Monday, October 25, 2010

Scripture Readings for October 31 2010

This Sunday is "Reformation Sunday" in which Protestant denominations remember the founders of the Protestant Church, all of whom were active in the early to mid 1500's: Martin Luther (Lutheran), John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli (Reformed), George Blaurock and Conrad Grebel (Anabaptist), and Thomas Cranmer (Church of England). In a similar fashion, John and Charles Wesley could be considered in the group as they sought the reformation of the Church of England in the mid 1700's.

Also, since Monday, November 1 is "All Saints Day" we will be celebrating "All Saints Sunday". We will remember people connected to our churches who have passed away this year: Robert Alcorn, Blanche Beulow, Ethel Hoskey, Adeline Johnston, and Ray Sorenson. I would also like to remember a few other people whom I have held funeral services for: Edward Hines, Frederick Rachey, and Don Pitt.

Our Reading this Week:

Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4 - The prophet Habakkuk wants to know why evil and wickedness seem to prevail over good and righteousness. Chapter 1 is his series of questions to that point (we get the main gist of it in verses 2-4). In verse 2:1, Habakkuk says he will wait for the Lord's reply and God's reply is the balance of the chapter. The basic answer is, "if redemption is not here now, wait for it for it will soon come." That is an answer we never like to hear.

Psalm 119:137-144 - Two week ago we had another section out of this Psalm, which is the longest chapter in the Bible. Here, the psalmist knows that God's goodness and judgments are right even in the midst of his suffering.

[Alternates: Isaiah 1:10-18 - God decries sacrifices and meaningless festivals and wants humanity to practice justice with the promise of redemption (verses 16-18); and Psalm 32:1-7 - The psalmist opens his heart with confession and receives forgiveness and redemption.]

2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12 - In these verses Paul greets the church, gives thanks and brags to others of their faithfulness, and prays for them that they might bring glory to God.

Luke 19:1-10 - (singing) "Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he. . ." We jump a number of stories in Luke to get to the story of Zacchaeus. Following the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, we skip the story of Jesus blessing the little children (singing: "Jesus love the little children, all the children of the world. . . ."), the story of the rich young ruler who couldn't give up his wealth, Jesus' third prediction of his death and resurrection, and Jesus healing the blind beggar near Jericho. When Jesus blesses the children he says, "Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." All of the stories, with the possible exception of the prediction, are examples of receiving or not receiving the kingdom including our reading today and the parable of the ten pounds which follows. Luke 18:15 - 19:27 should be read as a whole. Jesus call all people to the kingdom and Zacchaeus is one, sinner that everyone proclaims him to be, who enters into the kingdom. What about you?

May God bless you and may you grow into God's Word and Kingdom.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Readings for October 24 2010

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

First, thank you to all who helped lead worship this week while I was on vacation.

Second, everything with Megan and Jeremiah's wedding went very well. Everyone had a very good time and we were all exhausted when it was over. Megan and Jeremiah are at home in Fargo where Jeremiah had to go to work on Monday and Megan had to be in class.

Third, this week's readings:

Joel 2:23-32 - After the destruction of all plants including fruit trees, grazing pastures, wheat, rye, barley, and grape vines by swarms of locusts, the Lord promises restoration of the land and the pouring out of God's Spirit on all peoples. This passage is quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.

Psalm 65 - Praise to God who delivers his people from desolation and restores the land.

[Alternate OT: Sirach 35:12-17 or Jeremiah 14:7-10, 19-22 and Psalm 84:1-7. Sirach is an Apocryphal or Deuterocanonical book that is accepted by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.]

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 - This finishes our readings in 1 and 2 Timothy. In this passage, Paul seems to be saying that his ministry, and maybe even his life is coming to an end. He will receive the crown of righteousness which the Lord has for him. He acknowledges that the Lord has empowered him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.

Luke 18:9-14 - A second parable about prayer following last week's persistent widow. Be careful how you read this parable for as soon as you say or think that you are better then the Pharisee you become the Pharisee who looked down on the tax collector. We should all recognize the Pharisee in ourselves and, like the tax collector, admit our sinfulness and ask for God's mercy.

May the Lord Bless you in your reading of the Good Word.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Readings for October 17 2010

Hello Everyone,

Here are the readings for this coming Sunday.

Jeremiah 31:27-34 - Generally, when we get to this passage we gravitate to the second half, which seems to be the most promising. Each oracle begins "The days are surely coming, says the Lord, . . . " The first says that everyone will be responsible for thier own sins and unless there is some sort of change each will die in their own sins. The second is the famous promise of God to write His laws upon everyone's heart and that no one will have any excuse for not knowing God.

Psalm 119:97-104 - This is the longest Psalm with 176 verses. In this short section the Psalmist praises God for the law and he meditates on it and practices it every day.

[Alternates: Genesis 32:22-31 - Jacob is returning home with his 2 wives, 2 concubines, and 12 sons to make amends with his brother, Esau, whom he cheated many years earlier. In this story, he send them ahead and then spends the night wrestling a man or an angel or God and he prevails though ending up with a disjointed hip. Psalm 121 - Assurance that God protects us.]

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 - Paul's admonition for Timothy to remember all he learned from the Scripture since a child and to continually proclaim the truth of the gospel no matter what!

Luke 18:1-8 - Luke tell us that the parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge is all about persistent prayer. The judge's resistance is worn down by the widow's incessant pestering. Does that mean that we can wear God down with incessant prayers for something we want? Read closely, because I don't think that the widow wants some thing, but wants justice from her opponent. Widows were without power in those days. They had less then girls, who had their fathers to protect them, and wives, who had their husbands. This widow seems to not have any sons to provide for her either. If an unjust judge, who neither honors God or other men, gives justice to this widow, how much more will God provide for his children?

May you be blessed by your readings this week.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Readings for October 10 2010: An Encounter with Healing

These are the readings for this coming Sunday.

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7 - After Jerusalem is destroyed by Babylon and the elite of the community have been taken to Babylon, Jeremiah, who was left behind, sends them a letter. Chapter 29 records a long letter and a short letter. The essence of the long letter exhorts the exiles to not listen to the false prophets that have arisen among them. The short letter is to two of those prophets. In our verses today, Jeremiah encourages the exiles to settle down into homes, marry off their children to others in the Jewish community, wait patiently for the time of release, and work for the wellbeing of Babylon. In other words, there will be no shortening of their time of exile and they might as well make the best of it.

Psalm 66:1-12 - Praise God who gives salvation (vs. 6) and life (vs. 9). Remember, even though we are tested, God will bring us to the other side (vs. 10-12).

[Alternate Readings: 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c - Elisha heals the Syrian general, Naaman, of his leprosy (we had this passage on Sunday, July 4) and Psalm 111 - Similar to Psalm 66 above without the testing.]

2 Timothy 2:8-15 - There are three letters attributed to Paul (which I always assume) to individual people, 2 letters to Timothy and one letter to Titus. In this passage, Paul states that his Gospel (Good News) is the risen Christ. This seems to counter his statements in his letters to churches that his Gospel is the crucified Christ. He suffers in prison for his claims but endures so that he can keep proclaiming the Gospel. Verses 11-13 have some powerful understanding of faith, the main one being that God is faithful always. He then asks Timothy to tell his church that message of faith and to warn them against arguing over picky details.

Luke 17:11-19 - This is the classic story of the 10 lepers. They all ask for healing ("Have mercy on us!") and Jesus gives it to them. Jesus sends them to the temple to see the priests so that they can be certified as being healed and they leave. (These lines were written a couple of days ago. As I now look at the text, the 10 ask for healing and Jesus sends them away to the priests to seek healing from them. Jesus has done nothing to heal them, yet, while on their way to the priests, they are healed.) A short while later one, a Samaritan, returns to say "Thanks." It is implied in the text that the other 9 are Jewish. Some questions to consider for Sunday: Where does healing come from? Who heals? Where does one thank the one who heals? Where do you encounter the healing, forgiving, loving, and accepting God?

May you be blessed by your encounter with God in your reading of his Good Word.