Friday, July 29, 2011

without honor

Good morning friends,
Today we get a break from Genesis to hear from Jesus. He returns to his hometown, Nazareth. There the people take offense at him because they think they know him. I wonder what voices in our midst we might be undervaluing because we think we have someone all figured out?

Blessings on your weekend,

Matthew 13:53-58

53When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place. 54He came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? 55Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?” 57And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house.” 58And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

long stories and hard blessings

Good morning brothers and sisters,
A conversation yesterday reminded me that this story we're reading can feel very disconnected from our lives and also sometimes feels like it's going on for ever. The Book of Genesis is the story of beginnings: the beginning of the world and the beginning of God's chosen people, Israel. This long family story we've been following tells us how we get from one couple's calling (Abraham and Sarah) to a nation called by God to be special. As we follow the twists and turns of Abraham and Sarah's children and now grandchildren's lives we see that God's calling doesn't run in a straight line. The story matters to us because when God called Abraham God promised that through Abraham not only his descendants, but the whole world would be blessed through him. We believe that this promise is fulfilled in Jesus, who took a message to a particular people and opened it up to everyone.

Today's story is what happened the night before Jacob was going to meet Esau. He send his family and possessions ahead and was to follow the next morning. Jacob receives God's blessing the hard way, sometimes we can relate to that.

May God's blessings follow you today,

Genesis 32:22-31

22The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 24Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”

27So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” 29Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” 31The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

bearing gifts

Good morning sisters and brothers,
As Jacob nears Esau he plans to send a generous gift ahead of him to soften his brother up. He sends this present in groups with servants bearing greetings accompanying each drove. Through repetition and generosity, coupled with the humility of calling Esau "lord" Jacob hopes he will be received well, or at least peaceably. We'll see how the plan plays out in future readings. Please make time today to pray for VBS and for our music director search.
Blessings on your day,

Genesis 32: 13-21

13So he spent that night there, and from what he had with him he took a present for his brother Esau, 14two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15thirty milch camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16These he delivered into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on ahead of me, and put a space between drove and drove.”

17He instructed the foremost, “When Esau my brother meets you, and asks you, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are these ahead of you?’ 18then you shall say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob; they are a present sent to my lord Esau; and moreover he is behind us.’“ 19He likewise instructed the second and the third and all who followed the droves, “You shall say the same thing to Esau when you meet him, 20and you shall say, ‘Moreover your servant Jacob is behind us.’“ For he thought, “I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterwards I shall see his face; perhaps he will accept me.” 21So the present passed on ahead of him; and he himself spent that night in the camp.

Monday, July 25, 2011

reconciling with a brother?

Good morning friends,
Having left his father in law, Jacob turns his attention towards his relationship with his brother. Not surprisingly, he is worried that Esau is still mad at him for stealing his birthright and blessing. We'll see before long how this plays out.


Genesis 32:3-12

3Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, 4instructing them, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, ‘I have lived with Laban as an alien, and stayed until now; 5and I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male and female slaves; and I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight.’“ 6The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” 7Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two companies, 8thinking, “If Esau comes to the one company and destroys it, then the company that is left will escape.”

9And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, and I will do you good,’ 10I am not worthy of the least of all the steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan; and now I have become two companies. 11Deliver me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I am afraid of him; he may come and kill us all, the mothers with the children. 12Yet you have said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted because of their number.’“

time to go

Good morning brothers and sisters,
I'm sorry I didn't send out the reading yesterday; the day just got away from me. Today Jacob decides that it is time to leave Laban's house after many years. He calls his wives together to make his case. He has worked hard, but Laban has cheated him by changing the terms of his employment. Whatever Laban has done wrong has backfired because God is with Jacob. Rachel and Leah agree with Jacob's accusation and they prepare to leave. It's easy to forget it, but God is always with us too. The more we practice looking for God's presence, the more we'll notice it.

Blessings on your week,

Genesis 32:1-9

Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s; he has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him as favorably as he did before. 3Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your ancestors and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” 4So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was, 5and said to them, “I see that your father does not regard me as favorably as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that I have served your father with all my strength; 7yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not permit him to harm me. 8If he said, ‘The speckled shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore speckled; and if he said, ‘The striped shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore striped. 9Thus God has taken away the livestock of your father, and given them to me.

Friday, July 22, 2011

the trickster tricked

Good morning (or evening) friends,
We saw that when Jacob and Laban agreed that Joseph's wages would be the speckled animals from Laban's flock, Laban separated out those animals at night and sent them away with his sons. Jacob adapts to turn the situation to his favor. Jacob's craftiness can be ethically challenging, but it often makes for good stories.

Blessings on your weekend,

Genesis 30:37-43

37Then Jacob took fresh rods of poplar and almond and plane, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the rods. 38He set the rods that he had peeled in front of the flocks in the troughs, that is, the watering places, where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink, 39the flocks bred in front of the rods, and so the flocks produced young that were striped, speckled, and spotted. 40Jacob separated the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped and the completely black animals in the flock of Laban; and he put his own droves apart, and did not put them with Laban’s flock. 41Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding, Jacob laid the rods in the troughs before the eyes of the flock, that they might breed among the rods, 42but for the feebler of the flock he did not lay them there; so the feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s. 43Thus the man grew exceedingly rich, and had large flocks, and male and female slaves, and camels and donkeys.

wages and family

Good morning sisters and brothers,
As he now has a large family, Jacob becomes more concerned about providing for himself and his family. For this reason he goes to Laban to renegotiate the terms of his employment. They agree to give Jacob the spotted and speckled animals as his wages, but Laban takes them away at night and sends them off with his sons. We’ll see that Jacob isn’t that easy to put one over on, but has craft of his own. May God protect us from the dishonesty of others and our own willingness to take advantage of others.

God bless,

Genesis 30:25-36
25When Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own home and country. 26Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me go; for you know very well the service I have given you.” 27But Laban said to him, “If you will allow me to say so, I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you; 28name your wages, and I will give it.”

29Jacob said to him, “You yourself know how I have served you, and how your cattle have fared with me. 30For you had little before I came, and it has increased abundantly; and the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned. But now when shall I provide for my own household also?” 31He said, “What shall I give you?” Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything; if you will do this for me, I will again feed your flock and keep it: 32let me pass through all your flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and such shall be my wages. 33So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come to look into my wages with you. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, shall be counted stolen.” 34Laban said, “Good! Let it be as you have said.”

35But that day Laban removed the male goats that were striped and spotted, and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white on it, and every lamb that was black, and put them in charge of his sons; 36and he set a distance of three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob was pasturing the rest of Laban’s flock.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

of sex and botany

Good afternoon friends,
I'm sorry to send this out so late; my home internet is having issues. This story has always struck me as funny because the sisters, who compete for their husband's attention now trade his sexual favors. It's also funny because the Bible is often guilty (like most older writing) of objectifying women and here a man is the traded object. I hadn't ever known much about mandrakes, the plant for which Rachel trades a night with Jacob, but today I looked them up. Many strange legends exist about mandrakes, including one used in Harry Potter that the mandrake root screams when uprooted and the scream can be fatal. The root is hallucinogenic and toxic and is associated with various other properties including sexuality.

There were Jewish traditions that the mandrake was a useful remedy for infertility. Since Rachel hadn't been able to have children at this point in her marriage it makes more sense that she would really want the mandrakes. At any rate, I hope you enjoy this snippet of the story and I hope you stay safe and hydrated today.

God bless,

Genesis 30:14-24

14In the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 15But she said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?” Rachel said, “Then he may lie with you tonight for your son’s mandrakes.” 16When Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him, and said, “You must come in to me; for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.”

So he lay with her that night. 17And God heeded Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18Leah said, “God has given me my hire because I gave my maid to my husband”; so she named him Issachar. 19And Leah conceived again, and she bore Jacob a sixth son. 20Then Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good dowry; now my husband will honor me, because I have borne him six sons”; so she named him Zebulun. 21Afterwards she bore a daughter, and named her Dinah. 22Then God remembered Rachel, and God heeded her and opened her womb. 23She conceived and bore a son, and said, “God has taken away my reproach”; 24and she named him Joseph, saying, “May the Lord add to me another son!”

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

more sibling rivalry

Good morning or evening friends,
Today's reading continues our rivalry between Jacob's two wives, Leah and Rachel. Rachel is the favorite wife, but she hasn't been able to have any children. That puts her at a disadvantage and leaves her upset. She takes her maid servant, Bilhah, and encourages Jacob to sleep with her so that she can have children in that way. Jacob's grandmother, Sarah, tried a similar strategy but found herself weakened in comparison to her servant. That doesn't seem to be the case in this story. Rachel has children (Dan and Naphtali) through Bilhah and the competition continues.

God bless,

Genesis 30:1-13

When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister; and she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” 2Jacob became very angry with Rachel and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” 3Then she said, “Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, that she may bear upon my knees and that I too may have children through her.”

4So she gave him her maid Bilhah as a wife; and Jacob went in to her. 5And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. 6Then Rachel said, “God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son”; therefore she named him Dan. 7Rachel’s maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8Then Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and have prevailed”; so she named him Naphtali. 9When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, she took her maid Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10Then Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11And Leah said, “Good fortune!” so she named him Gad. 12Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13And Leah said, “Happy am I! For the women will call me happy”; so she named him Asher.

family drama

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Jacob is now married to both Leah and Rachel, but he prefers Rachel. God sees that preference and blesses Leah with kids. There's a fascinating and sad rivalry between Rachel and Leah for Jacob's attention.Difficulty having children continues to be an important theme in the story of our faith ancestors. Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel all have trouble conceiving children. These sons eventually become the 12 tribes of Israel.

Blessings on your day,

Genesis 29:31-35

31When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb; but Rachel was barren. 32Leah conceived and bore a son, and she named him Reuben; for she said, “Because the Lord has looked on my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.” 33She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also”; and she named him Simeon. 34Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be joined to me, because I have borne him three sons”; therefore he was named Levi. 35She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the Lord”; therefore she named him Judah; then she ceased bearing.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jacob's new family

Good morning friends,
Jacob's arrival at Laban's house was happy, but not everything with that relationship is going to prove easy. After a month Laban suggests paying Jacob and Jacob wants to marry Laban's daughter Rachel in exchange for his work. The irony in this story is that Laban deceives Jacob, since Jacob is used to deceiving other people. The passage as a whole is tragically funny; it's not hard to imagine the scene as a bit from a goofy comedic play. At the same time we sense that there may be trouble in the future for this family. Even in the twists and turns of our lives, God is with us.

Blessings on your week,

Genesis 29:15-30

15Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” 16Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17Leah’s eyes were lovely, and Rachel was graceful and beautiful. 18Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” 20So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. 21Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” 22So Laban gathered together all the people of the place, and made a feast. 23But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her. 24(Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.) 25When morning came, it was Leah!

And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” 26Laban said, “This is not done in our country—giving the younger before the firstborn. 27Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” 28Jacob did so, and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife. 29(Laban gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her maid.) 30So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. He served Laban for another seven years.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

wheat and tares together sown

Good morning sisters and brothers,
This morning in worship we have the joy of ordaining and installing our new class of elders. It's exciting to recognize gifts for ministry in our congregation and its important that we support our elders through prayer and encouragement. We will also have the blessing of hearing John Hoenig share an important moment in his faith journey with us. I'm looking forward to an exciting worship this morning and I hope you'll be a part of it.

Our passage from Romans reminds us that we are joined with Christ in the new life of the kingdom. We don't see the full redemption of the world that God is bringing about, but we see the beginning of it. In Christ we can trust that the joy we taste now will one day fill the whole world. Our parable from Matthew gives us an agricultural image of God's kingdom as a field filled with grain and weeds that grow together. As the farmer tells his servants, plucking up weeds is risky to the grain. Judging people and trying to figure out who the weeds are is beyond our ability. We're simply called to care for God's field. May God's word continue to grow in you as we grow in faith together.

God bless,

Romans 8:12-25

12So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — 13for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ — if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

18I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.


Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

24He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

36Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!”

Saturday, July 16, 2011

family reunion

Good morning brothers and sisters,
When Jacob gets near Haran he finds the well where all the shepherds come to water their flock. He asks if his relative Laban is doing well and has questions about the way they manage the flocks. One of the moments in the story that seems funniest to me is that the narrator tells us Jacob loves his cousin Rachel when he sees her "and the sheep of his mother's brother Laban." Then Jacob and Laban have a joyful meeting. We'll see how the story develops from there.

Blessings on your weekend,

Genesis 29:1-14

Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the people of the east. 2As he looked, he saw a well in the field and three flocks of sheep lying there beside it; for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well’s mouth was large, 3and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well, and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place on the mouth of the well.

4Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?” They said, “We are from Haran.” 5He said to them, “Do you know Laban son of Nahor?” They said, “We do.” 6He said to them, “Is it well with him?” “Yes,” they replied, “and here is his daughter Rachel, coming with the sheep.” 7He said, “Look, it is still broad daylight; it is not time for the animals to be gathered together. Water the sheep, and go, pasture them.” 8But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together, and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”

9While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep; for she kept them. 10Now when Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of his mother’s brother Laban, and the sheep of his mother’s brother Laban, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of his mother’s brother Laban. 11Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and wept aloud. 12And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, and that he was Rebekah’s son; and she ran and told her father. 13When Laban heard the news about his sister’s son Jacob, he ran to meet him; he embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, 14and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Jacob's ladder

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Jacob is traveling through the desert to his mother's family to find a wife and escape his brother. He spends the night along the way and has a vision of God confirming the covenant God made with Abraham. For Jacob this affirms that there is something beyond his self-interest leading the way, though for Jacob self-interest and faith will generally go together. Where might God be leading you today?

God bless,

Genesis 28:10-22

10Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. 11He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. 12And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 And the LORD stood beside him and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; 14and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. 15Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place — and I did not know it!” 17And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

18So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19aHe called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first. 20Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, 22and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one tenth to you.”

Thursday, July 14, 2011

fleeing and finding

Good morning friends,
Last night's vacation Bible school session was a lot of fun. I want to thank everyone who helped last night or helped get ready for the evening. Please keep praying that we might expand the reach of the program and please invite kids or adult you know who might be interested.

Understandably, Esau is angry at Jacob for stealing his blessing. Rebekah hatches a plan to send him to safety, by encouraging him to go to her family to find a wife. When she talks to her husband she refers to the "Hittite women." This points back to a part of the story we didn't read where Esau marries a few women from the area where the family is living (Hittites) and they "made life bitter for Rebekah." So Isaac sends his son to Laban's house to find a wife. As that story plays out there are many parallels to when Abraham's servant went to find a wife for Isaac and came home with Rebekah. Family continues to be an important arena for living our faith.
Blessings as you live your faith at work and at home,

Genesis 27:41-28:5

41Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” 42But the words of her elder son Esau were told to Rebekah; so she sent and called her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is consoling himself by planning to kill you. 43Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran, 44and stay with him a while, until your brother’s fury turns away— 45until your brother’s anger against you turns away, and he forgets what you have done to him; then I will send, and bring you back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”

46Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am weary of my life because of the Hittite women. If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women such as these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?”

28:1 Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, “You shall not marry one of the Canaanite women. 2Go at once to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father; and take as wife from there one of the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and numerous, that you may become a company of peoples. 4May he give to you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your offspring with you, so that you may take possession of the land where you now live as an alien—land that God gave to Abraham.” 5Thus Isaac sent Jacob away; and he went to Paddan-aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

stolen blessing

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Tonight we begin vacation Bible school at Laurelton. We have opportunities for all ages, so come on over at 6:30 this evening. Whether you're taking part in the adult or kid's learning opportunities, helping out with the program, or not I hope you'll pray for us and for the participants. Pray that God would work through us to touch hearts during these five weeks.

