This week I have been busy, or not, with my “stay-cation”. Because of this, I am reprising my commentary from 2014, which I have been doing lately. You can find this week’s comments below or at my blog “Rural Minnesota Ministry” here: https://goo.gl/d2iRRk (I found typos in the blog which have been corrected below, but there is no guarantee that I found all of them).
Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35 – Praise be to God who saves Israel; who protects the orphans and leads out the prisoners; who gives rain to the land. Sing to God who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!
1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11 – Peter continues to counsel his churches who are suffering “fiery ordeals”, probably some outside persecution. Is it possible to rejoice in our suffering? Is it good to be ridiculed because of Christ? Does it make any difference to know that other Christians are suffering at the same time we are suffering? Peter ends with hope and promise for those who suffer for God, he writes, will “restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.”
John 17:1-11 – All of John 17 is Jesus’ prayer for his disciples. It is generally agreed that there are three sections: for himself in his immediate circumstance, his current disciples, and the disciples and followers of the future (the church). Each year in the Lectionary cycle the seventh Sunday of Easter is focused on one or more of those sections. This year, year A in the cycle, his prayer is for himself (1-5) and the first part of his prayer for the disciples (6-11). The overall theme of the prayer is faithfulness to God’s ways so that God’s glory will be revealed and there will be unity in the midst of division. For the first thousand years of the church there was an uneasy unity with the power of the church located in Rome and Constantinople (Istanbul). The first schism (split) was about 1050 between east and west. The next schism was in the sixteenth century with Martin Luther, John Calvin, King Henry VIII, and the Anabaptists (we label it the Reformation). There are now several thousand denominations and splinter groups under the umbrella title of “Protestant”. Disunity seems to be our way of life. Oh how we grieve the heart of God. Please pray for the United Methodist Church as there are now people and groups who are calling for a separating over the issue of full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the church. I believe we can find a middle way and stay unified.
May the Lord Bless You this week. Serve God by serving your neighbor.