This week will be Communion Sunday at both churches. This would be an opportune time to invite the people of our churches who haven’t been in church for a while to come back. Please don’t hesitate to invite them to join you in worship.
Our readings for this week are:
Exodus 12:1-14 – Moses has confronted Pharaoh and ten plagues have taken place. Pharaoh’s heart continues to harden. In our reading the Lord instructs Moses and Aaron about the first Passover Meal. A year old male lamb (sheep or goat) is to be slaughtered and its blood painted on the doorpost and lintel of their houses. The lamb is to be roasted and eaten that night with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The hardest part of this reading is that the Lord will pass through the land and city and every firstborn son, human and animal, will be killed. The Lord will “pass over” the houses with the lamb’s blood. How are we to understand this passage in light of Jesus’ revelation of the Lord of Love?
Psalm 149 – The psalm praises God for God’s goodness to the people of Israel. Like many psalms, it takes a dark turn at the last part of verse 6. But who is the psalmist speaking about? In verse 5, the psalmist turns from speaking of God to speaking about the faithful people of Israel. The two edged sword is in the people’s hands. They are the ones who will execute vengeance and judgment. All for the glory of God. Does God need or want that kind of glory?
OR Ezekiel 33:7-11 – Ezekiel was a prophet during the time Babylon besieged Jerusalem, eventually destroying the city and its temple. In the first part of our reading, verses 7-9, God warns Ezekiel to proclaim what God says to him. God’s warnings are to help people turn back to God. In the second part, verses 10-11, the Lord proclaims that he has no desire to see the wicked perish and is ready to take back the repentant. In what ways do we fail to turn back to God when God is always ready to forgive? (Theological mind twister: Does repentance happen because we are forgiven or are we forgiven because we repent?)
Psalm 119:33-40 – We have encountered Psalm 119 twice before this summer. If you recall, this is an acrostic by stanza psalm. Each stanza is 8 verses and each verse in each stanza starts with the same Hebrew letter. This reading is the fifth stanza and the verses start with the letter “He” or ה. The psalmist appeals to the Lord to be taught the Law that leads to righteousness. He asks the Lord to turn his heart and his life to the Lord’s way. What does it take for us to be turned from the world’s ways to the Lord’s Way? How can we desire God instead of desiring things and power?
Romans 13:8-14 – The last two weeks we read all of Romans 12. The lectionary skips 13:1-7, which is about our being subject to the governmental authorities including paying our taxes (13:6). Paul returns to how we are to live as followers of Christ: love. Basically, he says that all of the commandments are fulfilled in the simple act of loving our neighbors. He then appeals to us to not gratify our human desires but to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Leave behind the works of darkness and put on the armor of Light living honorably. See my questions for Psalm 119.
Matthew 18:15-20 – This little passage is often called “The Rule of Christ”. What are we to do if someone in church hurts or sins against us? There are three steps. 1) Talk to the person who hurt you one on one. 2) If the first step doesn’t restore the friendship then take two or three others with you and have another talk. Those others are witnesses. 3) If those don’t work then take it to the church. If the offender still refuses to listen or change then she or he is to be put out of the church. They are to be like Gentiles or tax collectors. But what did Jesus do for Gentiles and tax collectors? He talked with them, ministered to them, healed them, and ate dinner with them. If the people we put out of the church are to be like Gentiles and tax collectors then we have a lot of work to do with them because the Good News is to go to all people.
May you be blessed by the readings this week. May God work through you to lead you in his paths of righteousness. May you love your neighbors inviting them into a life changing relationship with God and Jesus Christ.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor