by Bob Wickizer

How Much More
Rev. Bob Wickizer
Genesis 32:3-8,22-30; Psalm 121; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5; Luke 18:1-8a
21 October 2001

The readings we hear at the end of the church season of Pentecost form a kind of march to Jerusalem for Jesus and his band of followers. The timing is odd because we interrupt the sequence before the passion and switch to a nativity series for Advent. But right now we are one of the twelve or one of the seventy on our march to Jerusalem for that paschal feast, the Passover Seder, the arrest, trial and execution of Jesus the Messiah. At each point along our journey up to Jerusalem, the Master gives us one more instruction about our new life. Today's lesson involves prayer and prayer is central to all of life in the faith and spirit.

Like so much of our Christian heritage, our life of prayer stems directly from first century Jewish prayer and spirituality. The men wear yarmulkes, the little skullcaps, to the synagogue every Friday night to remind them that before God in the presence of the gathered assembly, men in particular are required to humble their intellect. Let me repeat that important point. Before BOTH the people gathered (men, women and children) and before God, only the MEN are reminded to humble their intellects and aspirations.

Next in our list of first century Jewish prayer life is the centrality of community prayer. Only in post-Puritan American life do we find such an interest in a "personal relationship with MY Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Ironically at a time when the rising industrialized United States found a convenient marketplace through the needs of individual consumers did conservative religious groups find such an individualist notion of God. A first century Jew or Christian would not have a clue what we meant about a "personal relationship with God." Individual rights, needs and relationships were just not central to the communities Jesus encountered.

Sundown on Friday, the Jewish Sabbath, involved f ...

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