Week of October 6–12, 2014 – Expectations by Raquel Mull
Exodus 32:1–14; Psalm 106:1–6, 19–23; Philippians 4:1–9; Matthew 22:1–14
Scripture Overview: The narrative in Exodus 32:1–14 reflects on the blindness of the people, but the focus is also placed on Yahweh’s intense anger and on Moses’ intervention. Yahweh’s mercy prevails, and Moses is revealed as the quintessential mediator. Psalm 106 recalls the folly of the people in making the golden calf. The sinfulness of the Israelites is laid to their forgetfulness. The inability or unwillingness of the people of God to remember is a damning sin, and Israel rightly should be destroyed. The Philippians text stresses the need for faithfulness to the gospel. Matthew’s version of the parable of the wedding banquet offers a negative example of faithfulness in the form of a guest who comes to the wedding without the proper attire.
Selected Questions and Thoughts for Reflection:
Read Exodus 32:1–14. We understand God’s wrath against the Israelites; do you trust something in your culture more than you trust God?
Read Psalm 106:1–6, 19–23. We go through our everyday life without noticing the shadows and the mystery of breath. When have you forgotten what God has done for you?

Week of October 13–19, 2014 – Public Faith by Heidi Haverkamp
Exodus 33:12–23; Psalm 99; 1 Thessalonians 1:1–10; Matthew 22:15–22Scripture Overview: In Exodus 33, Moses successfully argues that without Yahweh’s merciful presence Israel is no nation and that Yahweh’s and Moses’ efforts have come to naught. Psalm 99 mentions Yahweh’s royal rule, which brings to mind the human agents of that rule: Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. Each of these leaders facilitated Yahweh’s conversation with the people and Yahweh’s rule over them. The opening lines from First Thessalonians raise a question about the church’s understanding of evangelism. Paul and his coworkers experience a change in themselves because of the Thessalonians, who become a living proclamation of the gospel by virtue of their ready acceptance of it. In the Gospel reading, Jesus answers a question with a question and confuses his “audience” both then and today.
Selected Questions and Thoughts for Reflection:
Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1–10. In what public ways do you display your faith?
Read Matthew 22:15–22. As you look at yourself, where do you see the stamp of God’s image? the stamp of the “emperor”?

Week of October 20–26, 2014 – From Generation to Generation by Gary L. Barckert
Deuteronomy 34:1–12; Psalm 90:1–6, 13–17; 1 Thessalonians 2:1–8; Matthew 22:34–46
Scripture Overview: Deuteronomy 34 narrates Moses’ death and Joshua’s succession—both the end of Moses’ life and the continuation of his influence. Psalm 90 is ascribed to Moses, and the tone suits the setting portrayed in Deuteronomy 34. In First Thessalonians, Paul continues his recollection of the relationship between himself and the Thessalonians. Paul and his coworkers acted out their love of neighbor, a love that is possible only because of their prior love of God. The Gospel places Jesus in a setting of controversy with the religious leaders of the day. The exchange about the greatest commandment demonstrates that the religious authorities in fact observe none of the commandments because of their inability to understand properly what Jesus calls the “first” and “second” commandments.
Selected Questions and Thoughts for Reflection:
Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1–8. How do you nurture and encourage the next generation of Christ-followers?
Read Matthew 22:34–46. What theological positions or assumptions keep your life misaligned with the two great commandments of loving God and neighbor? How might you remedy that situation?

Week of October 27–November 2, 2014 – Prayer and Work by Thomas R. Steagald
Joshua 3:7–17; Psalm 107:1–7, 33–37; 1 Thessalonians 2:9–13; Matthew 23:1–12Scripture Overview: The texts remind us that human decisions, relationships, and communities must be rooted in God’s reality. The psalmist expresses that only Yahweh’s grace and power render viable the life of the redeemed. The story of the crossing of the Jordan in Joshua 3 illustrates this principle: apart from Yahweh’s grace, Israel’s life could not be sustained. Paul does not deny an authority due him because of his previous relations with the Thessalonians. At the same time, he can reverse the image and speak of himself as an orphan when separated from these people. The possibility of mutuality emerges from a clear acceptance of the gospel’s authority. Matthew 23 singles out the scribes and Pharisees for flaunting their positions and for engaging in pious activity to receive praise and be courted by others. Their craving of honorific titles shows their failure to acknowledge the empowerment of Jesus as teacher and God as Father.
Selected Questions and Thoughts for Reflection:
Read Joshua 3:7–17. When has faithful memory given way to faithful hope for you in a hard time?
Read 1 Thessalonians 2:9–13. How do you honor both prayer and work in your life? How do you integrate the two?