Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Readings for Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hello Everyone, Grace and Peace to you.

Please keep all our politicians in your prayers on this election day. Obviously, not everyone will win but we can pray for all that our country will come together to work to solve our national, state, and local problems. Pray for the decrease in divisiveness and the increase in cooperation.

Our readings this week are:

Ruth 3:1-5, 4:13-17 – Last week the beginning and this week the end without a lot in the middle. Remember that Naomi and Ruth are poor widows (Ruth, a Moabite, is now the foreigner) who can only survive by the generosity of Naomi’s distant relatives, the handouts of strangers, and gleaning the fields for leftover grain and grapes. Ruth goes to glean grain from Boaz’s fields. He is like a third cousin to Naomi’s now deceased husband, Elimelech. Boaz takes an interest in Ruth (she must have been good looking) and tells the field hands to leave extra for her. The two meet and Boaz tells her not to glean another man’s fields because she will find plenty in his. Ruth reports all of this to Naomi. That is the story in Chapter 2. In our readings, Naomi hatches a plot to get Ruth married to Boaz. In verse 3:4, most experts agree that uncovering Boaz’s feet is a sexual reference. Ruth follows Naomi’s instructions and Boaz agrees to marry her but he must first get another closer relative out of the way. Verse 4:13 says that they get married and she gives birth to a son named Obed. Obed was the father of Jesse who was the father of King David. So, the great grandmother of King David was a Moabite foreigner. Ruth is one of four foreign women with some questionable sexual ethics (the others are Tamar (Genesis 38), Rahab who is Boaz’s mother (Joshua 6), and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11)) listed in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus. Also, how old is Naomi? Her two adult son’s have died and she declares herself to be too old to bear another son in chapter 1. Yet Naomi becomes the nursemaid of Obed. God works in mysterious ways indeed!

Psalm 127 – A short psalm celebrating the blessings God gives to our homes. There are small sects of Christians called “Quiverfull Christians” that take this psalm to heart and eschew all form of birth-control. The most famous family of this movement are the Duggars. However, this Psalm, written in an age of total male dominance, only celebrates lots of sons, not daughters. Also, pairing this Psalm with our reading in Ruth seems ironic. Ruth is recorded as only have one son, Obed.

1 Kings 17:8-16 – Elijah predicts a drought in verses 1-7 and then takes refuge with a poor foreign widowed mother who remains unnamed throughout her story (vs. 8-24). She is so poor that she only has enough meal and oil to bake something small for her and her son so that they may “eat it and die”. Elijah promises that when she makes a meal for him she will have plenty for herself and her son. And the Lord made is so that her jar of meal and jar of oil never ran out during the drought. This is the story Jesus refers to in Luke 4:25 when the people run him out of Nazareth. The second story of the widow concerns the death of her son and Elijah bringing him back to life in verses 17-24.

Psalm 146 – This psalm was partnered with our Ruth 1 reading last week. Here is what I said: “This psalm celebrates God who helps those in need and those who put their trust in God. Verses 5-7a says that God is happy with those who are faithful, who give justice to the oppressed, and who feeds the hungry. Verses 7b-9 states that the Lord sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind, lifts up the oppressed, loves the righteous, watches over strangers, and cares for orphans and widows.”

Hebrews 9:24-28 – In the verses we skipped between last week and this, 15-23, the writer argues that blood is necessary for the forgiveness of sin. Even the covenant Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai and the tent with the ark and artifacts were sealed with the blood of calves and goats. In this week’s verses the writer says that it is Christ’s blood, given once for all people to remove sin. Christ’s appearance a second time will be not to deal with sin (this was done in his crucifixion) but to save.

Mark 12:38-44 – There are two very short passages in this lesson. The first, vs. 38-40, is Jesus warning the people about the scribes. Perhaps there were scribes that gave other scribes a bad name by demanding respect, being showoffs, and swindling widows out of their property. “They will receive the greater condemnation.” A question to ask, “Whose condemnation?” Think of the downfall of several prominent televangelists in the 80’s and 90’s. Whose condemnation did they receive? The second story is often referred to as “the widow’s mite”. Jesus and the disciples watch people give money to the Temple Treasury. A widow gives two pennies and Jesus praises her. She gave everything she had to live on. In other words, she gave her life.

Do we fully trust that Jesus’ self-sacrifice is sufficient to save us? Are we willing to trust that gift of grace and then give all we have and are?

May God’s Spirit lead you to greater faithfulness as you read the Word.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary

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