Lectionary Scriptures and Comments

Archive for the ‘church’ Category

“Mountaintop Experience”

March 2, 2014– Transfiguration Sunday

 

Exodus 24:12-18

12The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” 13So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua and Moses went up into the mountain of God. 14To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.” 15Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. 17Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. 18Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

Psalm 99

The Lord reigns;
Let the peoples tremble!
He dwells between the cherubim;
Let the earth be moved!
The Lord is great in Zion,
And He is high above all the peoples.
Let them praise Your great and awesome name—
He is holy.

The King’s strength also loves justice;
You have established equity;
You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.
Exalt the Lord our God,
And worship at His footstool—
He is holy.

Moses and Aaron were among His priests,
And Samuel was among those who called upon His name;
They called upon the Lord, and He answered them.
He spoke to them in the cloudy pillar;
They kept His testimonies and the ordinance He gave them.

You answered them, O Lord our God;
You were to them God-Who-Forgives,
Though You took vengeance on their deeds.
Exalt the Lord our God,
And worship at His holy hill;
For the Lord our God is holy.

2 Peter 1:16-21

16For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” 18We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

19So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Matthew 17:1-9

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” 6When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” 8And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. 9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

 

 

Comments

Transfiguration Sunday marks the end of the season of Epiphany, the series of weeks after Christmas when the church lingers on the significance of the appearance of Jesus on the stage of human history.  With the Transfiguration story, the church turns toward the season of Lent and Easter, a time of reflecting on the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus.  The luminosity of the transfiguration story reaches toward the vision of God as transcendent, other worldly, mysterious and dimly apprehended.

The story of the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountaintop is found in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.  The Matthew and Mark versions are very similar.  Luke’s version varies a bit and has Jesus praying and Moses and Elijah’s words are described as saying something about Jesus’ impending death in Jerusalem.  The transfiguration story is not in the Gospel of John.  The word “transfiguration” is used to translate the Greek word METAMORPHOO in Matthew and Mark.

The setting of the story has Jesus fully aware that his journey is toward suffering and death.  The disciples, initially feeling very good about being with Jesus and having this mountaintop experience, end up being fearful and not sure about the future.  Jesus touches them and tells them not to be afraid.  I think this is the heart of the story.

Through the ages this story has influenced Christian spirituality.  The Eastern Christian Church interpreted the story as representative of the human transformation possible in Christ.  Western Christianity tended to emphasize the cross experience of Jesus.

The appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus opens the awareness of God’s presence in the lives of previous heroes of the faith. The mountaintop experience of Moses and the mountaintop experience of Elijah are well known narratives of Israel.

After encountering a burning bush on the mountaintop, Moses leads the transformation of a slave people toward self-determination.  After encountering God on the smoky, fiery mountaintop, Moses helps Israel find its character and vision as a people of law and justice and shalom.  Moses’ final mountaintop experience was overlooking the Promised Land before his death.

Elijah’s mountaintop experience was different.  The sheer sound of silence, or a small inner voice, guided Elijah in speaking God’s word to the powerful and to those in need.

Jesus in conversation with these figures reminds the reader of the long history of God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt, the establishment of a covenant community and the sometimes irksome habit of God calling and raising up prophets to remind everyone of this intersection of divine and human activity and the ongoing dream of humankind’s transformation.

A few years ago a prophet appeared in the life of this nation and offered these words:

I have a dream…

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

Martin Luther King Junior was a modern prophet who helped this nation move toward a more expansive view of humanity.  The “I Have a Dream” speech was a mountaintop experience for many of that generation and continues to inspire.  King was giving a speech to 250,000 people who had marched to WashingtonD.C. to demonstrate for civil rights.  As King was speaking Mahalia Jackson called out, “Tell them about the dream, Martin.”  And he did.

What is the expansive vision we need today?

  • Care of creation?
  • Narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor?
  • Including sexual minorities fully in the church and society?

