Weekly Word Blog - Bill's comments on the coming weekend's scriptures posted each Tuesday

Putting Yourself in the Right Position

Because we aren’t there, in the same place as those crowds, we are reluctant to consider Jesus’ promises of blessing as something that is already happening. Those who were blessed in Jesus’ sermon were the same people who saw the blessings of his healing touch and his compassionate lifestyle. We tend to put these blessings up in heaven. Those who encountered Jesus looked for his blessing to be right now, on this earth.

Epiphany 6
Are we in a position to see God's blessings?
Luke 6:17-26
"Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people."

Why Fishermen?

Jesus didn’t start with a blank slate when he called disciples. He started with natural gifts that could be spiritually transformed. May it continue to be so in our lives. May we each become fishers of men.

Epiphany 5
Good fishing involves crossing the boundary between worlds
Luke 5:1-11
No prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown.

Jesus Goes Over the Wall

In Luke 4, Jesus goes over the wall between us and those we consider foreign or different. He does this in two ways: First, by physically placing himself where he encounters the foreigner. Second, Jesus used the scriptures to show that all of the great people of the Old Testament went over the wall and lived with foreigners. Jesus' own stories, which have become our scriptures, always showed foreigners in a good light.

Epiphany 4
We can learn to love those who are different from us
Luke 4:21-30
...he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.

Jesus and the Wall

Since the beginning of time, those with means have shown little restraint in screwing over those who are born poor, or on the wrong side of a border, or to the wrong family. What is different about the current government shut down, is that our rulers have decided to go one step further and screw over middle-class people. What would Jesus do?

Epiphany 3
A thin wall separates wealth and poverty
Luke 4:14-21

Bias to Belief

Not everyone sees the same thing. In each of the Gospel of John’s miracle stories, two people stand side by side, one believes and the other doesn’t. Like the wedding of Cana, the servants who pour the water that has become wine, believe and see. The master of the feast doesn’t.

Epiphany 2
If you were on the stand, would you witness for Jesus?
John 2:1-11
But now thus says the LORD, he who created you... Do not fear, for I have redeemed you...

Hand in High Water

Each of us have been created twice. On the one hand, we have been birthed into this world as unique individuals. God has a plan for each of us. Unfortunately, everyone else does too. We pray for our creator to help us discern what He has created in us. On the other hand, we believe that God has both created and owned our nation.

Epiphany 2
We find God in both the still water and the storm
Isaiah 43:1-7

About Herod

One key difference between Jesus and Herod the Great was that Jesus had a succession plan. Herod the Great seemed oblivious to the fact that he would die. Jesus came into the world in order to die for sinners. Herod considered anyone who challenged him to be disloyal and a threat. Jesus forgave his enemies and invited them into his kingdom.

Epiphany 1
I don't care who sits on the Iron Throne
Matthew 2:1-10
As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

Rules for a Good New Year

You can live 2019 with the peace of Christ in your heart. Always be compassionate.
Always try to understand as much as you can. Never let the ends justify the means, that is, don't forsake your principles or good behavior to get your own way.

Christmastide 1
God with us is God being compassionate
Colossians 3:12-17
Luke 2:41-52
God has filled the hungry with good things

What Mary Sang

Jesus came at Christmastime to a world where religion no longer served the people. Mary sang her hope of a different order. What about today? We live in a time of social upheaval and political polarization of equal magnitude to that of the first century. 

Advent 4
In Bible times, widows had to glean to find grain to eat
Luke 1:46-55
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice

Rejoicing in Difficulty

This Christmas learn to rejoice, not because things are going well, but because Jesus is near. He promises to be near as we face difficulty. He is also near in terms of his coming kingdom. 

Advent 3
Remember those in Prison
Joyful words written from Jail
Philippians 4:4-7
Isaiah 9:2
But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap.

Guess Which Jesus is Coming

How is Jesus like a refiner's fire or the fuller's wash-tub? In my own life Jesus appears as the refiner's fire when my problems and misdeeds have become too great for me to ignore. It is like what they say at AA, "I've come to believe that it will take a power greater than myself to restore me to sanity." That's when Malachi's Jesus becomes good news.

Advent 2
Will we see the Refiner's fire this Advent?
Malachi 3:1-4

Watching for Jesus

Instead of being afraid by what we see happening in this world, we are supposed to be watchful. We are supposed to be ready. When we act like Jesus would act, we don't have time to be afraid.

Advent 1
World fell apart in 70 AD, temple destroyed... Jesus seen in his people, though
Luke 21:25-36
Jesus says about his kingdom, "For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth."

Who wears the crown?

Jesus' Kingdom of God is real. 1) God has chosen a process that involves our participation. For now, we have to choose Jesus to be the king of our lives. Where Jesus is loved, he is king. 2) Transparency and truthfulness are core values in the Christian gospel. 3) The justice of God's kingdom involves embracing even those who believe differently, are of a different ethnicity or national origin, or choose their life-partners differently than we do.

Christ the King
Pentecost 29
Pilate is skeptical and pragmatic, so are our neighbors
John 18:33-37
I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you." (Psalm 16:1)

A Psalm for Piles of Leaves

Each change of the seasons brings tasks that can ground our humility. We root ourselves in simple thankfulness. It wearisome to rake and rake, and to hear the wind wail at night, knowing it is replenishing the yard with leaves from the neighbor's trees. But, my soul is grateful to be living in this time and place. I say to the creator God, who designed my neighbor's maple trees to be so prodigious, "you are my God." 

Pentecost 26
Are we thankful for the boundary limit to our property, responsibilities, and lifespan?
Psalm 16
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.

To Do Lists

We all think it is important to do important things. Most of us can remember some big thing in our lives that took all of our attention and made us anxious for night after night. I have the first half of Psalm 127 memorized (Unless the Lord builds the house...). It dogs me in those periods of my life when I have such great plans that I bulldozer things to the edge of hubris.  

Pentecost 25
We can push through, or rest for the winter
Psalm 127
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

In Mr Roger's Neighborhood

Pentecost 24
All Saints Sunday
Mr Rogers always spoke for acceptance of diversity
Mark 12:28-34
Deuteronomy 6:1-9
Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside

Why Bartimaeus Matters

Important people often suffer from a disease. The important ends that they are engaged in, steals the meaningfulness of the moments along the way. They write a check to a charity. They don't stop to meet the people they are helping.

Pentecost 23
What if our thought creates our world?
Mark 10:46-52
[James and John] said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory."

When Ambition becomes Sinful

We expect Jesus’ business to be organized the same as our businesses here on earth. Our organizations are structured to be pyramids, you have one person at the top (call them king, or president, or Jesus), then you have the two below them (call them princes, Ivanka and Jared, or James and John). The pyramid then spreads out and so how high an ambitious person goes depends upon how willing they are to shove the rest of us down a few levels. So, when the other disciples complain about James and John, we know just how they feel.

Pentecost 22
What causes a person to follow Jesus, may change & mature later
Mark 10:43-44
Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.

A Psalm for the Fall

Psalm 90 is both good and bad news. The good news is that God is in this human redemption business for the long haul. All of human existence is but a moment to him. Like Martin Luther King, God knows where the arc of moral history is going. It is not a long arc to him. God knows that it bends toward justice. But it will take forever in human terms. And yes, the bad news is that God knows that your life, and mine, on this planet will be over in a blink. We won't live to see what we hope for become a reality.

Pentecost 21
Fall Season
Change your perspective
Psalm 90
[People asked Jesus] "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"

What makes a marriage?

Many people are troubled by the passage where Jesus speaks about marriage and divorce. It is important to note, however that Jesus’s words are directly followed by verses that demonstrate Jesus’s concern for the needs of children. I would argue that Jesus is not laying down a law prohibiting divorce, but rather expressing, as he does in all of his teachings, the demands that living a compassionate life places on each of us. As we go through life, we form relationships that involve promises. In marriage, we promise mutual aide, "in sickness and in health."

Pentecost 20
if its not about sex, why do some people limit marriage to mixed gender?
Mark 10:2-16

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