August 10, 2017
for Sunday, August 13
1 Kings 19:9-18
This Week's Reflection Comes from
The Rev. Peter A. Williams, Episcopal Priest
Rector and pastor of the combined
Episcopal and ELCA congregation Grace and Holy Spirit Cortland
Chaplain for Ministry for the Deaf Community in the Central NY Episcopal Diocese
Jesus confronts a literal attitude of the Bible and faith, in which mere observance of written rules is regarded as being a good person. That approach seems so simple and clear but, sorry, that is not the way it is, Jesus tells us. And those who took that approach in his day lived somewhat tortured lives of obedience to every possible nuance of the rules regarding diet, observance of the Sabbath, and other aspects of life. Even though much of this stuff is clearly dictated in the lines of the Hebrew scriptures, Jesus is saying "God does not want you to live that way." Make no mistake about it-Jesus is not a literalist with scripture, yet constantly calls us to live the fullness of God's love. He is telling us "You have to learn to read between the lines." Just in case this point is still not clear, then we read how Jesus is challenged by a woman who is not even an Israelite, and claims God's love is also for her and her people.
Surprise! Despite what the Old Testament passages say about other groups in the region who are pagans, and not in tune with the "true religion," Jesus agrees with her!
In this passage in Matthew, Jesus confronts the people who are shocked by all this with another earth shaking, non-literal, reading of scripture: God loves and accepts everyone---even if others interpret the Bible to only include the people of Israel.
Oh, how badly those literal, narrow views of what our Biblical faith is all about have played out in our American church history. Many Christians allowed for slavery, and justified virtual enslavement of blacks long after the civil war. The Bible has been cited to support the subjugation of women, who did not even have voting rights until just 100 years ago in the USA. Women had only a secondary role in the ELCA and the Episcopal Church until the 70's and even later, as this literal "the Bible says" version of Christianity prevailed. We always cited rules or even a LACK of specific words for prohibition of women pastors. Christians would say, women cannot become clergy because "Jesus did not ordain women, or say anything about that." And LGBT people? Don't get me started.
Hey everyone-- Jesus was not a literalist. I would love to shout this from the roof tops!
So many people in so many religions, are trapped into this shallow mindset of fundamentalism, and they are causing great harm. This results in many other people rejecting religious faith because they see so many of these bone-headed ideas on the airwaves and in the terrible news reports we see each night.
Whether it is the so called "prosperity gospel", justification for male or white domination, ultra orthodox Jewish fundamentalists who hamper peace efforts in the middle east, or radical Islamic fundamentalists who use the most extreme hatred and violence against all others... this approach to faith is not life giving. After all, to tell people God says "Love me or go to hell" is not a very inviting approach to bringing God to others.
Yes, we need God in our lives, and we rejoice in the revelation of God in the person of Jesus Christ our Savior. We need to take this relationship seriously. But we do not have to become shallow caricatures of Christians who are utterly rigid in their approach to the world. At the same time, we cannot act like a secular person.
We still ought to be passionate about being a follower of Jesus Christ, because we are not called to merely be in a religious denomination; we are called to be in LOVE. When mainline Christians get better at showing this passion, we will be able to invite more fundamentalist people to come into our community, and be freed from the shackles of a misread Bible. I firmly believe that we mainline Christians are called to do this!
Read between the lines! Be passionate for Jesus Christ! Set people free!
© Copyright 2017 Upstate New York Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. All Rights Reserved.
Matthew's gospel typically portrays Jesus' disciples as people of "little faith," who fail despite their best intentions. In this story, Matthew shows how Jesus comes to these disciples when they are in trouble and sustains them in their fear and doubt.
22[Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side [of the Sea of Galilee], while he dismissed the crowds.23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” 28Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Names will remain of the Prayer List for a month - at which
time it will be taken off unless, or course, there is still a continued need
for our prayers and we’re asked to keep the name on.
***Adopt-a-Highway is this Saturday, August 19 at 9:00 am. God's work, our hands.... please join us at the church!
*** Stay connected with Pastor Ivy… parsonage: 386-1022; cell phone: 904-0855 (call or text); email: firstname.lastname@example.org ; mail: P. O. Box 43, Bemus Point, NY 14712.
Back-to-School Supplies Donation Drive
Attention Lutheran Family!
G.A. Learning Center Youth Need Our Help!
Many families do not have the resources to provide these items for the comfort,
dignity, and success of our students.
• New or Gently Used and Clean Jeans, Khakis, Shorts, and Sneakers in Various Sizes
• Boys (most needed) and Girls Underwear in All Sizes
• Socks in All Sizes
• New or Gently Used and Clean Navy Blue Polo Shirts in Various Sizes
• Personal Care Products: Hygiene Wipes, Body Wash,Shampoo & Conditioner, Toothpaste, Toothbrushes, Deodorant, Hairbrushes, Hair Ties, and Combs
Items may be dropped off at these locations:
• LHRC Front Desk
• Senior Housing – Diana’s Office
• Marketing – Edwin’s Office
• Learning Center – Linda’s Office
The deadline is August 31st
GA Family Services Learning Center
United We Stand. United We Pray.
On June 30, 2017, both The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg marked the end of their respective communities with prayers, sadness, mourning, memories, reflection, and fellowship. The very next day, the communities consolidated to become United Lutheran Seminary — One Seminary, Two Campuses.
Speaking to many who attended these events, the words emotional, loss, ending, past, sadness, and history often came up. But so did words like birth, community, share, blessing, journey, festive, joy, and pray. These are honest heartfelt words from both communities expressing raw emotions but also expectations of a hopeful future — together. So, indeed, we now stand United. But more importantly, United we pray — for our returning and new students (the largest incoming student body in a number of years), for peace in the world, for guidance, for ULS staff and faculty; the whole church in the world, and for United Lutheran Seminary — the newest graduate and professional school in theological education with the deepest roots.
Thanks be to God!
· For our community of faith as we seek to do God’s work in the world.
· For those in our congregation and community who suffer silently with illness, financial burdens, and family obligation.
· For victims of violence and their families in all places
· For Adam Hull having brain-shunt surgery Aug. 21 (grandson of Jerry & Ann Saar), Pastor Ivy Gauvin,Bryan Brown, Zachary Stewart, Deacon Gregg Davis, Rita Evans, Roy Pihl, Faye Stebbins, Gloria Gardner, Bob & Audrey Markwart, Al Lamb, Eleanor Burgeson Orman, Arden Johnson, Todd Reel, Helen Cogliano, Joanne Aron, JoLynn Stearns, Scott Stearns, Zachary Frazier, Matt Isaacson and Thom Shagla.
· For people serving in the military, including Ben Wickerham, and their families, those caught up in persecution, violence and war.
· For all children, that the love of Christ may reach them through all of us who have resources to love, protect, pray and provide for them.