I am back in Minnesota and back to work. I flew in from Boise, ID, yesterday after spending a week with Mom and Dad. In the 12 days I was there, Dad made some small, incremental improvements especially with his Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy. He is not making any improvements with the amount he eats and drinks each day. On any given day he may eat only 6 bites total or take 10 or 12 sips of liquids, mostly root beer and water. One bit of good news was that a week and a half after he was admitted he had not lost any weight. I don’t know what will happen in the future but if he continues to refuse to eat I may be headed back to Idaho soon.
I regret not having Ash Wednesday services last week. I hope you were able to get to another church for the imposition of the ashes. I went to the Meridian (ID) UMC and was pleasantly surprised after I received the ashes when Rev. John Mays asked me to put the ashes on him. We will begin Wednesday Lenten Services tomorrow night. Peace United Church will have soup and sandwiches at 6:00 PM and services at 6:30 PM. Grey Eagle will have services at 8:00 PM. My series this year will be “Living Life According to the Sermon on the Mount”. To get a jump on the entire series you can read chapters 5, 6, and 7 in the Gospel of Matthew. (Yes, the sermon is three chapters long!) Tomorrow night we will look at Matthew 5:1-20.
The texts for this coming Sunday are:
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 – This is God’s Covenant with Abraham. Verses 1-7 deal with God’s part of the covenant. What will God do for Abraham according to God’s promise? Why does God change Abram’s name to Abraham? (You may have to check the footnotes for the meaning of the names.) Verses 8-14 (and you should read them) is about what God asks Abraham to do for his part of the covenant. Note the assumption of slavery. What is it that God asks all the males to do? Why do you think servants and slaves are included? Verses 15-16 seem to be an addendum to the covenant. What does God promise in these verses? Whose name gets changed? Verses 17-22 are a follow up exchange between Abraham and God. What does Abraham do when he hears the promise of a son and how does God respond?
Psalm 22:23-31 – Verse 23: Who should praise the Lord? Why (verse 24)? Where does my praise come from (verse 25)? What is the promise in verse 26? What belongs to the Lord in verse 28? Who will praise the Lord in verses 29-31?
Romans 4:13-25 – Paul, in his letter to the Church in Rome, reflects on the Genesis verses above. It is a small Jewish midrash on the Genesis text. His point is that we are made righteous by faith as he stated in chapter 3. (The question that translators have to answer in 3:22 and 3:26 is whose faith saves us, our faith or Jesus’ faith? The Greek in those verses has “faith Christ” or “faith Jesus”. So is it “faith IN Christ” or “faith OF Christ”? The traditional translation is the first but more people are beginning to understand it as the second.) In our reading, Paul uses Abraham as an example of having faith that God will do what God promises.
Mark 8:31-38 – This passage follows immediately on the heels of Peter’s confession that Jesus in the Messiah. What does Jesus teach about the Son of Man? What was Peter’s response and why do you think he responded that way? Why do you think Jesus called Peter “Satan”? What must followers of Jesus do? What does it mean to “take up their (or your) cross? Is there anything we can give in return for our lives? What assumption do you make when you read Jesus saying that he will be ashamed of those who are ashamed of him?
Have a great week reading the Word of God!