Monday, September 20, 2010

Readings for September 19

It looks like I forgot to put up my comments for the September 19th readings. I'll do that now and the next post, also today will be for the September 26th texts.

In my sermons I often refer to scapegoating and the violence that permeates culture and society. There is a nice summary of the scapegoating process and how it is the founding violence for religion and society at Religion Dispatches. Eric Reitan refers to Rene Girard as he is discussing the, now cancelled, Koran burning that was to happen in Gainesville, Florida, this past weekend. This is the beginning of a theory by Girard often called the "Memetic Process" (memetic or memesis means imitation) that guides my understanding of humanity and God's redemption of humanity. Please check it out.

Our readings for September 19:

Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 - The prophet mourns for his people who are suffering and hurting. He asks, "Where is the Lord? Why is there no healing?" and wants to cry for his people. Verse 8:22 is the basis for an old favorite spiritual. The prophet asks, "Is there no balm in Gilead?" The spiritual responds in the affirmative, "There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole, to heal the sin-sick soul." (From Wikipedia: In the Bible "Gilead" means hill of testimony or mound of witness, a mountainous region east of the Jordan River, situated in the Kingdom of Jordan.)

[After looking up "Gilead" I remembered that we sung "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" with the words in verse 2, "Here I raise mine Ebenezer . . . " The word "Ebenezer" is a transliterated Hebrew word meaning "helping stone". See 1 Samuel 7:12-14.]

Psalm 79:1-9 - The psalmist speaks for a hurting and devastated Israel. The land has be invaded, the temple despoiled, and the people slaughtered and left to rot. The psalmist, speaking from deep pain, wants to know why God is so angry and when will God avenge the people. Please remember that this Psalm, like most Psalms, are written from a human perspective and often from pain and grief. The psalmist, as did everyone in his time, understood that God was the source of all things good and bad. I believe that Jesus addresses that issue in Luke 13:1-5.

[Alternate readings: Amos 8:4-7, a condemnation of exploitation, and Psalm 113, a praise to God who helps the poor, the needy, and barren women.]

1 Timothy 2:1-7 - Paul ask for, "urge" is his word, prayers of all types: supplications, intercessions, and thanksgivings, especially for national rulers. Paul attests that there is one God and a mediator between God and humanity who is Jesus Christ. Paul is a witness to the Gentiles of that truth.

Luke 16:1-13 - Chapter 15 has three parables: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son (Prodigal). Our reading this week is another parable about a dishonest manager (steward). Since it follows immediately after the Prodigal Son, is it related to the other three? A number of years ago I read a commentary that thought the sheep and coin parables belong together and the Prodigal Son and Dishonest Manager belong together. I have never been able to locate that commentary since. Anyway, a rich man's steward is caught squandering the man's wealth (the prodigal squanders his father's wealth). When confronted the steward asks himself some questions and makes a decision (the prodigal son does the same). The steward then goes to the rich man's debtors, cuts their debts, and takes immediate payment. For this, the rich man praises him. Jesus then continues with comments about faithfulness and warns against serving wealth. Do we squander God's riches (the earth, our families, our communities, our churches)? Or do we use them shrewdly to increase God's Kingdom? Are we serving God or wealth?

May you be blessed in your reading of God's good word and may the Word of God (Jesus) fill you up.

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