Some Christian spiritualties, if not all of them, have emphasized the role of prayer in Jesus’ transfiguration.  Jesus and the disciples going to an isolated setting is interpreted to mean they spent time in prayer and meditation.  The disciplines of prayer and meditation as a ways of raising awareness of the divine presence and mystery have motivated many to work at disciplined ways of finding the presence of God.  Controlled breathing, chanting, meditating on words and phrases, observing extended times of silence, fasting, and praying have been pathways to mountaintop experiences for many through the ages.  As we struggle to stay afloat in the deluge of the information age and navigate the complexities of the 21st century, we often long for the focus and simplicity of a quiet place and a method to journey into God’s presence.

The disciples thought they had found that place.  “Wow! This is good, Jesus.  We’ll stay right here.  We will build new institutions to commemorate and perpetuate this mountaintop experience.”  As they are speaking and carrying on and planning, they are interrupted by divine speech.  “This is my beloved with whom I am well-pleased.  Listen to him.”

Almost the same words were heard at Jesus Baptism and the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness for 40 days of testing.

This time, God’s voice declares, “Listen to him.” Then there is a series of exorcisms, confrontations with the authorities, healings, teachings and parables by Jesus as he continues his ministry among the people and continues the journey toward Jerusalem and his death.  This the Jesus we listen to.

We are not a people called to linger long on mountaintop experiences.  If we listen to Jesus, we will be a people who are transformed as we engage in the work of creating a world as God intended it to be.

 

Maybe the ultimate transformation is the movement from loving our idea and image of God to loving our neighbors in all their variety of colors, social class, physical appearance, gender, sexual orientation and circumstances.

“No other foundation…”

February 23, 2014 –– Seventh Sunday after Epiphany

Lectionary Scriptures:

Leviticus 19:1-18

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. 3You shall each revere your mother and father, and you shall keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. 4Do not turn to idols or make cast images for yourselves: I am the LORD your God. 5When you offer a sacrifice of well-being to the LORD, offer it in such a way that it is acceptable on your behalf. 6It shall be eaten on the same day you offer it, or on the next day; and anything left over until the third day shall be consumed in fire. 7If it is eaten at all on the third day, it is an abomination; it will not be acceptable. 8All who eat it shall be subject to punishment, because they have profaned what is holy to the LORD; and any such person shall be cut off from the people.9When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the LORD your God.
11You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. 12And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the LORD. 13You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. 14You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the LORD. 15You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. 16You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the LORD. 17You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. 18You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Psalm 119:33-40

ה He (5th letter of the hebrew alphabet)

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
35 Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
36 Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
And not to covetousness.
37 Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way.[a]
38 Establish Your word to Your servant,
Who is devoted to fearing You.
39 Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your judgments are good.
40 Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me in Your righteousness.

1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23
10According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it.
11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. 12Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. 14If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.
16Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
18Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”
21So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours,22whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, 23and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Matthew 5:38-48
38“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
43“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Comments
In 1996 the Historical Committee of the Mennonite Church (Old Mennonite) published a commemorative fraktur for the 500th anniversary of the birth of Menno Simons. At the bottom of the fraktur, printed on the sturdy stones, is the Bible verse from First Corinthians 3:11:
11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ

This Bible verse was said to be Menno Simons’ favorite. The Mennonites were named after Menno Simons. He was one of the early Anabaptist leaders in Europe who survived persecution and lived long enough to have his name associated with the Anabaptist movement, sometimes referred to as the radical wing of the Great Reformation. Menno was born in 1496 and died peacefully in 1561. He became a Catholic priest in the Netherlands at the age of 28 and over the next dozen years or so he wrestled with the corruption of the church, the interpretation of the scriptures, and the social and nationalism movements of his day. His commitment to the reforms of the peaceful Anabaptist movement solidified when his brother, Peter Simons, was killed by authorities. Peter was part of a group who took over a monastery and attempted to hold it by force. Menno did not agree with using violence to bring about reform and changes but he sympathized with need to reform the church.
Author Phyllis Tickle believes the church is going through another period of upheaval similar to the Great Reformation of the 1500’s. In her book The Great Emergence (Baker, 2008) she notes that significant changes tend to come every five hundred or so years, including the coming of Christ in the first century, approximately 500 years after the destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. The temple was replaced by a different form of Judaism more centered in synagogue and scripture. The Jesus movement reinterpreted that understanding and the Christian church emerged. With the decline of the Roman Empire the church consolidated under Gregory the Great in the fifth and sixth centuries. Tickle argues that the pattern continues with the Great Schism of the 11th century which generated the Catholic and Orthodox streams, and the Reformation of the 16th century which generated many tributaries. From this historical trend, Tickle deduces that, here in the 2000s, we’re poised for another such seismic change. She calls it The Great Emergence.
What is at stake in these times of upheaval has been the question of authority. Where does the buck stop? Our denomination, the new Mennonite Church USA is engaged with that question with the latest round of discussions and actions related to how we deal with sexual minorities in the church. Some are convinced that the authority of the scripture says one thing. Some are convinced that the authority of scripture says something else. Some say the authority of the church documents are what we agree to follow. Others say, no, they are not those kind of documents. Where does the buck stop on this topic?
In some ways, the texts for this Sunday are foundational assertions. The Deuteronomy texts invoke the commandments given to Moses as authoritative. Psalm 119 affirms and celebrates the following of the law. The New Testament texts, of course, turn to Jesus the Christ as the foundation of faith.

The Apostle Paul declares to the church that they are the dwelling place of God. We have used this image in a more individualistic way to feel guilty about using our bodies in self-destructive ways – smoking, excessive eating, drinking, sexual excess and the variety of other ways we indulge our bodies in harmful ways. We have this idea that God’s temple should be a place of purity, holiness and moderation. Whether Paul is talking about our individual bodies or about the church, the community of Christ-followers, there is still a sense of intimacy with God’s Spirit that is conveyed. We are in union with God, a central truth of the Christian faith. This union leads to unconditional love and Paul’s words about that kind of love are expressed eloquently a few chapters later in his letter to the Corinthian church – “If I do not have love, I am nothing.”
The text from Matthew’s Gospel offers the teaching of Jesus on the everyday implications of living in union with God and expressing love for all, including enemies.
Walking in the way of Jesus, in union with God, led by God’s Spirit and driven by divine love, is a demanding standard for our individual lives and for the church. Is it the cornerstone of our faith?

“An Upright Heart”

February 16, 2014 –– Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

Deuteronomy 30:15-20
15See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. 17But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, 18I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live,20loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

Psalm 119:1-8 (3)
1Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord.
2Happy are those who keep his decrees, who seek him with their whole heart,
3who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways.
4You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
5O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
6Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
7I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous ordinances.
8I will observe your statutes; do not utterly forsake me.

1 Corinthians 3:1-9
And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, 3for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? 4For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human?
5What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. 6I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. 9For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Matthew 5:21-37
21“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. 23So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you,24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 25Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
27“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. 31“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

COMMENTARY

The Deuteronomy text emphasizes choosing life, God’s way, as the people settle in a land with settled ways. Those settled ways demand allegiance and loyalty, perhaps even worship. The freedom of desert ways is often forgotten in the markets and thoroughfares of the empire’s systems. The ways of empire violate human dignity and nature’s ability to maintain equilibrium. When we are weighed down with empire living and its systems of oppression we find it find it difficult to manage shorelines, power grids, food security and wetlands. Our fears and concerns consume us and we forget the simplicity of communing with God.

Psalm 119 celebrates the vision of living in communion with God and remaining focused on Godly living. I often find the psalms to be hymns of confidence and yearning. “I will praise you with an upright heart…do not utterly forsake me.”

The Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth counsels the congregation to stay focused on allegiance to God and not to be distracted by church politics and personalities. The agricultural metaphors help us think systemically. It is more productive to think of our spiritual journey and the life of the church in organic ways. The last sentence essentially is saying that we, as Christ-followers, have a synergistic relationship with God’s activity in the world.

Matthew’s Gospel gives us Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount where, as usual, he digs deeply into human motivation. Reconciled, restored human relationships is top priority. Retribution is not an option. Violence is out of the question. The adversarial court system is not the way to settle disputes. Not seeing women as human beings is a severe dysfunction. Women are not property, they are covenant partners. Relational covenants are to be taken very seriously. It should be troubling for men to hear Jesus’ words addressed only to men. We are called to keep our word without having to swear an oath or put our hand on a Bible.

Does the Pope have to Be Catholic?

English: Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter ...

English: Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter by Pietro Perugino (1481-82) Fresco, 335 x 550 cm Cappella Sistina, Vatican. Ελληνικά: Λεπτομέρεια από την νωπογραφία του Πιέτρο Περουτζίνο, Ο Χριστός Παραδίδει τα Κλειδιά στον Πέτρο, 335 x 600 cm, Καπέλα Σιξτίνα, Πόλη του Βατικανού. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tbilisi St. Peter-Paul Catholic Church

Tbilisi St. Peter-Paul Catholic Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

 

Today’s Scriptures Click the following links to read today’s scriptures or scroll to the very bottom of this blog post for those scriptures also. Lectionary Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/

 

Ash Wednesday

Isaiah 58:1-12 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah%2058:1-12&version=MSG

Psalm 51:1-17 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2051:1-17&version=MSG

2 Corinthians 5:20b—6:10 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Corinthians%205:20b%E2%80%946:10&version=MSG

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%206:1-6,%2016-21&version=MSG

 

Does the Pope have to Be Catholic?

 

Today, as most know a new pope was elected. Many people, including many non-Catholic Christians have been interested in this process and in the new pope, although it appears others would not care.

 

The Catholic church is so different in personality, in operation and in history many, including Mennonites, do not generally see the Catholic church as being their church, but this is difficult, because Peter, the Rock, is supposedly buried in a basillica in Rome bearing his name, and the entire church seems to have evolved directly from Jesus to Peter, and somehow to this pope. So, it’s our church, but it isn’t.

 

If you take the title’s question seriously, what would be the result if the ‘church’ once again meant the church of Jesus, and somehow included all disciples of Jesus, and all these denominations again became one church. We might even include Christ-followers who never joined any church at all! We might include lesbian and gay individuals, democrats and republicans, white, black, yellow, brown, and even include Yankees and Southerners.

Catholics and anti-Catholics could be Christian together, and the word ‘Catholic’ might fade into disuse, although the word ‘catholic’ meaning universal might persist in use.

In answer to the question, does the pope have to be Catholic?, my answer is no, although we pray the pope, he or she, would be catholic.

Pray for peace in Christ’s church, at last,

pastor Bill

Today is also Ash Wednesday, a ‘fasting’ day. Read today’s Bible verses, and pray.

Prayer List: Peace Mennonite Church keeps a prayer list for those in need. If you need prayer, or want to e-mail our pastor, e-mail billd @ peacemennonitechurch.net (Take out the extra spaces to use this e-mail—the spaces confuse spam generators).

Pray with us!

We are praying as a church, and attempting to follow the centuries’ old tradition of praying with other Christians three times a day. We are following the prayer liturgy at www.commonprayer.net

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

 

Subscribe to our blog!Delivery daily by e-mail.Click the button on the right.

Isaiah 58:1-12

The Message (MSG)

Your Prayers Won’t Get Off the Ground

58 1-3 “Shout! A full-throated shout!
Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout!
Tell my people what’s wrong with their lives,
face my family Jacob with their sins!
They’re busy, busy, busy at worship,
and love studying all about me.
To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people—
law-abiding, God-honoring.
They ask me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’
and love having me on their side.
But they also complain,
‘Why do we fast and you don’t look our way?
Why do we humble ourselves and you don’t even notice?’

