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

David ordered his messengers to get Bathsheba... - II Samuel 11:4

David and Bathsheba

Every person, no matter what their role in life, needs to be aware of the temptation that power offers us. David was led astray, not by Bathsheba bathing on the roof-top, but by his desire to be a "real" king. Many Kings act like dictators. They expect to have any woman they want. Men in lesser possitions often do the same thing. Power corrupts.

Pentecost 12
Gifted people do stupid things when they cease to be humble
2 Samuel 11
Philippians 2:6-7
Jesus said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while."

Come Away

Coming away isn’t easy. Jesus discovered that was true, even in the much simpler first century. In Mark chapter 6, Jesus spends about a page and a half trying to find a quiet space where he can just simply rest with his disciples. Both flexibility and routine are important when we are planning our rest times. 

Pentecost 11
Olmsted Manor Retreat House in Western PA
Mark 6:30-56
[Salome] came in and danced. She pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it."

Dancing isn't the Problem

The lectionary places the story of Salome’s dance right next to the Old Testament lesson regarding King David’s dance before the Ark of the Covenant (II Samuel 6:12-19). David may have been as scantily dressed as Salome, but his motivations are pure.

Pentecost 10
Aboriginal rock art displays the joy of dancing
Mark 6:14-29
2 Samuel 6:12-19
Prophets are without honor when they come home - Jesus

Going Home

I believe that our lord is more of a shepherd than a showman. He leads us forward at our own pace. As we are willing to accept them, miracles come into our lives.

Pentecost 9
We see what we expect to see. Others tell us what to expect.
Mark 6:1-6
"The LORD, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from [the giant]" - David

David's Three Roles

When we face difficulties, we need to double down on our commitment to do our duty. The giants we face may be insurmountable. David tells Saul that when he goes out to keep the sheep by night, he prepares himself to do his duty, for he doesn’t know if he will face a lion or a bear. He has decided beforehand to be courageous.

Pentecost 8
David was prepared. He had practiced being courageous.
I Samuel 16 - 17
The Philistines had a champion named Goliath, who was nine feet tall. - The problem

Doing One's Duty

Faith isn’t a magical power that some people have, and others don’t. We all can have faith. No matter what situation we find ourselves in, simply do your duty.

Pentecost 7
The heroes of 2020-2021
1 Samuel 17:1-49
"...the birds of the air can make nests in [the church's] shade" - Jesus

Weeds and You

Jesus’ point is that a seed can start out small, but like a weed, grow to takes over the garden. Why should our faith become so obvious? Because the kingdom of God is a matter of goodness, ministering to the needs of others, and social action.

Pentecost 6
The number of refugees continues to grow
Mark 4:30-34
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD.

Holy Interruptions

Psalm 130 is a very personal litany of prayers; each line the breath of the human soul. This is a good time to remind people that when illness interrupts our daily lives, there may be positive spiritual benefits. The story of the woman with the unstoppable hemorrhage also moves us to compassion. It moved the woman to seek Jesus.

Pentecost 5
Spiritual interruption takes many forms
Psalm 130
Mark 5:24
"All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” - Romans 8:14

The Heroine's Journey

This year, with the pandemic, has been particularly hard for those who struggle for their sobriety day by day.

Pentecost 2
Without the group, no one makes it to sobriety
Romans 8:12-14
"The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray..." - the Apostle Paul

Learning How to Pray

Some say we should simply talk to God as if he is a friend. But, God is God. How do you talk to a being who lives outside of time and has never sinned? What do you know about God? Having glimpsed God down a long corridor, dimmed by your own inadequacies, how do you pray?

Pentecost
Do we understand art? Do we understand prayer?
Romans 8:26-39
I Kings 3:5-12
"...And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you..." Jesus saying how his church remains "in the world"

Where is the Soul of the Church?

In his extended prayer (John 17) Jesus reveals a key concept: just as God was present in the world through Jesus, so also, Jesus will continue to be present in the world through his Church. In John 17:13-17, Jesus says that his Church will be in the world, but not of it.
Eastertide 7
Ascension Sunday
Your church's soul is here
John 17:1-13
"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another."

LOVE first; Abide in Jesus Always

In too many governments around the world, and perhaps even here, the competitive spirit of partisanship and winning overtakes the basic task of government, that is to be in a healthy and positive relationship with the people. In too many churches, perhaps your own, the routine of being churchy has buried the joy of being in fellowship with each other and in love with Christ.

Easter 6
The will to sacrifice always depends upon relationships
John 15: 9-17

Phillip and Google Earth

The story of Phillip really begins in Acts chapter six when he is given the job of administering the soup kitchen in Jerusalem. Then in the next chapter, his partner in this effort, Stephen, is arrested and executed. Those who believe in Jesus in Jerusalem are being persecuted. Phillip flees the city.

Easter 5
52 years and our perspective is only now beginning to change
Acts 8
" I am the good shepherd... I lay down my life..." - Jesus

Two Kinds of Leaders

This year, with the killing of George Floyd, the difference between a good police officer and a bad one has come to the forefront. 

Easter 4
David prepared for leadership by loving his sheep
John 10:11-18
Jesus said, "Peace [or shalom] be with you."

Spreading Shalom

What was Jesus’ first word to his friends when he came to them the evening of Easter? It was Shalom. This is a word that means more than just peace. Wholeness, healing, living a life that has integrity and consistency. Shalom speaks of God’s providence. 

Easter 2
I like how Thomas gets fully involved in examining Jesus
John 20:19-23
[Peter and John came to the tomb,] saw and believed. - John 20:8

Seeing and Believing

Faith is a gift of the grace of God. We sometimes find the greatest faith at those moments when we have the least reason to trust in Jesus.

Easter
Seeing the folded cloth, John believed
John 20:1-10
"Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!" - the crowd setting Jesus up to get arrested.

Polonius and Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday begins the Passion story. Like all well-told stories, the plotline is complicated. I’ve written and directed several Easter Dramas/Passion Plays. There are a lot of moving parts. Some years Pontius Pilate steals the show and people go home feeling that if this man had been different – had better motives or been more principled – then the play would have ended differently.

Lent 6
Palm Sunday
Pilate isn't the only complicated person in this story
Mark 11:1-11
"...unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone." - Jesus

Not Alone

To be in a body is to be in a particular body. We have as much choice over these things as a seed does in where it falls to earth. Do you believe God has a plan for your life? It sure beats the alternative. Gods plan is that you die to your seedy, individualized self.

Lent 5
It takes prayer and courage to give your life for others
John 12:20-33
God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world... - John 3:17

Not a Test

This is a good time to speak about our need for healing and the compassionate love of Jesus. The current global pandemic could make us wonder if God is testing us. Did the coronavirus come into our world to test our faith?

Lent 4
Our infirmities should make us seek Jesus out
John 3:14-21
Numbers 21:4-9
Making a whip of cords, Jesus drove all of them out of the temple - John 2:15

Jesus with a Whip

Jesus doesn’t do church. He upsets the money changer’s tables. Kicks out the merchants with their sacrificial animals. He makes a mess of the 11 o’clock service. Why?

Lent 3
What would Jesus throw out of your sanctuary?
John 2:13-22

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