Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Blogging toward Sunday

Lectionary texts for Sunday, August 5th, include 2 Sam 11:26-12:13a & John 6:24-35.

In our Old Testament reading, the life and times of King David continues. Last Sunday we learned of his infidelity as well as the death of an innocent man because of David's sin. After reading the text, consider the following:
  1. What is David's sin?
  2. Who comes calling with a word from God?
  3. You may notice that the reading ends at verse 13a ("a" meaning only the first part of verse 13). Why do you think the rest of the verse plus verses 14 and 15 are omitted from the reading?
During our Lectionary group on Tuesdays, the pastors who gather examine Scripture using a variety of Bible translations. It is always interesting to hear what we notice from one reading that completely misses our attention from another reading. With that being said, below are 3 interpretations of John 6:24-35. Read each one and note your own response to delving into Scripture via numerous translations.

[NRSV, New Revised Standard Version]
So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."

[CEB, Common English Bible]  
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus replied, “I assure you that you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate all the food you wanted. Don’t work for the food that doesn’t last but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Human One will give you. God the Father has confirmed him as his agent to give life.” They asked, “What must we do in order to accomplish what God requires?” Jesus replied, “This is what God requires, that you believe in him whom God sent.” They asked, “What miraculous sign will you do, that we can see and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, just as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. ”Jesus told them, “I assure you, it wasn’t Moses who gave the bread from heaven to you, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. The bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”They said, “Sir, give us this bread all the time!” Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."

[The Message]  
The next day the crowd that was left behind realized that there had been only one boat, and that Jesus had not gotten into it with his disciples. They had seen them go off without him. By now boats from Tiberias had pulled up near where they had eaten the bread blessed by the Master. So when the crowd realized he was gone and wasn't coming back, they piled into the Tiberias boats and headed for Capernaum, looking for Jesus. When they found him back across the sea, they said, "Rabbi, when did you get here?" Jesus answered, "You've come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs—and for free. "Don't waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last." To that they said, "Well, what do we do then to get in on God's works?" Jesus said, "Throw your lot in with the One that God has sent. That kind of a commitment gets you in on God's works." They waffled: "Why don't you give us a clue about who you are, just a hint of what's going on? When we see what's up, we'll commit ourselves. Show us what you can do. Moses fed our ancestors with bread in the desert. It says so in the Scriptures: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Jesus responded, "The real significance of that Scripture is not that Moses gave you bread from heaven but that my Father is right now offering you bread from heaven, the real bread. The Bread of God came down out of heaven and is giving life to the world." They jumped at that: "Master, give us this bread, now and forever!" Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever."

As always, I look forward to seeing you in worship on Sunday. May God's blessings rain down upon you this week.



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Blogging toward Sunday

The Lectionary readings for Sunday include 2 Samuel 11:1-15 and John 6:1-21.

Image via Wikimedia Commons
Last Sunday you had the opportunity to hear our Presbytery's Executive Presbyter, Carson Rhyne, preach. If you were in church, you heard a sermon entitled "Let's Eat!" The sermon considered Mark's telling of the story of the feeding of the 5000. Once again this Sunday, you will hear this story, but from John's perspective. Now, don't even consider staying home, thinking "I heard it last Sunday!" No, because even though fish and bread will be on the menu, so will significant other things, particularly from the Old Testament reading.

Speaking of our Old Testament reading, for the past few weeks we have been following the life of King David. Since you missed the text from 2 Samuel last week, be sure and add 2 Samuel 7:1-14 this week. Herein, the prophet Nathan is introduced and you learn of David's desire to build a temple for the Lord. From 2 Samuel 11:1-15, you will see another side of David, a side that is less concerned with the desires of Yahweh and more concerned with the desires of David.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Read both passages from 2 Samuel as well as the story of the Feeding of the 5000 from the Gospel of John. Then consider the following:
  1. How would you describe David when he desires to build a temple for the Lord?
  2. What aspects of his character become evident in the second reading?
  3. If you compare the boy who shared his fish and loaves with David who took what wasn't his to take, what might you say about each person?
  4. The title for Sunday's sermon is "Give or Take." As you prepare for worship on Sunday, meditate on the giving nature of the boy versus the taking nature of David as told in the readings.
I look forward to seeing you in worship Sunday morning.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Blogging toward Sunday

Image from Wikimedia Commons

The readings for Sunday, July 22nd will be Psalm 96 and Mark 6:30-44.

After spending time with the Scripture passages, examine the picture above. What do you notice about Jesus and those gathered around him? Just before food is miraculously given to all who are hungry, Jesus instructs his disciples to come away for a while and get some rest for they have had no time--even to eat. 

Rush, rush, rush, hurry, hurry, hurry! It is the way of our lives, more so now than ever, it seems. In light of the rush and the hurry, I offer you this poem on which to reflect, written by Jan Richardson.

Blessing of Rest

Curl this blessing
beneath your head
for a pillow.
Wrap it about yourself
for a blanket.
Lay it across your eyes
and for this moment
cease thinking about
what comes next,
what you will do
when you rise.

Let this blessing
gather itself to you
like the stillness
that descends
between your heartbeats,
the silence that comes
so briefly
but with a constancy
on which
your life depends.

Settle yourself
into the quiet
this blessing brings,
the hand it lays
upon your brow,
the whispered word
it breathes into
your ear
telling you
all shall be well
all shall be well
and you can rest

My prayer for you this week is that the Lord will provide you with everything you need--work, rest, food, wholeness and love...


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Blogging toward Sunday

The Lectionary readings for Sunday, July 15th include 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19 and Mark 6:14-29.

Wenzel Hollar [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Both of our readings involve a celebration. What is being celebrated in 2 Samuel? What is being celebrated in Mark 6? While preparing to write this blog entry, I searched for "tame" pictures of the martyrdom of John the Baptist, but, of course, there is no such thing as a "tame" representation of such a thing of horror. Who could imagine attending a birthday party only to witness the head of a holy man being brought out on a platter? Yet that is exactly what happens. 

Please read this passage from the CEB (Common English Bible):
Herod the king heard about these things, because the name of Jesus had become well-known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and this is why miraculous powers are at work through him.” Others were saying, “He is Elijah.” Still others were saying, “He is a prophet like one of the ancient prophets.” But when Herod heard these rumors, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised to life.” He said this because Herod himself had arranged to have John arrested and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of Herod’s brother Philip. Herod had married her, but John told Herod, “It’s against the law for you to marry your brother’s wife!” So Herodias had it in for John. She wanted to kill him, but she couldn’t. This was because Herod respected John. He regarded him as a righteous and holy person, so he protected him. John’s words greatly confused Herod, yet he enjoyed listening to him. Finally, the time was right. It was on one of Herod’s birthdays, when he had prepared a feast for his high-ranking officials and military officers and Galilee’s leading residents. Herod’s daughter Herodias came in and danced, thrilling Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the young woman, “Ask me whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” Then he swore to her, “Whatever you ask I will give to you, even as much as half of my kingdom.” She left the banquet hall and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” “John the Baptist’s head,” Herodias replied.Hurrying back to the ruler, she made her request: “I want you to give me John the Baptist’s head on a plate, right this minute.” Although the king was upset, because of his solemn pledge and his guests, he didn’t want to refuse her. So he ordered a guard to bring John’s head. The guard went to the prison, cut off John’s head, brought his head on a plate, and gave it to the young woman, and she gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard what had happened, they came and took his dead body and laid it in a tomb.
Consider the following:
  1. Often, what happens when prophetic faith confronts political power?
  2. What historic figures come to mind who have suffered greatly by speaking the truth even when the truth was dangerous? 
  3. Daily life also presents personal and spiritual dilemmas for people to negotiate--things like saying "No" to a screaming toddler having a temper tantrum in aisle 6 of the grocery store or balancing work responsibilities in order to have adequate family time. What other sorts of daily choices do we face as we attempt to live faithful lives?
May God bless you and those you love this week. I look forward to seeing you in worship on Sunday.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Blogging toward Sunday

The Lectionary readings for Sunday, July 8th include 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 and Mark 6:1-13. Although this week's sermon comes from the gospel reading, read the Old Testament passage so that you can keep abreast of the life and times of David. (You will be hearing more about him in upcoming sermons.)

Jesus Teaches in the Synagogue; James Tissot via Wikimedia Commons

Now let us turn our attention to the life and times of Jesus. Read the text and then consider the following:
  1. Where has Jesus come from and where is he going?
  2. Who is with him?
  3. Imagine a soldier returning home to his or her beloved family. In our day, what might we expect the reception to be like?
  4. How does this image differ from how Jesus is received?
Jesus is rejected by those who should have known him best, still what does he do? Jesus continues being Jesus. He continues being faithful. How might having witnessed this event help the disciples as they are sent forth, two by two, some to be accepted and others to be rejected? In your own Christian journey, have you faced times when being faithful was difficult? How so?

As always, I look forward to seeing you in worship. On our journey toward Sunday, I hope you have a wonderful 4th of July!