Tagged: sacrifice

Genesis 22:1-14

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on July 2, 2017.

“God Will Provide”
Life is a promising and dangerous adventure. The stakes are high. Participation is not optional. Everyone has to decide and act on the decisions made. We all have to figure it out. So we ask, “God, how can we successfully live out this adventure of life on earth?”. And it is as though God says, “Glad you asked. Because I will provide what you need when you need it.” Patience is trusting in God’s timing. And a life well lived requires well-placed trust.

The drama of Abraham & Isaac at Mt. Moriah revealed this drama in a troubling fashion. Why would God, whom we believe is loving, good, and trustworthy – ask for the human sacrifice of Abraham’s beloved son? Or for that matter any human sacrifice? What we find is that nowhere else in Scripture does God ask anyone else to offer a human sacrifice.  So the bigness of this passage includes a major teaching that shaped the rest of Scripture and informs our life today. God’s goodness is what we can trust in when the options of our circumstances don’t indicate that we have any good options.  Let’s pay attention to the story and let the meaning show us the way forward.

Spiritual Map Making
Abraham & Sarah and Isaac were spiritual mapmakers. That is, they followed God’s leadership into faith territory not previously understood or traveled. By their obedience to God’s call, and by God’s grace which forgave their failures –  they became the leaders in God’s faith movement. (Known as   Patriarchs and Matriarch of faith.) Their story is frequently referred to in the Old and New Testaments. They define how to live the meaning of faith as defined in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.’

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Luke 14:25-33

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on September 4th, 2016.

Duccio di Buoninsegna
Duccio di Buoninsegna

If you decide to preach on Luke 14:25-33, expect several moments during the week when you wonder if you should have picked another text.  What if there is a visitor looking for a church home?  What if someone comes to worship who needs a word of comfort?  What will this passage say to the members of your congregation who are praying that God will make their hard lives easier?

For The Year of Living Biblically, A. J. Jacobs decided to live by every rule in the Bible.  He tried to follow the Ten Commandments.  He refrained from gossiping, lying, and coveting.  He estimates that he cut down on his coveting by 40 percent.

Jacobs did not enjoy tithing, but he did it.  He stopped shaving and wearing clothes made of mixed fibers. He attached tassels to his clothing, tried his hand at a ten-string harp, and ate crickets, but no pork or shrimp.
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Luke 10:25-37

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on July 10, 2016.

Hermano Leon
Hermano Leon

Luke recorded Jesus’ telling of the story of the Good Samaritan. The title, Good Samaritan, is today synonymous with a person doing good deeds for another person. Jesus told the story to answer a question posed by a man regarding eternal life. Luke painted the scene for us this way: Jesus was sitting down teaching, a customary position of a Rabbi as he taught. Suddenly, an expert in the Law of God stood up, interrupted the lesson and asked Jesus a question. This man was a member of the Sanhedrin, which was a 72 member group consisting of experts who studied, taught, and interpreted Hebrew Semitic law, and were typically antagonistic toward Jesus and his teachings.  By standing, the man either showed respect or attempted to show authority over Jesus. The latter seems to best fit the context. He tried to examine Jesus intellectually, but with wrong motives, and test Jesus by asking a potent question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus exposed the man spiritually and reoriented the conversation by answering the man with a question of his own, “What is written in the Law?” The man would know the law, as it was his job. He quoted passages of the law found in Deuteronomy 6 and Leviticus 19. Basically, he answered his own question. Jesus gave this same answer in Mark 12 when someone asked about the greatest commandment of all the 613 commandments found in the Torah.

The passage he quoted, “Love the Lord your God with all your strength and with all your mind” is known as the Great Shema. It was familiar to every faithful Jew. Devout Jews would write the Great Shema on parchment and secure it in wooden boxes called phylacteries, and wear them on their wrists and foreheads.  They would also place the Great Shema in a case and nail it to the right side of every doorpost. It was a type of post-it note that said to everyone entering or leaving the home, that as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Jesus responded to the man by telling him he was right, and if he lived according to the law he would live. Jesus exposed the absurdity of thinking anyone could keep the perfect law. God gave us the law to show how we fall short, it was never designed to save us, but rather point us to God. Jesus used sarcasm to say, if there was something you could do to inherit eternal life, this is it.

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Mark 12:38-44

This text is used for the Lectionary Year B on November 8, 2015.

Hermano León Clipart

In my mind, I see a set of paintings hanging in a gallery. In the foreground of the picture on the left, there appear two distinguished Jewish rabbis with long beards and beautiful white prayer shawls covering their heads. These proud and confident men are engrossed in a conversation that is surely about deep matters of the law. Their absorption is so complete that they have failed to notice an old widow lying prostrate in front of a house begging for help.

The picture to the right is in many ways a counterpoint to the first image. This time the figures are reversed so that we see in the foreground an old widow bathed in a soft white light. She is walking out of a temple with the faintest glimmer of a smile on her wrinkled face. Off to the right in the background and bathed in shadow stand two Jewish rabbis again clothed in finery. This time, however, they appear with hunched shoulders as they slink off in shame through another gate.

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