Sue Whitt

Author's details

Name: Sue Whitt
Date registered: March 3, 2012

Latest posts

  1. Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for July 25 — July 25, 2014
  2. Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for July 24 — July 24, 2014
  3. Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for July 23 — July 23, 2014
  4. Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for July 22 — July 22, 2014
  5. Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for July 21 — July 21, 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

Jul 25 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for July 25

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Let the words of my mouth
    and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you, O Lord,
     my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalm 19:14)

2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14
King Asa of Judah cleared the land from places of false worship and demanded that the people follow the commandments of the Lord. He was also a successful military leader, fortifying the land and driving back invaders.

The chronicler tells us that Asa  did what was good and right in the sight of the Lord. That's a rare description in Chronicles. Yet, he entered an alliance with Aram (Syria) against Israel.

We may be disturbed by part of the covenant they entered into (see 15:13).

Romans 9:1-24
In the first eight chapters of Paul's letter to the Romans, he has been talking about Gentiles, their sins deserving of God's judgment and the gift of grace offered to them through Jesus Christ. Gentiles are not subject to the law; rather, God has adopted them into the family (as Jews themselves had been earlier adopted).

Krister Stendhal, and others, assert that the climax of the letter is in chapters 9 through 11 in its discussion of the redemption of the Gentiles and the salvation of Israel (from Reinventing Paul, John G. Gager).

Paul preaches that Christians do not have to become Jews to be included in God's family. Nor do Jews have to become Christians in order to stay:

to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever (Romans 9:4-5).

The question for us moderns is whether God still has flexibility in defining family.

Psalm 19:1-14
"Where did you see God?" our small group asks us at the beginning of each meeting. I don't think I have ever answered by quoting the first verses of Psalm 19, but I may remember to next time.

"Look at the sky," the psalmist says. "Notice that it's day. Notice that it's night. Where do you think the sun came from? Why do you think it moves?"

God has so ordered the universe that the sun rises and sets, the sun provides light and warmth for us.

If only we humans could respond affirmatively to God's intentions.

The commands of God are intended to help us live good lives, orderly lives, joyful lives.

And they are intended to help us avoid behavior that would harm us and others. God's law provides rewards and boundaries (are these always opposites?)

Although we may want to behave wisely, we may fail at times. And we live among people who don't seem to care about doing right at all. Protect us from them, and protect us from failing to live up to God's wishes for us.

God is not a cosmic bellhop, Michael Shevack & Jack Bemporad tell us in their Stupid ways, Smart ways to think about God.

Just ring the bell, and God becomes your own personal Pavlovian puppy. Eagerly He goes to work, gratifying your every desire, indulging your every whim....

And, by making God an extension of your own desires, you have made your own desires God-like. In essence, you have made yourself God. You are the center of the universe and God is at the periphery.

That hardly resembles a healthy faith. Indeed, it is more akin to cult behavior. it turns man into God. It has a very ancient name, idolatry. because the first step in any meaningful religion is to recognize our proper place in the scheme of things....

Proverbs 20:1
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler;
and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

Prayer for Today: Pray Psalm 19.

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Jul 24 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for July 24

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The Lord lives!
Blessed be my rock,
and exalted be the God of my salvation,
(Psalm 18:46)

2 Chronicles 11:1-13:22
As the kingdom split, the Levites in the north moved south to Judah. Yet, Rehoboam abandoned allegiance to the Lord. The king of Egypt invaded taking fortified cities of Judah up to Jerusalem. As a prophet told Rehoboam, "You abandoned the Lord; so, the Lord has abandoned you." Rehoboam repented. Partial protection followed. Egypt took much of Jerusalem's treasures but refrained from complete destruction.

During the reign of his successor Abijah, Israel invaded Judah but was driven back.

Romans 8:26-39
....More groaning--in verse 26, the Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. Allen & Williamson in Preaching the Letters expand on this verse by saying:
The Spirit helps our praying. That the Spirit (roughly interchangeable with God or Christ in Paul) "groans" indicates that God is affected by us as we are affected (and effected--created) by God. God's passions can become our prayers, and our prayers can become God's passions.
Paul said, "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son....And those whom he predestined, he also called..."

What do Methodists think about predestination? Here's what John Wesley said: On Predestination.

Paul is convinced that the love of God in Christ is eternal and inevitable.

Psalm 18:37-50

Proverbs 19:27-29
Cease straying, my child, from the words of knowledge,
in order that you may hear instruction.
A worthless witness mocks at justice,
and the mouth of the wicked devours iniquity.
Condemnation is ready for scoffers,
and flogging for the back of fools.

Prayer for Today: God, we acknowledge now that your Spirit has been with us, has supported us throughout sufferings. Remind us now that you will continue to be with, will continue to support us, that nothing or no one will be able to separate us from your love In Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Jul 23 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for July 23

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It is you that light my lamp;
the Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.
(Psalm 18:28)

2 Chronicles 8:11-10:19
The rich queen of Sheba visits Solomon and is overwhelmingly impressed with his wisdom and his displays of wealth. We are told that also all the kings of the earth came to Solomon to hear his wisdom. He was so rich that silver in Jerusalem was as common as stone.

After his death, accusations by some arose that Solomon had enslaved workers to build the impressive structures.

Romans 8:9-25
God's law was intended to help humans live the kind of life and to have the kind of community that God wanted them to have. God's law outlined for them how to have the right relationship with God. Yet, being humans, they didn't do so well.

God has a new plan: Christ Jesus. "Those of you who cannot comply with the old law are not required to try. God's Son has dealt with sin. Life in the Spirit of Christ serves as compliance."

Eugene Boring and Fred Craddock, in The People's New Testament Commentary, suggest reading Deuteronomy 30 to remind ourselves of the life-giving original function of the law. They are also helpful in pointing out that the word that the NRSV translates as "flesh" refers to human life as a whole, rather than being limited only to our "lower nature," as translated by the NIV.

We English speakers read "You are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit," and think "He's talking about me. He's making promises to me about my life." Well, so he is, but he's talking to the me that is part of us. The Greek pronoun translated as you is in the plural. Paul is talking to the Christian community. "Church, you're not in the flesh. Church, the Spirit of God dwells in you. Church, God's breath gives you life."

Paul, in this letter addressed to Gentile Christians, discusses their disobedience and their redemption (Chapters 1-4) and their new life in Christ (5-8).

"You have been adopted into the family," Paul says. "You will share in the inheritance." Then Paul gives us a BTW: part of that shared inheritance is suffering.

Sharing in the Spirit does not immunize us against the suffering that is part of creation; but, suffering is not the last word.

Paul believed that the end was coming very soon. We now believe this earth and our attachment to it are going to continue for quite a while. This difference in timetable forces us to consider how we are to interpret Paul's words about hope and patience.

Sources: Reinventing Paul, John G. Gager; Paul and His Letters, Leander E. Keck

Here's what Boring and Craddock say:
God is concerned with saving not only individuals but with all of creation.
Sin also is concerned with the individual and with all creation.
The evil we are experiencing is not the last word.
Through the Spirit, we have a foretaste of what God's new world will be like.
Hope is not just a wish; hope is confidence.
"We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now," Paul writes to the Romans.

In labor pains? Creation was not complete in a week? I'm making a connection between this verse and Psalm 104:30, "When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground."

A difference--in the psalm, the Spirit creates, but there's no mention of pain.

So, I'm back to the word "groaning." I looked up the word in my Aland dictionary and my Thayer's lexicon and learned that it implies not only groaning but groaning together.

All of creation is groaning. And, according to Paul, even we who have received fruits of the Spirit are also groaning. Groaning while we wait for adoption.

As I read this, I don't think Paul is talking about some life after death, but is talking about a life here on this earth, a life in which the Spirit lives in and through and around us--and we are aware of that presence.

Psalm 18:16-36
The psalmist lists reasons that he deserved rescue.

Proverbs 19:26
Those who do violence to their father and chase away their mother
are children who cause shame and bring approach.

Prayer for Today: O Lord, you have adopted us into your family. You have made us your heirs. Direct us now to use our inheritance in the way you intend. Amen.

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Jul 22 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for July 22

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I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer,
my God, my rock in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
so shall I be saved from my enemies.
(Psalm 18:1-3)

2 Chronicles 6:12-8:10
The entire population is assembled for the dedication of the completed temple. Kneeling before the altar, Solomon begins his prayer, "O Lord, God, of Israel, there is no God like you," then recounts the ways that God has cared for them and the ways that God will continue to provide rescue for them.

An interesting juxtaposition between this reading (6:36-39) and the one today from Romans is the reference to sin .

That night, God comes to Solomon in a dream and reminds him that the Lord holds people accountable.

Romans 7:14-8:8
At one time, we interpreted this portion of Romans as being an autobiographical account by Paul. However, scholars now assert that he was using "I" to represent a typical anybody, a common practice in Hellenistic writings of his time. Try reading this passage that way rather than as a personal confession of the particular guilt of one man.

We might say "you" or, probably preferably, "we." For example, "We don't always do what we know that we should."

