Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Readings for Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Thank you to all who made the worship time change successful this past Sunday. Worship attendance at both churches were very encouraging. As an inviting church, let’s invite someone to worship with us this coming week.

We continue our readings in the OT stories of Saul, David and Solomon, in Ephesians and in John 6. Our scriptures for this coming Sunday are:

2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33 – The last two week we have read about David’s sin against Uriah. In the passages between that and this week’s David’s family life has gone to pot. Solomon is born to Bathsheba, the seventh son of his seventh wife. The other six were mentioned in 3:2-5. Ammon, the #1 son of the #1 wife falls in lust with Tamar who is sister to Absalom, the #3 son of the #3 wife. Ammon plots to get Tamar alone, rapes her, and banishes her. Absalom is mad but does nothing, yet. David is devastated but does nothing because of his love for Ammon. A couple of years pass and Absalom arranges to get Ammon out to the farm where he has his servants murder him. Absalom then flees. Joab, one of David’s top generals, manipulates things to get Absalom back but then David never sees him. A couple of years later, Absalom arranges to usurp David from his throne and David flees. Much other intrigue follows. All of this can be read in chapters 13 to 17. (A soap opera title might be “As Jerusalem Turns”) In our text this week, and a lot of interesting stuff is skipped over by the Lectionary reading, David prepare to battle Absalom and tell the generals and everyone not to harm Absalom. Absalom is riding a mule in the thick oak forests and his head gets wedged in the fork of one of the trees. Joab then kills Absalom as he hung there. A servant is dispatched to tell David of the victory of their troops and the death of Absalom and David mourns the death of his son. The one thing you say with certainty about the Bible is that it is an honest reflection of humans enslavement into sin and death.

Psalm 130 – This Psalm is used as a congregational Psalm in all the funerals I conduct. Could this Psalm also reflect the feelings of David upon hearing the of the death of Absalom?

1 Kings 19:4-8 – This is a small snippet from a longer reading of Elijah fleeing from the wrath of Jezebel. The story: Elijah challenges the priests of Baal and Asherah to a fire lighting duel. Who’s got the biggest god who can light the fire? When the priests fail and Elijah wins he has all the priests slaughtered, about 850 of them. Jezebel, Queen of Israel and a follower of Baal, is not pleased which sends Elijah running. Our section is about Elijah wishing to die because he is exhausted and frightened. He fall asleep and an angel wakens him with bread and water and tell him to eat and drink for the journey ahead. After eating and drinking, Elijah again falls asleep. The angel wakens him again with the same message and after Elijah ate and drank he continued his journey to the cave where he will hear the still small voice of God. The whole story starts at 18:1 and ends at 19:21 where Elisha becomes a disciple of Elijah’s. Why do you think it was necessary for Elijah to experience God as a still small voice? Relate this to the violence of the fire lighting duel.

Psalm 34:1-8 – This psalm says that the Lord will take care of the righteous. Verse 7 is the connection to the story of Elijah above.

Ephesians 4:25-5:2 – Paul gives us a model of faithful living: speak truth; acknowledge anger but do not sin; don’t steal; work hard; share with the needy; speak no evil; speak good which builds up others; do not grieve the Holy Spirit (I am not sure what this is about); put away bitterness, wrath, anger, wrangling, slander, and malice; and be kind tenderhearted, and forgiving of each other. All of this is done as we imitate God and love as Christ has loved us. In other words, we give ourselves up for others as Christ has given himself up for us. Think about the idea of us humans imitating God. How is that possible?

John 6: 35, 41-51 – Please read verses 36-40 as well since that puts the rising conflict between Jesus and the Jews authorities in perspective. The authorities don’t get it. How can Jesus be bread? Is he not the son of Joseph? Jesus says some very provocative things in this passage. According to Jesus those who follow him were brought to him by the Father? Yet, no one has seen the Father but Jesus. The true bread from heaven gives life while simple manna only sustains for a day. Jesus says that he is the bread from heaven. We who eat that bread will live forever. The bread that Jesus gives is his flesh. Is it a wonder that the earliest critics of the followers of Jesus were accused of being cannibals? This is difficult stuff if you really think about it. It even causes some to turn away from Jesus. How have you struggled with Jesus’ words?

May the lord bless you with his Holy Word this week! May the still small voice of God speak to you and may we all be imitators of God and Jesus in our love.

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