Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Blogging toward Sunday

An etching by Jan Luyken from the Phillip Medhurst Collection of Bible illustrations housed at Belgrave Hall, Leicester, England; via Wikimedia Commons

The Lectionary readings for September 2nd are Song of Solomon 2:8-13 and Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23.

Read the passage from Song of Solomon (Song of Songs). It's important to note that this book of the Bible is quite different from other biblical texts. The traditional Jewish understanding of the Song of Solomon is that it is a religious allegory recounting God's love for Israel. For Christians, it is an allegory of Christ's love for the church. In more recent years, many scholars have come to accept it as actual love poetry about the love between a man and his beloved. How do you interpret the overall purpose of the Song? Why?

Now, let's turn our attention to the New Testament reading. For several weeks we have been reading from the Gospel of John. This Sunday we return to the Gospel of Mark. As a way of getting back into the text, let's examine the happenings in Mark prior to our reading:  Jesus has been teaching through parables, Jesus has been healing the sick and performing miracles like feeding the 5000 and walking on water. It's no wonder that news of Jesus is spreading throughout the land. It's no wonder that some Pharisees and scribes come all the way from Jerusalem to witness Jesus in action.

Since the Lectionary readings leave out several "in between" verses, take time to read Mark 7:1-23. This will give you a better understanding of what is happening. Now consider the following: 
  1. What do the Pharisees note right away?
  2. Why is this important to them?
  3. What prophecy does Jesus quote?
After reflecting on this text, meditate on what you believe Jesus is trying to teach all those who hear his voice. Then rewrite the prophecy in your own words.

I hope the following will bless your journey toward Sunday:

let our hearts not be
far from you.
Help us reach out to our neighbor,
even when we are busy or tired.
Let us tear down walls
when we’d
let them stand.
Stretch us, please.
Whether we are
visiting a prisoner, offering a smile, feeding the hungry,
be within us so that whatever we do,
we do with your love.
Let the world know we are your disciples
not because our hands are clean,
but because they are soiled
with the mark of your

As always, I look forward to seeing you worship. Don't forget that the "Blessing of the Hands" will be part of the service this Sunday. 

[i] Copyright © 2012, Anne M. Osdieck. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce for personal or parish use.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Blogging toward Sunday

Building of Solomon's Temple; via Wikimedia Commons

The Scripture readings for Sunday, August 26th include 1 Kings 8:22-30, 41-43 and John 6:56-69. 

Both of our Lectionary readings bring us to the conclusion of several weeks of study focused on a particular area during the Season of Pentecost. From the Old Testament, we have been following the life and times of David and his son, Solomon. David has died and Solomon sits on his throne as a wise and industrious ruler. He has the honor and privilege of overseeing the building of the Temple. To get a fuller picture of what is happening here, take the time to read 1 Kings 8:1-43. By doing so you will learn more about the Ark of the Covenant and important details prior to Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the Temple. 

Turning now to our New Testament reading, this Sunday we come to the end of our venture into John chapter 6, in which Jesus speaks often about being the Bread of Life. Even though you have been hearing these readings, in part, each Sunday, here again I suggest that you take time to include additional verses. Doing so will help you to more fully understand Jesus' teaching. After you have read all of John 6, consider the following:
  1. What important events occur in this chapter?
  2. What themes are repeated?
  3. Why is Jesus' teaching difficult?
  4. What is the reaction of many of the disciples? How do the Twelve respond?
  5. What confession does Peter make?
In both the Old and New Testament texts, the presence of God is important. While God has been present with the people of Israel since they were chosen by God to be God's special people (blessed to be a blessing), now God is present in a different place, a different "way," if you will. Also, through the eyes of the writer of the Gospel of John, God's presence is now available in a different "way," and that is through Jesus Christ, God's own Son. Might this be one reason some people are offended at the words of Jesus? This is one of the many questions I am asking on my journey toward Sunday.

I look forward to your presence in worship.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Blogging toward Sunday

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Readings for Sunday, August 19th include 1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14 and John 6:51-58.

King David dies and it is his son, Solomon, who takes over his throne. Carefully read the passage and then consider the following: 
  1. From the beginning, how is Solomon described?
  2. What clue (or foreshadowing) is provided in verse 3 that hints at upcoming problems for Solomon?
  3. How did the Lord appear to Solomon?
  4. Do you think God still speaks to people in this fashion? Why or why not?
Now, turning to the Gospel of John, the theme is once again: Jesus, the Bread of Life. Prayerfully read the text. Afterward, reflect on these tidbits of information:
  1. In the Gospel of John, there are no words of institution regarding the celebration of the Lord's Table. However, this portion of Scripture is widely accepted as the narrative discourse on the Bread of Life--in other words, these are the words of institution for John.
  2. In the NRSV, note the repetition of words like "abide," "living," and "live," found in verses 56 and 57.
  3. Jesus' words are quite graphic: "eat my flesh," "drink my blood..." 
  4. Jesus' words foreshadow his own death, when his life-blood will cease to flow and he will, in fact, give his life for the world. (see verse 51)
Now that you have read the text and reflected upon the comments above, read through John 6:51-58 once more.  What new insights have you gained? What new questions do you have?

On our journey toward Sunday, may God deliver fresh new insights to our hearts and minds so that we may worship together in Spirit and in truth. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blogging toward Sunday

The gospel reading for Sunday, August 12th is John 6:35, 41-51.

In this reading from John, the theme of Jesus as the "Bread of Life" continues. Why do the Judeans complain about Jesus? What do they think they know about him that would exclude him from being what/whom he claims to be? As you journey toward Sunday, meditate on the gospel reading a few moments each day. 

In addition, may your journey be enriched by the following poem written by Rev. Ken Rookes:

I am the bread,
the bread of living;
come to me.
I have God’s word for you,
food for your heart.
It is a word of joy and of freedom,
surprising in generosity,
intense and glowing.
It tells of peace in the midst of turbulent times,
defiant love in the midst of fear,
hope, when darkness abounds.
This is the word that will answer your hunger,
and confound  your emptiness.
I am the bread of life;
in me the journey begins and ends
and finds its shape.
In me you will discover yourself;
you will also find true community
and the friendship of God.
Sing, rejoice, dance and weep:
I am the bread:
the bread of living;
come to me.

As always, I look forward to seeing you in worship Sunday morning. 
Shalom, Glenda