First, an announcement. I will be taking Thursday off to go to St. Catherine’s University to see 8 one-act plays at the Minnesota State High School League 2016 State One-Act Play Festival. Cheryl, my wife, wrote and directed a one-act play called “An Uncommon Treasure”. She, along with the cast and crew of Eagle Valley Browerville High Schools, took second place at sub-sections and then first place at sections last Saturday. They will be competing on Thursday against seven other schools.
Both churches will be having Ash Wednesday Services tomorrow evening. 6:00 PM at Peace United and 7:30 PM at Grey Eagle UMC.
Our scripture lessons for Ash Wednesday are:
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 – The prophet Joel warns the people that the terrible day of the Lord is surely coming. Then he assures the people that if they turn to the Lord there is hope.
OR Isaiah 58:1-12 – My Bible labels this section “False and True Worship”. What is false worship according to Isaiah? Going through the motions of worship and not having it make a difference in your life. What is true worship? Loosing the bonds of injustice; setting the oppressed free; feeding the hungry; giving homes to the homeless; clothing the naked. This is the worship God wants from us. (I will be speaking on this passage on Ash Wednesday.)
Psalm 51:1-17 – The psalmist knows he has sinned against God and calls on God to have mercy and cleanse him from all unrighteousness.
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10 – Paul calls on the church in Corinth to be reconciled to God and to not treat the grace as a foregone conclusion. He is calling on this church (and our churches also?) to be changed by grace and to show that change in the ways they live their lives.
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 – This passage is from the middle of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount”. The verses that are skipped are Jesus’ instructions on how to pray and his example of what that pray should be like, now known as “The Lord’s Prayer”. The verses that are included concern how we give, how we pray, how we fast, and how we save. Giving, praying, and fasting are to be done humbly and in secret. Saving, storing treasures, should not be about money and things but about God’s treasures.
On Sunday, I will be starting a Sunday-Wednesday sermon series I am calling “Ten Tough Topics”. This Sunday the topic is “Evil”. Our readings for Sunday are:
Deuteronomy 26:1-11 – When the Israelites finally possess the land, they shall give the first fruits of that land to God. When they do that there are words that they should say. When that is accomplished they will celebrate with the priests and with the aliens that reside with them. How will that play today with so much political talk about keeping out Muslims and Mexicans and South Americans?
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16 – The words of that wonderful song “On Eagle’s Wings” come from this psalm. The psalmist is assured that those who place their trust in the Lord will know God’s protection.
Romans 10:8b-13 – Paul tells the church in Rome that everyone who confesses aloud that Jesus is Lord and who also believes in their hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead will be saved. Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth. Is that all there is to it?
Luke 4:1-13 – After his baptism, the Holy Spirit leads Jesus through the desert. Luke tells us that Jesus was tempted for the entire 40 days. At the end of the 40 days, the devil (diablos in Greek) has three special temptations: food security, political power consolidation, and spiritual power. The devil quotes Scripture to lure Jesus but Jesus, in all three temptations, grounds his resolve in a better understanding of scripture and human desire. At the end the devil leaves and waits for a “more opportune time”.
Have a great week serving God and serving neighbors.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor