Monday, August 20, 2012

Readings for Sunday, August 26, 2012

I am back from vacation although I didn’t go anywhere. I just hung around and did a bit of volunteer work with Hands of Hope Resource Center. I am pleased to announce that today the Todd County Board of Commissioners approved a lease agreement with Hands of Hope. During September Hands of Hope will be transitioning from their offices in downtown Long Prairie to the Todd County Annex. This change will not only be a place change but a change in the way Hands of Hope operates.

I apologize for not sending an email or posting to the blog site last week but it wasn’t high on my priorities. I thank Cathy Capp for filling in for me yesterday.

Last weeks lessons were:
1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14
Psalm 111
Proverbs 9:1-6
Psalm 34:9-14
Ephesians 5:15-20
John 6:51-58

This week we finish our readings about the kings of the united Israel, our readings in Ephesians, and our reading about the Bread of Life in John 6. Next week everything changes.

1 Kings 8:(1, 6, 10-11) 22-30, 41-43 – Solomon became king after the death of his father, David, and proceeded to consolidate power. After three years of rule he began to build the temple that David had envisioned. 1 King 6 describes the temple and its furnishings. Chapter 7 describes everything else that Solomon had built. Chapter 8 returns to the temple and its dedication as the ark of the covenant is placed within the Holy of Holies. This reading is two portions of the prayer Solomon gave to God during the dedication. The prayer is verses 23-53.

Psalm 84 – Not all Psalms can be attributed to David as traditionally understood. As noted above, David did not build the temple in Jerusalem as he wanted but his son Solomon did. This Psalm is titled in my Bible (NRSV) as “The Joy of Worship in the Temple”. All titles of Biblical passages are not original to the Hebrew or Greek but are editorial titles by the various publishers. The Jewish Tanakh has no title. Another Bible (TEV) label this Psalm “Longing for God’s House”. As you can probably deduce, this Psalm was written sometime after the building of the Temple. People visiting Jerusalem for the first time would have been awed at its splendor even though it was small by today’s standards (90 feet by 30 feet or 2700 sq. ft.). This psalm is a reflection on that awe that worshipping God in the temple would have brought.

Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18 – This reading comes from one of the last things that Joshua did before his death: he gathered the people together and exhorted them to renew their covenant with God. Joshua asks the people to make a choice: God or gods. One or the other. The famous verse here is that Joshua and his family chooses God. Whom will you choose?

Psalm 34:15-22 – This portion of the Psalm celebrates that for those who choose God, God will be with them and God will bring redemption.

Ephesians 6:10-20 – I remember a game/activity I did while in youth group. If I remember correctly it was called “Sword Drills”. Everyone in the group held their Bible closed, the leader would call out a Scripture verse, and everyone quickly tried to find it. The first to locate it would read it aloud and gain a point or something. That game came out of this passage where Paul encourages the church to put on the “Whole Armor of God”. This metaphor is used in other places in Paul’s writings so he and his followers must have been fond of it. It is interesting that a war metaphor is used to proclaim a gospel of peace (verse 15). As you read this passage what does each piece of armor correspond to: Belt, Breastplate, Shoes, Shield, Helmet, and Sword?

John 6:56-69 – As I am writing this I am eating a meat stick called “The Sasquatch Big Stick” made by Jack Links of Minong, WI. It is quite “meaty” but it also requires a lot of chewing. I bring this up because starting in John 6:54 the writer uses a Greek word that is often translated as “eat” but can also be translated as “chew”. So verses 54-58 may read:

Those who chew my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true (or real) food and my blood is real (true) drink. Those who chew my flesh and drink my blood abide (live/dwell) in me and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever chews me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died,. But the one who chews this bread will live forever.

One of the charges against the early followers of Christ was that they were cannibals and this passage did nothing to dissuade that accusation. What does is mean to “chew” Jesus? If this is hard to understand, you are not alone. Our reading affirms that many disciples left Jesus because of these teachings. How may we “chew” on Jesus each day and receive the Words of Life?

May you put on the Whole Armor of God in your daily walk with Jesus and may you eat and drink the body and blood of Jesus to receive the Words of Life.

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