Before I list and comment on our Lectionary Readings for this coming Sunday I invite you to read “What It Takes to Revitalize the Mainline” written by our UMC Bishop Bruce Ough and Big Waters District Superintendent Rev. Susan Nienaber. While the article title says “Mainline” the contents are about revitalizing congregations within the denominations. They have eight suggestions which I list but you will have to read the article for their full discussion. The eight are:
1. Prayer is Absolutely Essential
2. The Belief that God is at Work and Well Work to Guide and Direct Our Efforts
3. Looking for the Miracles that are Happening and Telling the Stories of Transformation
4. Developing a Clear Sense of One’s Mission as a Leader (Note: this is more than your pastor, DS, Bishop (UMC), or Conference Minister (UCC)
5. Being Willing to Color Outside the Lines
6. Being Fearless in Making Extremely Tough Decisions and Choices and Managing the Anxiety that Is Generated
7. Humbly Admitting Mistakes and Working to Fix Those
8. Always Being Grateful
This Sunday we continue with the Sermon Series “We Believe”. Our topic will be “We Believe in the Holy Spirit”. Our lectionary readings are:
2 Sam 11:1-15 – King David, Bathsheba and her husband Uriah. The whole story is told in 11:1-12:23. Several points to consider include verse 1 which reports that David did not go out to wage war as was the custom; verse 2 reports that the woman was bathing either near an open window or outside (but please note that this fact does not absolve David nor places blame on the victim); verse 4 reports that Bathsheba was purifying herself after her menstrual period (I don’t know why this had to be reported); and verses 6-13 where Uriah refuses to go home to enjoy the company of his wife.
Psalm 14 – A longer and poetic version of Paul’s “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. At the end there is hope for the deliverance of Israel and Judah (Jacob).
2 Kings 4:42-44 – From 2 Kings 4:1 to 5:19 we read about the miracles that the prophet Elisha performs: the near endless jar of oil, raising a dead boy, purifying a pot of stew, feeding one hundred men with some fruit, some barley loaves, and fresh ears of grain, and the healing of an Aramean General, Naaman, who had leprosy. The text this week is the feeding of the 100 men and was chosen by the Lectionary committee to compliment the Gospel text.
Psalm 145:10-18 – The entire Psalm is in praise of the generous goodness of God who gives to all who need.
Ephesians 3:14-21 – This will be the text that begins our discussion this Sunday of the Holy Spirit. As you may have noticed the last two weeks, Paul writes of the work of God, and Jesus, and the Spirit, often, it seems, in the same sentence. Here, Paul prays that the Father, God, may grant the church in Ephesus strength in the Holy Spirit so Christ may dwell in their hearts so they may be rooted and grounded in love. The result of this is that the church may experience the fullness of God. As we think about, read about, and talk about the Holy Spirit (or Jesus Christ for that matter) we are also thinking, reading, and talking about God and Jesus. The work of the Spirit is the work of God. The work of Jesus Christ is the work of God.
John 6:1-21 – This passage is the first of five weeks in John 6 and the “Bread of Life”. Two things happen in this passage: Jesus feeds 5000 people with 5 barley loaves and two fish and Jesus walks on the water of Lake Galilee during a storm.
Have a great week serving God and neighbor!
Peace in Christ,