We are continuing our Sermon Series “We Believe”. This week’s topic will be “We Believe in Practicing Theology”. The word “theology” comes from two Greek words: “theo” meaning “God” and “ology” meaning “knowledge”. “Theology” = “Knowledge of God”. Everyone, especially every Christian, has some knowledge of God. However, knowledge in our heads should be paired with knowledge in our hearts and this knowledge is then lived out in our lives and with our hands. (I guess this makes us the 3-H and not quite the 4-H (Head, Heart, Hands, and Health).)
Our readings this week are:
2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33 – Much has happened in the family of David, King of Israel, from last week’s reading to this one. The child that was born Bathsheba and David dies. Later she becomes pregnant and gives birth to another boy who is Solomon. A son of David, Ammon, rapes his step-sister Tamar. Two years later, her full brother Absalom avenges her rape by killing Ammon. David is quite upset but eventually forgives Absalom. However, Absalom usurps the throne and declares himself king so David must flee for his life. After several battles, David’s loyal army defeats Absalom’s army, which brings us to our reading. As they are winning the last battle David commands his generals Joab, Abishai, and Ittai to deal gently with Absalom. In a strange tale, Absalom is riding a donkey that goes under a tree. Absalom’s head gets wedged in a branch fork of the tree while the donkey rides out from under him. One of Joab’s men saw it but did nothing except report it to Joab. Joab went and took three spears and thrust them through Absalom followed by 10 other men who finished killing him. Eventually, David is told the news and he mourns deeply for his son in verse 33.
Psalm 130 – We recite this Psalm at all the funerals we conduct in our churches. It is the sixth of seven so called “Penitential Psalms” which also include 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, and 143. All these Psalms express the sorrow of the psalmist for his/her sins. The last two verses in Psalm 130 exude hope because of God steadfast love and God’s power to redeem.
1 Kings 19:4-8 – Elijah and the people following him have killed 450 priests of Baal. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel hear the news and Jezebel vows vengeance. Elijah runs for the hills. Our verses tell how God provided for Elijah with cake and water.
Psalm 34:1-8 – The Psalmist praises God for God’s role in saving her from her troubles. The famous line is in verse 8: “O taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Ephesians 4:25-5:2 – In verse 4:17, Paul tells the Church at Ephesus that they “must no longer live as the Gentiles live.” What does that mean for us today? That is a great question to ponder. Beginning in verse 25, Paul writes about what it means to live as a Follower of Christ: speaking truth; being angry but without sin; laboring and working honestly; sharing with the needy; using words that build up and give grace and not take down; not grieving the Holy Spirit; putting away all bitterness, wrath, anger, wrangling, slander, and malice; being kind, tender hearted, and forgiving. He finishes with the idea that we should be imitators of Christ, living in love. These are strong words and they remind us on how we should live the “Christian” life. So much of what I hear in the media today from some, if not many, so called “Christians” does not sound like Paul’s understanding of what it means to be a Christian. They sound bitter and angry. They often slander others and their words reek of malice. How do we live as Christians in today’s world. To do that we have to practice our knowledge of Jesus (God). A good starting point for this Sunday’s message.
John 6:35, 41-51 – Jesus, the Bread of Life, is still point-counter pointing with the Jewish leadership over the meaning of “Bread of Life” and the idea that anyone who “eats” that bread will have eternal life. Verse 51 verges on cannibalism, which will have repercussions next week.
So, how do we follow Christ? The answer is easy: Imitate Christ. Or is it?
May God bless your week ahead and may you serve God by serving others.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor