips and playfully struck the notes of the cell phone tune. He played it again with a new rhythm, before beginning his own genius improvisation, making it his own—lifting the melody, changing keys, and coming back around, all the way, to where he had started……”with………You…..”
And the audience rose with a roar.
Marsalis’ humility in joining the discord instead of railing against it, his entry into this discordant world that knocks us all down, coaxing the room with his honed magic, allowed his God-given creativity to lift everyone out of the ruination. He lifted them out of the place of deep hopeless self-doubt, and somehow ushered all into brilliant, heavenly hope.
Luke 7 ushers us into Jesus’ company as he joins our discordant world, allowing us to perceive and receive holy moments of healing. Jesus lifts our hopeless, self-doubting brothers and sisters to truly brilliant, heavenly hope. And friend, I pray He lifts you, too, today and always.
Further, this hope guides us to consider our own possibilities, our own talents or skills, which we may have wrongly discounted. God’s strength is made evident in our scripture this week, wherein we can become a blessing to this ‘discordant’ world?
*** I suggest taking each of the following sections one at a time this week and pondering their accompanying questions. There are just 4 sections—maybe you approach them every other day?
Read Luke 7:1-10 Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant: When have you seen someone forego getting help for their personal needs so they can help someone else? Perhaps you remember a very personal experience like that? What is Jesus saying to you about your own faith?
Pray: Lord I thank you for the inspiration of good leaders, and for your call to my area of leadership. Aid me in receiving your call to believe in you, with my whole self and talents. Amen.
Read Luke 7:11-17 Jesus Heals the Widow’s Son at Nain: The widow’s only son was dead, which would have left her potentially indigent. Have you grieved a sudden loss, been terrified for your future? How did your faith bring you through?
Pray: God I’m humbled by what others have been led through, and I’m so grateful for your guidance in my dark struggles. Strengthen my faith, I pray! Help me be an encourager in the faith of others. Amen.
Read verses 18-35 Jesus reorients the Messengers from John the Baptist: John sends his messengers to ask Jesus a question—“are you the one?” Do you sometimes wonder if he is really the one? How did Jesus answer the question and why? Could your faith help answer this question for others?
Pray: Jesus, you often surprise us! Thank you for leading me to new ways of viewing this world. I love growing in you. Lord, aid me in turning my growth into encouragement for others. Amen.
Read Luke 7:36-50 A Sinful Woman Forgiven: Do you identify with the man who was curious and planned a way to find out if Jesus was for real? Or do you identify with the woman who saw Jesus’ holiness and wanted to be close to him? How can you get closer to Him this week? What might you want forgiven?
Pray: Jesus, we marvel at your choice to join us in our discord, in all of its forms. We praise you for loving us enough to come for us, for healing us and teaching us a new way. Bless us today with enough humility to receive your message, with enough love to share your forgiveness and hope, and with enough faith to remain in your company always. Amen.
Rev. Susan Gary Landry is superintendent of the LaGrange District.
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