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

He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear... - Isaiah 11:3

God's Kingdom: Latent and Invisible

It is possible for a roll of film to go a decade or two without being developed. During that time, the images are invisible. Any attempt to see what is on the film results in erasing the image. Only by carefully processing the film is the photographer’s art brought to light. Often things are hidden away until it is the right time for them to be revealed. A baby is hidden in womb until it is born...

Advent 2
God's kingdom is being processed today, we need patience to see what comes out of the soup
Isaiah 11:1-10
Matthew 3:1-12
They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation...

The Mountain of the Lord

I don’t know how to get others to the mountain. I only know that it is where I need to be. “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!” (Isaiah 2:5).

Advent 1
View from Mountain
Isaiah 2:1-5
"If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!"

A Different kind of King

Jesus has a different definition of leadership. It is for him to work with others so that together good things happen. He has commitment to service. He can be the king of love without a crown of gold. Even his thorns and painful death remind us that life is not about the people we lord over but the humility we live under.
Pentecost 29
Mel Brooks as king? What person do you know that you would trust to be king?
Luke 23:33-43
Jesus says, “By your endurance, you will gain your soul."

Living with Chaos

The Rock of Gibraltar for people in Jesus’s day was the temple in Jerusalem. Solomon had built the first temple and it lasted over 400 years. Jesus He says Herod’s temple won’t last 40 years.

Pentecost 23
Why do we think buildings and nations are indestructible?
Luke 21:5-19
James 4:13-14
"Take courage, all you people of the land. For I am with you," says the LORD of hosts.

Take Courage

In this modern era, it takes courage to speak about the reality of Heaven. Our bodies are mortal, from the moment of our birth we begin to die. Yet, our culture idealizes youth and riducules those who are content with the aging process. Often we are told that believing in heaven is silly, only a pie in the sky.

Pentecost 22
Ezra, Nehemiah, and Zerubabbel worshipped in a broken down church
Haggai 1:15 to 2:9
Luke 20:27-38
"All who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted." -Jesus

Yes, You are like other People

In matters of religion, we should expect reversals. Those who start out well, don’t always end well. Getting into heaven is not a matter of joining the right church or developing the right theology or holding on to traditional values, whatever those might be.

Pentecost 20
Why are people angry?
Luke 18:9-14
God says, "I will put my law within my people, and I will write it on their hearts."

The Inner Voice

What kind of an inner voice has God set within your heart? When have you looked for your conscience to guide you and found it out of order?

Pentecost 19
When is your conscience wrong or hard to hear?
Jeremiah 31:27-34
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
"Today salvation has come to this house" --for Jesus came to save the lost

RU Short?

Being short – as in having less money than you need at the moment – and being up a tree, are expressions we use for those awkward or dangerous moments when our own stupidity is about the be rewarded. What about you? Are there personal potholes that you fall into? Traits that work against your desire to be on top of life?

Pentecost 21
It's not the bus's fault
Luke 19:1-10
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
Luke13:10-17
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

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