Three of this week’s passages invites us to reflect on our own behavior. As you reflect you may want to jot down notes because the Gospel activity will draw from those reflections.
There’s something peculiar in the first four verses or the interaction between Ahab and Naboth. Ahab wants the vineyard given to Naboth’s family so he can have a vegetable garden near his home. Ahab offers a better vineyard or money and assumes he is being more than fair with his offer. Naboth refuses because God forbids giving up the family land. When Ahab sulks he leaves out the part about Naboth doing as God commands. Both parties stated their positions and there was no discussion, only Naboth’s refusal.
Mediators are taught to go beyond the positions to get each person’s side of the story heard so they can come to a peaceful resolution. But that’s not what we see in the passage or in most of our lives. Truth is, most of us sulk like Ahab and only remember we didn’t get our way. Reflect on conflicts you have had that escalated and compare them to conflicts that have been peacefully resolved. What was the difference?
This is a psalm perfect for self-reflection because the psalmist sees the “evil” others do and how God treats them and is then thankful not to be like them. Notice how braggarts are condemned just before the psalmist brags that God will pay attention to them? Like the psalmist we often overlook our flaws while pointing them out in others.
Ask yourself what the most annoying flaws are in others. Then ask yourself if you have them or a tendency toward them.
As I read “justification by faith” and “works of the law,” I realize there’s something missing in the old works vs. faith debate. Reflect on the “works of love” or “fruits of the Spirit” that are evidence of your faith. Consider finding images to reflect these and making a collage.
Begin by finding images of alabaster jars online. You’ll notice a variety of shapes are possible so pay attention to the colors. Alabaster is made from two materials – gypsum and calcite – so bands naturally form in it. For our purposes in visualizing the Gospel, these materials will be sins and forgiveness.
Take out a piece of paper that is close to one of the two colors in alabaster, fold it in half, trace a jar shape and then cut it out. On the inside of the jar – the sides that were folded together – write your sins as you confess them to God. Then add the bands of forgiveness on the outside of your jar. Then paste your jar onto a background of the biblical text (Luke 7 horizontal,Luke 7 vertical).