December 2, 2012

The Old Testament scripture for Sunday is Jeremiah 33:14-16.  Jeremiah talks about a righteous branch coming up for David.  The metaphor is that of a stump, like a tree that has fallen or been cut.  From the destroyed tree, new life emerges.  Christians view this as a prophecy for the birth of Jesus.  The New Testament lesson, Luke 21:25-36, talks about waiting.  When we wait, we look for the signs of the coming.  The text asks us to "Be Alert."  This will be the theme for Sunday.

November 25, 2012

This coming Sunday is the last Sunday where the colors are green (for growth, life, eternity, etc.)  This Sunday concludes and celebrates the whole season of Pentecost, which has explored what it means to live in the "Kingdom of God."  The lectionary for the Methodists calls this season, "Kingdomtide," instead of "Season of Pentecost," to emphasize this very point.  Notice the texts for worship first establish the analogy with King David's rule (2 Samuel 23:1-7), and then affirm Christ as King of the Kingdom of God (John 18:33-37).  The sermon title for this Sunday is "Thy Kingdom Come." 

November 18, 2012

For your advanced reading and contemplation, the texts for Sunday are Luke 12:13-21 and Matthew 23:23-24.  In Luke's passage, Jesus tells the parable of the "Rich Fool."  He had much, but not enough room to store all his goods.  So he tore down his barns and built bigger ones to store all his stuff.  The tragedy of the story is that when he finished, he died.  Those who came after him squandered all he had gained.  In Matthew's passage, Jesus warns the scribes and Pharisees who come to the temple carrying the tithes from their herb garden—mint, dill, cumin.  This would have amounted to about a thimble's worth.  They did this while neglecting the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, faithfulness.

November 11, 2012

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus scolds the Scribes and Pharisees. His complaint is that they interpret the religious life as one of show and not of spirituality. He says they are like "white washed tombs," polished on the outside but full of filth on the inside, or like dirty cups, clean on the outside but full of grime on the inside. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6), Jesus contrasts the Scribes and Pharisees with the proper practice of spiritual disciplines (prayer, giving, fasting). He suggests we make our religion an expression of the heart, and not a display for the world. In the text for Sunday, Mark 12:38-44, Jesus talks about the inner attitude of giving. He notes the economic disparity of the rich and how they take advantage of the poor, and how they display their wealth by their public giving. He contrasts this with a poor widowed woman who gave two copper coins (worth about a penny). He said she gave more than all the others. Critically important in our giving is less the amount and more the spirit with which we give.