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

"Now my eyes have seen you." Job speaking of the God he found in solitude.

Seeking God in Solitude

The God that we seek, is hard to find amidst the noise of public worship. The almighty doesn’t suddenly appear when we get alone, either. Spiritual seeking takes time. We must first accept the silence.

Pentecost 22
I have often found comfort in the lonely places
Psalm 27
Job 42
“Can you drink the cup I drink?" Jesus asks, referring to his crucifixion

Are You Able?

Who is the best? James and John wanted to know. They asked their question at a most inconvenient time. So, Jesus gave them back an inconvenient question.

Pentecost 24
workplace stress is often caused by people wanting to get ahead of others
Mark 10:35-45

Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams

Jesus says that it is easier for a camel to go through a needle than for rich people to sufficiently change their lifestyle so that they might understand the poor and join into the kingdom of heaven. He knew that people couldn’t change their political attitudes without first changing their spiritual attitudes. The way to change your spiritual attitude is to adopt a more compassionate lifestyle.

Pentecost 20
Universal Pre-K will make America better
Mark 10:17-31
the law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul, and making wise the simple

Bending Toward Justice

I believe that the law of God is dynamic and constantly developing. God is speaking through modern figures such as Martin Luther King and those who are working to address climate change (our failure to excercise proper soveriegnty over creation).

Pentecost 21
There is optimism in everything King said, because he believed in the moral arc bending to Justice
Psalm 19
Matthew 5:17-48
“A capable wife, who can find?”

Proverbial Wives

The thing I find most difficult about Proverbs 31:10-31 is its emphasis upon what the woman in question does. We are not human doings. We are human beings. It’s not our accomplishments that need praised, it’s our growth as compassionate people.

Pentecost 20
Relationships matter
Proverbs 31:10-32
"How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?” - Proverbs

Being Simple too Long

We ask our preachers to think for us, when we should be asking them to struggle with us in prayer and holy listening, so that together we might discover the truths we need to live wisely in our complicated world.

Pentecost 19
Wisdom literature is found in the middle of the Bible
Proverbs 1:20-33
James 3:1-12
The rich and the poor have this in common: the LORD is their maker - Proverbs 22:2

Floods for both the Rich and Poor

Every human life is equally beloved and made by our creator. Rich and poor have the same Lord watching over them. Further, the Lord pleads the case of the poor and will not leave unpunished if we neglect them. 

Pentecost 18
Nicely painted, gentrified neighborhood, built on sand
Proverbs 22:1, 22-23
Let mutual love continue - Hebrews 13:1

Entertaining Angels

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Pentecost 17
Lining up for their lives. Would you have faith in this line?
Hebrews 13:1-16

What I know About Communion - Part 1

It’s holy incorporation. Jesus doesn’t just ask us to consider his teachings. He doesn’t want us to snack on a little dab of his philosophy. He wants us to be fully incorporated into him and he into us. “Incorporation” comes from the Latin word “corpus” which means body. In the business world, incorporation involves being so serious about the company that you no longer speak of individual workers, but of the body they form as they work together.

Pentecost 17
As different as we are, we are one body in Christ
John 6:51 & 53
"For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread..." - Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:23

What I know About Communion - Part 2

This is the second of three long blogs about the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.  You may read them in any order.  The first can be found at https://billkemp.info/content/what-i-know-about-communion-part-1

Pentecost 19
It is important that we ordain a diversity of people to reach the next generation
1 Corinthians 11:17-33

Loving Jesus in a Gluten-Free World

Jesus is meant, like bread, to be a daily and essential component of our lives. Breaking bread with us, Jesus leads us to participate in the Kingdom of God. It is easy to dismiss Jesus. It is easy to leave him burried in the past. When he is part of our daily lives, he becomes relevant, like bread.

Pentecost 14
Traditional Navajo home, bread is made each day in ovens
John 6:35-51
Nathan said to David, "You are the man [who did a very bad thing]."

Guilty4Ewe.com

Good guilt is a funny thing. Like humor, it depends upon ambiguity. We all misbehave. We all hurt others and fail to live compassionately. But, we only hear the bad news that we have sinned, when our actions look differently from different viewpoints.

Pentecost 10
David sinned because he thought he could get away with what other kings were doing
2 Samuel 11:26 - 12:13a
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
When I look at your heavens... what are human beings that you are mindful of us? - Psalm 8

Three things about Creation

The problem that the Biblical story of creation poses to our modern mind is not its impossibly short time frame for life on earth. No. Stop falling into the evolution versus creationism trap. Instead note what the Bible says about our current way of life.

Trinity Sunday
Pentecost 19
A Pearl Crescent busily pollenates my squash plants
Genesis 1
Psalm 8
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

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