First, don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour on Saturday night before you go to bed. Daylight Savings Time is over. If you forget then you will be an hour early to church, which may not be a bad thing.
This Sunday will be week 8 of a 9 week sermon series. Our focus is “On the Mend: Healing Power” and we will be using Mark 10:35-45 for our text. Here is what I wrote two weeks ago:
Mark 10:35-45 – OK, someone needs to slap the disciples, especially James and John, up side the head to knock a little sense into them. (Special Agent Leroy Gibbs on NCIS always did that to Agents DiNozzo and McGee when they were being a bit dense.) James and John approach Jesus to secure the seats of honor in God’s coming Kingdom. Jesus wants to know if they can “drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I will be baptized with?” Without really understanding, they of course reply, “Sure!” When the others hear what they have requested they get angry. Wouldn’t you? Once again Jesus tells them that they must become servants to be great and a slave if they want to be first. Jesus will be the ransom for many. With those last three verses in mind, go back and reread Isaiah 52:13-53:12.
This Sunday is “All Saints Sunday”. The Scriptures assigned for this day are:
Isaiah 25:6-9 – The prophet anticipates the time when God will be victorious over death. God will wipe away all tears and set a feast before all peoples.
Psalm 24 – What belongs to God? Everything and everyone. Who shall enter the temple of the Lord? Only those who have clean hands, pure hearts, are free from idolatry, and who do not swear lies. So who is left to enter the temple? Those whom God has vindicated and saved. Who is this King of Glory?
Revelation 21:1-6a – The prophet sees a time when God’s Holy City descends to earth and becomes the home for all to live with God. Death, mourning, crying, and pain will be defeated and God will wipe every tear away. (Does this sound vaguely familiar?) God will declare that God is the beginning and the end; the Alpha and the Omega.
John 11:32-44 – This is the familiar story of Jesus raising Lazarus from death. The larger story is 11:1-44 as the Lectionary skips the actual dying of Lazarus and Jesus’ delay in returning to Bethany to see his friend. We even skip the verse where Jesus tells Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
And, if that is not enough Bible passages to read, Sunday is also the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost and the readings are:
Ruth 1:1-18 – This is the opening and setup to the longer story of Ruth who was Jewish only by marriage and who would be the great-grandmother of King David. A man and his wife, Elimelech and Naomi, are unable to make a living in Judah during a severe famine so they moved to Moab. Unfortunately, Elimelech dies while in Moab. Their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, then marry Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. They continue to live in Moab for ten years but the couples remain childless. Tragedy strikes and the two sons of Naomi die, leaving the three women to fend for themselves. Naomi decides to move back to Judah where she has relatives. She sends the her two daughters-in-law back to their families. Orpah goes but Ruth insists on staying with Naomi. Ruth’s famous speech is in verses 16-17.
Psalm 146 – The psalmist praises God for all the things God has done to help the helpless. In our day and age of blaming the poor, turning away from those in need, closing borders to immigrants, and not delivering food to the starving, this psalm should be a corrective to our myopia. The Lord executes justice for the oppressed, feeds the hungry, sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind, lifts up those who are bowed down, watches over the strangers, and upholds the widows and orphans. How does God do all these things if not through us.
Hebrews 9:11-14 – This is a bit complicated and convoluted but I think it can be summed up in the old gospel hymn, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”
Mark 12:28-34 – Throughout Mark the Pharisees, scribes and priests challenge Jesus with questions to try and trip him up. Jesus always bests them. Again a scribe asks Jesus a question but when Jesus give a great answer, an answer most of the Rabbis of the time knew, the scribe is impressed. The question? “Which commandment is first of all?” The answer is not in the Ten Commandments but the Big 10 are summed up in the first and second commandment: Love God and Love Neighbor. I would also add that they go together and cannot be separate. To love God is to love others. And to love others, your neighbors, is to love God. As we think about these things let’s not forget one small detail in Jesus’ response: “as yourself”. Loving yourself is not some kind of narcissistic “me only” way, but it is the deep knowledge that God knows, forgives, and loves you. When we know that God loves us we can accept ourselves and in turn accept and love others.
Have a great week serving God by serving others.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor