I will be finishing our sermon series, “We Believe”, with the subject of “Thinking like a Wesleyan”. I did a quick skim of the final chapter of Will Willimon’s book on which this series is based and I think we could rename it “Thinking like a Follower of Christ”. It will be based on this week’s reading from James 2.
Then, on September 13, we will begin a series titled “On the Mend”. Here is the blurb that was in our bulletins this week:
Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Are you ready to be “on the mend”? In the Fall series we will uncover the wounds that hold us back from the fullness of life. The readings from the Gospel of Mark offer many stories of Jesus healing and speaking about what brings wholeness (the “Reign of God”). Join us as we move out of old ways of being into new possibilities! (Adapted from Marcia McFee at Worship Design Studio, www.worshipdesignstudio.com)
Our Scripture readings for this week are:
Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 – Because I know that the readings for the next three weeks from Proverb don’t include them and because I have had white (read: gray) hair for a long time now, I offer you my two favorite Proverbs verses: 16:31 (“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.”) and 20:29 (“The glory of youths is their strength, but the beauty of the aged is their gray hair.”). Our verses in Proverbs this week focus on the rich and the poor and the relationship between the them and with God.
Psalm 125 – This little psalm is about those who trust God. They shall not be moved and evil will not overcome them. It also says that those who trust in God will not be able (or allowed) to wrong. Stay with God and everything will be alright. Turn from God and you will be no better than the evildoers.
OR Isaiah 35:4-7a – The longer reading of Isaiah 35:1-10 (the entire chapter) is all about hope that God will make things right. God will come to save the people and lead them back to Jerusalem and the promised land. When God comes to save the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will run, the speechless will sing, and waters will break forth in the deserts. It is a glorious vision. Read the entire chapter please.
Psalm 146 – The psalmist praises God who protects and saves the poor, executes justice for the oppressed, feeds the hungry, frees the prisoners, gives sight to the blind, lifts up those who are bowed down by life, watches over the strangers among us, and upholds the orphan, and the widows. Who else might we add to this list in our day and age? Those dispossessed by war and bombs? Those without life supporting jobs? Whom else? Happy (blessed) are those who hope is in the Lord God!
James 2:1-17 – James is concerned with people in the congregations he writes to that they are playing favorites. The rich get preferred seating and treatment while the poor are ignored and relegated to inferior seating. He warns them that God favors the poor and that the rich are the ones who sue and haul people to court. He reminds his readers of the second great commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” He equates showing partiality with sinning. He also reminds his readers that it is not enough to just say “We have faith”. That faith must be demonstrated by how we live and what we do – in other words, by our works.
Mark 7:24-37 – We will be using this reading on Sunday, September 20. 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?
May your faith be lived out by all you help this week? Seek the kingdom by helping those in need and you will find it.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor