The readings from the Old Testament will take you through the conclusion of the book of Exodus, which establishes God’s presence in the tabernacle, “dwelling with” the Israelites and moving with them in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night as they move onward to the Promised Land. You will also read the first fifteen chapters of the book of Leviticus, which contain detailed instructions given by God to Moses establishing the procedure for offerings as well as detailing the consecration of the sanctuary and of priests. Instructions of purification are also given, covering disease, childbirth, and other human function. The temptation to skip ahead or to skim rapidly will be great. You don’t want to “bog down” or give up, but you do want to keep moving (like the children of Israel) while paying attention to why God demands so much of his people. God wanted them, as God wants us, to honor his holiness and their (our) chosen-ness by offering the first, best, and most precious of all we have been given to him.
The psalms this week are songs of thanksgiving for recovery and forgiveness, praising God, the creator and deliverer.
The readings from Mark’s gospel recount Jesus’ ministry of healing and teaching, often in parables about the mystery of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus will prophesy and exorcise demons. He will feed five thousand people in the wilderness—and then turn around and feed four thousand more! Chapter eight concludes with Jesus’ first announcement of what will happen to him, followed by Peter’s incredulity and Jesus’ rebuke of him.
Jesus’ words in Mark 8:34-36 speak directly to us this week: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves, and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”