Monday, September 23, 2013

Readings for Sunday September 29 2013

Hello Everyone,

To begin, there are two announcements you should be aware of:

1. Grey Eagle UMC Hog Roast – Saturday, September 28 starting at 4:30 PM at the Grey Eagle Church.

2. Community Friendship Dinner – Sunday, September 29 starting at 5:00 PM at the American Legion in Long Prairie. Peace United is hosting this month.

This coming Sunday is the last in our “Month of Invitation” and we should be inviting acquaintances to come to church with us. Who is that person God’s Spirit is prodding you to invite. DO NOT ignore that prod!. Step out in faith and invite!

This Sunday is also the second Sunday in our series on baptism, “Deep Well”. Can we approach the well and enter?

Our Readings this week for “Deep Well” are:

Isaiah 12 – This could very easily be considered a Psalm of Isaiah as he gives thanks to God for salvation: drawing water from the well of salvation.

Matthew 14:22-33 – After feeding 5,000 men plus women and children, Jesus send the disciples across the lake, Galilee, in their boat and proceeds to go up the mountain to pray by himself. During the night a storm blows up and the boat is being swamped. Jesus walks out to the boat on the water. Peter asks Jesus to let him walk on water so Jesus simply says “Come”. Peter get out on the water and is surprised that he can walk on the water. Of course, with that realization he sinks into the lake. John Ortberg has a book titled “If You Want to Walk on Water You Have to Get Out of the Boat.” Am I stuck in the boat? Are you? Are our churches stuck in the boat or are we going to get out and start walking?

The Lectionary Readings are:

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15 – This Sunday I mentioned that the prophets can see God in everyday events. The first verses sets the time and place. The second set of verses is what God commanded Jeremiah to do: buy a field which is what Jeremiah does. The question is “Why?” Jeremiah pray that very question in verses 16-25 and God reveals the answer in verses 26 ff. When times get difficult, do we have faith that God will see us through to the end?

Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16 – The entire psalm are the verses of the song “On Eagle’s Wings”.

Amos 6:1a, 4-7 – A warning to the rich and complacent of Judah: they will be the first to be hauled off into exile. What connections can you make with the reading in Luke below?

Psalm 146 – Much of Jesus’ ministry and healing in Matthew, Mark, and Luke reflect the nature of God who is praised by the psalmist.

1 Timothy 6:6-19 – This week brings an end to our readings in 1 Timothy. Next week will start four weeks of 2 Timothy. Paul warns Tim of the dangers of wealth and pursuing wealth. We are all to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. If we have wealth, Paul says that we are to be rich in good works, generosity, and be ready to share.

Luke 16:19-31 – While Luke doesn’t come out and say that this is a parable we need to remember that this is a PARABLE. At 15:3 Luke says that Jesus told them a parable, the lost sheep. In verse 15:8 Jesus tells the story of the lost coin by saying “Or . . .” and we know it is a parable. The story of the prodigal son starts in verse 15:11 with “Then he said, . . .” and we know it is a parable even if Luke doesn’t tell us that. The story of the dishonest manager that starts in 16:1 begins “Then Jesus said to the disciples, . . .” and we know it is another parable even though Luke again doesn’t tell us. In our reading this week Jesus begins, “There was a rich man . . .” and we should understand that it is another parable. Yet I have heard preachers declare that this is what heaven and hell are all about and many people believe them. So, people in hell can see people in heaven and they can talk to Abraham? I think what Jesus is trying to say is that people with wealth should not ignore those in need but should care for them. Here is a Steve Sack editorial cartoon from the Star Tribune that fits this theme (along with Amos above):

Steve Sack - Star Tribune Cartoon

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor
Peace United Church, Long Prairie
Grey Eagle UMC, Grey Eagle

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Readings for September 22 2013

Hello Everyone,

This Sunday we will be starting a five week sermon series titled “Deep Well” and will be focused on baptism. For our first week, “Approach” I have chosen three scripture lessons.

Isaiah 55:1-13 – Verse 1 starts with an invitation to come to the generous banquet that includes water, wine and milk. Verse 2 includes the rich food that truly satisfies. This chapter then speaks about a covenant that will draw all nations. Verse 7 speaks of God’s abundant pardon. Verses 8 and 9 are intriguing, to say the least. God’s way is not the way of humanity and God’s Word will accomplish God’s goals. Finally, there are mountains and hills that sing and trees that clap their hands. Imagine that!

Revelation 7:13-17 – In verses 9 and 10 John the Seer has a vision of all the nations and all the peoples worshiping God. (All? Really?) In verses 11 and 12 he sees the angels and other heavenly creatures worshiping God. (I get that!) Beginning in verse 13 there is another group of people that John sees: martyrs. The Greek word “martyr” means “witness”. They worship God night and day. The Lamb at the center of the throne (first identified in chapter 5 as not the “Lion of Judah” but the “Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered”, aka Jesus the Crucified Christ) will be their shepherd and will lead them to the springs of the water of life.

John 4:1-15 – Jesus leaves Judea and heads to Galilee through Samaria. In the noonday heat he stops a town well, identified as Jacob’s well, and meets a woman. Breaking all codes of propriety he asks her for a cup of water from the well. (Jews don’t talk to Samaritans and men don’t talk to women who are unrelated.) Jesus then moves the conversation to the notion that he is the Living Water that bring true Life to all who drink. She goes on to become his first witness in the Gospel of John.

If you are interested in following the lectionary lessons through this series I will list them with minimal comments.

Jeremiah 8:18-9:1- Jeremiah's lament over the condition of the poor in Jerusalem and surrounding Judah. This is the inspiration for the classic hymn “There Is a Balm in Gilead”.

Psalm 79:1-9 – Not all Psalm were written by King David or in David’s time. This one may have been written in the time of Jeremiah after Jerusalem and the Temple have been destroyed. This psalm encompasses many raw emotions: anger, sadness, horror, and a desire for retribution.

Amos 8:4-7 – The prophet Amos rails against the powerful and wealthy that do not help the poor and needy but cheat them out of their meager earnings.

Psalm 113 – This psalm is the opposite of the psalm above. It praises God for raising the poor from the dust, the needy from the ashes and barren women from shame as they become fertile.

1 Timothy 2:1-7 – Paul urges Timothy and the people of Tim’s church to pray for the kings and the powerful so that they may live a peaceful and undisturbed life. Paul then states that God desires the salvation of all through Jesus Christ who ransomed himself for us.

Luke 16:1-13 – The parable of the “unfaithful steward” or “dishonest manager”. This is one of the strangest parables in all of the Gospels. Is Jesus praising dishonesty? Hardly! It must have something to do with the last verse: “You cannot serve God and wealth (mammon).

Have a great week serving Christ by serving others.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor
Peace United Church, Long Prairie
Grey Eagle UMC, Grey Eagle

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Readings for Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hello Everyone,

Remember: we are in the midst of a “Month of Invitation”. Have you invited someone to join you in church this week? Will you invite someone to church this week? If not, why not? Check out this great YouTube video:

How to Invite Someone to Church

Next week I will start a five part sermon series on baptism titled “Deep Well”. The five weeks will focus on Approach, Enter, Soak, Immerse, and Breathe.

Our readings for this coming Sunday are:

Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28 – The hot wind of God blow in off the desert as punishment to God’s people who are skilled in doing evil. All of creation flees and quakes before God’s anger. There is a glimmer of hope in verse 27: God will not make a full end of things. How does this understanding of God align with Jesus’ understanding of God? How can the differences be reconciled or can they?

Psalm 14 – Who are the “all” who have gone astray and are alike perverse? In this psalm it seems like those who abuse the poor and downtrodden are the ones who are this group. Perhaps verse 7 is the key: Israel’s enemies are the perverse and Israel is one who is poor.

Exodus 32:7-14 – Moses in on the mountain with God. The Israelites are down below and have made the golden calf to worship. God tells Moses that they will be consumed but Moses argues that the Egyptians will laugh at God for that action. Moses then asks God to remember his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. What does God do? God changes God’s mind.