3-5 “Well, here’s why:

“The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit.
You drive your employees much too hard.
You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight.
You fast, but you swing a mean fist.
The kind of fasting you do
won’t get your prayers off the ground.
Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after:
a day to show off humility?
To put on a pious long face
and parade around solemnly in black?
Do you call that fasting,
a fast day that I, God, would like?

6-9 “This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
cancel debts.
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’

A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places

9-12 “If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.

Psalm 51:1-17

The Message (MSG)

A David Psalm, After He Was Confronted by Nathan About the Affair with Bathsheba

51 1-3 Generous in love—God, give grace!
Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I’ve been;
my sins are staring me down.

4-6 You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen
it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.
I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.
What you’re after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.

7-15 Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
I’ll let loose with your praise.

16-17 Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.

2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10

The Message (MSG)

16-20 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God

has

given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

21 How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.

Staying at Our Post

6 1-10 Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us,

I heard your call in the nick of time;
The day you needed me, I was there to help.

Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed;

working hard

, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.

Matthew 6:1-6

The Message (MSG)

The World Is Not a Stage

6 “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.

2-4 “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

Pray with Simplicity

5 “And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

6 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

Matthew 6:16-21

The Message (MSG)

16-18 “When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well.

A Life of God-Worship

19-21 “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

Aside

Pariahs, Paul and the New Creation 070212

 

This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

Pariahs, Paul and the New Creation 070212

In Galatians 6 Paul talks to new disciples: 15For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!  Hidden in this chapter is so much wisdom and faith. It is somehow obscured by all the circumcision talk.

If Paul were talking to me about circumsicision, it would be vital information. It was important to the people who followed Moses into the desert, because of the disease syphilis, which had plagued Egypt before they left or (were chashed out). Circumsicision is thought to prevent syphilis or at least reveal it plainly.

The Hebrews were like pariahs perhaps, who could not be touched or would not try to touch anyone. But whether they were chased by the Pharaoh or fled, the mark of circumsicision is a mark of ‘pariahs’ for them, they were a people set apart because of their radical diseases, or because of their radical disease prevention. The persecution of the Jewish people is maybe tied up with this intent to be pariahs in some way, a people apart and victimized. Paul has to talk about to dismiss the whole topic as now not important.

So, I wonder if Paul is saying that we don’t have to mark ourselves as pariahs, or don’t have to become like pariahs? In any case, we now know that no matter our differences, or diseases, it is not important. It makes no difference whether we are pariahs, or act like pariahs, what is important is the new creation of Jesus. The new creation is everything.

Pray for peace

Bill

Peace Mennonite Church keeps a prayer list for those in need. If you need prayer, or want to e-mail our pastor, e-mail billd @ peacemennonitechurch.net (Take out the extra spaces to use this e-mail—the spaces confuse spam generators).

Pray with us!

We are praying as a church, and attempting to follow the centuries’ old tradition of praying with other Christians three times a day. We are following the prayer liturgy at www.commonprayer.net

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

Scriptures follow the meditation and thoughts. Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/

Subscribe to our blog! Delivery daily by e-mail. Click the button on the right.

Psalm 52

Ezekiel 31:1-12

Galatians 6:11-18

Psalm 52

1Why do you boast, O mighty one, of mischief done against the godly? All day long

2you are plotting destruction. Your tongue is like a sharp razor, you worker of treachery.

3You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth. Selah

4You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.

5But God will break you down forever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah

6The righteous will see, and fear, and will laugh at the evildoer, saying,

7“See the one who would not take refuge in God, but trusted in abundant riches, and sought refuge in wealth!”

8But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.

9I will thank you forever, because of what you have done. In the presence of the faithful I will proclaim your name, for it is good.

