Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lectionary Notes for Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B


Readings for Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, 9/2/12: 

Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9, James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Song of Solomon 2:8-13
  • Song of Solomon only makes it into the lectionary cycle twice, and it is this passage both times. I guess we're not  comfortable with reading scriptures in church that are full of praise for the physical features of one's lover!
  • Still, this passage is beautiful. In college, we sang and arrangement of the text called Rose of Sharon, and it is still one of my favorite pieces. 
  • This passage is a rare example of scripture written from the point of view of a woman, even if the author was not actually a woman. This part of the text is written in the first person, female.
  • With sex portrayed any and every where, texts like this are rare and romantic and loving. Perhaps we should set an example for loving relationships by reading from Song of Solomon more often?
Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9:
  • Chris Haslam says that this psalm is written by "a court scribe, a skilled writer (“a ready scribe”) [who] feels inspired to write an ode for a royal wedding."
  • The psalmist compares God's kingly qualities with the King of the land's qualities. Who's qualities remind you of God's nature?
  • Who would you write a psalm/ode to, and why?
James 1:17-27:
  • :17 - Well said - not only are gifts from God, but also "every generous act of giving." Giving, receiving, gifts - all from God.
  • "welcome with meekness the implanted word" - meekness is not often considered a virtue or asset these days. How do you receive God's word meekly?
  • "be doers of the word, and not merely hearers" - this is James' theme throughout. Don't just hear, do. Don't just use words, act. Not just right belief, but also right action. Rather than saying James advocates for a salvation by works, I think James says our deepest faith is expressed in our way of living (what we do!) - How do you 'do' the word? For James, it is only in 'doing' that we really 'get' what we're believing.
  • "unstained by the world" - what imagery! How can we be seek to be unstained by the world without having a "don't want to get our hands dirty" attitude? A fine line to walk.
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23:
  • Traditions can bless and enrich us, but they can also bind and trap us. Again, a fine line. What traditions are important to you - which would upset you to have broken? Why?
  • "You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition." Ah, how true. How often have our traditions only served to lead us away from what Jesus would have us do!
  • It isn't what goes in but what comes out of a person that defiles. Do you believe that? Sometimes, I think what goes in, even if it doesn't defile, can tempt or harm. But I think in this scenario, Jesus has a different point to make. It isn't the outsides but the insides that make us who we are.
  • Check out a possible children's sermon for this text here, one of my favorites. (Too bad I already used it in my current setting!) 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lectionary Notes for Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B


Readings for Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, 8/26/12:
1 Kings 8:(1, 6, 10-11) 22-30, 41-43, Psalm 84, Ephesians 6:10-20, John 6:56-69

1 Kings 8:(1, 6, 10-11) 22-30, 41-43
  • :11 "so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD." - Great imagery. Sometimes I think we feel something similar as pastors - so overwhelmed by God or underwhelmed by ourselves that we find it hard to be pastors.
  • This passage makes me think about public leaders and expressions of faith - in a non church-state society, what kinds of expressions of faith of public leaders are authentic?
  • :27 "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built!" - Solomon, despite his power and position, still seems to have a good sense about God. We so often want to box God in. Solomon builds a dwelling for God with a proper amount of hesitation.
  • foreigners - In the midst of the current conversations about immigration and border control, the biblical witness on treatment of foreigners is pretty clear. Here, Solomon talks about foreigners and residents united by faith.
Psalm 84:
  • "dwelling place" - again, a focus on where God 'lives' or stays. What do you think of as God's dwelling place? Everywhere, sure, but what actual place do you go to and most feel God's presence?
  • "happy are those" - this pattern of blessing is the same as the beatitudes that Jesus speaks in the gospels.
  • "strength to strength" - like "glory to glory" in 2 Corinthians 13 - God can take what we think we have and transform it into a better version.
  • "a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere" - great imagery.
Ephesians 6:10-20:
  • again, like the psalm, strength is a key word in this passage. What is your strength? How are you strong in God?
  • Paul, whether intentionally or not, subverts all these war images (which make me a bit uncomfortable) and turns them into non-violent images so effectively, much like Isaiah's "beating swords into plowshares," only in a more subtle way.
  • compare to Colossians 3:12 - more 'clothing' imagery.
  • "make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel" - what mixed images - we dare to be bold about something that is still shrouded in mystery. That's how God moves in our lives!
John 6:56-69:
  • This text continues with the last week of a month-long series of texts from John 6 that all talk about Jesus and bread and feeding and bread of life and living water, etc., etc.
  • abide, remember, means literally to "stay at home" or "remain at home" - an image of being at home, comfortable in God, and vise versa.
  • "eats me" - the Greek here is tro^go^, literally "to gnaw", or "to munch" more like an animal would eat than a human.
  • "does this offend you?" - A word with mixed meanings. To be offensive can mean being proactive and playing a good game, but it can also mean hurting someone's sensibilities or worse. We usually work hard not to offend. When is offending worth it, necessary, helpful?
  • "do you also wish to go away?" Jesus sounds sad, and for once, worried/anxious that his disciples won't stick with him.
  • "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life." Peter responds, for once, on target and with such comfort.

Sermon for Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, "Making the Most of It," Ephesians 5:15-20


Sermon 8/19/12
Ephesians 5:15-20

Making the Most of It


            I have a friend who, every day for the past 8 months or so, has posted a number, counting down, at the end of the day as his facebook status. We’re at 124 right now. What happens at the end of the countdown? Well, according to some people, it will be the end of the world, December 21st, 2012, at least according to some very modern interpretations of a very ancient Mayan calendar. I expect, nearer to December, we’ll see a thousand news stories about the Mayan calendar and people who are preparing for the end of the world, just as we did when Harold Camp was predicting the world’s end last year, or when the Y2K thing was all we could talk about, or any number of other times people have been convinced they knew how it was all going to play out. And I suspect, on December 22nd, we’ll see some small news article acknowledging that we’re keeping on keeping on as a human race. I’m not sure what you all think about all these end of the world predictions. But for me, while I don’t consider myself a biblical literalist, I find it hard to interpret Jesus’ words about the end times in very many different ways. He says: about that day, the end of the world as we know – about that day, no one knows. No one knows the time or hour, not even him. That seems pretty clear.
            So I wonder why it is that we seem to be so fascinated, we humans, with the end? After all, maybe you aren’t stockpiling canned goods in your basement so that you can survive the apocalypse in a few months, but many of us have to admit to at least having watched any number of “end of the world” movies, be it 2012, or Independence Day or Armageddon or Terminator or so on. We seem fascinated with the concept of our own imminent doom. Why is that, do you think? Why are we so fascinated?
            If I look at what happens in the plots of these movies, I see a pattern. People realize that the world is about to end, and they suddenly start marking changes in their lives. Suddenly, they ditch the job that they never really got anything out of, or they mend relationships with family or friends that have been broken, or they make sure to tell people they love them, that they have been too scared or too busy or too whatever to tell in the past. Knowing that it might be the end, all these movie characters are spurred to action, suddenly reprioritizing things. Then, of course, when the world doesn’t end after all in the film, or they are one of a small handful of people who survives, they so on with their lives with a new perspective and focus, changed people who won’t take things for granted anymore.                                                    
So why are we so fascinated with the end of the world? I think we wish we knew when the end was coming, so we know how much time we have to start doing what we really already think and know we should be doing. We’d like to be spurred to action, and suddenly reprioritize. We’d like healing for our broken relationships, to make our life’s work something that has meaning to us, to tell people we love them. And we’ll get around to all that, real soon. Really. Soon. Any day now, right? If the end was coming, we’d make sure to get our lives into the shape we keep meaning to get them into anyway.
Today, we return again to “Paul’s” letter to the Ephesians with a short little segment. “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Paul” and his contemporaries lived in a time when they strongly believed that they were experiencing the end days. They weren’t trying to predict the end. They just assumed Jesus’ return was imminent. You know that we mortals always have a different understanding of time than God! So “Paul’s” letters are always filled with urgency, and here “Paul” says that we should be wise, careful how we live, so that we are “making the most of the time.” Rather than whiling away our time numbing our senses, “Paul” recommends being Spirit-filled, worshipful, and above all, spending time giving thanks to God at all times and for all things. “Making the most of the time.” Are you making the most of your time? Your life?
            As I mentioned before, Jesus was pretty explicit in his teaching about us not being able to know the day or hour when our end might come. But at the same time, Jesus did spend a lot of time talking about the signs of the times. Because we don’t know the day and hour of our end, we should always be prepared, Jesus taught. Since we don’t know, rather than be caught off guard and scrambling to do and live as we’ve meant to live all along, Jesus calls us to live as prepared people, ready, all of the time. At first glance, this can feel exhausting. Frankly, it sounds to me like having your house clean enough all the time so that it is ready for guests to drop by at any moment. Maybe this something that’s easy for you to achieve. But it has never been one of my skills! But I don’t think Jesus meant for us to live in a state of constant alert, stress, and panic. No, I think what Jesus meant was something like this: “Be careful how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time.”
