Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Readings for Sunday, August 23, 2015

Hello Everyone,

I started this email a couple of hours ago before the rain in Long Prairie started. Then at about 3 pm the power went out. Fortunately, I hadn’t written too much so this restart isn’t too bad.

One announcement: This coming Sunday GEUMC will have it’s annual “Church at Birch”. Worship is being held at Janet and John Roe’s place on Big Birch Lake, 11057 Todd County Rd. 47, about a mile south of the church. We will start worship at 9:00 AM and there will be a potluck brunch following worship. I hope to see you there.

Here are the Lectionary Scriptures assigned for this coming Sunday. (I will be continuing my sermon series, “We Believe”. This week: “We believe in Faith and Good Works.”)

1 Kings 8:1, 6, 10-11, 22-30, 41-43 – Solomon’s workers have built the Temple to God in Jerusalem. The priests bring the Ark of the Covenant from the tent to the Temple. Once installed, smoke fill the Temple and Solomon offers a prayer (verses 22-53). There is some unintended irony in his prayer. Remember what Solomon has done to become king and to consolidate his power: several half-brothers and a couple of David’s adversaries are murdered at his command. He then prays, “[condemn] the guilty by bringing their conduct on their own head . . .” Perhaps the rest of Solomon’s story will tell whether his prayer is answered. One writer compared this story to the baptismal scene at the end of “The Godfather”. I would post a link to the YouTube clip but it is a bit grizzly.

Psalm 84 – The psalmist longs to worship God in the Temple. He or she knows the joy and happiness of worship. “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” (verse 10)

Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18 – Joshua’s leadership of Israel is nearing its end and Joshua convenes all of Israel to hear his witness. He knows how easy it is to turn away from following God and he pleads with the nation to remain faithful no matter what. He says that everyone must choose and the better way in life is to choose God.

Psalm 34:15-22 – The psalmist declares that God, the Lord, is keeping watch over the righteous and will punish the evildoers. The Lord will rescue the righteous from whatever afflicts them and the Lord will redeem those who love God.

Ephesians 6:10-20 – Paul urges the people of Ephesus to “be strong in the Lord”. This will come when they, and we put on the “whole armor of God”. The armor will protect us from the evil forces of this world. It is interesting that he says that our enemies are not other people (verse 12a) yet so often Christians claim that other people are the enemy. As Pogo once said, “We have seen the enemy and the enemy is us.” What is the armor? It is the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteous, shoes to proclaim the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. Paul finishes by asking the community to pray “at all times in every prayer and supplication.” So, how do you dress in the morning?

John 6:56-69 – This is the last week on the “Bread of Life”. There is a bit of overlap from last week with verses 56-58 repeated. What Jesus says is troubling and not everyone can accept it and follow Jesus. Many disciples abandon him at this time. Jesus asks the 12 disciples if they want to leave also. They respond, “Lord, where can we go because you have the words of eternal life?” Even with their pledge to follow one will betray him. Where do you find life? Is it eternal?

May the Lord God bless your reading this week and may you taste the bread of eternal life.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor
Peace United Church, Long Prairie
Grey Eagle UMC, Grey Eagle

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