Grace and Peace from God to you and your families.
I hope you are prepared for this weeks forecast of heat in the 90's accompanied by high humidity. It might become "oppressive".
Yesterday, I used an 18" garden rototiller borrowed from a friend to re-till a 5 to 6,000 square foot yard. It was ripped up a month ago when I hired an Amish man with a team of 3 horses and a 5 foot tine-tiller to tear the sod up. I worked from 9 am to noon and 6 pm to 7:30 walking behind this small tiller. (Zachary finished up the last hour of tilling when he got home.) All in my effort to "KILL THE WEEDS". The end result of all my work was sore legs, hip, arms, and hands. Today, I am very stiff.
I am not seeking any sympathy but just to let you know that I, in my very small way, am being that farmer/gardener I wrote about last week and preached about on Sunday. I have hope that in the long run I will have a lush green lawn without weeds. This week we will continue our sermon series on "A Future with Hope". This week's focus is "The Opening".
Our scripture lesson for Sunday will be 1 Corinthians 15:35-38. Paul, in this section of his letter to the church in Corinth, is arguing for the actual, physical resurrection of the body and is the subject for all of chapter 15. But, he argues, the resurrected body will not be like the first body. It will be changed. In our four verses, Paul compares it to a seed which is sown, germinates, sprouts, and grows. The title of the sermon, "The Opening", is about the germinated seed that pushes open its shell. But don't ignore all the other images that come to mind when you think of "The Opening": a doorway, a gate, a vulnerable spot in an opponent's pieces in chess or in football, a moment when someone can be approached, etc. If, as I mentioned on Sunday, God is our only seed of hope, how will that seed germinate within us and our churches?
Our Gospel lesson this week will be Luke 11:1-13. Verses 2-4 are Luke's version of the Lord's Prayer. This resembles the version at Matthew 6:9-13, but there are a lot of differences. Also note that neither Luke nor Matthew's version, when translated into English, uses the word "trespasses". In 6 different English translations that I checked (including the 400 year old King James Bible), the Lord's prayer in Matthew has "debts and debtors" while the prayer in Luke uses "our sins and those indebted to us". Why do so many churches and church people insist on "trespasses and trespass"? Tradition, familiarity, comfort, TTWWADI (that's the way we've always done it)?
Luke 11:5-13 is Jesus' teaching on being persistent in prayer. Jesus compares praying to a friend who wakes you up in the night to borrow some bread. The sleepy friend, who does not want to get up, ends up giving the bread due to the "persistence" of his friend. However, I made a note in my Bible that the Greek word translated as "persistence" could also be translated as "shamelessness". Verse 9 is also familiar: "Ask . . . Seek . . . Knock". Verses 11-12 should be familiar as well. If a child asks for fish will you give it a snake or asks for an egg but receives a scorpion?. Verse 13 finally reveals what it is we will receive when we pray (and it is not the multi-million dollar PowerBall).
I pray to the Lord that the Holy Spirit will bring revival to your lives and your churches. I pray that the Holy Spirit will ignite a fire of love and caring in our churches. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you to share the Good News, invite friends and neighbors into fellowship, and bring life out of death. In the name of Jesus, our Christ. Amen.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor