Praise God the Creator, the God of Israel

Text: Psalm 147:12-20 Reflection and Question: In the Septuagint, the Hebrew Bible translated into Greek that was used by Jews in the Diaspora for centuries in the ancient world, these verses of Psalm 147 were a separate psalm. This wonderful poetry of praise weaves together both the inclusive God, who creates all things, like snow […]

All Israel Reestablishes God’s Teachings

Text: Nehemiah 7:73b-8:18 Reflection and Question: This description of what the Jews do after returning from exile marks the momentous shift from a religion based upon cult sacrifice to one based upon interpretation of Scripture and rituals, like the Festival of the Booths (Sukkot), which they have learned can be practiced anywhere. Last month in […]

Responses to the Fall of the Mighty City

Text: Revelation 18:9-20 Reflection and Question: Babylon, which could represent any great world power, is probably a stand-in for Rome, the empire in power when this passage was written. Before this point in Revelation, the fall of Babylon has been graphically described. Most of this passage is the lament heard from political leaders, merchants of […]

Jesus Explains What Defiles Us

Text: Matthew 15:1-20 Reflection and Question: Jesus’ teaching here corresponds to Paul’s reasoning in First Corinthians concerning the eating of meat offered to idols. These passages are part of the Scriptural foundation for my full acceptance of GLBT people in the church: It is not what goes into the mouth, dictated by ancient rules, that […]

God’s Generous Hospitality

Text: Luke 14:12-24 Reflection and Question: To illustrate God’s awesome generosity, Jesus tells this story in which the host sends his servants out into the hedgerows and byways (King James version) to find guests to fill the banquet hall. I love the banquet image for heaven, but there is a sobering downside in Luke. Friends, […]

The Sin of the Remnant and Ezra’s Prayer of Confession

Text: Ezra 9:1-15 Reflection and Question: Here is one of the passages in the Bible that reinforces bigotry by naming other peoples as unclean abominations. Ezra confesses the sin of the people through intermarriage with tribes who do not worship the God of Israel. In contrast, books like Ruth and Jonah and Galatians witness to […]

The Miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes

Text: Matthew 14:13-21 Reflection and Question: The feeding of the five thousand (not including women and children) is the only miracle included in all four gospels, (Mk 6:30-44, Lk 9:10-17, Jn 6:1-13). From the five loaves and five fish shared among the crowd, all ate and were filled. And there were twelve baskets full of […]

Prophetic Encouragement to Rebuild the Temple

Text: Haggai 1:1-2:9 payday loan no credit check lender Reflection and Question: In a style similar to Luke telling the story of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:1-2), highlighting the historical context, the preacher Haggai writes of the return to Jerusalem of the exiles from Babylon. He chastises the people for providing houses for themselves before rebuilding […]

Why Are You Cast Down O My Soul?

Text: Psalm 42 Reflection and Question: This psalm is my refuge when the imperfections and failures of this world get me down, when “deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me.” After decades of working for full inclusion of all the faithful in […]

Jesus Explains the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds

Text: Matthew 13:36-43 Reflection and Question: Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the weeds, or tares, holds one of the central messages from Scripture for my church right now. Both wheat and tares are sown in the field and grow up together. Jesus explains to His disciples that “the harvest is at the close of […]