Before I get to the readings I have one quick announcement.
Anyone who has not already received a copy of “Making Sense of the Bible” by Adam Hamilton and who wishes to join in on the weekly study I have two or perhaps three books available. Let me know ASAP that you want a copy as the first study happens tonight, 7:00 PM, at Grey Eagle UMC. I will do my best to get the book there before you get there. There is also a daytime study which will start tomorrow, 2:30 PM, at Peace United Church.
Last Sunday, I started a sermon series based on that book. The text I used for that was 2 Timothy 3:14-17 and John 1:1-5, 14. I believe those will be the same texts this week (though I may change my mind).
This week’s lectionary texts have some interesting tales and lessons. I hope you will take some time to read them.
Exodus 16:2-15 – The Israelites are in the desert heading to Mt. Sinai. They are running out of food and complaining to Moses. Moses, in turn, complains to God. God then makes provision for the Israelites to eat quail and manna. This will be a recurring cycle of complaints and God’s provision. Do we follow in the Israelites’ pattern of complaint? Do we complain even when we have been blessed? How has God provided for you? Have you given thanks?
Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45 – I just learned something new! Psalm 105:1-15 can also be found, nearly word for word, at 1 Chronicles 16:8-22. This Psalm recounts the history of ancient Israel from Abraham to the entering into the land of promise.
OR Jonah 3:10-4:11 – Jonah is a prophetic book with only one prophecy: “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”. Yet, the prophecy is not fulfilled. I stated on Sunday that some people, not many, would categorize Jonah as a tale of fiction. Think about it. If this great little story were not in the Bible we might think of it as a fairy tale where doom is overcome with good. There is much exaggeration in Jonah also. The big fish (not whale). Living three days in the belly of that fish. Nineveh, as described in Jonah, is 10 times bigger, both in land area and population, than ancient Nineveh ever was. Every single person, from king to lowest slave, repents. All people and all animals sit in mourning with ashes covering them. So, what is the Biblical point of the story of Jonah? Some think that it was written during the time of Ezra-Nehemiah when there was a push to expel or kill all non-Jews in the land. In Jonah, God’s love and grace is available even to the hated and reviled Ninevites and the story becomes a counterbalance to parochialism and xenophobia. When have we looked down on outsiders and people we don’t know or understand? When, like Jonah, have we pouted when God doesn’t do what we thought God should do?
Psalm 145:1-8 – A psalm praising God’s goodness. Read verse 8. Compare it to Jonah 4:2. Verse 9 should have been included: “The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.” Verse 8 and 9 pretty much sums it up.
Philippians 1:21-30 – After being in Romans for the last 12 weeks we turn to Philippians. Paul opens the letter with a greeting and a prayer for the people of the church at Philippi. He then informs them of his circumstances which is in prison. In this passage, Paul states that, though he would rather die to be with Christ, he know that there is a reason for his continued life on earth: the people of Philippi. Paul then asks the Philippians to live their lives in a way that honors Jesus. How do we live our lives? Are we honoring God and Jesus? How is that reflected in our work, our play, and with our family and friends?
Matthew 20:1-16 – You want some work to be done and you need a lot of workers to get it completed. At the beginning of the day, 6 AM, you hire a bunch at $10/hour. You hire more at 9 AM, then at 12 noon, again at 3 PM, and finally a few more at 5 PM. The work is finally completed at 6 PM. How much do you pay the workers? $120, $90, $60, $30, and $10, right? Not according to Jesus. Everyone gets $120. “So the last shall be first and the first shall be last.” Scratch your head and go figure! “God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.” (OK, where did you read that?)
May God bless you and your work wherever you may go!
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor