Rain (now ice) and snow in January in Minnesota. It certainly does make walking around outside a challenge. I think below 0 temperatures are coming tonight or tomorrow. So . . . repeat after me: “Spring is coming. Spring is coming. Spring is coming.”
This coming Sunday we will continue the new worship service. I see the key to the beginning of this worship is the sharing of our stories. We heard a couple of wonderful witnesses to the action of God in their lives this past Sunday: an affirmative prayer that lead to a decision that resulted in God’s Peace; the witness of joy coming in the form of a young grandson; the understanding of mission being in what we do where we are; and the joy of being a presence in other’s lives. How is God working in your life this week? I believe that everyone has a story that could be told each week. My only hope is that two or three will be willing to share and that there be two or three different people each week.
Our lessons this week are:
Jeremiah 1:4-10 – Even young boys have a story to share. Jeremiah shared God’s story and that story started for him when he was young. God’s proclamation to Jeremiah was direct and the objection of Jeremiah was set aside. God then touched Jeremiah’s mouth and his mission was given: pluck up, pull down, destroy, overthrow, build and plant nations and kingdoms. Now Jeremiah never literally did those thing but his words of God certainly upset the cart for the king, priests, and people of Judah.
Psalm 71:1-6 – The full Psalm, 24 verses, are the cry of an older person who is being persecuted by enemies. The Psalmist is crying out to God for protection and declaring his lifelong love of God which spans from birth (verse 6) to old age (verse 9). Verse 6 is the connection to the Jeremiah reading above.
1 Corinthians 13 – We have heard this chapter maybe too many times, mostly at weddings, and we tend to think we know it. We hear it with the ears of a wedding guest. Yes, this is the great proclamation of the greatest gift, love. So let’s think about that word, not “love” but “gift”. We often speak about “falling in love” or “being in love” or “head over heels in love”. Love becomes something we are “in”. But love is a gift that is received and given. It is also the gift that gives meaning to all the other gifts mentioned in chapter 12. Prophesy without love is nothing. Understanding (knowledge) with out love is nothing. Paul defines this gift of love by what it is, what it is not, and what it does in verses 4-7. Verses 8-12 seem to be saying that we can grow into that gift of love. Maybe a way of stating that is: the more we understand and are enveloped by the gift of love, the more we can give that gift to other, and in turn the more we receive the gift of love.
Luke 4:21-30 – Part 2 of last week’s lesson. Jesus has stated his mission and the people seem to receive the news well. But then Jesus seems to step into the storm when he challenges the people’s understanding of what the Messiah will do. God’s salvation is not just for the selected few but is for all. He reminds them of two esteemed prophets and who they served. Have you been so angered by what someone has said or proposed that you dismissed their argument, dismissed them, or maybe have even thought of some sort of violence against them? What about those today who value their right to own guns who are angered by any suggestion of gun control? Jesus’ message challenged the conventional thinking of his day. Does Jesus challenge our conventional thinking today? (For a good discussion about a Biblical understand of this issue see this article at Ministry Matters.)
Have a great week serving God and loving others.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor