Grace and Peace in Jesus Christ,
First, this Sunday we celebrate Communion and this is a good time to invite family, friends, and enemies to join you at church. Specifically, at Peace United Church this Sunday is “Each 1 Bring 1” Sunday. If everyone brought 1 other person to church we would have well over 100 people at worship. This applies to both churches.
Today starts Peace United’s “Mission 1” drive. “Mission 1” runs from today, 11-1-11, until Friday next week, 11-11-11. (As I am writing this it is 11:11 AM.) The denomination wide goal for the United Church of Christ is to raise more than 1 million items of food for food shelves, raise more than $111,111 for Neighbors in Need and more than $111,111 for East Africa Famine Relief, and to send more than 11,111 letters to members of Congress asking for legislation to reform foreign policy to help the poor and hungry worldwide. Food items can be brought to church this Sunday and our mission collection will go for the cause. Letters to our congress members should be sent in these 11 days. Please let me know how many you sent.
At Grey Eagle UMC, we are collecting food items for the Food Shelf on each of the three Sundays leading up to Thanksgiving. There are many in Todd County who could go without food this Thanksgiving if it were not for the three food shelves in the county. Let us help those in need celebrate God’s bounty.
Our readings this week are:
Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 – Joshua is coming to the end of his life. With God’s direction Joshua has lead the people to occupy Canaan. The verses that are skipped are a retelling of the history of Israel. Who does Joshua call and where do they gather? What does Joshua ask the people to do? Who does he set up as a model for the people?
Psalm 78:1-7 – What is the purpose of this long Psalm (see verses 3 and 4)? What has God commanded (verse 5)? Who is supposed to tell the story of Israel and to whom (verse 6)? Why (verse 7)?
Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-20 – Where do we find this book? Check the Table of Contents. Not there? No, it is not there in most Protestants’ Bibles, not unless you have one that includes the Apocrypha, in which it is usually printed between the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the Catholic Bible Wisdom of Solomon along with another book, Ecclesiasticus, occurs in the Writings section (Psalm, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon) following Song of Solomon and before Isaiah. You may can access an online version here: text. This is basically a description of Wisdom. Wisdom, here and in Proverbs, is described as a woman. In verses 17-19 wisdom starts as a desire for instruction which is a love for the woman, Wisdom, which leads to the keeping of the law, which leads to immortality which brings you near to God. Desire for wisdom leads to a (the?) kingdom.
or Amos 5:18-24 – Who is speaking in this passage, God or Amos? What is the main concern in verses 18-20? What is the concern in 21-24? Why do you think God despises the festivals, assemblies, sacrifices (literal animal sacrifices), and offerings? What does God truly want?
Psalm 70 – Who is speaking in this psalm? What is happening and what does he want to happen (verse 2-3)? Who should rejoice and what should they say (verse 4)?
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – This is the first of two readings in Thessalonians on the Coming of Christ which concludes next week with 5:1-11. This particular letter is the oldest writing in the New Testament written perhaps in the 40’s. (The oldest Gospel, Mark, was written in the late 60’s.) There was a very real expectation among Christians those day that Christ would return at any moment. That is what we have in these passages. What are the people of Thessalonica worried about? How is Christian grieving for the dead different than other’s grieving? When Christ returns, who rise first? Who will follow?
Matthew 25:1-13 – This year we skip all of chapter 24 in which Jesus warns the disciples about the coming trouble and why they should be watchful. At the end of 24 there is a “parable” of the faithful and unfaithful slaves. As you read that be careful about associating the master in the story with God or Jesus. That leads directly into the parable we are reading this week. Who are the central characters in the story? Who are they waiting for? What happens when he is late? Be careful about applying strict metaphorical interpretations to this (or any) parable. A common interpretation is that the bridegroom is Jesus, the wise maidens are faithful Christians, and the foolish maidens are everyone else. Would Jesus not really know someone? In light of “knock and the door shall be opened” would the door really be kept shut? What about the attitude of the “wise” maidens to the “unwise”? Would a faithful Christian who loves others really be so callous to others? Good Questions to consider, which is what parables are about.
Have a great week serving God and others!