This post is really early this week due to the fact that I will be at a retreat Monday to Wednesday and then a meeting in Minneapolis on Thursday.
Today we started our sermon series “On the Mend” with “Healing Intentions”. Next Sunday our second sermon will be on “Healing Inhibitions”. The Gospel text for the sermon will be Mark 7:24-37. From two weeks ago I noted:
Mark 7:24-37 – This reading contains two stories. The first is Jesus’ encounter with a Gentile woman near the city of Tyre. Jesus is taking a (much needed) break from ministry, but the woman shows up insisting Jesus heal her possessed daughter. Jesus rebuffs her saying “it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” The woman’s reply, “Even dogs eat the children’s crumbs”, causes Jesus to proclaim her child free of the demon. The second story is about a deaf man who couldn’t speak. After Jesus healed the man he ordered the bystanders to not tell anyone. Did they listen to him? No, they proclaimed Jesus’ healing powers. Are you proclaiming the healing powers of Jesus? Are you standing up for justice for those who cannot claim it on their own, much like the woman in the first story?
The Lectionary Texts for this week are:
Proverbs 31:10-31 – My Bible titles this section “Ode to a Capable Wife”. I think I have also heard it called “Ode to an Ideal Wife”. The woman depicted in these 22 verses does everything: she makes her husband proud, gathers or buys wool and flax and makes clothing, she brings food from long distances, she gets up before sunrise to cook and to direct the servants, she buys fields and plants vineyards, she sells the things she makes, she never sleeps, and on, and on. These were from verses 12-18. Can any woman live up to this standard? Does a passage like this set up unrealistic standards that then bring dejection when they can’t be met?
Psalm 1 – There are two paths that we can follow but we must choose one of them: the way of wickedness that is fleeting and leads to destruction or the way or righteousness which is sturdy, enduring, and leads to God. The rest of the Psalms will elaborate on these choices.
OR Wisdom of Solomon 1:16-2:1 – As I mentioned last week, the Wisdom of Solomon is part of the Apocrypha in the eyes of Protestants and Jewish believers. The Catholic Church and many Orthodox churches accept it as scriptural canon. In the Catholic Bible it comes right after Song of Solomon. These 2 verses speak about the ungodly who befriends death. Here is a Link: Wisdom 1:16-2:1
or Jeremiah 11:18-20 – The Lord show Jeremiah a plot against his life. Jeremiah calls on the Lord to bring “retribution” on the enemies because he, Jeremiah, is committed to the Lord.
Psalm 54 – The Psalmist calls on God to vindicate him in the eyes of those who have risen against him. He is sure that God will repay his enemies for their evil. Then the Psalmist will offer sacrifices in praise of God. Have you ever bargained with God saying, “Do this for me, God, and I will be faithful.”?
James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a – There are several things going on in this passage but I believe they relate to each other. The first is our choice of either the wisdom of the world (which brings “envy, selfish ambition, disorder and wickedness”) or God’s wisdom, the wisdom from above (which is “pure, peaceful, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy, and without partiality or hypocrisy”). The second is James’ question about why there are conflicts and disputes within the congregation. This is a result of choosing the world’s way or wisdom. Finally, James says we need to submit ourselves to God so that God will draw near to us. Many of the conflicts we experience in families, churches, and communities are because we want what we cannot have or have what we do not want to share. To desire God’s will (or wisdom) and to live into what God wants for us is to live peaceably in God’s family.
Mark 9:30-37 – Jesus is teaching his disciples and ducking the crowds. He give his second prediction of his Death and Resurrection. When they get to their base of operations, Capernaum, he asks the disciples what they were arguing about. Chagrinned, they admit they were arguing about who would be the greatest disciples. Jesus responds with “the first will be last and the last will be first”. He then places a child in their midst and says that those who welcome a child will welcome him and when they welcome him they welcome the One who sent Jesus. As followers of Christ we are to give up our ambitions of power and riches and humble ourselves to serve and welcome the most vulnerable.
How are we choosing God’s way? Are we giving up the world’s way? How would we welcome the least, the lost, and the left out? How do we live into God’s Kingdom?
My assignment for you this week was “As you interact with others this week, what are your intentions?” Be aware of those intentions and choose God’s way.
May your week be blessed by God’s love and may you share that love with all others!
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor