I just read a great article about congregations and why we need them. Here is a short quote:
Through the generations, congregations have been the kitchens where Christians are “cooked” into the sort of people God intends us to be. We worship, study, pray and share meals, knitting us closer to God and each other. Congregations matter because Christians would not be Christians if we did not have people with whom to practice loving God and loving neighbor.
You can read the entire article at “Why Do Congregations Matter?” Are we cooking and being cooked into the people God wants us to be?
Our readings for this week are:
Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28 – Much happens between last week’s reading of Jacob wrestling with a man and this week’s reading. Briefly, Jacob and Esau meet and make-up (chapter 33); Dinah is raped and her brothers exact revenge (chapter 34); Jacob returns to Bethel (35:1-15); Rachel dies while giving birth to her second son, Jacob’s twelfth, Benjamin (35:16-26); and Jacob’s dad, Isaac, dies at the ripe old age of 180. Chapter 36 is a recounting of the descendants of Esau and the clans of Edom. Our passage this week begins the story of Rachel’s first son, Joseph. Joseph is a dreamer, literally. As we have seen over the last few weeks, family life is messy. It seems that Joseph was Jacob’s favorite and the other 10, older, boys were jealous for Jacob made and gave Joseph a long sleeved robed (also known as a “multi-colored robe”). We skip the verses about Joseph having dreams that depict the other brothers bowing before him. So the brothers plan to lure Joseph out into the countryside to kill him but, in the end, they sell him into slavery. Aren’t families fun? This could be the TBS show “Dallas” all over again.
Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b – The first part calls the people to give thanks to God for all God has done. The second part briefly recounts the life of Joseph.
1 Kings 19:9-18 – Elijah, the champion of YHWH, has defeated and killed the priests of Baal and incurred the wrath of Jezebel so he flees to the mountains. He ends up in a cave on Mt. Horeb (Sinai?). The Lord asks him “Why are you here?”. Elijah tells him. Then God tells him to stand on the mountain for God will pass by. Elijah felt a strong wind but God was not there. Then came an earthquake but God was not there either. Then a fire but God wasn’t there. Then “the sound of silence”. Then the Lord asks him again, “What are you doing here?” Elijah repeats his response. The Lord then tells him to return and complete a few tasks. Have you ever heard “the sound of silence”? Is God found in our loud, proud, aggressive defenses of him or is he found in our simple service to him and others?
Psalms 85:8-13 – The psalmist understands that we need to listen a God who speaks peace. In and with God, love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness will become intertwined with peace; and faithfulness and righteousness will join together.
Romans 10:5-15 – This is a fairly dense passage. Paul starts by asking, rhetorically, can any pull Christ down from heaven or lift him up from the abyss? The obvious answer is “No.” Salvation is evidenced by confessing Jesus is Lord and believing that God raised him from the dead. It does not matter what someone’s circumstances are for “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”. Now, how can they call on God if they haven’t heard about God? How can they hear if no one tells them? And how can someone tell them if no one sends them? So, right here and right now I am sending you into the world, your community, to your next door neighbor, or to your workplace to be the one to proclaim that God and Jesus is Lord of All. Go. Tell. Show. Invite.
Matthew 14:22-33 – In last week’s reading, Jesus was out trying to find a place to be alone but the crowds would not leave him alone so he healed them and, eventually fed some 10,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. After everyone has dispersed, Jesus sends the disciples back across the lake in the boat without him (Jesus still needs some alone time.) A storm comes up and the waves on the lake become swells and the winds are against the disciples. Jesus calmly walks out to them and they think he is a ghost! Peter challenges Jesus to let him walk on water also. Jesus says, “Come”. Peter does and is pleasantly surprised to be able to, but as he looks around (as reality takes hold?) he falls into the lake. Jesus pulls him up and famously says “You of little faith, why did you doubt (unbelieve)?” John Ortberg has a fairly successful book titled “If You Want to Walk on Water You Have to Get Out of the Boat”. Do you want a safe and secure church that slowly gets buffeted by the winds or do you want a church that is doing the miraculous? If so, get out of the boat we call church and do the miracles Jesus tells us we can do.
Have a great week serving God by serving others.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor