All posts by Matt

Matt Ritchie is a practicing civil litigator, who lives in Texas, where he and his family are members of the spiritual community at St. Paul United Methodist Church. He has been reading, talking, teaching, and blogging about Christian spirituality in the emerging culture for over five years. His other interests include technology, quantum physics, PC gaming, and seriously geek-ish board games.
Hand on Bible

“Him Who Fills All in All” – This Week’s Lectionary Texts

This upcoming Sunday is Reign of Christ Sunday, the final Sunday in the liturgical year. The texts begin with a call to all people to praise God because of God’s goodness. The Ezekiel text then continues with a promise that God will act decisively to bring back all of those “lost sheep” who have been pushed out of the fold by the powerful. The Ephesians text is one of the more notable “Cosmic Christ” texts – assuring its recipients that Christ is not only placed in authority over all the worldly powers, but that he now “fills all in all.”

Finally, in the gospel text, we are transported to a day of Christ’s judgment, but Matthew offers a twist on the expected narrative. Those who have pleased Christ during his “absence” are not defined by their beliefs, their race, or even their familiarity with Jesus. They are instead defined by their passion for doing justice. As the Ephesians text reminded us, Christ was never really absent. He is  present in everything, so the way we treat others is tantamount to the way we treat Christ.

Again, Matthew returns to this astounding theme that we have seen over and over this year – we make our own rules in life . What we put into it is what, in the end, we will receive from it.

Here are the texts:

  • Psalm 100
  • Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
  • Ephesians 1:15-23
  • Matthew 25:31-46

If you are reading through the entire Bible by using the Extended Lectionary, you should begin at Matthew 25:31, and read through the end of Chapter 28.

Prayer for the Week

Abiding Hope – A Prayer for the Week

Here is the prayer for the week of November 16:

Lord, your gift of holy Scripture brings us life and light. As we hear and reflect on its words, help us to embrace an abiding hope for your new world.

Traditional:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Hand on Bible

“The Scorn of Those at Ease” – Texts for November 16

The Lectionary Texts for the week leading up  to November 16 are…

  • Psalm 123
  • Judges 4:1-7
  • I Thess. 5:1-11
  • Matthew 25:14-30

If you are reading with the Extended Lectionary, you also should all of I Thessalonians 5.

I also put together a YouTube video discussing the Revised Common Lectionary texts for November 16. I probably won’t do these every week, but I’m hoping to do them periodically.

Prayer for the Week

Hope for the Kingdom – A Prayer for This Week

God, your Son came into our world to undo the works of evil and transform us into your children. Help us to live in this hope, so that – when Christ returns to dwell among us – we are ready to be made like him, both in body and in spirit.

Traditional:

O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that he might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as he is pure; that, when he comes again with power and great glory, we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Prayer for the Week

To Run Without Stumbling – A Prayer for This Week

Merciful God, through your grace you have gifted each of us with the capacity to serve. Help us to run, without stumbling, as we strive to participate in the transformation of your world.

Traditional:

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Reading Newspaper

This Week in Review

A little linkage for the end of your week…

Are conservatives and liberals just drinking different forms of crazy kool-aid based on the media they consume? Not according to data recently collected by Pew Research:

Pew discovered that conservatives are consuming a right-wing media full of lies and misinformation, whereas liberals are more interested in media that puts facts before ideology. It’s very much not a “both sides do it” situation. Conservatives are becoming more conservative because of propaganda, whereas liberals are becoming more liberal while staying very much checked into reality.

Children – many of them Americans – are dying in Palestine.  Perhaps, instead of obsessing over the (non) ebola epidemic in the United States, we could focus on some genuine threats to human life, and to our children’s survival – ethnic conflict is one. But we might also be thinking about climate change and gun violence.

People often preface statements about the Bible by using the phrase “The Bible clearly says…” Rachel Held Evans points out that similar phrases have been used a lot throughout time, in opposition to interracial marriage, in support of slavery, and even in support of genocide.

Best clip I read this week: “The message of Christianity is not Christianity but a new Reality.”

Love begins with “listening to what people have to say about themselves.”

Hand on Bible

“Rivers into Desert” – This Week’s Lectionary Texts

This week’s Lectionary texts include a Psalm that celebrates a God who rescues humanity from distress, turning rivers into desert. The Revised Common Lectionary skips over several verses, but the entire Psalm – which is a celebration of divine grace and mercy for those who are in distress – is well worth reading.

The texts also include a passage from Joshua in which Israel is assured that God will “drive out” rival clans from their new homeland. This text introduces a series of stories that hold to a disturbing theological perspective – one which suggests that God can and does mandate violent conflict to advance divine purposes, even to the point of genocide!

Regardless of how you interpret the brutal military campaign that is described in Joshua, it is important to understand the context in which it was written. The storytellers who, over generations, told and re-told the accounts that are now recorded in the Old Testament, lived in an world in which competing tribal claims to land were an ever-present  reality – one that often resulted in bloodshed. Stories about how the current division of land came to be were often told to justify the claims of each tribe. The book of Joshua is largely an effort to explain why – in spite of the fact that they are latecomers – Israel has a valid claim to land that was formerly inhabited by rival clans.

If you are reading with the Extended Lectionary, then read the following:

Prayer for the Week

Faith, Hope, Love – This Week’s Prayer

Lord, give us passion for your ways and confidence in your promise that a new world is coming. Let faith, hope, and love, flow abundantly from our hearts. Amen.

Traditional:

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Hand on Bible

“My Presence Will Go With You and You Will Rest” – This Week’s Texts

This week’s Lectionary texts are:

  • Psalm 99
  • Exodus 33:12-23
  • I Thessalonians 1:1-10
  • Matthew 22:15-22

If you are reading with the Extended Lectionary, you should also read the following:

  • All of Exodus 33
  • All of I Thessalonians 1
  • Matthew 22:15-33

In Exodus, the conversation between Moses and God centers on the question of how Moses will know that God is with him during the trials ahead. God assures Moses not only of Presence, but ultimately of rest. Does this question also characterize your own spiritual journey?

The text from Matthew presents a trick question – whose image is on the coin? The answer is not as obvious as you might think. Yes, the image is that of Caesar, but humanity itself is made in the image of God! This text is teaching us to see the world with deep contemplation – how you “see” the world is even more important than what you see in the world.