First, an announcement for the Grey Eagle Church. Don't forget that we will be visited by one of the missionaries that we support. Ardell Graner, missionary along with her husband Gordon in Bolivia, will be with us tomorrow to share their story with us. We will have a potluck supper at 5:30 PM and Ardell will make her presentation following. I am excited and I hope everyone will be there.
Now for our readings:
Jeremiah 18:1-11 - Jeremiah is sent to watch a potter work with clay. This image is a parable about God and how God can mold nations for good or evil and then God can change his mind depending on the response of the people. This passage points to a God who is not immovable but who is willing to change with changing circumstances but always toward God's goal of his Kingdom. How often are we not willing to change with changing circumstances? We resist new things, new ways of worship, new people in our midst, etc. Our resistance to God's molding only delays but never eliminates the change.
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 - The first 6 verses are an acknowledgment that God knows everything about us. In the skipped verses, 7-12, the psalmist proclaims that he cannot hide from God. Verses 13-18 go back to the first statements and extends God's knowledge of the psalmist to his very conception. These 18 verses, along with the final two, 23-24, are a wonderful praise of God's knowledge (and complete love?) of us. As with many uplifting Psalms, this Psalm turns to the dark side in verses 19-22. I find it ironic that 21-22 the psalmist talks about hating those who hate God and then, in verse 24, asks God to see if there is any wicked way in his heart.
[Alternate readings: Deuteronomy 30:15-20 (Follow God and you will be blest. Turn from God and you will perish.) and Psalm 1 (same themes)]
Philemon (Fi-lee'-mun) - There is only one chapter in this very short letter with 25 verses. The lectionary asks us to read verses 1-21 but we might just as well read the salutation also. Paul addresses this letter to a man named Philemon and the central concern was about Philemon's slave Onesimus (O-nees'-i-mus). Onesimus ran away from Philemon (a death penalty in the Roman Empire) to find and care for Paul who is a prisoner in Rome. Paul send him back and asks Philemon to forgive Onesimus and treat him as a brother and not as a slave. Paul says that he will repay Philemon what ever extra expenses Onesimus cost him. The last half of verse 19 is humorous: "I say nothing about your owing me even your own self." A new translation of the Bible called "Common English Bible" puts it this way, "Of course, I won't mention that you owe me your life."
Luke 14:25-33 - This is a very difficult text for Christians in Europe and North America who live comfortable lives. The basic message: Don't plan on being a disciple of Christ if you cannot give up everything you have (ALL your possessions), if you don't "hate" your entire family, and if you don't carry your cross and follow Jesus. Weigh the cost before you begin the journey! It will be too easy for me to downplay the words "all" and "hate" when I preach and very difficult to preach the severity of the words. What do they mean to you? Who knows? I may even have to preach on Philemon!
May these words inspire you to read the Bible and struggle with the message.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor
Pastor Gary Taylor