A few weeks ago, we had the first reading talking about Abraham bargaining with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. You never mentioned why God was going to destroy the cities. Why not?
The reason is simple. Those responsible for the common lectionary, had a pattern for deciding what scriptures to include and where. First there was the division of the Gospels into a 3-year pattern designed sequentially. Second, they looked for an Old Testament reading they felt echoed the Gospel message. Third, they looked for a Psalm that would seem to connect the two. Fourth and last, they arranged the Epistles sequentially with no intended reference to the other three scriptures.
The focus of the Gospel that week was prayer. The Psalm emphasizes: “When I called you answered me.” Given those two clues one looks at the first reading to understand why it was picked. If you notice the reading did not touch upon what the issues in Sodom were. The description of Sodom and Gomorrah were not yet given, not until the next chapter (19). I asked, “Why was Abraham bargaining?” The answer I discerned is his brother lived there. He was trying to save his brother’s life.
So, why would this scripture be chosen to go with this Gospel? If you remember, at the end of the Gospel, Jesus, after giving the story about asking a neighbor for bread late at night, states: “if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.” To me the obvious answer was “persistence in prayer”. Abraham was persistent in petitioning God. Thus, as I was preparing to preach, I saw that these readings are not about sodomy but prayer. And even more importantly persistence in prayer.