Narrative Lectionary Key Verse for Today
NL Daily Devotion for Sunday, February 3, 2019
by Dr. Kimberly Leetch, Clergy Stuff
Main Idea: We are worthy simply because we exist.
It was common for people in Jesus’ day to express their religious rites and rituals with grand, public gestures. It helped others to know, for example, if someone was in mourning, engaging in purification, or fasting. Others would know how to treat them—either by leaving them alone, or by praising their efforts to appease the Lord.
Jesus was having none of it. He didn’t want people to go through the motions of appeasing God. He wanted people to have genuine, authentic relationships with God—the kind that are too intimate to display in public. The kind that change a person from the inside out. The kind that change the way people show up in the world.
For Jesus, people who prayed for praise obtained their reward in the praise the received. But what Jesus desired for people and their relationship with God was worth much more than praise. The prayer Jesus offered simplified how people could pray. It boiled prayer down to the things we need for ourselves, for God, and for others. Praise from others was not on the list.
Ultimately, praise is not a reward that satisfies for long. It requires continual reaffirmation. It demands others recognize us for us to be worthy. Jesus’ prayer recognizes that we are worthy simply because we are. It highlights that all human beings share the same needs (food, clothing, shelter, relationships, and physical, spiritual, and mental health). At the core, none is greater than another.
Jesus’ prayer invites us to find worth, not in the praise of others, but in the love of God. We are worthy simply because we exist. We are loved because we were born from love. We are praised by creation itself because we breathe, eat, sleep, love. Our greatest treasure is not out there. It’s inside us. It’s God.
Narrative Lectionary Daily Reading:
‘When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
‘Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
‘And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.