Psalm 51:1-10 – A psalm of confession and a prayer for change and renewal. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”

1 Timothy 1:12-17 – This reading begins a seven week reading of First and Second Timothy. Three weeks of 1 Timothy and 4 weeks of 2 Timothy. Since I will start a sermon series next week we will only get this and the last readings. Like Philemon last week, the letters to Timothy are personal letters. Along with Titus, they are sent to a pastor trying to lead a church. 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus may or may not have been written by Paul because they differ in style from those letters known to have been his. In this passage, Paul gives thanks for redemption he has received from Jesus Christ.

Luke 15:1-10 – The parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin. In the upside down world of Jesus’ parables the characters act in ways that shocked Jesus’ audience. No shepherd would leave 99 sheep unprotected to find 1 lost one. No one would gather together their friends so that they may celebrate the finding of one lost coin or one lost sheep. However, the finding of one lost sinner brings great rejoicing in the heavens.

Have a great week serving the Lord your God by serving others. And don’t forget to invite someone to church this week.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Readings for Sunday September 8 2013

Hello Everyone,

I apologize for not getting this out yesterday. I stayed home to care for Cheryl who was quite ill.

Some news to pass on – The North Star District of the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church has a new District Superintendent named Rev. Mark Miller. Yesterday his office sent out a schedule of church visits for the Fall. Peace United Church and Grey Eagle UMC are scheduled for Monday, November 25. Our Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) will meet at 6:15 PM with Rev. Miller which will be followed by an open meeting with him for everyone in both churches at 7:00 PM. These two meetings will be at Grey Eagle UMC. This meeting WILL NOT be our annual church meetings. We will schedule those separately.

This coming Sunday continues our “Month of Invitation” with an emphasis on inviting our next-door neighbors. Who are your next door neighbors? Do you know them? Do they attend a church regularly? Whether you know them or not, if they don’t attend another church, what is preventing you from inviting them. Invite them this week. If they say no, accept their answer then invited them again next week.

Last Sunday when I asked both church congregations to raise their hands if they made an actual invitation we had probably less then half respond. I hope we have more than half raise their hands this coming Sunday.

Our readings this week are:
Jeremiah 18:1-11 – God is like the potter. God chooses what and how to build up. If the vessel becomes misshapen God can rework it into the right vessel. God is able to do that with the people and nation of Judah.

Psalm 139: 1-6, 13-18 – There seems to be four basic units each six verses long in Psalm 139. Our reading covers sections 1 and 3. Verses 1-6 are about God knowing us through and through. Verses 7-12 is the realization that we cannot hide or run from God. Verses 13-18 concern God’s creating and knowing us from our inception. Finally, verses 19-24 are about the psalmist wanting God to end all wicked people and asking God to know him and lead him.

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 – Moses challenges the People of Israel to choose God and life and not their own ways that lead to death. Moses’ challenge is not to the individual people of Israel but to the entire congregation of Israel. Do we as churches in Todd County Minnesota choose the way of life or has the path we chosen lead to inevitable death?

Psalm 1 – This Psalm is in two parts. Verses 1-3 – Happy are those who choose God and God’s ways. Verses 4-6 – The wicked will not stand before the judgment of God.

Philemon – This is a short personal letter from Paul to his good friend Philemon (pronounced “Fy-lee'-man”). Did I forget the chapter and verses? No, this letter is so short that, unlike Paul’s other letters, has not been divided up into chapters. Later editors gave it 25 verses. The Lectionary calls for the reading of verses 1-21 so I figured we may as well read the entire letter. The occasion for the letter is that Paul is sending back Philemon’s slave Onesimus (Oh-nes'-i-mus) who ran away to be with Paul. As in many letters of the New Testament there is a tacit acceptance of the social norm of slavery. It is never condemned in the Bible which was the prime Biblical argument of Southern slave owners before the Civil War. Anyway, Paul asks Philemon to treat Onesimus as a welcomed brother in Christ.

Luke 14:25-33 – We who believe in and follow the Way of Jesus must ask ourselves some serious questions. What will it cost me to be a follower? Can I still have all my stuff and follow Jesus? What cross must I bear? (Which reminds me of a pun on an old hymn: “The Cross-Eyed Bear”.) What does it mean to hate father, mother, sister, brother, and life itself? Maybe we should all just throw up our hands and chuck it all in.

Have a blessed week in Christ from one who struggles daily with following Jesus.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor