Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Readings for Sunday, January 21, 2018

Hello Everyone,

The following is a slightly edited repeat from my 2012 commentary. Enjoy.

Yeah!!!! Jonah’s Back. So here we go.

Jonah 3:1-5, 10 – PLEASE, Please, please read all of Jonah. It is only 4 chapters long. Here is the synopsis and with only one question: Jonah is called to go east to Nineveh but hops a ship to go west. Ship runs into a nasty storm and as a last straw the crew throws Jonah overboard. Jonah is swallowed by a (pay attention here) large FISH, not a whale. Jonah prays to God. Fish vomits Jonah up on a beach. Jonah goes to Nineveh and prophesied “Forty days more and Nineveh will be overthrown.” All of Nineveh repents, from the king to all the people to even the animals, and God has mercy. Jonah pouts and pouts (he hates Nineveh). God makes a bush grow to give Jonah some shade. It dies and Jonah pouts. God chastises Jonah asking, "And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?". The question: What do Jonah do?

Psalm 62:5-12 – Verses 5 and 6 are a repeat of verses 1 and 2. Verses 3 and 4 tell us that the psalmist is suffering at the hand of others. Who is the psalmist waiting for and why? Who is the psalmist speaking to in verses 8-10? What does he want them to do? What two things belong to God in verses 11-12? What does the last part of verses 12 say to you and how do you resolve it with Paul’s teaching that all are saved by faith alone?

1 Corinthians 7:29-31 – This is the second week of five we will spend in 1 Corinthians. This can be a difficult passage to understand. What is Paul asking believers to do and why? What is Paul’s expectation when he wrote the letter? What about our times? How should we behave?

Mark 1:14-20 – Mark is in a hurry to tell his story so he doesn’t elaborate on the details. Verses 12 and 13 are about Jesus’ temptation with no details. The same for verses 14 and 15 about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Just a brief mention. Matthew 4 and Luke 4 give more detail to both. Where is Jesus in verse 16? Who were the first two disciples and what was their occupation? What did Jesus say they will do? Who were the next two disciples? Who was their father? What were they doing at the time?

Have a great week serving God by serving your neighbors.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Readings for Sunday, January 14, 2018

Hello Everyone,

On Sunday (January 7) I asked the question "What did I commit to?" when I said "yes" to Jesus and was baptized. Prior to the act of saying "Yes" we need to hear what God is calling us to do (this week). Once we say yes, we need to learn to fish (January 21), we need to be cleansed of those things that hold us back (January 28), and we need to go out to proclaim the Good News, the message of God's reign of love (February 4). Finally, through all of this God's Spirit will bring transformation: of our lives, of our work, of our families, of our communities, and of our world, slowly but surely God's work will be done (February 11).

When you said "Yes" to God, where has God's Spirit taken you? Where will the Spirit drive you tomorrow, next week, next year?

The Lectionary Readings for this week are:

1 Samuel 3:1-20 – The boy Samuel is living with the priest Eli. God calls Samuel but Samuel mistakes it for Eli. Eli then tells Samuel how to respond. When he does, God tells the boy about what will happen to Eli and Eli’s sons, who have not followed in their father's path.

Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 – A psalm about the inescapable God, who knows us, surrounds us, and is wherever we are. Are you open to that presence? Can you feel God's Spirit?

1 Corinthians 6:12-20 – This can be a disturbing passage. First, “all things are lawful”, as Paul seems to be quoting the saying of the Corinthians. However, not all things are beneficial, he reminds them. Paul then writes about fornication (sexual intercourse outside of marriage) and tells the Corinthians to “stop it”. It seems that some in the Corinthian church were being sexually promiscuous because they thought all things were lawful. Paul says our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we should glorify God with our bodies. 

John 1:43-51 – After Andrew and Simon follow Jesus (verses 35-42), Jesus calls Philip to follow. Philip in turn finds Nathanael and asks him to check out Jesus. Who have you found and asked to "check out Jesus"? Who have you invited to church with a simple "Come and see"?

Have a wonderful week serving and loving God by loving neighbors.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Readings for Sunday, January 7, 2018

Hello Everyone,

Yes, 2018! Have you gotten into the habit of using that or do you catch yourself writing 2017?

And, what about the habit of faith? Or should I say, the habits of doing those things which foster faith? Do we pray daily? Do we attend worship services more than just Christmas, Easter, weddings, and funerals? Do we give to the church and other charitable organizations generously? Do we help the church and other organizations that are helping the disadvantaged? Do we witness to our faith, inviting others to know Jesus Christ and his salvation? Those five actions (prayer, presence, gifts, service, and witness) are part of our covenant with God when we are baptized into the church. We also recommit ourselves to them when we baptize others into the church.

This Sunday is "Baptism of the Lord Sunday" and, as the first Sunday in the new year, a day in which we will renew our covenant with God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is a time to remember just what it was we committed to when we gave our lives to Christ. 

Our readings this Sunday are:
Genesis 1:1-5 – “In the beginning when God created . . . .” God saw that the light was good.

Psalm 29 – Ascribe glory to the Lord for his voice is over the waters, powerful, full of majesty, breaks cedars, flashes like flames, shakes the wilderness, causes oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare.

Acts 19:1-7 – Paul finds some disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus. He asks them if they had received the Holy Spirit but they had only been baptized for repentance. Paul instructs them about the Holy Spirit and lays his hands on them so they could receive it.

Mark 1:4-11 – John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus. Coming out of the water Jesus sees the “heavens torn apart”, the Spirit descends upon him “like a dove”, and the voice from heaven declares Jesus to be “my Son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased”. I love the dramatic nature of Mark when Jesus sees the “heavens torn apart”. Compare that with Matthew 3:16 “suddenly the heavens were opened to him” and Luke 3:21 “and he was praying, the heaven was opened.”

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary