Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Readings for Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hello Everyone,

I want to invite you, your family and your friends to church this coming Sunday. Special guest Stephen Goss will present an “Eyewitness Account of the First Passion Week”. Here is a description of this account:

“People all over the world are still thinking back to events of nearly 2000 years ago. What is it about Jesus Christ that stirred the people of the 1st century and every generation since? And what do those events hold for the present day, and for the future? These questions are answered in this account of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“We invite you to see this account, told from the perspective of an ‘eyewitness’ to help us feel what his followers might have felt: their excitement as Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, their wonder as he cleared the Temple, their anguish at his trial, their grief at his death, and their overwhelming joy at seeing the risen Christ!”

Following Mr. Goss’ presentation we will celebrate with Communion which is open to all.

Mr. Goss will be at both churches: 9:00 AM at Grey Eagle UMC and 10:30 AM at Peace United.

Our reading this week are:

2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27 – We have skipped the (supposed) defection of David and his men from Saul’s army to the Philistine side and the battle that eventually saw the death of Saul and his son Jonathan who was David’s best friend. In the first half of this chapter David receives the news of their deaths and proceeds to have the messenger killed because the messenger admitted to being the one to put Saul out of his misery. Our reading today is David’s lament over the death of his king and his friend. Verse 18 is one of several indications in the Old Testament of other ancient documents that have be lost in antiquity.

Psalm 130 – I use this psalm as a unison reading in the funerals I lead. No matter how bad our sin is God’s forgiveness is greater and because of that we live in hope.

Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15, 2:23-24 – Pastor, where do I find this in my Bible? Well, if you have access to a Catholic Bible it is one of 3 books between Ecclesiastes and Isaiah. If you have a Protestant Bible with Apocrypha it is one of 18 books between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Apocrypha is basically the Old Testament books that Catholics and many Orthodox traditions include in their bibles and which the Protestant and Jewish have rejected. The passage, beginning in verse 12, reads:

“Do not invite death by the error of your life, or bring on destruction by the works of your hands; because God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. For he created all things so that they might exist; the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them, and the dominion of Hades is not on earth. For righteousness in immortal. . . . for God created us for incorruption, and made us in the image of his own eternity, but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it.”

OR Lamentations 3:23-33 – It is good that we should be burdened in some way, especially in our youth, because the Lord will show compassion. Jeremiah was writing this entire book in anguish over the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Babylonians. There is some movement away from the OT notion that God is the source of all things including destruction (verse 33) but the passage from Wisdom of Solomon above goes a lot further in separating God from death.

Psalm 30 – The psalmist celebrates the victory of God’s life over the death imposed by his enemies. The Lord changes mourning into dancing and removes the clothes of death and dressed him up in joy.

2 Corinthians 8:7-15 – One of the things that Paul has asked the Church in Corinth to do was to take up a collection for the materially poor Christians in Jerusalem. He is imploring them to finish the work which they started. Giving out of their abundance will help others who lack and some time in the future the roles may be reversed.

Mark 5:21-43 – We have skipped the story of Jesus healing a man possessed by a “Legion” of demons on the other side of the lake (the reason they were on boats in last week’s reading). The demons are allowed to enter a herd of pigs who promptly throw themselves off a cliff into the lake. The herder complains to the town people who then ask Jesus to leave. Sometimes it is just easier to live with your demons, or someone else’s, then to start a new life. So Jesus and Co. sail back to the west side of the lake where they are once again beset by the crowds. Now we get two healing stories one encompassing the other. Jairus’ daughter is sick and he begs Jesus to come to the house to heal her. Jesus agrees. As they travel a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years sneaks up on Jesus and touches his cloak. She is healed but Jesus senses that power has left him. What is it that healed the woman (see Jesus’ answer in verse 34)? Jairus’ servants report that the daughter has died but Jesus insists on seeing her saying that they must trust him. Taking the girl’s hand he commands her to get up and she does. Is it significant that the girl is 12 years old and the woman had been bleeding for 12 years? Do we see in this narrative that to God in Jesus death is no different then any other physical ailment?

This has been a long post and I thank you for bearing with me. Don’t forget about our special church service this weekend featuring Stephen Goss. I hope to see you there.

May God bless you in wellness, in sickness, in life, and in death, because in God there is no death.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Readings for June 24, 2012

Hello Everyone,

First, a prayer request. Jean DeZeeuw, a friend of Grey Eagle UMC, recently had a reoccurrence of breast cancer 17 years after her first occurrence. She had surgery to remove the lump last week and was home the following day. The doctors said that the lymph nodes seemed unaffected. Jean is home and feeling well. Jean and John will get the final pathology report on Thursday. Please pray for a positive report and give thanks for the doctors, nurses, and therapists who cared for her.

Secondly, after more than 16 years of living with us, our cat, Ellie, was euthanized last night by a veterinarian friend of ours. (Is there a better way to say this? “Put to sleep” seems lame, “put down” makes her into a horse, and “killed” seems homicidal.) Ellie had been suffering from hyperthyroidism for many months and had lost nearly all of her weight and muscle mass in the last three weeks. We will miss her dearly. Why do we allow pets to become so attached to our lives? I did a quick check in my concordance and dogs seem to have a negative image in the Bible (Proverbs 26:11 and Exodus 22:31 to name 2 of 15 references). Cats are not mentioned.

Our readings this week:

1 Samuel 17: (1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49 – OK, just read the entire chapter 17. This is the familiar story of David and Goliath. Who was at war? Where were the opposing sides camped? How tall was Goliath (there may be two different answers so check the notes)? What is the bargain Goliath wants to make with the Israelite army? Why is David sent to the Israelite camp? How does David come to volunteer to fight Goliath? Why does David take off Saul’s armor? What weapon does he take to face Goliath? (Dogs are mentioned by Goliath in verse 43.) David claimed that the war belonged to the Lord and yet he took 5 stones with him, not just one. Is this “lack of faith” or “prudence”?

Psalm 9:9-20 – This is an acrostic poem using 1/2 of the Hebrew alphabet. Psalm 10 may be the second part of the psalm. In Hebrew, the first letter of the following verses are the next letter in the alphabet: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, and 18. Why does the Psalmist praise God? What does the Lord do to the wicked and what does the Lord do for the poor and oppressed?

Job 38:1-11 – After Job questions God about the reason for his ordeals God answers. Our verses are not God’s entire speech to Job. The entire speech is 38:2 through 40:2. In our verses, what is God’s basic question to Job?

Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32 – After the opening stanza (verses 1-3) this psalm tells 4 stories of God saving people: lost in the desert (4-9), prisoners (10-16); the foolishly hungry (17-22); and our story of ocean going fishermen. What did they observe while on the ocean? What event put them in danger? What did the sailors do? How did God save them?

2 Corinthians 6:1-13 – Paul asks the church in Corinth to listen to his message and work with him in following God and Christ. When was the “day of salvation” (verses 2, 3)? What has Paul and his group gone through to deliver the message of the Gospel? How did they serve? How were they treated wherever they went? How were they seen by others? How much love can Paul give to the Corinthians?

Mark 4:35-41 – In chapter 3, Jesus and his disciples enter a house that is presumed to be in Capernaum, which lies on the northwest side of the Lake of Galilee. In our reading, where does Jesus want to go and how does he want to get there? What does Jesus do at the beginning of the trip? What event made the disciples extremely nervous? What do they accuse Jesus of? What does Jesus do and then what does he ask the disciples?