Ezekiel 31:1-12

31In the eleventh year, in the third month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: 2Mortal, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his hordes: Whom are you like in your greatness? 3Consider Assyria, a cedar of Lebanon, with fair branches and forest shade, and of great height, its top among the clouds. 4The waters nourished it, the deep made it grow tall, making its rivers flow around the place it was planted, sending forth its streams to all the trees of the field. 5So it towered high above all the trees of the field; its boughs grew large and its branches long, from abundant water in its shoots. 6All the birds of the air made their nests in its boughs; under its branches all the animals of the field gave birth to their young; and in its shade all great nations lived. 7It was beautiful in its greatness, in the length of its branches; for its roots went down to abundant water. 8The cedars in the garden of God could not rival it, nor the fir trees equal its boughs; the plane trees were as nothing compared with its branches; no tree in the garden of God was like it in beauty. 9I made it beautiful with its mass of branches, the envy of all the trees of Eden that were in the garden of God.

10Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because it towered high and set its top among the clouds, and its heart was proud of its height, 11I gave it into the hand of the prince of the nations; he has dealt with it as its wickedness deserves. I have cast it out. 12Foreigners from the most terrible of the nations have cut it down and left it. On the mountains and in all the valleys its branches have fallen, and its boughs lie broken in all the watercourses of the land; and all the peoples of the earth went away from its shade and left it.

Galatians 6:11-18

11See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand! 12It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh. 14May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! 16As for those who will follow this rule—peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. 17From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body. 18May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Lazarus Rises 032412

 

The 1999 Che Jesus poster

The 1999 Che Jesus poster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

 

Lazarus Rises 032412

Today’s scripture from John tells of Lazarus rising from the dead, and his being risen as the reason for executing Jesus, and Lazarus also! That’s ironic, as well as cruel: to execute a man for rising from the dead, and to also kill the source of life. That’s as crazy as executing a person for killing someone, since killing is wrong.

But it is interesting for us to try and understand the reasons given for executing Jesus, from a 1st century ‘Jewish under Roman domination’ perspective. Some think Jesus was killed by jealous Jewish priests and elders; some think it was because of disrupting the temple business when he overturned the tables.

But maybe we’re looking for a specific reason for Jesus’ execution. The Romans didn’t need to be specific, or to announce their reasoning, or to justify their actions to anyone. A parking ticket is enough ‘reason’, and the rumor that Jesus might be some kind of Jewish messiah that might disrupt Jewish subjugation—that suspicion was enough.

Do you suspect Jesus is a revolutionary now? If we really did as Jesus asks us, would we be arrested?

Pray for peace, which is revolutionary.

Bill

 

Peace Mennonite Church keeps a prayer list for those in need. If you need prayer, or want to e-mail our pastor, e-mail billd @ peacemennonitechurch.net (Take out the extra spaces to use this e-mail—the spaces confuse spam generators).

Pray with us!

We are praying as a church, and attempting to follow the centuries’ old tradition of praying with other Christians three times a day. We are following the prayer liturgy at www.commonprayer.net

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

Scriptures follow the meditation and thoughts. Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/

 

Subscribe to our blog! Delivery daily by e-mail. Click the button on the right.

 

Psalm 51:1-12

Habakkuk 3:2-13

John 12:1-11

 

Psalm 51

1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

3For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

4Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.

5Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.

6You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.

9Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

10Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

11Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.

12Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Habakkuk 3:2-13

2O Lord, I have heard of your renown, and I stand in awe, O Lord, of your work. In our own time revive it; in our own time make it known; in wrath may you remember mercy.

3God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. 4The brightness was like the sun; rays came forth from his hand, where his power lay hidden. 5Before him went pestilence, and plague followed close behind. 6He stopped and shook the earth; he looked and made the nations tremble. The eternal mountains were shattered; along his ancient pathways the everlasting hills sank low. 7I saw the tents of Cushan under affliction; the tent-curtains of the land of Midian trembled. 8Was your wrath against the rivers, O Lord? Or your anger against the rivers, or your rage against the sea, when you drove your horses, your chariots to victory? 9You brandished your naked bow, sated were the arrows at your command. Selah You split the earth with rivers. 10The mountains saw you, and writhed; a torrent of water swept by; the deep gave forth its voice. The sun raised high its hands; 11the moon stood still in its exalted place, at the light of your arrows speeding by, at the gleam of your flashing spear. 12In fury you trod the earth, in anger you trampled nations. 13You came forth to save your people, to save your anointed. You crushed the head of the wicked house, laying it bare from foundation to roof. Selah

John 12:1-11

12Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” 9When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Forgiveness 032312

 

 

This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

 

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

 

 

 

Forgiveness 032312

I recently have been enjoying reading Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch. (It is called ‘three thousand years because it lays a foundation in world history prior to Jesus’ time).

 

An understanding of Christian history enlightens each of us. This week’s revelation for me was the early church practice of selling forgiveness to Christians. For some reason I thought the practice had originated in Rome, where Popes had set a range of money penances, varying for each sin.

Perhaps my old belief was anti-pope, or anti-Rome. The practice originated in Ireland, and became a standard practice because the Christian congregations demanded it. The common people appreciated knowing exactly what it would cost one to be forgiven by the church (as it represents God).

You and I, however, cannot buy our way into forgiveness. The ‘cost’ is much higher and much more valuable than mere money. We have to ask forgiveness, and talk to God about it. This is not at all like talking to one’s father, and admitting to an error. This is talking to GOD. In some ways this is very easy, and in some ways it is the most difficult thing to accomplish. But God is ready, I believe.

Psalm 51 is a guide for us all. One clue,  the herb ‘Hyssop’, was an important herb in Jerusalem and the only herb the tax collector Matthew could not tax. It grows wild in many locations, and is easy to find seed for, and to grow yourself.

But even without hyssop, Psalm 51, leads us each to forgiveness.

And it is good to be forgiven, finally.

Pray for our peace,

Bill

Peace Mennonite Church keeps a prayer list for those in need. If you need prayer, or want to e-mail our pastor, e-mail billd @ peacemennonitechurch.net (Take out the extra spaces to use this e-mail—the spaces confuse spam generators).

 

Pray with us!

 

We are praying as a church, and attempting to follow the centuries’ old tradition of praying with other Christians three times a day. We are following the prayer liturgy at www.commonprayer.net

 

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

 

Scriptures follow the meditation and thoughts. Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/

 

 

 

Subscribe to our blog! Delivery daily by e-mail. Click the button on the right.

 

 

 

Psalm 51:1-12

 

Exodus 30:1-10

 

Hebrews 4:14—5:4

 

 

 

Psalm 51

 

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

 

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

 

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

 

Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.

 

Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.

 

You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

 

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

 

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.

 

Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

 

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

 

Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.

 

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

 

Exodus 30:1-10

 

You shall make an altar on which to offer incense; you shall make it of acacia wood. It shall be one cubit long, and one cubit wide; it shall be square, and shall be two cubits high; its horns shall be of one piece with it. You shall overlay it with pure gold, its top, and its sides all around and its horns; and you shall make for it a molding of gold all around. And you shall make two golden rings for it; under its molding on two opposite sides of it you shall make them, and they shall hold the poles with which to carry it. You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. You shall place it in front of the curtain that is above the ark of the covenant, in front of the mercy seat that is over the covenant, where I will meet with you. Aaron shall offer fragrant incense on it; every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall offer it, and when Aaron sets up the lamps in the evening, he shall offer it, a regular incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations. You shall not offer unholy incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering; and you shall not pour a drink offering on it. Once a year Aaron shall perform the rite of atonement on its horns. Throughout your generations he shall perform the atonement for it once a year with the blood of the atoning sin offering. It is most holy to the Lord.

 

Hebrews 4:14—5:4

 

Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

 


 

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 


 

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: