Sue Whitt

Author's details

Name: Sue Whitt
Date registered: March 3, 2012

Latest posts

  1. Sunday's Child: Reflection on the readings for October 31 — October 31, 2014
  2. Sunday's Child: Reflection on the readings for October 30 — October 30, 2014
  3. Sunday's Child: Reflections on the readings for October 29 — October 29, 2014
  4. Sunday's Child: Reflection on the readings for October 28 — October 28, 2014
  5. Sunday's Child: Reflection on the readings for October 27 — October 27, 2014

Most commented posts

  1. Sunday's Child: Daily Prayer, Wednesday, May 23, 2012 — 1 comment
  2. Sunday's Child: Health care, When they’re against you, a Reflection on Ephesians 6:10-20 — 1 comment
  3. Sunday's Child: Who Gets In, a Reflection on Psalm 15 — 1 comment
  4. Sunday's Child: Daily Prayer, Sunday, February 24, 2013 — 1 comment
  5. Sunday's Child: Daily Prayer, Sunday, August 4, 2013 — 1 comment

Author's posts listings

Oct 31 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on the readings for October 31

Original post at

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me
(Psalm 103:1a)

Lamentations 4:1-5:22
The original audience for this poem were the people who had experienced the disaster of having a foreign power take over their country, destroying the capital and deporting many of the citizens. Those who had lived in comfort were now destitute. They responded to the catastrophe by asserting that God had been angry because of their faithlessness. We moderns may not have been through tragedies as extensive as theirs, but in our despair, we may look for a reason for our losses.

In their despair, they plead with God to notice them, to care for them.

Hebrews 2:1-18
Again quoting from Frances Taylor Gench's commentary on Hebrews and James:
The Son who lives in glory lived down here with us, like us. He showed us how humans could live, how a human being could be completely obedient to God. He showed us how to face death without fear. And because we know that he suffered, we know that he can understand what suffering is like for us.
The author of the letter to the Hebrews presents us with a paradox: God made Jesus perfect; yet, we share with him flesh and blood. More than that, he was like us in every respect. Every?

Another puzzle: We are told that through death, he destroyed the one who has the power of death; that is, the devil. One explanation of this claim is that Jesus showed us that a life without sin is possible.

Psalm 103:1-22
The psalm begins "Bless the Lord, O my soul." The psalmist would not have been aware of our attempts to separate body and soul--the Hebrew word connotes the entire self. We might give ourselves the reminder, "Pay attention, devote your thinking and doing and feeling, recognize and be grateful to the giver of all that you have and will need."

The psalmist lists specific benefits given by the Lord: forgiveness, healing, redemption.

He needs to remember these gifts. And he needs to remember that the Lord will continue to satisfy his needs and to restore his strength.

But, it's not just about him. In verse 6, the psalmist reminds himself that the Lord is not focused on only this one individual: "The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed."

It is right for me to pray prayers of thanksgiving, and it is right for me to remember that the Lord cares for more than just me.

Reread Hebrews 2:2, then Psalm 103:8-14. Are we comforted or irritated by the assertion in Psalm 103 that God does not deal with us according to our sins, does not repay us for our iniquities?

Proverbs 26:23
Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel
are smooth lips with an evil heart.

Prayer for Today: O Lord, forgive us for those times that we have ignored the needs of others. Forgive us for the times that we have ignored your commands. When we feel lost from you, restore us to yourself. Amen.

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Oct 30 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on the readings for October 30

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Hear my prayer, O Lord;
let my cry come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day
when I call.
(Psalm 102:1-2)

Lamentations 3:1-66
Despair. Hope. Yet.

Help me. Pay them back.