The story of Jacob and Esau comes to a climax in this reading. Esau returns from hunting to find his blessing stolen. All that is left for him is the blessing of eventually rising up against his brother's yoke. Esau and Isaac both weep about Jacob's deception, but the damage is already done. May we always seek to build peace where people are in conflict and look out for the interests of others as well as ourselves.

God bless,

Genesis 27:30-40

30As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of his father Isaac, his brother Esau came in from his hunting. 31He also prepared savory food, and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father sit up and eat of his son’s game, so that you may bless me.” 32His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am your firstborn son, Esau.”

33Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? —yes, and blessed he shall be!” 34When Esau heard his father’s words, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me, me also, father!” 35But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” 36Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright; and look, now he has taken away my blessing.”

Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” 37Isaac answered Esau, “I have already made him your lord, and I have given him all his brothers as servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?” 38Esau said to his father, “Have you only one blessing, father? Bless me, me also, father!” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept. 39Then his father Isaac answered him: “See, away from the fatness of the earth shall your home be, and away from the dew of heaven on high. 40By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you break loose, you shall break his yoke from your neck.”

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

more family dysfunction

Good morning friends,
Yesterday Isaac send his son Esau to hunt him some game so he could eat it and give him a blessing. Isaac's wife Rebekah overheard the conversation and told her favorite son, Jacob, to bring animals from the flock so he could pretend to be Esau and steal the blessing. Today we see just how elaborate the plot becomes and how it plays out.

Blessings on your day,

Genesis 27:14-29

14So he went and got them and brought them to his mother; and his mother prepared savory food, such as his father loved. 15Then Rebekah took the best garments of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob; 16and she put the skins of the kids on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17Then she handed the savory food, and the bread that she had prepared, to her son Jacob.

18So he went in to his father, and said, “My father”; and he said, “Here I am; who are you, my son?” 19Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, so that you may bless me.” 20But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the Lord your God granted me success.”

21Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22So Jacob went up to his father Isaac, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him. 24He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” 25Then he said, “Bring it to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.

26Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27So he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his garments, and blessed him, and said, “Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed. 28May God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. 29Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”

Monday, July 11, 2011

Isaac and Esau

Good morning sisters and brothers,
The story of our dysfunctional family in the faith continues today. A couple of days ago we read how Jacob bought his older brother Esau's right as the first born for a bowl of lentil stew and some bread. Today Issac is old and wants to give Esau a special blessing. Isaac's wife Rebekah overhears their conversation and wants to make sure her favorite son Jacob receives the blessing instead. She concocts a plan to trick her blind and aged husband. Jacob has reservations, but only about whether the plan will work, not about whether it's appropriate to swindle a blessing from his dying father. Family is always tricky and the families in the Bible are no exception. Somehow, through all the drama and imperfections, God works out the plan for human salvation.

Blessings on your week,

Genesis 27:1-13

When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called his elder son Esau and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2He said, “See, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field, and hunt game for me. 4Then prepare for me savory food, such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may bless you before I die.”

5Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, 6Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father say to your brother Esau, 7‘Bring me game, and prepare for me savory food to eat, that I may bless you before the Lord before I die.’ 8Now therefore, my son, obey my word as I command you. 9Go to the flock, and get me two choice kids, so that I may prepare from them savory food for your father, such as he likes; 10and you shall take it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.”

11But Jacob said to his mother Rebekah, “Look, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a man of smooth skin. 12Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him, and bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.” 13His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my word, and go, get them for me.”

Saturday, July 9, 2011

sowing the word

Good morning friends,
Our reading from Romans presents the good news that in Christ we are forgiven. Jesus took our sins on himself and dealt with them to set us free. Now that we are free we have the choice to either focus our attention on spiritual things or on material things. We live most truly when we put ourselves aside and live in Christ. Our reading from Matthew gives the image of a sower tossing seed onto the ground. How do we let the word grow in us? How do we plant the word for others?

God bless,

Romans 8:1-11

1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law — indeed it cannot, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.


Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

1That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9Let anyone with ears listen!”

18“Hear then the parable of the sower. 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

sibling rivalry

Good morning sisters and brothers,
In our Genesis readings we've been following the story of the fathers and mothers of Israel. Today we see that the family of our ancestors in the faith were pretty dysfunctional and that conflict within families is nothing new. Even when Rebekah was pregnant we see some foreshadowing that things won't be smooth because the babies "struggled" in her uterus. We get another hint when the text tells us that Isaac loved Esau but Rebekah loved Jacob. Our story ends with Jacob only giving his hungry brother food in exchange for his rights as the first-born son. Those of you who have read Genesis before know that this isn't the end of the conflict between the brothers, nor is it the end of Jacob's less than generous actions. This kind of story reminds me that God can work through all kinds of messed up people and situations. That comforts me because I know that God can work through us too, even when we're not perfect.

God bless,

Genesis 25:19-34

19These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham was the father of Isaac, 20and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. 21Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. 22The children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. 23And the LORD said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples born of you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the elder shall serve the younger.”

24When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. 25The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. 26Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

27When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. 28Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.

29Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. 30Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!” (Therefore he was called Edom.) 31Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” 32Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Friday, July 8, 2011

miracles and spirits

Good morning friends,
Oddly, having seen plenty of miracles, the religious leaders ask Jesus for a sign. He tells them they will only see the sign of Jonah (the resurrection). Like in the reading last Sunday, he criticizes the generation for failing to repent and compares them unfavorably with Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba. He also compares the generation to a person who is freed from demon possession but then becomes possessed again. Overall, the message is one of repentance. Jesus calls each of us to repentance; the question is whether we will hear and respond to that call or not. What are you waiting for? God welcomes us all home.

God bless,

Matthew 12: 38-50

38Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. 41The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! 42The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here!

43“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but it finds none. 44Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So will it be also with this evil generation.”

46While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. 47Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Thursday, July 7, 2011

demons, speaking and judgment

Good morning brothers and sisters,
When Jesus expels a demon from a man the religious leaders accuse him of using Satan's power to do it. Jesus replies that Satan can't cast out demons because that would mean his kingdom was divided. Instead, like an invader tying up a strong man to rob his house, Jesus binds Satan and frees those in chains by the power of God. He also warns the leaders and the crowd that what comes out of our mouths is a sign of what is in our hearts. That's a haunting reminder that what we say to others matters.

Blessings on your ministry today,

Matthew 12:22-37

22Then they brought to him a demoniac who was blind and mute; and he cured him, so that the one who had been mute could speak and see. 23All the crowds were amazed and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, that this fellow casts out the demons.” 25He knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? 27If I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you.

29Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property, without first tying up the strong man? Then indeed the house can be plundered. 30Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

33“Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure. 36I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; 37for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sabbath and gentleness

Good morning (barely) friends,
Having just made a point about being Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus goes on to drive the point home. This time he makes a different argument about the Sabbath. He points to common sense (which agrees with the Law of Moses) which tells us that even on the Sabbath, when we aren't supposed to work, we still make exceptions for emergencies. Jewish tradition discusses this idea as an example of saving life, an acceptable reason to violate the Sabbath.

The second paragraph talks about Jesus' desire to remain hidden in some ways in terms of prophesy (Isaiah in this case). Jesus comes gently, not destroying even the vulnerable things that cling to vitality. Even though he is powerful (to heal, to challenge those in power) he is gentle and meek. No matter where we are in life Jesus welcomes us.

God bless,

Matthew 12:9-21

9He left that place and entered their synagogue; 10a man was there with a withered hand, and they asked him, “Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath?” so that they might accuse him. 11He said to them, “Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath; will you not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.” 13Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and it was restored, as sound as the other.

14But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. 15When Jesus became aware of this, he departed.

Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them, 16and he ordered them not to make him known. 17This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 18“Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. 19He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. 20He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory. 21And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lord of the Sabbath

Good morning sisters and brothers,
This is one episode in the continuing conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders of Israel. They criticize Jesus and his disciples for breaking the Sabbath by plucking grain. His response doesn't reject the Sabbath, but it does reject rigid rules. He also claims to be Lord of the Sabbath. Following God can never be reduced to rules or check lists. We follow in freedom and integrity.

blessings on your week,

Matthew 12:1-8

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath.” 3He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4He entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests. 5Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests in the temple break the sabbath and yet are guiltless? 6I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8For the Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”

Monday, July 4, 2011

a new song

Good morning sisters and brothers,
Happy Fourth of July. Today we thank God for our freedom and pray for renewed commitment to the promises on which our nation was founded. We're grateful for the work and sacrifice of men and women in the military, diplomatic and development sectors serving to protect freedom and expand justice both here and around the world.

Our reading today is a departure from our theme. The book is the Song of Songs or Song of Solomon. It belongs to the wisdom literature section of the Old Testament and is poetic in style. It's an extended love poem about the relationship between a young man and woman. As the Bible was being consolidated into a fixed text some scholars felt like it had no place in scripture due to its at times erotic nature. Another scholar wrote that the day this poem was written was the holiest day since creation. Some people see the poem as a symbol for the relationship between God and Israel and/or between God and the church. At any rate, it is beautiful poetry and I hope you enjoy it this morning.

God bless,

Song of Solomon 2:8-13

8 The voice of my beloved!
Look, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
9 My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Look, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
looking through the lattice.
10 My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
11 for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away.”

Sunday, July 3, 2011

marriage and struggle

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Our Old Testament reading takes us back to the book of Genesis and tells the story of how Abraham's son Isaac got married to continue the family line. Our passage from Romans is a favorite of mine because I can identify with Paul's struggle. We often know what God wants from us, but we have a hard time doing it. Fortunately, we are not on our own.


Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67

34So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35The LORD has greatly blessed my master, and he has become wealthy; he has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female slaves, camels and donkeys. 36And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old; and he has given him all that he has. 37My master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live; 38but you shall go to my father’s house, to my kindred, and get a wife for my son.’

42“I came today to the spring, and said, ‘O LORD, the God of my master Abraham, if now you will only make successful the way I am going! 43I am standing here by the spring of water; let the young woman who comes out to draw, to whom I shall say, “Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,” 44and who will say to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also” — let her be the woman whom the LORD has appointed for my master’s son.’

45“Before I had finished speaking in my heart, there was Rebekah coming out with her water jar on her shoulder; and she went down to the spring, and drew. I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’ 46She quickly let down her jar from her shoulder, and said, ‘Drink, and I will also water your camels.’ So I drank, and she also watered the camels. 47Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him.’ So I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her arms. 48Then I bowed my head and worshiped the LORD, and blessed the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to obtain the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. 49Now then, if you will deal loyally and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so that I may turn either to the right hand or to the left.”

58And they called Rebekah, and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will.” 59So they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse along with Abraham’s servant and his men. 60And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,
“May you, our sister, become
thousands of myriads;
may your offspring gain possession
of the gates of their foes.”

61Then Rebekah and her maids rose up, mounted the camels, and followed the man; thus the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.

62Now Isaac had come from Beer-lahai-roi, and was settled in the Negeb. 63Isaac went out in the evening to walk in the field; and looking up, he saw camels coming. 64And Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she slipped quickly from the camel, 65and said to the servant, “Who is the man over there, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. 66And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. 67Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.


Romans 7:15-25a

15I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

surprising audience

Good morning friends,
First, a reminder about Laurelton's Red, White and Blue Ice Cream Social after worship tomorrow. It's a great chance to visit with old friends and meet new people.

Jesus thanks God for calling unexpected people to hear the message. Often it was the outcasts, the weak, the poor who responded to Jesus message. The well-known, "religious" and wealthy often wanted nothing to do with a gospel that said the first would be last. Jesus offers freedom, but also a yoke. He wants us to follow him and in that following we will find deep rest for our weary souls. May it be so for you and for me.

God bless,

Matthew 11:25-30

25At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”