Aug 27 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for August 27

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.
(Psalm 41:13)

Job 23:1-27:23
Job’s friend has accused him of great wickedness–of overextending credit to people beyond what they can pay back and then stripping them of their remaining assets” (22:1-11). The friend then counsels Job to try to get closer to God and to do what God wants, “If you pray, God will listen” (22:21-30).

Job responds “If, only. I’ve been praying. I’ve been asking God why that I have been punished this way. but I can’t seem to find him. He’s not anywhere that I’ve looked.” Job further responds to his friend’s attack by asserting, “I’ve done what God wants. I’ve never sinned.” (10-12).

Job is ready to give up, “I’d just like to vanish.”

Yet, even in this, Job says, “Still I’m not annihilated by darkness; he has hidden deep darkness from me.”

After reading Job 24, look at your daily newspaper (that is, if you are an old person like me and still read the printed paper; otherwise, read it online or catch the news on TV or radio.) How timely this chapter seems. We still have violence–by other people and by nature. We still have wealthy,  powerful people who are able to protect themselves in ways the rest of us cannot.

Job says to Bildad, and to us, “Well, what are you doing to help?”

2 Corinthians 1:12-2:11
Paul explains that he has delayed returning to Corinth because of an earlier troubled visit. He asks them to forgive the trouble maker that had caused Paul the trouble there.

Boring and Craddock in their People’s New Testament Commentary sum it up for us:

Paul regards the church to be in a struggle with hostile demonic powers that resist its mission. Discord within the congregation is more than a problem of interpersonal relationships. Internal conflicts hinder the mission of the church and are thus a strategy of Satan.

Psalm 41:1-13
A prayer for forgiveness. An assertion of God’s care.

Proverbs 22:8-9
Whosoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
and the rod of anger will fail.
Those who are generous are blessed,
for they share their bread with the poor.

Prayer for Today:  God, we turn to you for healing, both for our bodies but also for our congregations. Amen.

Permanent link to this article:

Aug 27 2014

Reflections on the The Word and World: Epworth connects and equips all kinds of people to seek, serve, and share Christ

   Our mission statement, developed by the group of eleven on the Vision Team earlier this year, captures God’s unique call on our church in the present. In many ways, our Mission also picks up the history of so much of Epworth has been about…

Permanent link to this article:

Aug 27 2014

Allan R. Bevere: Thomas Jefferson and the Clergy

Thomas Jefferson did not have a very high view of the clergy as a profession. Throughout his life he referred to all clergy, including Protestant pastors, as “priests.” The term, in his context, was not a compliment. Jefferson believed that priests, like kings, were enemies of individual freedom, and that such doctrines as the Trinity were simply used by the clergy to retain their manipulative power over the people. In a letter to John Adams, Jefferson wrote, “It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet that the one is not three, and the three are not one…. But this constitutes the craft, power, and the profit of the priests” (Mapp, The Faiths of Our Fathers, p.11). Jefferson believed that the power the clergy exercised historically in Europe and the colonies was enough of an argument to exclude them from holding public office. It must be said, however, that while Jefferson was distrustful of the clergy as an institution (especially Catholic priests– Jefferson had little good to say about Catholicism), he did speak well of individual “priests” who did much charitable good in the community, and he was good friends with a liberal minister and scientist, Joseph Priestly. (The irony of Priestly’s last name should not be missed.)

Jefferson loved what he called “the good and simple religion of Jesus.” His problem was not with Jesus but with how, so he believed, his followers distorted his teaching. The two Christian figures Jefferson reserved his harshest literary venom for was St. Paul and John Calvin. For Jefferson, Paul turned Jesus, the great moral deistic teacher (Jefferson actually referred to Jesus as a deist), into a divine Savior who redeemed the world in slaughterhouse fashion for a blood-thirsty deity. Calvin added to Paul’s distortion of Jesus with his doctrine of original sin, which erroneously claimed humanity’s helplessness before God, and double-predestination in which God decided by fiat who was to saved and who was to be damned. Jefferson found all of this to be absurd.

Jefferson’s most well known views on religion were his thoughts he offered on the Bible itself. Jefferson embraced the teaching of Jesus as simple enough to be understood by a child, but rejected what he could not stomach (his words) as the unreasonable parts of Scripture, particularly the Gospels’ stories of miracles including the resurrection. Near the end of his life, though it was a project started years before while he was president, Jefferson took scissors to the Gospels and cut out the parts of the four Gospels he believed to be the authentic teachings of Jesus and arranged them into a narrative of the “most pure, benevolent, and sublime [teachings] which have ever been preached to man.” He did not allow the work to be published during his lifetime. (It was published after his death.) The final work, which came to be known as The Jefferson Bible, is still in print to this day.

Jefferson was extremely concerned with the practice or ritual of government, which undermined his exclusionary understanding of the separation of church and state. Both Presidents Washington and Adams had proclaimed national days of prayer, fasting, and thanksgivings. Jefferson stopped the practice during his administration because he said it was “too Christian a thing for the president to do.”
from Allan R. Bevere, The Politics of Witness: The Character of the Church in the World.

Permanent link to this article:

Aug 27 2014

This Day With God: Our Hope All Day Long

In the post A Vision of the Holy City, we get a glimpse of heaven. The Holy City receives its glory from God as it shines day and night. There are streets and homes made of gold. The gates to … Continue reading

Permanent link to this article:

Aug 27 2014

Wrestled With Angels: Ferguson and Snotty Fear

He played the saxophone. I swung a baseball bat. He was a smart kid who made good grades. I was an average kid who liked to just get it done. He was a transplant. I was native. He was black. I was white. He wanted me to go to Six Flags and ride the Scream […]

Permanent link to this article:

Aug 27 2014

Seedbed: Does Romans 9-11 Teach Calvinist Predestination?

Does Romans 9-11 teach Calvinist predestination? In this Seven Minute Seminary, Ben Witherington explains that Paul’s aim is to refute the idea that God now favored the Romans, or Gentiles, rather than the Jews. In the process, he explains how the terms predestination, election, and salvation relate—or don’t relate—to one another.

Permanent link to this article:

Older posts «