Hebrews 1:1-14
Here are some excerpts from the commentary of Hebrews and James written by Frances Taylor Gench:
"Hebrews addresses believers who have grown weary in the Christian way and who are in danger of abandoning their Christian vocation: "fading enthusiasm, waning commitment, dwindling church attendance, and arrested development in the Christian faith," and "God has spoken; indeed, God has never been silent. God has spoken through prophets throughout our history, and now has spoken to us by a Son"

Gench focuses on the high Christology in Hebrews: The Son was at the beginning. Through him, the world was created and continues to be sustained:
Moreover, contemplation of Hebrews' panorama will guard against a restricted vision and limited appreciation of the story of Jesus Christ....Christians who do not attend church regularly, making an appearance only at Christmas and Easter, may envision Christ only in diapers or nailed to a cross! Hebrews, however, encourages a broader perspective. It fills out the big picture, thereby laying the groundwork for a more mature understanding of the one who stands at the beginning and end of God's purposes for the world, and who makes available to us God's own life.
How limited is the vision and appreciation of the story of Jesus Christ? I go to church two or three times a week but surely I realize that a lot, a whole lot, of people go only two or three times a year if that many. What do they think about Jesus if they really do go only on Christmas and Easter? How do we get across to them that God's purpose includes our lives? How do we learn that ourselves?

How do we view Christ today? Are we focusing on an infant? Do we see him only on a cross? This passage from Hebrews reminds us of other themes.

Psalm 102:1-28
Words of despair and words of confidence in God.

Proverbs 26:21-22
As charcoal is to hot embers and wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.
The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body.

Prayer for Today: O Lord, in in times of despair, comfort us. In painful times, support us. When our enthusiasm for your gospel fades, wake us up to your presence. Strengthen our commitment to your church. Give us the words that would be helpful to tell to those that need to hear about you. Amen.

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Oct 29 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflections on the readings for October 29

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I will sing of loyalty and of justice;
to you, O Lord, I will sing.
I will study the way that is blameless.
When shall I attain it?
(Psalm 101:1-2)

Lamentations 1:1-2:22
As I read the opening verses of Lamentations, I think about the condition of so many of our cities: "How lonely sits the city that once was full of people!"and "No one comes to the festivals; all her gates are desolate, her priests groan; her young girls grieve, and her lot is bitter."

We may mourn, and we may look for reasons for the desolation of the once powerful, once loved city. We may ask why we let such desertion and devastation happen? In the case of Jerusalem they had been overtaken by a foreign army. The author of Lamentation tells Jerusalem that they deserved what had happened to them. Do we?

Philemon 1:1-25
As I began reading this letter from the emprisoned Paul to his friends and fellow Christians, I started to wonder who would write to me and to whom would I write. Well, of course now, I never write the paper kind of letters any more. But, I do e-mail some and I do send some direct messages by facebook.

What do I say? To whom do I write? Do I ever say anything about remembering someone in prayer? How often do I remember someone in prayer? How often do I tell someone how much joy and encouragement their friendship and support has given me? Well, how often do I even remind myself of this?

Paul is asking something hard of Philemon. "Your slave escaped. Take him back--but as a brother not as a slave."

What one Christian can ask of another. Give up what is due you. Forget the wrongs that have been done to you.

Paul is so sure of Philemon's love, that he is willing to trust him, willing to ask him to do this hard thing.

Paul is asking something difficult of his friend. Am I willing to do that? Do I have friends that I allow to ask difficult things of me? What is noticeable about my faith toward the Lord Jesus?

Psalm 101:1-8
Someone in charge says "Here are some things that would disqualify you from working for me."

Proverbs 26:20
For lack of wood the fire goes out,
and where there is no whisperer,
quarreling ceases.

Prayer for Today: O Lord our God, show us how to restore what we people have destroyed. Give us the words to speak to people who need to change. And, encourage us to reach out to those people who have demonstrated friendship and support. Give us the words to express our appreciation to them. Amen.

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Oct 28 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on the readings for October 28

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Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
(Psalm 100:1)

Jeremiah 51:54-52:34
A recounting of the failed resistance against Babylon with some additional information.

Titus 3:1-15
The mercy of God saved us, not our righteousness. Even so, we are supposed to display righteousness. Some of the specifics are more difficult than others; e.g., avoiding stupid controversies. Today I am struck by the assessment that the reason we are supposed to avoid quarrels about the law is that they are unprofitable and worthless.

Psalm 100:1-5
I once asked a group of church-goers what scripture they had memorized. Several named Psalm 100. I was not surprised because when I was a child I had been encouraged to learn this psalm either at Sunday School or Vacation Bible School.

I don't know what I made of that phrase "all the earth" (or, in other translations, "all ye lands") when I was trying to memorize Psalm 100. I'm not even sure if I learned it in the NRSV or KJ. I'm not sure what I mean by it when I say it today. Who is being called to make this joyful noise? Am I recognizing Christians in other countries? Am I including Jews? What about Muslims? What about everybody else, those who don't descend from Abraham?

What do I think about "his gates"? Am I restricting the meaning of this phrase to church buildings (and synagogues and mosques)? Can God's gates include somewhere outside the church building? That is, am I restricting worship to a kind of formal space?

Proverbs 26:18-19
Like a maniac who shoots deadly firebrands and arrows,
so is one who deceives a neighbor and says, "I am only joking!"

Prayer for Today: O Lord, guide us into ways of obedience to your commands. Focus us on doing good works and direct us away from unprofitable disputes. Amen.

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Oct 27 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on the readings for October 27

Original post at

We worship at your holy mountain,
for you the Lord your God are holy.
(adapted from Psalm 99:9)

Jeremiah 51:1-53
The mighty will not stand forever.

Titus 2:1-15
A couple of years ago,  the Commercial Appeal published an article about what they said that some church people called C and E Christians, that is, people who come to church on Easter and for services relating to Christmas. I'm wondering what they would think about these readings from Titus. For that matter, I'm wondering what do people who come to church a time or two a month think.

For example, how do we react when we hear, "The grace of God brings salvation to all"? Just who would we in include in this "all"? Can we accept that "all" could mean "all"?

What do we think salvation is, anyway? According to this passage, salvation trains us to renounce impiety and worldly passions. Yes, that probably means New Year's Eve, too.

And what do we think about this assertion that the reason Christ saved us was that we would be redeemed for sin and thus become zealous for good deeds. Think about it, not only do good deeds but to do them zealously.

Psalm 99:1-9
This psalm begins by stating that the Lord is king. Now, as an American I have trouble thinking of king as a good word. But, I haven't been able to come up with a contemporary parallel that fits the essence of what the word king meant at the time the psalms were first sung.

That is although I am unwilling to accept the notion that any human is exalted over all people, I am ready to proclaim that, certainly, the Lord is.

The God we worship loves justice, has established equity and righteousness. A reminder that we should favor equity and righteousness ourselves.

The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron and Samuel from a pillar of cloud, and they did what the Lord wanted them to do.

And when they didn't, the Lord our God forgave them.

Proverbs 26:17
Like somebody who takes a passing dog by the ears
is one who meddles in the quarrels of another.

Prayer for today: O Lord our God, teach us to love justice, to establish equity and righteousness. Help us to forgive others that haven't learned to love justice or equity yet. Amen.

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Oct 26 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for October 26

Original post at

Make a joyful noise to the Lord all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
(Psalm 98:4)

Jeremiah 49:23-50:46
Judgment against the nations continues--Damascus, Kedar, Hazor, and even the powerful Babylon.

Titus 1:1-16
This letter although written to a specific person in a specific congregation has some wise counsel for us in our own congregations. Some of the requirements for leader selection would be difficult to insist upon; e.g. being married only once and, in addition, having church-going children. However, some of the requirements still seem timely to us; e.g., not being arrogant or greedy but being hospitable, prudent, and self-controlled.

Also timely, at times anyway, is the description of some of their congregants as rebellious, idle talkers. The letter continues, "Rebuke them sharply, so that they may become sound in the faith."

Then adds a statement that we may be more comfortable applying to people we disagree with than to the one we see in the mirror, "They profess to know God, but they deny him by their actions."

Psalm 97:1-98:9
One time when someone in the congregation complained about having to sing unfamiliar hymns, I told her that the Bible told us to and quoted Psalm 98:1, "Sing to the Lord a new song." Yes, I know that was snarky, but, I was kind often enough that they put up with me when I wasn't.

And, I wasn't just being snarky--this psalm does call us to newness. Every day, we have something to be grateful for that day. God has led us to a new victory over new problems.

Proverbs 26:13-16
The lazy person says, "There is a lion in the road!
There is a lion in the streets!"
As a door turns on its hinges,
so does a lazy person in bed.
The lazy person buries a hand in the dish,
and is too tired to bring it back to the mouth.
The lazy person is wiser in self-esteem
than seven who can answer discretely.

Prayer for Today: O Lord, guide us onto the proper path. Enable us to be guides for others as they search your way. And, keep us mindful that our words and our actions show others what we know and what we believe. Amen.

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