Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Readings for November 7 2010

Don't forget to vote today if you haven't already. I am posting this on election day and when I came to the site I saw an ad for Michelle Bachmann. I did not put that ad up, it was Google. I do not support Ms. Bachmann (she's a bit over the top for me) nor do I live in her congressional district.

Also, don't forget to set your clocks back one hour on Saturday night. If you forget you will arrive at church 1 hour early on Sunday.

Our readings this week:

Haggai 1:15b-2:9 - Depending on the version of the Bible you are reading, the first phrase "In (of) the second year of King Darius" could be the end of the previous paragraph (". . . on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month of the second year of King Darius.") or the beginning of chapter 2 ("In the second year of King Darius, in the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month . . ."). Whatever the translation, the important point is that the Word of the Lord comes to Haggai in chapter two one month after the action in chapter one. Haggai prophesied in Jerusalem following the return of the Israelites from captivity in Babylon. In chapter one the Lord wants to know why they haven't started rebuilding the temple. In chapter 2:1-9, God wants to know why the people are delaying the project. Haggai brings the Lord's words of encouragement.

Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21 - The entire chapter is in Praise of God's Greatness and Goodness. A key verse that some feel is the central tenant of the Old Testament is a verse that is skipped, verse 8: "The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding is steadfast love." The rest of the chapter is commentary on that verse.

OR Psalm 98 - Similar to Psalm 145. Key verse is 3: "He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel."

[Alternates: Job 19:23-27a (Job realizes that God will ultimately redeem him, only Job doesn't know when) and Psalm 17:1-9 (the psalmist calls on God to vindicate him from his persecutors)]

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17 - The second letter to the Thessalonians is concerned with the coming of Christ. Something must have happened or someone in authority for the church must have said something to trigger some anxiety about the "Day of the Lord". Paul reassures them that, yes, Jesus is coming, but no, not at this moment. He also asks them to "stand firm and hold fast" to the teaching they have already learned. The skipped verses, which should have been included in the reading, are about the coming conflagration (extreme violence) when the world can no longer maintain peace without God.

Luke 20:27-40 - Jesus has arrived in Jerusalem (Luke 19:28-40) and driven out the merchants at the Temple (Luke 45-48). Because of that action, chapter 20 is about the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees challenging his authority. In this lesson, the Sadducees take their shot. The Sadducees give scriptural authority only to the first five books and do not believe in a resurrection (the Pharisees do) and use the Levirate Laws (Deuteronomy 25:5-6) to debunk it. They also believe that if there were a resurrection then God would have told Moses (God's friend) about it. The Levirate Law says that if a married man dies without having a son, his brother is obliged to marry the widow and the first son she bears would be the son of the dead man, thus preserving the dead man's legacy. When the Sadducees' question is posed, Jesus uses Moses' experience with the burning bush (Exodus 3:6) to define God as a "God not of the dead, but of the living; for to [God] all of them are alive."

So, how do you see God? How does that definition affect your thoughts and actions? Is God a God defined by violence or by love? Is God a God of death or of life? To begin to ask these questions and form some answers to them is to do "theology".

Have a great week of theologizing!

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