Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Readings for Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hello Everyone,

There are lots of things happening at our churches this week.

1. Grey Eagle UMC has their Annual Hog Roast on Saturday, September 26 beginning at 4:30 pm.
2. Peace United Church will have the wedding of Megan Moller and Jon Nelson also on Saturday (Kali Christensen is presiding).
3. Peace United Church will be celebrating the life of Gerret Browen, who passed away yesterday, on Friday.
4. Peace United Church will be celebrating the baptism of Tristan Hudalla during Sunday’s worship.
5. Peace United Church will host the Community Friendship Dinner at the American Legion on Sunday at 5:00 pm.

(I am already feeling overwhelmed.)

If you can pitch in to help with any of these activities please do so.

We are continuing our sermon series “On the Mend”. This week it is “Healing Fear” and we will be using Mark 8:27-38. Here is what I said about this passage two weeks ago:

Mark 8:27-38 – Jesus asks the disciples what the people are saying about him, who he is. They give a variety of responses: John the Baptist, Elijah, another prophet. Peter declares that Jesus is the Messiah. Why do you think Jesus then orders the disciples not to tell anyone? Jesus then goes on to tell them what that really means: suffering, rejection, and death. Oh, yeah, and resurrection on the third day. Peter objects to this idea of what a Messiah is. His, and the Jewish culture of his day, thought was the Messiah would be a military leader who would defeat the Romans and reestablish the Kingdom of Israel. Jesus rebukes Peter by calling him “Satan”. Do we, like Peter, harbor the wrong idea of who Jesus is and what Jesus will do? What does it mean for us when Jesus tells the crowd that anyone who wants to follow him must take up their cross (gallows, firing squad, electric chair – the cross is a device for execution)? How must we die for Jesus?

Our Lectionary reading assigned for this week are:
Esther 7:1-6, 9-10, 9:20-22 – One of two books in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), the other being Song of Solomon, that doesn’t mention God. I encourage you to read the entire tale of Queen Esther, wife of King Ahasuerus of Persia and Media, who saves her people, the Jews, from the murderous intrigues of Haman. This story is read on the Feast of Purim which will be March 23, 2016.

Psalm 124 – The opening of this Psalm says it is a song of Ascents. These songs were sung or recited as pilgrim ascended the hill leading into Jerusalem and the hill up to the Temple. This Psalm praises God as the one who delivers the people from their enemies.

OR Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29 – The people of Israel are grumbling, “Manna, manna, manna everywhere and still there is nothing to eat. We want meat!” God gets angry, Moses gets “displeased, and they argue it out, with Moses asking God why God burdened him with these ungrateful people. God tells Moses to gather 70 people and God’s spirit rested upon them all.

Psalm 19:7-14 – The last half of Psalm 19 praises God perfect law which revives the soul and makes wise the simple. The closing verse is easily recognizable: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

James 5:13-20 – This is our last reading from James. He says that we should pray if we are suffering and sing if we are cheerful. The elders of the church should anoint the sick and the Lord will raise them up. Those who commit sin will be forgiven and therefore we should confess them to each other. And if anyone has wandered from the faith then we should work to bring them back. James is not writing to the pastors of the churches he is writing to; he is writing to the people. We pray for each other. We heal each other. We forgive each other. And we restore each other. That’s what churches, meaning the people of the church, are supposed to do. How are we doing?

Mark 9:38-50 – At the beginning of this reading, John complains that there is another person, not one of the disciples, who is casting out demons using Jesus’ name. Jesus says to leave that person alone. Anyone who does something good using Jesus’ name will no longer be able to speak against Jesus. He also says, “Those who are not against us are for us.” He goes on to say that no one should cause a child (referring back to 9:37) to stumble. Please note that the passage from 42 to 48 has some interesting translations. The words “stumbling block” and “stumble” is a form of the Greek word “skandalon” which is related to our English word “scandal”. It is also translated as “take offense”. The word “hell” is the Greek word “Gehenna” which is a transliteration of the Jewish name of the garbage dump, which was continually burning, just outside Jerusalem and where several child sacrifices happened (see 2 Chronicles 28:3 and 33:6). Finally, notice the verses. In our modern translations verses 44 and 46 are missing and there should be a footnote about that in your Bible. The end of our passage Jesus commands us to be at peace with each other. So, how does scandal lead to the fiery garbage dump? Why is it important that we remain at peace with each other?

May your week be blessed by the presence of God’s Spirit!

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary

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