Thank you for all who helped make “Church at Birch” a success despite the fact we had to move it into the church due to wind and rain. Thank you also to Randy Schwinghammer for his guitar work in support of our hymn singing.
Please keep in your prayers the family of Darlene Chase. Her funeral will be tomorrow at Peace United Church, Long Prairie, at 11 am.
We are continuing our sermon series, “We Believe” this Sunday, but we have finished our reading of Ephesians. I am not sure if any of this week’s assigned Lectionary readings will fit the the topic “We Believe in the Coming of God’s Realm and Reign in the World”. If not, I will choose another lesson.
Our reading for this week are:
Song of Solomon 2:8-13 – This book of the Bible is sometimes called “The Song of Songs” from the very first verse of the book. Christians, for the most part, are very uncomfortable with SoS. It doesn’t mention God, or God’s work of redemption. We have also been discomforted by its overt depiction of human sensual sexuality. Essentially, it is a love poem. However, as the commentator in my Bible puts it, “The song became part of the Bible precisely because readers felt that its depiction of physical human love is so beautiful and deep that it expresses the love between God and humans better than any other human document.” In our reading, the woman (the church?) is speaking about her lover (God?) and she quotes him in verses 10-13. He (God?) is asking her (the church?) to go with him.
Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9 – In the Bible I use in preparing these notes this Psalm is titled “Ode for a Royal Wedding”. The psalmist is so overjoyed with the upcoming wedding that he wants to write this for the king (verse 1). He then heaps praises on the king (verses 2) while reminding him that his rule (verses 6-7) and everything he has, including the queen (verses 8-9), are gifts from God.
OR Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9 – Deuteronomy reads like a last will and testament by Moses. In these verses, Moses tells the people to listen to everything he has to tell them and to follow them completely without adding anything to them or taking anything away. If they do so, God will give them the land, Canaan, that lies before them.
Psalm 15 – Who can live with God? According to the psalmist only those who are blameless, who speak truth, who do not slander, do not commit evil, do not reproach neighbors, do not lend money at interest, and do not take bribes.
James 1:17-27 – James begins like a letter but reads more like a series of lessons on how to live as followers of Jesus. If you want to get the full impact of what James says to us start at the beginning and read all of chapter 1. Are you facing trials (v. 2)? Face them with joy. Are you lacking in wisdom (5)? Ask God who generously gives. Feeling lowly (9)? Boast in being raised up? Feeling wealthy (10)? Boast in being brought low. Facing temptations (12)? They are not from God for God tempts no one. It comes from your own desires. Feeling generous (17)? That generosity comes from God. Are you so angry that you want to berate someone or everyone (19)? Try being slow to speak and quick to listen. The followers of Christ are people who do God’s word when they hear them. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 – After 5 weeks in John 6, we return to the Gospel of Mark. When I finish the current sermon series I will start another 9 week series, “On the Mend”, based on the Mark lectionary readings starting with this one. This means I will be two weeks behind but I think it will be a good series. The lectionary has given us only part of the story focused on cleanliness going into the body versus coming out of the body. It skips the part where Jesus chastises the Pharisees for being hypocrites. I will probably us all 23 verses. The question that we might want to ask ourselves is, “Which does more harm to God’s Church and/or God’s children: what I eat and drink or how I verbally abuse other people?”
May you be blessed by our readings this week and may you grow stronger in God’s love that you may share that love with others.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor