I am back from vacation now. Cheryl and I traveled to Boise, Idaho, to visit my mom and spent two week with her. It was a good visit. We went to my father's crypt at the Idaho State Veteran's Cemetery, visited my father's best friend Glen, saw three movies (Wonder Woman, My Cousin Rachel, The Book of Henry - all three are great in different ways!), went out to eat a couple of times, and did some chores around Mom's home. I was hoping for mid-90 degree heat but mostly got mid-60's to mid-70's. Only two days got to above 90.
One announcement: On Friday, June 30, Grey Eagle UMC is hosting a memorial service for Velma Clay, who died last February in Tenino, Washington. She was the mother of the late Joan Rahn and mother-in-law of member Kenny Rahn. Visitation begins at 10:00 AM and the service will begin at 11:00 AM.
During the season after Pentecost, there are multiple Old Testament reading for each Sunday. One is part of a continuous reading and the other has been chosen to relate to the Gospel reading. This Sunday I will be reading from the Gospel lesson and I will depart from the Lectionary to read Romans 13:1-10.
The Lectionary Readings are:
Genesis 22:1-14 - The full story goes through verse 19 where God renews the promise to make Abraham's descendants "as numerous as the stars." Our section concerns the "near" sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham. Abe hears "God" (Elohim) tell him to take Isaac up a mountain and sacrifice him. Abe does this. As he is ready to plunge a knife into Isaac an angel of the "LORD" (YHWH) stops him and shows him a ram to kill. This is a troubling passage and it is hard to understand the two different "Gods", Elohim and YHWH. Does Abraham hear a god like other gods which demand child sacrifice? And the true LORD intervenes to prevent human sacrifice?
Psalm 13 - When the psalmist is suffering at the hands of her enemies, she wonders where the LORD is (verses 1-2). She pleads for an answer before she suffers death by her enemies (verses 3-4). Yet she places her trust in the LORD's steadfast love (verses 5-6).
OR Jeremiah 28:5-9 - Once again, this is a short section of a longer story which is found in verses 1 through 17. The prophet Hananiah says to the king of Israel, Zedekiah, that the booty and exile that Babylon took will return in two years and there will be peace (verses 1-4). In our reading, Jeremiah confronts him. He says that he hopes that Hananiah is right but he doubts it. All the prophets before predicted war and strife. For the prophet who prophesies peace, only when peace comes will the people know that the LORD has sent that prophet. The story continues in verses 10-17 with the eventual death of Hananiah.
Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18 - This is two short sections of this 52 verse Psalm. The psalmist sings his praise of the LORD's steadfast love which was shown in the covenant made with David (verses 1-4). He then states that people who walk in the way of the LORD are happiest and they rejoice in the strength of Holy One of Israel.
Romans 6:12-23 - Paul, in this section of his letter to the believers who live in Rome, exhorts them to not let sin dominate their lives. They should present themselves to God as people who have been brought from death to life. They (we?) are instruments of righteousness, therefore sin will not dominate for we are under grace not law. So, Paul asks, can we keep on sinning because we are under grace? No, because we, who were once slaves to sin, are now slaves to righteousness. What is the advantage in being slaves to righteousness? Paul says "sanctification", which is the process of being made holy, being cleansed of sin. When we are saved by grace God's Holy Spirit works in us to grow in love. Love of God and neighbor will push out sin in our lives so that we live in righteousness.
Romans 13:1-10 - This is the text I will use instead of Romans 6. The Lectionary never covers verses 1-7. Perhaps it is a bit too controversial, because Paul urges the Roman church to be subject to the civil authorities. Paul states that those in power were put there by God. Any judgement from those authorities are for those who do wrong. Paul also urges them to keep paying their taxes to whom the taxes are due. Paul then shifts focus in verse 8 to encourage the church (us) to owe nothing to anyone except love each other. The commandments are good and are summed up in the phrase "Love your neighbors as yourself."
Matthew 10:40-42 - I think verse 41 is one of the stranger things Jesus says, especially after verse 40. That verse basically says that anyone who welcomes a follower of Jesus welcomes Jesus. As for verse 41, I think Jesus is making some equivalent or parallel "if-then" statements. If you welcome a prophet then you get a prophet's reward. If you welcome a righteous person then you get the righteous reward. If you welcome a Christ follower then you get Christ. If you give a Christ follower (little one) a cup of cold water then you will not loose the reward.
Have a great rest of the week serving God by serving neighbors.
Peace in Christ,