Paul names sin as what is keeping us from doing what we know is right. We can see that doing the right thing is the right thing to do, but we are tempted to do something else. But, we don't need to despair. Paul reminds us that rescue is available to us.

Ronald Allen & Clark Williamson, in Preaching the Letters, discuss Paul's understanding of Sin:
Sin for Paul is not individual sins or the piling up of all of them into some big thing called "Sin" with a capital S, ... a power that governs the world in the old age in which we still live, in spite of the fact that in Jesus Christ we have a foretaste of God's righteousness, .... Paul not only does not express guilt for sinning--"it is no longer I that do it"--he does not admit responsibility for it, at least not so far as to be made guilty for it. Sin is a power in which individuals, groups and nations can become ensnared, like a fish caught in a net. It is our weakness that sin exploits.

They then add:
What we should not do then is wallow in guilt feelings. We should do what Paul did--sing praises to God through Jesus Christ for the magnificent gift of grace (v25).

"Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Psalm 18:1-15
A warrior describes his rescue.

Proverbs 19:24-25
The lazy person buries a hand in the dish,
and will not even bring it to the mouth.
Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence;
reprove the intelligent, and they will gain knowledge.

Prayer for Today: O Lord our God, we remember the times you have rescued us. Strengthen us now to behave in ways worthy of your attention. Amen.

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Jul 21 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for July 21

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I call upon you,
for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me,
hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O savior of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at your right hand.
(Psalm 17:6-7)

2 Chronicles 4:1-6:11

Romans 7:1-13
My source for today is Krister Stendahl, Final Account, Paul's Letter to the Romans. The good that the law has done for us is to provide us with epignosis hamartias, that is, awareness of sin. Stendhahl asserts that verses 7-12 are a midrash on the Fall, that Satan couldn't have tricked Eve without using the law. Paul agrees the law is good, but recognizes that we sin anyway.

Psalm 17:1-15
The psalmist asserts innocence, innocence in every word and deed. I can't help but wonder at least a little if it applies to me when I am in trouble. How often have I contributed to whatever particular difficulty that I find myself in?

Yet, beginning in verse 6, I find the words ones that I can more honestly pray,
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me, hear my words.
 Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O savior of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at your right hand.
The psalmist, although in great difficulty, is confident that God will always love and, in that confidence, turns for help.
Guard me as the apple of the eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,
from the wicked who despoil me,
my deadly enemies who surround me.
Depending more on the history of what God has done than on the history of what the one making the prayer has done, the psalm concludes with these confident words:
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.
Proverbs 19:22-23
What is desirable in a person is loyalty,
and it is better to be poor than a liar.
The fear of the Lord is life indeed;
filled with it one rests secure and suffers no harm.

Prayer for Today: Pray the verses of Psalm 17 that fit the situation you find yourself today.

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Jul 20 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for July 20

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Protect me, O God,  for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, "You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you."
(Psalm 16:1-2)

2 Chronicles 1:1-3:17
Succeeding David as king, Solomon went to the tent of meeting to make offerings to the Lord. That night God appeared to Solomon telling him, "Ask what I should give you." Solomon asked for wisdom. God answered, "Because you asked for this instead of for possessions or for revenge against people who have hurt you, or for long life, I am going to give you not only wisdom but also riches, possessions, and honors."

Romans 6:1-23
Paul asked "Does being saved by grace mean that we can keep on sinning?" He responded to his rhetorical (?) question by asserting that in Christ's death, we are dead to sin. Grace is more than forgiveness,  it is freedom from the power of sin to control us.

I'm paraphrasing: Sin used to control you. You were its slave and an obedient one. Now,  let righteousness be your master. Look at this way, what benefits did you get from sin? What benefits can you receive from God?

Psalm 16:1-11
The Wesley Study Bible describes Psalm 16 as a refugee's song. And certainly the Scriptures contain many stories of refugees--some voluntary but most involuntary. Think about what would be important to you if you lost your home or even your nation, if you had to leave behind so much of what had been familiar, what had seemed to be necessary. Then imagine praying this psalm.

Verse 4 of Psalm 16 reminds us that choosing another god doesn't work out well for people. Verses 5 and 6 are a reminder that the Lord has shown us the way to life, to fullness of joy, and eternal happiness, as well as an expression of appreciation for all that.

The psalmist is not afraid. He trusts the Lord to continue to care for the faithful (10-11).

Proverbs 19:20-21
Listen to advice and accept instruction,
that you may gain wisdom for the future.
The human mind may devise many plans,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.

Prayer for Today: Lord, remind us of what is important to you. Remind us of the blessings you have given us. Remind us then that you intend for us to share those blessings, Amen.

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