Have a great week reading God’s Word and serving God in all you do.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Readings for June 17 2012

Our readings this week are:

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 – Between last week’s reading where Israel demands a king and this week’s reading a young warrior named Saul has proved himself to be a gifted military leader, he has been anointed by Samuel to be king, the 12 tribes have selected Saul to be king, Saul wins a mighty military campaign, and Samuel gives a final speech to the tribes of Israel. In chapter 13, Saul manages to irritate Samuel by taking over Samuel’s role in giving a sacrifice for an upcoming battle against the Philistines and Samuel declares that non of Saul’s sons will follow him as king (I don’t get it either.) In chapter 14, Saul and his son, Jonathan, have success over the Philistines but a controversy erupts over the eating of food on the day of battle (again, I don’t get it either) and the end of the chapter records that Saul was in near continual battle with his neighbors. Now in Chapter 15 Saul wins a war against the Amalekites and had EVERY man, woman, and child put to death except for the king. He also had nearly all of the cattle, sheep, etc., killed except for the best. Because Saul did not have everything put to death, Samuel, in the name of the Lord, rejects Saul’s kinghood and Saul begins a decent into madness. Our reading begins with Samuel traveling to Bethlehem to anoint the next and future king, David. What are God’s instructions to Samuel (verses 1-3)? Who was the man that Samuel meets and invites to a sacrifice near Bethlehem (verse 5)? How does the Lord see humans (verse 7)? How many sons does Samuel think might be the new king (verse 10)? Who is the last son and what is he doing (verses 11-15)? What is the physical description of this last son? Which of these 15 verses might be a key verse for you?

Psalm 20 – This almost sounds like a benediction at the end of a worship service. Who is this psalm addressed to? What can, or should, God do for this person (verses 1-4)? What should we do for this person (verse 5)? Whom will the Lord help and how (verse 6)? What do some people take pride in and who should we take pride in (verse 7)? Whom will God give victory (verse 9)?

Ezekiel 17:22-24 – Chapter 17 is a parable of 2 eagles and a cedar/vine. One great eagle plants a cedar which grows into a vine that the eagle cares for. The vine turns to another great eagle who ignores the vine. Will the vine thrive and live? The parable is explained as Babylon, the current prince in Judah and Egypt. Our reading is the last 3 verses of the chapter. What does the Lord promise to do? If the parable earlier was about the cedar/vine which is the current prince in Judah, what do you think the new cedar represents? Who will benefit from the new cedar? What can the Lord do with trees? If this is considered an additional parable, what do you think the Lord is saying?

Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15 – When is it good to give thanks to the Lord and by what means (verses 1-3)? Why (verse 4)? What are the righteous like (verse 12-15)?

2 Corinthians 5:6-17 – In verses 6-9 Paul continues with a metaphor about our body being a temporary home before we go to our true home with the Lord. (Verse 7 seems to come out of left field and not fit with 6, 8, and 9). Paul is most famous for his insistence that we are saved by faith and not works yet verse 10 seems to be contrary to that position. What is Paul well known for in verse 11? By whom? What does he want from the church in Corinth in verse 12? What do you think the underlying assumption is of verse 13? Another way of putting that is “What are some of the criticisms of Paul by some Corinthians?” Who controls what Paul does and why (verses 14-15)? What has changed for Paul and other Christians because of Christ (verse 16-17a)? In these verses, which one or two might be a key verse for you? You should also read verses 18-21 since these seem to sum up God’s work of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Mark 4:26-34 – From last week to this week we skip the parable of the soils and its explanation. I think we covered Matthew’s version last year. Unfortunately, though, we skip the stated purpose of parables stated in verse 12 which comes from Isaiah 6:9-10. We also skip a warning about judging others in verses 24-25 ( I don’t think verse 25 is about wealth and poverty). In our passage we have two short parables about God’s kingdom. The first is in verses 26-29. What is the role of the farmer (what two things does he do)? What happens despite the farmer? The second parable is in verses 30-32? What is the kingdom of God like? Look up “mustard plant” on the internet and check out its characteristics. Does it look like a tree that birds can nest in? Jesus might be using a bit of hyperbole. How did Jesus continue to speak to the crowds?

May the Word of God be planted in your heart, mind, and soul and may it grow like the mustard seed so that all will know the benefits of God’s Kingdom.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Readings for Sunday, June 10 2012

The Season of Pentecost is now upon us. Two Sundays ago we celebrated Pentecost and last Sunday we delved into the doctrine of the Trinity. Starting this coming Sunday we will have two different Old Testament readings and Psalms related to them. The first will be a continuous reading from a section of the OT with each successive Sunday being the next reading in the series. The second will be an OT passage the relates to the Gospel text and therefore will skip around. This means we will have six readings each week. We are also getting back to the Gospel of Mark for the next 7 weeks at which point we will spend 5 weeks in the Gospel of John chapter 6. We will also spend 5 weeks in 2 Corinthians. Our readings for this week follow.

1 Samuel 8:4-20 – The focus of the continuous reading of the Old Testament will be the Kings of Israel: Saul, David, and Solomon through the end of August. At this beginning of the reign of the kings, Israel has been a loose confederation of tribes that basically did their own things until they were oppressed by enemies at which time God would raise up a “judge” to lead them. The final judge was the prophet Samuel. What do the people demand of Samuel in verses 4 and 5? What is Samuel’s reaction? What is God’s reaction and rationale for allowing the people their demand (vs. 7-9)? What is Samuel’s warning to the people (11-18)? How did the people answer (19-20)? You might just as well finish the passage by reading verses 21-22 to hear God’s reply.

Psalm 138 – Who is speaking in this Psalm? Why does he give praise to God in verses 1-3? What does the psalmist call on the rulers of the earth to do (4-5)? Verse 6 is more like a parable with its contrast between the lowly and the arrogant. What does the Lord do for the lowly and what is done to the arrogant? What does the Lord do for the psalmist in verses 7 and 8? How is God’s love described?

Genesis 3:8-15 – First, read 2:25. This is the condition of humanity before their disobedience: naked but unembarrassed. Then read 3:1-7. Desire for that which is not ours, temptation (the snake who distorts the truth), rivalry (with God who is NOT in rivalry with us), and shame become our plight. What is God doing at the beginning of this reading? Why are man and woman hiding? When God asks about eating from the tree who does the man blame? Who does the woman blame? What does God say to the snake? The rest of the chapter, verses 16-24 are the consequences man and woman face because of their disobedience. Warning: to read this as a literal accounting of 2 humans some 5,000 years ago is to miss the greater truth of humanity’s relationship to God and others. The results of desiring that which is not ours leads to violence against our brothers and sisters (chapter 4) and the founding of civilization (4:17). Verses 2:4b through 4:26 should be read as a unit.

Psalm 130 – I use this Psalm in the funeral services I lead. What is the matter with the Psalmist? Who does he hope and wait for? Why should Israel wait for the Lord?

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1 – Why do we, or should we, speak about our faith (vs. 13-14)? What brings glory to God (15)? What happens despite the breakdown of our bodies (16)? What do our current (physical) problems bring (17)? What then are we to focus on and why (18)? What does Paul use the analogy of “tent” for (5:1)?

Mark 3:20-35 – Jesus’ ministry in Galilee is still in the early stages but a lot has happened in the Gospel of Mark before our reading. In Chapter 1 Jesus is baptized and then tempted, calls his first disciples by the Galilee Lake, throws out a demon, heals Peter’s mother-in-law, and cures a man with leprosy. In Chapter 2 Jesus heals a paralyzed man, eats with sinners, and declares that the Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath. In the first part of chapter 3 Jesus heals a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath, continues his healing and exorcism ministry, and names 12 apostles. In our reading today many people do not know what to make of Jesus. Not even his family understands him. What did his family think of Jesus (vs. 21)? What did the religious legal experts say about Jesus (22)? Jesus’ words in verses 23-29 are called a parable. Parables are not to be taken literally but are designed to get us to think and ask questions. So, what if the answer to Jesus’ question, “How can Satan cast out Satan?” is precisely the opposite of the implied answer. How would Satan cast out Satan? What then about verse 29? Can insulting the Spirit be unforgivable? Why did Jesus’ mother and brothers come (vs. 31, 21)? Who is the true brother and sister to Jesus (35)?

Have a great week serving the Lord!