Are you making the most of your time? Your life? As you look over the years of your live, and as you look forward to what may lay ahead, are you making the most of it? Are you being wise? Is your life centered in thanksgiving to God your Maker for everything, at all times? If your time was limited, how drastic would the changes need to be in your life for you to start living like you’ve always meant to be living?  
            Time is one of our most precious commodities. We think about money a lot – having it or not, spending it, saving it. But when it comes to time, we’re all on a pretty level playing field. None of us know how much we have of it, and all of us have the same amount of it to spend at a time. Are you making the most of it? I encourage you, this week, to track how you spend your time. I don’t want you to change your patterns – yet. You can do that at the end of the week if you aren’t happy with your results. But I want you to write down how you spend your time. Be honest, even if you don’t like what you have to write! But try to write down how you spend each half-hour, or hour, for one week. Then, if you feel like it, share it with me or Aaron, and let us know what you thought about how you’ve spent your time. Or share it on our church facebook page. Or if you’re really brave, you can share your record in print and I’ll put it up on my bulletin board. Next to my own, of course! But more than your report, I want to know what you think: Are you spending your time like you mean to? And if not, why not? What on earth are we waiting for?
            I’ve been spending a lot of time unpacking these last few weeks. Some boxes you can unpack in about 5 minutes – tossing books onto bookshelves, for example. But others take forever to unpack, like when I came to the box of my photo albums and yearbooks. I looked through my yearbook from my senior year in high-school and I read all of the entries from all of my friends, and I have to tell you, I don’t even know what some of it means anymore. Some of the inside jokes that we referred to, some of the phrases and memories we allude to – I honestly don’t remember all of them anymore. I am sure, when my friends and I were signing those yearbooks, we could never imagine a time when we wouldn’t remember it all anymore. But I was struck by the drive we all seemed to share to make the most of our time. Young people are pretty skilled at that. There are so many changes you go through so quickly, that young people often have an acute awareness of appreciating the short time that any one situation exists for them. Sometimes adults are frustrated with the occasionally less-than-careful ways young people choose to make the most of their time. But as adults, I think we could learn from the young people around us about trying to soak all the life out of every moment God gives us. Giving thanks at all time and in all places by making the most of it. Somewhere along the way, we become more hesitant, less willing to risk.   
Friends, our end is coming. It may mean our individual end in this life that we know, or our collective end, or something we can’t even imagine. But when and how it will all play out – well, that isn’t even the most important thing. As followers of Jesus, we’re to be prepared, by making the most of the gifts we’ve been given already, the gifts that we too often leave unused, unopened. Are you making the most of it? Are you living the life you want to be living? Are you spending your time how you want to be spending it? What are you waiting for? If you’re smart, you’ll make the most of it.
Amen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Moving

I've been doing a lot of moving lately - a new church, a new home. But this post is about moving my website. For years, I've had my blog, bethquick.blogspot.com, and my website, bethquick.com. But for the last couple years, I really haven't been updating bethquick.com. I don't want to ditch the domain name, of course, but the blogspot format just works so much better for my notes and sermons. So, I've decided to auto-forward bethquick.com here, to the blog. Over time, I will slowly repost my old sermons in the archives here, but for now, I will work on keeping up to date with posting new sermons and updated lectionary notes. If you have any trouble finding anything, please let me know!

Lectionary Notes for Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B


Readings for Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, 8/19/12:
1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14, Psalm 111, Ephesians 5:15-20, John 6:51-58

1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14
  • Given the chance to ask God for anything (with the understanding that God will give what is asked), Solomon asks for the ability to discern between good and evil. Would that all leaders would ask for that gift! What would you ask for, really, if you could ask God for one gift?
  • "it pleased the Lord" - what was the last thing you did that you think specifically "pleased God"?
  • "walk in my ways . . . as your father David walked" - whose ways do you walk in? Whose life is an example for you as David's was for Solomon?
Psalm 111:
  • The psalmist is praising God for faithfulness, for being a provider and covenant-keeper, for following through and being with the people. This psalm is all about praising and thanking God for all God has done.
  • "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Do you fear God? We're instructed over and over again in the scriptures not to be afraid. What does it mean, then, to fear God or to be God-fearing? I interpret it to mean we're to have an awe of God that is an awe we give only to God. Should/do we fear God anymore, or have we gotten too cozy? It's great to feel close to God, but have we lost our reverence in the process, the believe that God is actually above and beyond us in many respects? Where is a good line between fear/love/respect? 
Ephesians 5:15-20:
  • We're advised to live wisely - a nice tie in on a wisdom theme with our text from 1 Kings.
  • "making the most of time, because the days are evil." When we lament the current state of affairs, it is sometimes comforting in a way to know that people always felt they were living in "the worst of times." How, though, do we make the most of our time? Rest, relaxation, Sabbath - important things - but what is the difference between Sabbath and wasting time? We walk a fine line sometimes. Time is short - we should be careful how we choose to use it.
  • "sing psalms and hymns" - I am a music lover. Isn't it amazing that we've always used music as part of worship? Something about music and art and theatre that goes so well with worship and theology and God.
John 6:51-58:
  • This text continues with week four of a month-long series of texts from John 6 that all talk about Jesus and bread and feeding and bread of life and living water, etc., etc. The imagery is rich and meaningful and can communicate a great deal. On the flip side, I remember preaching on these texts three years ago when I was just starting at my first appointment, and wondering if I would ever get to talk about something other than bread!
  • "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Early Christians were sometimes accused of promoting cannibalism for their communion theology. Indeed, to an outsider, it would be hard to explain what our theology and symbolism meant. How would you do it?
  • "you have no life in you" - we must be part of the body to have life. Compare this with the body imagery Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 12 to talk about spiritual gifts.
  • When Jesus talks about living forever, what do you think he means, exactly? Life in heaven? A right here-right now eternal life?

Sermon for Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, "Building Up," Ephesians 4:25-5:2


Sermon 8/12/12
Ephesians 4:25-5:2

Ephesians: Building Up


            This week I was finishing up my homework for my latest Doctor of Ministry class, which was titled “Preaching and Change,” taught by retired Bishop (and real role model of mine) Judy Craig. Our final assignment was to write about our Five Tenets for Preaching – in other words, our five main themes, main points that we strive to hold to in our sermon preparation. We talked in class about which tenets we might use, and then had to write about them in detail for our final paper. My five ended up being: 1) Be yourself when you preach, rather than trying to preach like anybody else. 2) Let the scripture text speak to you before you try to tell it what it says. 3) Preaching is about relationships, relationships, relationships. Our relationship with God, our relationship as pastor and congregation, our relationships with the community and one another. 4) Tell the truth. Sounds easy, but in practice, is sometimes harder than we think. And 5) Don’t shortchange the process of sermon preparation.
            I share these tenets of preaching with you first because I want you to know what I’m doing when I’m off at my classes, or what Aaron is doing when he’s working on his DMin project, because I want you to know that this whole back-to-school thing is, above all else, a way to better equip ourselves to serve in ministry. If what we were doing didn’t have anything to do with the places we were serving, we wouldn’t be spending our time doing it! But more specifically, I’ve shared my whole assignment with you because as I was reading over and over our text from Ephesians for today, I couldn’t stop thinking about how similar the text and my preaching tenets were! I started wondering if the tenets I chose, with maybe some modification, weren’t really some good discipleship guidelines, beyond good guidelines for preaching. Be yourself. Let God’s Word speak to you, instead of you trying to make it fit your life. It’s about relationships, relationships, relationships. Tell the truth. And be prepared. Not a bad list, right?
            In our lesson from Ephesians, “Paul” seems to be giving out several snippets of advice for how to live in community with one another. Put away falsehood, and speak truth, because we are members of one another. Be angry, sure, but don’t let your anger cause you to sin: resolve your anger before the sun sets. Everyone should work hard, in order to be able to serve the needy. Don’t let evil words come out of your mouth, but make sure everything you say is about building up, so that your words are grace to your hearers. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, a word which literally means to be knotted up in your stomach with care for each other, and forgive, just like God forgives you. Imitate God, and live in love, like Christ loves us – sacrificially. I love this vision of community. “Paul’s” words seem so simple and straightforward. But I suspect we all find them challenging to follow. Confession time: how many of you have avoided speaking the truth, not to deceive, necessarily, but perhaps because the truth was hard to hear? How many of you have found yourselves holding on to anger over a situation for a very long time? How many have let words exit our mouths that caused hurt, and not grace, to the ones who hear us?
            “Paul,” I think, tries to give us a clear foundation for this way of being with one another. I don’t think he thinks it is easy. But he thinks it is necessary for the Body of Christ to be just that – the representative of Christ in the world. We are meant to speak truth to one another because we are members of one another, part of each other in Christ, so a lack of honesty is a lack of honesty with ourselves and with God. We’re called to speak with love because our words are carriers of the good news of Jesus – or not – depending on how we speak to one another. Your words are the gospel that others hear. We’re meant to live with kindness and tenderness because God has forgiven us, and we, created in God’s image, show that best when we imitate God, our Creator.   
            We are still just weeks into our time together as pastors and congregation. Aaron and I are so excited about the possibilities we see, ready to unfold in our midst. Everywhere we turn, things are happening, people are dreaming and hoping and planning for our future. We are going to have a lot going on here, and we have potential just oozing out of every nook and cranny of this congregation, waiting to be acted on. As we embark on this adventure together, we have the opportunity to see things go very well, or to see things go very poorly! We’ve got a lot of folks here working in ministry together. And if there are four hundred plus of you who are regularly active and involved in what is happening here at Liverpool First, then there are four hundred plus opinions and plans for how things should be done. So, it is absolutely essential that we are on the same page when it comes to our purpose, our mission, and our vision. We will have many different expressions of purpose, and mission, and vision, but our foundation must be solid, and must be the place where we all stand, where we all start from.
            We have to agree to tell the truth, because we are members of one another. As I said before, it isn’t always easy to tell the truth. One of the major reasons that Jesus was always getting into trouble with the religious leaders is that he was just telling the truth. When he saw injustice taking place, when he saw religious folks putting more energy into being religious than into being faithful, Jesus said so. Do you know the story of the Emperor who had no clothes? The leader of the people ended up parading down the street without clothes because no one was willing to speak the truth, until finally a child broke the silence. We have to agree to tell each other the truth. Yes, we can speak the truth with kindness, with gentleness. But a foundation of our life together must be truth telling, because we are a part of one another, and for the whole body to be healthy, we have to speak truthfully.
            We have to speak in ways that build each other up, so that our words give grace to those who hear them. I remember as a child attending our church camps, a camp rule was that there were “no put downs.” And if you did put someone down, you had to apologize by giving “two put ups and a hug.” In other words, you had to find two ways to build the person back up that you had just knocked down. I think you will agree with me that you can find places to be put down and knocked down about everywhere you turn in this world. Lately, you’ve probably heard a lot about anti-bullying campaigns, because it seems like young people bullying, harassing, ridiculing, hurting one another online and in schools has developed into a huge problem. But this culture of tearing each other down doesn’t come from our young people. It’s being modeled for them by the adults they see in politics, in entertainment, in the media, and yes, in their communities, homes, and churches too. How do you speak to and about one another? How often do the words you speak act in a way that builds another person up? In my preaching class last week, after we preached for each other, we spent some time providing feedback to each other. After some wrestling with it, Bishop Craig decided she only wanted us to share with each other positive feedback. We didn’t have to say anything that we didn’t believe. But she wanted us to highlight for each other the areas where we really had strength. What could have been a very competitive, critical process was turned into an affirming process that still helped us to grow, to experiment, to risk, and to learn about our preaching process. “Paul” says what we say to each other is so powerful that when we build up, we give the gift of grace to one another. How can we withhold such a precious gift by tearing each other down? Our foundation must be building up and up.
            We have to act with forgiveness, as we are forgiven by God. We know we are not perfect. We will try and sometimes fail, sometimes struggle, sometimes still hurt one another. Part of our foundation must be knowing what to do when that happens. “Paul” says, “Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” We cannot accept the gifts that God wants to place in our hands if we are holding onto hurts and grievances and wrongs. Forgiveness involves repentance and reconciliation, but if you have been wronged, you don’t have to wait for an apology to be ready with forgiveness. God certainly offers it to us without waiting for our apologies, knowing that forgiveness is more likely to change hearts than bitterness and resentment.
            Speak the truth in love. Build each other up. Forgive, as we’re forgiven by God. These are “Paul’s” tenets, you could say, for laying the foundation for a community that is seeking to be imitators of God, no small goal. What are your tenets, your guidelines? As we set about this journey together, as we dream together, as we act with purpose, mission, vision, what would you put at the root of our work? I’d really like to hear from you, and know that as we set out, we set out together. Friends, beloved children of God, let us live in love, as Christ loved us. Amen.  

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Lectionary Notes for Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year B


Readings for Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, 8/12/12:
2 Samuel 18:5-9, 31-33, Psalm 130, Ephesians 4:25-5:2, John 6:35, 41-51

2 Samuel 18:5-9, 31-33
  • Kings often had to deal with power struggles from their own children, especially when multiple sons were competing for power. Can you imagine the heartbreak of your own child out to get you?
  • Even still, David's love for Absalom is evident throughout the text. He wants Absalom to be spared. Torn between what is best for his kingdom, and what is best for him and for his child. Conflict of interest, to say the least.
  • "me instead of you" - that's deep love, when we would put ourselves in harm's way in place of someone else. An ongoing theme in our Christian story, no? In God's story with us?
  • The way Absalom is killed is sad, horrible, and almost comic-book like, I hate to say. Seems like a cartoon death. 
Psalm 130:
  • This psalm was just in the lectionary last month. Kind of soon for a repeat, no?
  • A favorite Psalm. My favorite musical setting of this Psalm is the John Rutter Requiem, performed occasionally by my childhood-church.
  • Out of the depths - what are the depths from which you call to God? Do you remember to call to God from your lowest low?
  • This psalm shows a great faith and hope in God's grace and forgiving mercy, unlike some psalms that are more bent on vengeance: "If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord , who could stand?" It is a nice change.
  • wait, wait, wait the psalmist says. I've read statistics before about how many years of our life we spending waiting in line for things. How much of your life do you spend waiting on God? Are you more patient about waiting in line for concert tickets than you are about waiting for God? 
  • Relate this Psalm to the text from 2 Samuel. They are both laments. Do you lament to God?
Ephesians 4:25-5:2:
  • "members of one another." I like this imagery. Not just members of the body of Christ, but members, then, of one another. That's deep connectedness, and we should treat it with care.
  • "do not let the sun go down on your anger" - an oft-quoted and little-heeded phrase.
  • "tender-hearted" - that's a cleaned up way of saying "with healthy bowels," which is the literal translation of eusplanchnos, but it has the meaning of compassionate, so I guess tender-hearted sounds a little prettier!
  • "be imitators of God, as beloved children" - Indeed, children are the best at imitating behavior, aren't they? We're called to do as good a job in imitating God.
John 6:35, 41-51:
  • This text continues with week three of a month-long series of texts from John 6 that all talk about Jesus and bread and feeding and bread of life and living water, etc., etc. The imagery is rich and meaningful and can communicate a great deal. On the flip side, I remember preaching on these texts three years ago when I was just starting at my first appointment, and wondering if I would ever get to talk about something other than bread!
  • never hunger, never thirst. For people who have actually experienced real hunger, these images must have been particularly powerful.
  • "is this not Jesus?" The crowds question Jesus' authority and credibility, which is a good way to undermine someone who is saying what you don't want to hear. We do this today in politics, in the church, in our families - wherever someone is speaking truth we don't like!
  • "unless drawn by the Father" - very process-theology language - being lured to God.