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

Immediately they left their nets and followed Jesus - Matthew 4:20

Following Jesus

Everyone can be a disciple. Not everyone will. The first people Jesus called “left everything.” I put myself in their sandals and say, “I can’t follow Jesus today, because (fill in the blank).

Epiphany 3
Jesus calls a diverse group to be his disciples (everybody)
Matthew 4:12-23
"Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" - John the Baptist to his disciples about Jesus

Can I be a disciple?

If we read the Gospels, I think we see what John the Baptist saw. We know that maybe we should follow that Jesus. Maybe we should become his disciples. That leads us to the question, “Who can be a disciple of Jesus?”

Epiphany 3
Jesus' rag tag group of disciples included women
John 1:29-42
"Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him." - Matthew 3:13

Entering the Journey Through Baptism

When Jesus enters into Jerusalem, he is baptized again. This time by his suffering on the cross. He descends into hell and sets loose those who were held captive. Then on Easter he exits by way of the resurrection. This is our road map.

Epiphany 1
Baptism of our Lord
Baptism is an entrance to what is next
Matthew 3:13-17
Jesus says, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me..."

Perfect like Jesus

Jesus speaks of doing particular things; feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, befriending the stranger, clothing those exposed to weather or social cruelty, caring for the sick, and visiting the imprisoned. Our opportunities to be Christ-like will come in the form of specific people with individual needs.

New Year
The problem is not the meal we eat but the way we treat others
Matthew 25:31-46

Why do the innocents suffer?

When we do Christmas, it is very tempting to skip the story of King Herod's murdering the children of the Bethlehem region. I remember one adroit fool suggesting that we could skip Matthew 2:13-23 in our Sunday lections because the event discribed doesn't appear in the secular histories of the time and could have been made up by Matthew. The only secular histories we have from this period are pro-Roman and okay with Herod's "lock innocents in cages" type of politics.

Christmastide 1
Would Trump or Putin allow their grandchildren to sit in this rubble?
Matthew 2:13-23
"Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly." - Matthew 1:9

Don't wait for an Angel to visit

We, like Joseph, tend to consider the opinions of our neighbors higher than our faith when we are faced with a moral choice. We criticize unwed teens, but do little to make our highschools better enviroments for relational growth. Further, the church does little to transform those neighborhoods where a normal and safe childhood is an impossibility.

Advent 4
What if Maury Povich is the real father?
Matthew 1:18-25
Matthew 18:9
"My soul magnifies the Lord..." - Mary the mother of Jesus

The Chosen One

The wealthy pass themselves lavish tax breaks and the 1% deny the the majority a reasonable wage, affordable healthcare, or a decent retirement package. As much as things change, they remain the same.

Advent 3
Mary's Sunday
Mary faces the same odds as Luke Skywalker
Luke 1:26-38
Luke 2:1-14
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

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