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

All he said to you was, 'Wash, and be clean.' - II Kings 5:13

Simplicity Overlooked

So many stories teach simplicity. Jesus says, “Live the Gospel; heal, teach, love.” How about beginning with something as simple as praying with or for each person we know?

Pentecost 18
When people ask us for healing, are we ready to pray for them?
2 Kings 5:1-14
Luke 10:1-11
If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you. - Jesus

Increase Our Faith

Faith is Bilbo Baggins in Mirkwood Forrest or one of the servants in Downton Abbey trudging along but knowing that they have been placed on that path by a God who loves them and impowers them to go on.

Pentecost 17
World Communion Sunday
The making of nutritious bread can be a spiritual act
Luke 17:5-10
And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores... - Luke 16

An Invisible Man

For fun do this: take an empty chair and put it out in front of the congregation. Say, “Here sits the invisible man. Jesus tells us that his name is Lazarus, but none of his neighbors know that. He sits here hungry, but no one notices his situation. Lazarus is homeless, living in the street near the rich man. Since he lacks an address, the census doesn’t count him, he can’t vote, and his congressman doesn’t see him as a constituent, and his president considers him a loser... 

Pentecost 16
so much is done for us by invisible people
Luke 16:19-31

Your Money or Your Life

It outrages us when a company chooses profits over life. Yet most of us, in our day-to-day choices, will honor money above relationships. We will cut off the neighbor or family member who borrows from us and fails to return the money. We will balance our checkbooks to the last penny and yet do not find time for daily devotional reading or weekly worship.

Pentecost 15
"money or life?"  "I'm thinking"
Luke 16:1-13
Amos 8:4-7
"[Jesus] welcomes sinners and eats with them." - Luke 15:2

Deciding who counts

A young married couple find their money disappearing and their credit cards running amok, until they draw up a budget and measure where it’s all going to. So much in life doesn’t count unless you count it carefully.

Pentecost 14
A good shepherd is one that counts the whole flock
Luke 15:1-10
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” -Matthew 19:19

Why think about slavery in 2019?

Today we see “good” church-going people supporting systems that lead to human bondage. Often, undocumented immigrants are held as slaves, that is not permitted to decide their own future or leave a certain location, or paid for their labor, whether it be at a farm, a chicken processing plant, as landscapers or maids, or in a sex trafficking ring. Slavery still shapes our neighborhoods, workplaces, and schools. Until recently, the banking and real-estate system of our country prevented people of color from owning certain homes, thus denying these families the opportunity to build equity. Segregation is a denial of freedom and unloving.

Pentecost 13
Week after Labor Day
400 years ago Slaves were first brought to the new world
Philemon 1
Matthew 19:19
"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it." -Hebrews 13:2

Hospitality and Your Church

Jesus says that at the end of the world he will divide the nations according to how they treated the lowest and most marginalized among us. “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” will be his greeting of those nations that show hospitality (Matthew 25:35). But, I have been wondering lately if our nation’s shift away from showing Christian hospitality towards refugees and immigrants didn’t begin in the church. Is your church intentional about hospitality? 

Pentecost 12
Why don't you see the church when you google Hospitality?
Hebrews 13:1-8
Luke 14:1-14
"Shouldn't this woman be freed on the Sabbath?" Jesus asked.

Obstacles to Mission

The current moment is what matters most. The Pharisees were only asking that Jesus delay his healing of this woman for one day. What is the value of one day of suffering? How can we make the gospel immediate?

Pentecost 11
Martin Buber - Quote
By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace. -Hebrews 11:31

And then there is Rahab

The 11thchapter of Hebrews is a long catalogue of saints and what they did to earn our remembrance. David made the list, but Solomon did not. In fact, David is the only king mentioned, a grim reminder that for early Christians those with political power were always respected, but rarely considered righteous.

Pentecost 10
Imagine how glad the spies were to be accepted by Rahab
Hebrews 11:29-12:2
Genesis 19:1-17
"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1)

No Sanctuary Needed

What do we do if we lose our preacher, our organist, our choir? How will we go on if our church building is torn down, or worse yet, made into a beer hall? (which is what often happens in Pittsburgh) How can I worship God in without my holy stuff?

Pentecost 9
Most people tie their faith to visible things
Hebrews 11:1-3
John 4:1-26

Being Stubborn

I looked up the word stubborn in the dictionary this week and found my picture next to the definition. In Hosea 11, God accuses his people of being like undisciplined teens – the more you love them the further they pull away. 

We look to our phones, rather than to God
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Ps 85:10

What we need from religion

What do you need to get out of your worship experience? I think religion is all about living right and being at peace. Or to put it another way, doing day to day the things that prove us to be godly, principled, people of integrity – and, at the same time, having an inner peace.

Pentecost 7
When heaven and earth kiss
Psalm 85
The end has come upon my people Israel

A Nation on the Edge

Amos is an important prophet in the Old Testament. Why? Because he speaks a timeless message about social justice. If social justice bothers you, then take a pair of scissors and chop out of the Bible the parts that you don’t like.

Pentecost 6
Amos wasn't well received in his day
Amos 8:1-12
You shall love... your neighbor as yourself

A Simple Command

Some people state a very simple rule, “What goes around comes around.” Jesus shows us an even simpler rule. Love. In being compassionate we become human. We see the whole world as our neighbor.

Pentecost 5
If we don't see the other as like us, we don't see a neighbor
Luke 10:25-37

Harvesting the Spirit

Funny thing. When it comes to life, we often expect what we harvest will be different from what we plant. What we really want are the fruits of the Spirit. If you grow a spiritual relationship with God, you will become both creative and compassionate.

Pentecost 4
A healthy business relationship with BT required EJ to go to rehab
Galatians 6:7-9
For freedom, Christ has set us free.

The Right Fruit for Freedom

The Apostle Paul makes a bold statement at the beginning of his letter to the Galatians. He says, “For freedom, Christ has set us free.” In other words, a major reason for Jesus to come into our lives is to make us free. Paul means this first in terms of our inner spirit. The fruit of that freedom loving spirit is compassion.

Pentecost 3
Dog know how to be dogs. We need to learn to be human.
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man.

Non-anxious Jesus

Jesus is always busy doing good, but he’s never in a hurry. Obstacles are placed in his way, but he remains calm. He also remains compassionate. The 8th chapter of Luke describes a really stress-packed week for Jesus. Yet Jesus isn't stressed.

Pentecost 2
Be the cat, not the box
Luke 8:26-39
God’s love has been poured into our hearts.

Therefor Grace

There’s a vicious circle that I often get stuck in; I think that because I am a Christian, I should always have the right answer, never have any doubts, and in practice, be a model of perfection. Guess what? I’m not perfect yet. 

Pentecost 2
The Love of God has been poured into our hearts
Romans 5:1-5
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

Freedom 2.0

We have not received a spirit of restrained language, rigid rules, repeated practice with fountain pen and paper; we have received fire.

Slavery is outdated - much of what we do in church may be too
Romans 8:14-17
Acts 2:1-21
Paul and Silas are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

There are many people today who once they become Christians, become less valuable to their employers, because they aren’t willing to lie or do things that are unethical at work anymore. Christianity is a dangerous thing. In Acts 16 Paul and Silas went to jail because of the gospel of truth and justice.

Easter 7
Today we model our Christian witness after the abolitionists of 1800s
Acts 16:16-23


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