I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July with family and friends.
One special announcement before I begin discussing the texts. This Sunday is the Annual Island Worship on Hammersten Island in Big Birch Lake. Worship for Peace United Church will be at 9:00 AM. Worship for Grey Eagle UMC will be on the island beginning at 11:00 AM. There will be communion for all and following the service there will be a potluck lunch. Pontoon boat rides to the island are available at John and Janet Roe’s home located about 1 mile south of the church on County Rd 47.
This week we continue our readings in Genesis, Romans, and Matthew. The alternate Old Testament Reading comes from Isaiah.
Genesis 25:19-34 – Abraham has died and we continue, not with Isaac his son, but with his grandsons. For some odd reason, Isaac plays a minor role in the story of Israel. Last week we read about how Abraham arranged for Rebekah to marry Isaac. Twenty years after their marriage Rebekah remains childless. Isaac prays to God and Rebekah conceives twin boys. The first to be born is quite reddish in appearance and covered with hair. They name him Esau which sounds a lot like the Hebrew word for hairy. His descendants will be the nation of Edom which means “red”. The second to be born is holding Esau’s heel on the way out of the womb and is named Jacob which either means “takes the heel” or “supplants”. Esau is a hunter and loves the outdoors. Isaac loved him best. Jacob is “bookish” and spends a lot of time in the tents. Rebekah loves him best. When they grow up, Jacob will begin to supplant his elder brother, first by conning him out of the elder’s birthright and later by conning Isaac out of the elder’s blessing. Jacob will be the son through which God raises up a nation, Israel. Isn’t it amazing how God works through flawed people? (Jacob, Moses, Gideon, Sampson, Saul, David, etc.)
Psalm 119:105-112 – Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible with 176 verses. (Psalm 117 is the shortest) It is an alphabet acrostic with 22 stanzas of 8 verses each, one for each Hebrew letter, and each line in the stanzas start with the same letter. This is the 14th stanza and uses the 14th letter of the Hebrew alphabet “Nun” or “N” and begins with “Your (Thy) Word is a lamp to (unto) my feet and a light to (unto) my path”. The point of these verses is that following God’s law is the psalmist way of life despite many difficulties.
Isaiah 55:10-13 – God sends the rain to water the earth so that there shall be bountiful crops. Likewise, God’s Word goes out to fulfill God’s purposes and it does not return empty. Verse 12 should sound familiar to all who have been in church the last couple of weeks as it is the sending song at the end of the service.
Psalm 65:1-13 – A psalm of God’s creation and God’s bounty which includes forgiveness for iniquities.
Romans 8:1-11 – Paul answers his question from last week’s reading, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” The answer is God through the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” No longer are we enslaved to sin and death which God has condemned. Notice in verse 5 and 6 that those who set their mind on human things (desires?) live in sin and death. Those who set their minds on things of the Spirit have life and peace. This means, in verse 11, that we are given true life in the here and now by the Spirit.
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 – This is about the parable of the sower who sows his seed with abandon. Read and think about the first part of the reading before you read the second part. This farmer is not a very good farmer! He does not remove the rocks, the weeds, or break up the ground so the seed could take root. He throws seeds on the path (wasteful!), in the rocks (again!), in the weeds (more waste!) and a few in the fertile ground. Any good farmer would chastise this man for his prodigal ways. From this parable we can discern an attribute of God: God throws his love everywhere with abandon. The second part still has meaning because God’s love will be rejected by some in various ways. Reflect on what a seed can do in the crack of a boulder. God’s love is like that.
May God bless you in your readings this week.