Stewart has asked me to write this week’s blog as an introduction to the coming Lenten reflections.
It won’t have escaped anyone’s notice that Matthew is the Gospel for this year in the church’s lectionary. Matthew’s is not the longest Gospel – Luke adds another 2-3 pages, but it is still a long Gospel.
I’ve written – well, actually, I’m still writing – a reflection for each day of Lent, including the Sundays. Some of the daily readings will be quite long, a chapter or so – but some are much shorter.
Matthew is known as the Jewish Gospel. The author seems to be working hard to convince his own ethnic group, the Jews, about the fact that Jesus is the Messiah. There are lots of Old Testament references and it focuses on the idea of Jesus coming into his kingdom – the essential Jewish story.
As for previous years of Lent reflections, I’ve chosen not to consult commentaries or other writers. I read the passage, pray about it, and write. So I don’t promise deep scholarly insights – but I do try to give you my own thoughts and reactions to the text. Sometimes, you will find something entirely different in the reading for the day. It would be surprising if you didn’t.
My hope is that for anyone who has perhaps not recently, or not ever, read the Gospel thoughtfully in one long stretch, you might find a pattern in Matthew’s writing that will be of help to you. I hope you will meet Jesus, as they say, up, close and personal.
Or, for someone who has read a half-dozen scholarly commentaries and written a thesis on the Gospel, you will nod indulgently and say, ‘Yes, I thought that, too’. I hope that you will link arms with Jesus, and graciously ask him to help us both to pay as much attention to our loving, as our knowing. I know this is one of my deep failures.
Most important, I hope that everyone will find after at least some of the reflections, that you will bow your heads (as I have often done, writing them) and give simple thanks, or seek forgiveness, or just say, ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘I love you’ or ‘I worship you’.
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I’ll ‘see’ you on Wednesday. Look up! Jesus is coming – and He is the King!