I think the dog days of summer are upon us. Here is a link to the Wikipedia article: Dog Days. What do you think of the Roman practice of sacrificing a brown dog on the first day of Dog Days to appease an angry star/god Sirius?
Our readings this week begin two series: the Minor Prophets Amos and Hosea for four weeks and Paul’s letter to the Colossians for four weeks also. This week’s Gospel lesson is the wonderful parable of neighborliness.
Amos 7:7-17 – Words of judgment against the northern kingdom of Israel. Amos is a simple herdsman from the southern kingdom of Judah who was commanded by God to prophesy in Israel. In verses 7-9, Amos sees a vision of a plum line. (This follows two other visions in verses 1-6.) God says that he will no longer support Israel or its king, Jeroboam. The priest of Bethel, Amaziah, confronts Amos and tells him to go home. Amos says that God sent him and then pronounces judgment against Amaziah. Tough words. While the words may be against the nation of Israel, its king Jeroboam, and priest Amaziah, how do we measure up against the plum line God holds for us?
Psalm 82 – Much of what Amos prophesies against in Israel is nice summed up by this Psalm. Verse 1 literally says that God is present in a divine council with other gods. What do you make of this? Verses 2-4 could just as easily be spoken by God to the rulers of the world including our governments. In verses 6 and 7 God speaks to the other gods as if they were God’s children. How are we to understand these words?
Deuteronomy 30:9-14 – If I were to choose which OT passage would be paired with the Gospel lesson this would not be the one. There seems to be a connection with the idea that if we are obedient to love God we will be prosperous with children, livestock, and produce. Do you feel this is true?
Psalm 25:1-10 – The psalmist asks the Lord to teach him and guide him in the ways of living a righteous life and to not remember the ways of his youth. Twice he invokes the notion of God’s “chesed’ (Hebrew for kindness or love) and “emes” (Hebrew for faithfulness), a common theme throughout the Old Testament.
Colossians 1:1-14 – This is Paul’s letter to the church located in Colossae, whose people were known as Colossians. Colossae is located in the south central portion Asia Minor, now known as Turkey. These opening verses, after a perfunctory but standard greeting, Paul reports his and his companions’ joy at how well the church is doing since the day they heard the Gospel. Then Paul says that they have all been praying for the people’s growth in the Lord. Are you praying for your church and the worldwide church that it may grow in the knowledge of God, have spiritual wisdom and understanding, and that it will bear fruit for God’s Kingdom?
Luke 10:25-37 – This is one of the most beloved parables, along with the Prodigal Son, in the Gospels. It begins with a question put to Jesus, “How can I attain eternal life?” As a scholar of the Torah, he must have known the answer because Jesus turns it back to him with another question, “What does scripture say?” The man answers, “Love God, love neighbor.” Jesus says, “You got it! Go and do just that! That is life!” But then the man springs his trap, “So, who is my neighbor?” That is the question we must always ask ourselves! Are the immigrants, documented and undocumented, who have moved into town over the last 10 to 15 years from Mexico and points south my neighbor? Are the refugee immigrants from Somalia, Rwanda, Congo, and Ethiopia my neighbors? Is the same sex couple with kid who purchased the house down the road my neighbors? Who are the people we love to hate and are they not our neighbor? Who is your neighbor and who is mine?
Have a great week as you delve into the Wonderful Words of Life!
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor