This past Saturday word came that the jury in Sanford, Florida, acquitted George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Treyvon Martin. It seems like everyone has an opinion about this case and for the last three days every one of those opinions have been aired on TV, Radio, Newspapers, Magazines, Web Blogs, and any other media you can think of. Everyone who thinks the verdict was wrong blames (pick as many as you want): the prosecution, the six white women on the jury, the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida, racial profiling, and/or the ongoing racism in the US. Everyone who agrees with the verdict is shocked at the depth of passion by those who disagree.
However you feel about the case we need to keep all in our prayers: George Zimmerman who must live with the outcome of that fateful day; the family of Treyvon Martin as they continue to mourn his death; the lawyers on both sides who did their best; the women of the jury who had to come to some sort of decision; the people of Sanford and Florida; and our society writ large as we continue to come to terms with race in our multiracial society and how we live out the neighborliness of the Good Samaritan story. Instead of trying to fix the blame let us all look within our own hearts and the prejudices we all carry against the “other”. Only then can we begin to love all of God’s people as God loves us.
Our readings this week continue our readings in Amos, Colossians, and the Gospel of Luke.
Amos 8:1-12 – One of the major themes of Amos is the disparity in Israel between the rich and the poor. There was probably no “middle class” as we would call it today. Amos pronounced the judgment of God upon Israel because the rich continued to take advantage of the poor for their own personal gain (verses 4-6). God’s judgment is that God will no longer be present with Israel (verse 2) and God will not forget what they have done (verse 7). What would Amos be like to read today if we were to substitute the word “United States of America” for the word “Israel”?
Psalm 52 – In an apt Psalm to accompany our Amos reading, the psalmist takes deceitful people to task and praises the righteous who fear the Lord.
OR Genesis 18:1-10a – The story of Abram (Abraham) and Sarai (Sarah) begins in chapter 12. God makes a covenant with Abram and changes their names in chapter 17. Our story in this reading actually goes through verse 15. A & S are camped under the oak trees of Mamre when the LORD, in the form of three visitors stop by. Being the good host that he is, Abraham asks the guests to sit a spell, tells Sarah to prepare flour cakes, and has the servants slaughter and roast a calf. (How long did the three guests have to wait?) The guests (the LORD) promise A & S a son in due season. Let’s not forget that Abraham is 99 (17:1) or 100 (17:17) and Sarah is 90 (17:17). I think the point of the Lectionary Committee cutting the story short by 4 verses is to emphasize hospitality. What is “hospitality” and how can we as a church be more hospitable?
Psalm 15 – This is almost the flip side of Psalm 52 above. Who can live in God’s tent? Verses 2-5 answer this question. “Those who do theses things will never be moved.” (verse 5b)
Colossians 1:15-28 – Did you ever want to know what God is like? Then look at Jesus. Just as a photo of you is the image of you, so too is Jesus the image of God. Paul, however, goes much deeper than just this metaphor. Jesus is also Creator of all things, before and after all things, the glue of all things, the vessel holding the fullness of God, and, last but certainly not least, the reconciler of humanity and all things to God. This is the Gospel that Paul dedicated his life without regard to the suffering he endured. “It is he whom we proclaim . . . so that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (verse 28).
Luke 10:38-42 – If you recall the encounter of the lawyer with Jesus in last week’s reading you know that the story of the Good Samaritan was in response to the question “Who is my neighbor?” That question was a follow up to the two great commandments: Love God and Love neighbor. Luke moves immediately to a story that illustrates the first part of the Great Commandments with the story of Mary and Martha.
Jesus visits them and Martha is busy with the things a good host does for her guest, much like Abraham asked Sarah to do for their guests. Her sister, Mary, on the other hand, sits with Jesus and listens to him. Martha, of course, complains but Jesus will have none of it. Who was being the good host, the one who works so that the guest may have food and drink or the one who stays with the guest? Not an easy question to answer because both must be done. Maybe Martha could have been a little more like Mary and Mary could have been a little more like Martha. (And where is Lazarus in this story?)
When the Martha/Mary question is applied to the church we sometimes feel that there are too many Mary’s and not enough Martha’s. How about everyone being both? Everyone one contributes work in the church and contributes to the work of the church. Everyone attends to the worship and praise of God. We will be a better church when we do both.
Have a great week serving God by serving your neighbor.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor