Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Readings for Sunday, July 31, 2016

Hello Everyone,

I hope and pray you are keeping cool during these "dog days of summer". That is an interesting phrase that I had to look up. There is a nice graphic plus some information on National Geographic's website: "Why Do We Call Them the 'Dog Days' of Summer".

We will be continuing our Sermon Series "A Future with Hope" with our third installment "The Planting". Marcia McFee writes, "Germinated seeds must be planted in order for roots to begin to dig deep in the soil. Is the soil in which we plant our hopes fertile? Inherent in the action of planting in an action of belief that something will come of our effort. Can we imagine what will be? This is a work of the people for the sake of those who will come [later]. What are we planting for future generations?"

Our scripture lesson will be 2 Corinthians 9:6-15. The first part of this reading, verses 6-9, has often been used for stewardship messages and sermons. I am certainly guilty of this because it is a great reminder that we should give generously and cheerfully because God has provided us an abundance of blessings. Always remember: "God loves a cheerful giver . . . so that you may share abundantly in every good work."

The second part, verses 10-15, continues with an analogy that Paul started in verse 9: sowing and reaping. The One who asks us to sow is the One who supplies the seed and will provide the harvest for the bread. In generosity we will find our thanksgiving to God. And through the testing of our ministry in sharing the good news, the Gospel, we continue to receive and grow in the grace of God. Thanks be to God for those gifts.

Our Gospel lesson this week will be Luke 12:13-21. From this past Sunday's reading about prayer in Luke 11:1-13 to this week's reading we skip quite a bit of text. The titles of the various sections we skip that the editor of my NRSV Bible have given include "Jesus and Beelzebul", "The Return of the Unclean Spirit", "True Blessedness", "The Sign of Jonah", "The Light of the Body", "Jesus Denounces Pharisees and Lawyers", "A Warning against Hypocrisy", and "Exhortation to Fearless Confession." Whew!

Our reading is titled "The Parable of the Rich Fool." When I read it I thought this was the perfect Gospel lesson to go with our reading of sowing, reaping, and God's generosity in our lesson above. A voice in the crowd wants Jesus to render judgment in an inheritance dispute he is having with his brother. (Never heard that one before, I said with a smile.) Jesus' first response is to ask "Who made me your arbitrator?". His second response is to warn the man about greed. His third response is to tell a parable. A rich business man had a good year and got richer, so he devised a plan to put all his new found wealth in an illegal, high yield, offshore investment fund that protected him from taxes, his creditors, and the desires of his many ex-wives. With those plans in place he would then simply live it up. Yet that night he died and the ex-wives and creditors divided up his estate. "So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich to God." .

Two weeks ago the Grey Eagle UMC had their annual garage sale, bake sale, and luncheon. Because of your generosity in time, talent, and household items, funds were raised for the ministries of the church. When the sale was over, there were many clothes, household items, furniture, and appliances unsold. An ad was placed in the local paper that these items were free for the asking. A young couple with four kids who had recently moved to the area from Arkansas responded to the ad. The couple and her father arrived with a pickup and trailer and took as much as they could to help furnish a house. They were invited to return but said they didn't have enough money to pay for gas as both were still looking for work. Through the generosity of many church members, GEUMC had enough in their Good Samaritan Fund to help this couple out for the time being. Praise be to God who gives us enough so that we in turn can help others.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary

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