Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Blogging toward Sunday

The Lectionary texts for Sunday, September 23 include Psalm 1 and Mark 9:30-37.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

In the gospel reading, Jesus continues trekking along with the disciples, in "teacher-mode." He instructs them of his impending sacrifice. Then, he teaches them an important lesson. What lesson does Jesus impart?

Sunday's sermon will be on Psalm 1. How often have you heard sermons on Psalms? I'm guessing that your answer is, "Not often." As I reflect on the sermons I have heard over the years, I can only recall one based on Psalms, other than funeral homilies preached using Psalm 23.

This week, take some time to read over Psalm 1. Read it several times and, if you have a variety of translations at hand, use them to get a wider view of this text. What speaks to you as you meditate on God's Holy Word? If you are a tree planted by streams of water, what kind of tree are you?

The following is a Meditation on Psalm 1 written by Joan Stott. May her words bless you as they blessed me.

Meditation on Psalm 1[i]

My faithful God, how I love the imagery of this Psalm - the first prayer in this ancient Prayer Book – which, through our fellowship with God, helps all who yearn to lead a faithful life to discover the path to follow, and how to walk in the way that lead to holiness and grace. Day and night, I know I can rely on God’s presence as I try to respond to the Holy One, who created me to be only me, and not anyone else! This means that I do not have to try to be different to that which I am already, and to rejoice that my deep roots are stretching down into God’s blessedness, and that the fruits of my God-given gifts and graces are developing through God’s love for me.
Creative pause: I am who God made me, and no one else.
I find my greatest delights in serving my God, with my over-gown of fresh green leaves sparkling in the sunshine of God’s love; and despite the winds of change and trouble, these leaves do not wither or fall off; because of the nurturing strength that is given to them, because of the deep roots that are nourished by the flowing waters of God’s Spirit. This nurturing strength sets for me a path of right living, just as long as I remain connected to these gracious and supportive gifts from God.
Creative pause: I delight in the strong roots and green leaves God has given me.
O God, my prayers are for those people who choose not to follow the paths of right living, and who never seem to find in life what they are yearning and searching for. Do they realize what they are missing out on in life by ignoring God’s claims on their life? Don’t they understand that God’s paths lead to Life in all its fullness, giving creative growth and purpose for living? Don’t they know that rejection of those paths lead to death? Don’t they recognize that without God traveling with them, that life has little purpose or meaning when God is shut out of their commitments? O God, may the reality of your love grow in them, and so meet all their needs.
Creative pause: I pray for the people who turn their back on God.

As always, I look forward to seeing you this Sunday. May God bless you on your journey.

© 2012 Joan Stott – "The Timeless Psalms" RCL Psalm Year B, used with permission.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Blogging toward Sunday

The Lectionary readings for Sunday, September 26 include Proverbs 1:20-33 and Mark 8:27-38. Read both texts, paying particular attention to the gospel and then consider the following:
  1. What word of wisdom does Proverbs have for you today?
  2. How is wisdom portrayed in this reading?
  3. Concerning the Gospel, where are Jesus and his disciples?
  4. What does Jesus want to know?
  5. Describe Jesus' encounter with Peter.
Now, take a moment to read Mark 7:27-38 from The Message

Jesus and his disciples headed out for the villages around Caesarea Philippi. As they walked, he asked, “Who do the people say I am?”

“Some say ‘John the Baptizer,’” they said. “Others say ‘Elijah.’ Still others say ‘one of the prophets.’” He then asked, “And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?” Peter gave the answer: “You are the Christ, the Messiah.”

Jesus warned them to keep it quiet, not to breathe a word of it to anyone. He then began explaining things to them: “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive.” He said this simply and clearly so they couldn’t miss it. But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. “Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works.”

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? “If any of you are embarrassed over me and the way I’m leading you when you get around your fickle and unfocused friends, know that you’ll be an even greater embarrassment to the Son of Man when he arrives in all the splendor of God, his Father, with an army of the holy angels.”
Did this reading provide a different perspective for you? Did something "new" catch your attention? If so, what? Finally, rest with the following words of wisdom:

Jesus asked them,
Who do you say that I am? 

Elijah, Prophet, Rabbi. 
Son of God, Messiah, Christ.
The Way, The Truth, The Life.
Savior, Shepherd, Friend.

The last, the least, the lost.
Jesus asked Peter.
Jesus asked Pilate.
Jesus asks us.
Who do you say that I am?

May God bless you on  your journey this week. May God lead you safely into our house of worship this Sunday.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Blogging toward Sunday

Lectionary readings for Sept.9, 2012 are Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 & Mark 7:24-37.
Image via Wikimedia Commons; Juan De Flandes, circa 1500

After reading some of the wisdom that Proverbs has to offer, sit with the gospel for a while. Upon first reading of the text, what questions do you have? Take a moment and write down your first impressions of the reading. Take notice of how many stories are included in the reading, who are the characters, who speaks and who doesn't. Now, prayerfully read through the text again. Did a second reading provide new insight? If so, what?

During Lectionary group today, the discussion about the faith of the foreign woman and the healing of the deaf man was a lively and interesting one. Allow me to share with you a few of the questions or comments that came up among the pastors gathered around the table:

  1. The region of Tyre was largely Gentile and despised by the Jews, which begs the question, "Why did Jesus go there in the first place?
  2. Why is he being rude to the woman?
  3. In these stories, Jesus is breaking several boundaries in his culture.
  4. What boundaries need to be broken down in our time and place?
  5. Jesus heals the deaf mute, who is also a Gentile. What significance does this have?
  6. Why does Jesus sigh?
On your spiritual journey this week, ponder the readings, artwork, and the meandering of your pastor. Then, come and join us in worship on Sunday and we will continue the conversation together.