#LukeActs2014: Woe, Woe, Whoa (Luke 11:37-54)

repentance4Read Luke 11:37-53 NRSV

When Jesus wondered out loud if he would find faith on the earth when he returned (Luke 18:8), I thought he meant that evil would increase to such an extent that it would extinguish faith. And that may well be. But lately, I have added another thought to my mind about his words. I wonder if he might have meant that faith would be so misrepresented by those of us who allege to have it, people would not touch it with a ten-foot pole. But whatever Jesus meant, we can never abide the notion that faith may diminish as time goes by. And to whatever extent we contribute to this through our contaminated witness, all we can say is, “Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy!”
– Steve Harper, Contaminated Witness

A wise person once advised me, when you come across scriptures where Jesus is instructing or correcting the Scribes and the Pharisees, stop, listen, and allow the Holy Spirit to examine your own heart. We are often more like them than we want to admit. They were the “churched people” of their day. They too took their faith seriously, worshiped deeply, prayed and read the scriptures searching for God, answered a call and studied hard to prepare themselves for leading God’s people, bore the responsibility and sacrifice of leadership.

Reflection and meditation on these texts keep us humble and soft in God’s hands. We need God’s grace and leading to avoid falling into the same enslaving practices.

In this light, let us reflect on Jesus’ warnings from Luke 11, often referred to as “the woes.”

Opening Prayer: Psalm 51:10-13 NRSV
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

Verse 42: Woe to you … for you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God
God reveal in me where have I focused on rules and details above you. Free me from the need to control myself, others, and access to your love and grace.

Verse 43: Woe to you … for you love to have the seat of honor … and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces
God reveal where my pride, ego and need for attention have become false idols. Forgive me and heal me of the judgmental attitudes which separate me from you and from others.

Verse 44: Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it
God reveal every hidden thing I think and do which hurts others. Reveal my hypocrisy. Reveal where my attitudes and actions bringing contamination rather than community. Lord, have mercy upon me and raise me to new life in you.

Verse 46: Woe also to you … for you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them.
God reveal how my actions and expectations are burdening others unnecessarily. Forgive me for placing myself above others and beyond accountability. Humble me and grow in me a love and solidarity with all people.

Verse 47: Woe to you! For you … are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors
God how am I perpetuating the prejudices and injustices of previous generations? Help me to join you in breaking this cycle.

Verse 52: Woe to you… for you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.
God how am I making you and your ways confusing? Grant me a hunger for your truth and help my words to match my actions so others find you easily.

Closing Prayer: Psalm 51:10-13 NRSV
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

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Woe, Woe, Whoa © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are very welcome to use this in a worship or group setting with proper attribution.

Reading for the week of March 16: Luke 11
Click Here for more information on the #LukeActs2014 Reading Plan

For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

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