I am back from vacation and catching up on the email and snail mail. Cheryl and I traveled to Meridian, Idaho, to visit my mother. The first two days of driving, through North Dakota and Montana were rainy and blustery, but the clouds disappeared when we drove into Idaho and our 10 days there were beautiful. We helped Mom with a few small projects and I brought home Dad’s tools and golf clubs while Cheryl brought home some paintings that Dad purchased. We also visited some of Dad’s (and Mom’s) friends, toured the Birds of Prey Center in the hills above Boise, and went to the movies (I saw Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into the Darkness, and Man of Steel. Cheryl also saw The Great Gatsby.)
We left Meridian on Sunday the 16th and drove to West Yellowstone. We walked around the town, had dinner (a tender and delicious Bison Ribeye steak). We then drove north 35 miles to the “320 Guest Ranch” where we stayed until Wednesday. On Monday we took a guided wildlife tour around the north half of Yellowstone Park and saw all kinds of wildlife except wolves and grizzly bears. We saw them the next day as we returned to West Yellowstone and went to a “Discovery Center” that keeps injured wolves, bears, and birds of prey that are unable to survive in the wild. We also went to the Imax Theatre and saw a great film on the history of Yellowstone. That night we had dinner at the 320 Guest Ranch; some excellent elk tenderloins.
We left the Yellowstone area on Wednesday and arrived home on Thursday afternoon. It was a great trip and we had a good time.
Enough now of the travelogue.
First, Grey Eagle UMC Vacation Bible School is currently going on. Even if your children or grandchildren did not attend last night they are welcome to come tonight starting at 5:30 until 7:15.
Now, on to the readings. During the Season after Pentecost the first OT reading is part of a continuous reading of the OT stories with a Psalm reading that goes along. The second OT reading and related Psalm is meant as a parallel to the Gospel reading.
2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14 – This is the end of Elijah’s ministry and prophesy and the beginning of Elisha’s. They travel from Gilgal to Jericho to the Jordan River. Three times Elijah tries to persuade Elisha not to go along and three time Elisha declares his loyalty even knowing that Elijah will soon be gone. What then does Elijah ask Elisha and what is the response? What are the two things involved in Elijah’s being taken to heaven? What then does Elisha do to cross the Jordan? Is there someone in your life whom you wish to pass on your wisdom and understanding? What about passing on your ministry? How do we pass on the Mantle of Faith to a younger generation?
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20 – When times are tough the Psalmist reflects on the great works and wonders of God and how God led Israel through the sea.
1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21 – After Elijah’s encounter with the still, small voice of God on Mount Horeb (Sinai) God sends him back to anoint two kings, one for Israel (north) and one for Judah (south) and to anoint his successor, Elisha. What does God send you to do? Who are you to anoint (figuratively speaking) into God’s kingdom?
Psalm 16 – In this Psalm, when troubles arise the Psalmist trusts that God is with him and will counsel him in the ways of righteousness.
Galatians 5:1, 13-25 – What does it mean to be free in Christ? Divisions, barriers, and rules that divide humanity are no longer justifiable (last week’s reading: “there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female for all of you are one with Christ.”). Maybe it means we are free from those divisions so that we may love. That does not mean we are free to do whatever we want to do because our desire is to satisfy our personal wants at the expense of others. So much of our life without Christ consists of actions that do not love others. Paul sets it up or sees it as a dichotomy of the flesh and God’s Spirit. The ways of the flesh (our desires that place our own gratification above others) lead to much that hurts others: “fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.” (5:19-21) On the flip side is the works of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (5:22-23) What does is mean to be free in Christ? Freedom to love God, love others, and love ourselves. (I feel a sermon coming on. Someone get me a cold compress.)
Luke 9:51-62 – Jesus decides that it is time to go to Jerusalem to face the forces that would kill him. Traveling through Samaria (the land of the unloved cousins of the Jews) several go ahead to secure a room for Jesus and the disciples. Verse 53 is a bit troubling. Why didn’t Jesus stop at the town? Was it the Samaritans fault that Jesus had to keep moving? (At least one version of the Bible, NET, say the Samaritans “refused to welcome” Jesus.) The disciples think so in verse 54. But it simply says they didn’t receive him (or welcome him, or take him in) because Jesus had to keep going as verses 57-62 make clear. There is no time to dawdle when it comes to the work of the Kingdom of God. What keeps you from your Kingdom Work?
Have a great week serving God in all you do.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor