Grace and Peace to you from Jesus our Lord,
At this time of national paralysis and 800,000 people being locked out of their work and livelihood with the shutdown of the Federal Government, let us pray for healing and that our national leaders will figure out a way to work together for the wellbeing of our nation, its citizens, and its residents.
I would like to reemphasize a point I made in Sunday’s sermon: for our churches to be faithful to God in Christ we must be INVITATIONAL and MISSIONAL. In our baptismal covenant we promise to be faithful in “our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness.” We do that by praying for our churches and its pastor (me); by attending worship regularly, by giving generously, by serving in the church and outside the church (this is our mission), and by witnessing to God’s love, grace, and forgiveness. This last part, witness, is easily accomplished by the simple act of inviting. If we are not invitational then we are dying. If we are not mission oriented (missional) we are simply a feel good club. Let’s be neither. Let’s be a vital, thriving, and excited people of God.
Here is an interesting article about the cultural (seismic) shift and the church’s non-response: “The Well in the Distance”. Do we see God’s Well in the Distance and are we willing to traverse the desert to get there? Something to consider!
Speaking of the well, we continue with part 3 of our sermon series “Deep Well”. This week’s emphasis is “Immerse” and we will read another storm story. Our lessons are:
Psalm 69:1-5, 13-16, 34-36 – The psalmist is overwhelmed by enemies and he feels that he is drowning in a flood of violence. He is waiting for the abundance of God’s steadfast love to lift him from the mire. In the missing verses the psalmist appeals to God honor to save him so that God will not be shamed. He also calls on God to do away with the enemies that assail him. There is a wide variety of emotions evoked in this wonderful psalm.
Mark 4:35-41 – There are two main storm stories in both Matthew and Mark. Last week we read the second storm story of Jesus walking on the water during the wind storm. This week we read the first storm story where Jesus is asleep in the stern of the boat while the disciples struggle against a wind storm. I get the feeling that Jesus was never bothered by storms. I love Mark’s description of how Jesus subdues the storm: he rebukes the wind and tells the seas, “Peace. Be still.” “Then the wind ceased and there was a dead calm.” The disciples and Jesus had been crossing the lake to get to the other side, but now they are in the middle of the lake and there is no wind. How are they going to finish the journey? With no wind, they have to row. For you sailors out there, which is worse: a wind storm with rough waves or dead calm?
Our lectionary reading are:
Lamentations 1:1-16 – Jerusalem has been sacked and defeated. In this long poem, the author, maybe Jeremiah, pictures the city as being a woman who has lost her lover, the people that lived there.
Lamentations 3:19-26 – This is the appointed psalm to go with the above verses. I can think of several hymns that have come from verses 22-26.
OR Psalm 137 – The same sentiment as the Lamentation readings but from the perspective of those carried off to Babylon. “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” It is interesting that the Lectionary Committee left in the last verse, verse 9. As you read that verse remember that this psalm, as many psalms do, reflect the emotions of the people who have been defeated at the hands of a devastating enemy. This is not God’s desire.
Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4 – In the introduction to this prophet the editors of my Bible says, “In the dialogue with God, Habakkuk wrestles with the primary question: Why does the Lord permit the righteous to suffer while the wicked prosper?” That is the question Habakkuk raises in the opening verses. Verses 1:2-4 is just the nutshell version of the entire chapter. God’s reply comes in the second chapter. In 2:1 Habakkuk says he will wait for God’s answer which then begins in verse 2. Again, verses 2:2-4 are a summary of the longer answer: “There is a vision of the appointed time but if you don’t see it, wait, for it will surely come. The vision is about the people’s faith.”.
Psalm 37:1-9 – These verses read like Proverbs and there is much wisdom in them. Trust in the Lord. Take delight in the Lord. Commit your way to the Lord. Be still before the Lord. Do not worry about the wicked, refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Simply trust God.
2 Timothy 1:1-14 – The introduction to this letter in my Bible says that 2 Timothy “defines the role and character of [the church’s] faithful minister. So, maybe you don’t have to read this after all but I should pay careful attention to it. After his opening greeting (verses 1-2) Paul give thanks for Timothy’s faithful service he learned from his Grandmother Lois and mother Eunice (verses 3-7). Paul then encourages him to be faithful to the gospel he received from Paul and which is revealed through Jesus Christ (verses 8-14).
Luke 17:5-10 – These 6 verses come under the heading in my Bible titled “Some Sayings of Jesus”. And I am glad that I will not be preaching on these verse this week, especially verses 7-10. I can get my head around a “mustard seed faith” of verses 5-6, but what can be done with the idea of commanding a slave who has finished work in the field to prepare supper and not be thanked. This one is a head scratcher.
Have a great week in Christ. Be invitational and missional in all that you do. Do everything in the name of Jesus our Christ.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor
Peace United Church, Long Prairie
Grey Eagle UMC, Grey Eagle