Sue Whitt

Author's details

Name: Sue Whitt
Date registered: March 3, 2012

Latest posts

  1. Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for July 27 — July 27, 2014
  2. Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for July 26 — July 26, 2014
  3. Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for July 25 — July 25, 2014
  4. Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for July 24 — July 24, 2014
  5. Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for July 23 — July 23, 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

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Jul 27 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for July 27

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Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength!
We will sing and praise your power.
(Psalm 21:13)

2 Chronicles 19:1-20:37
When Jehoshaphat returns home after the battle, he is met by by the prophet Jehu who tells him he shouldn't have depended on an unfaithful ally. The king then actively worked to bring the people back to the Lord. He counseled the judges, priests, and family heads to make their decisions not on their own personal benefit but rather on faithfulness to the Lord.

When the Moabites and Ammonites invade, Jehoshaphat turns to the Lord for rescue. All the inhabitants of Judah prayed. The Moabites and Ammonites attacked Mount Seir, destroying the inhabitants completely, but then turned on each other leaving no survivors. Judah took the booty--livestock, good, clothing, precious things--so much stuff that it took three days to haul it all.

The people of Judah expressed their gratitude to the Lord.

Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel, an act that the chronicler criticized.

Romans 10:14-11:12
Despite what we may have heard for some other Christians, Paul asserts that God has not rejected the Jews.

Psalm 21:1-13
The Lord is given credit for victory and also the responsibility to take care of enemies in the future.

Proverbs 20:4-6
The lazy person does not plow in season;
harvest comes, and there is nothing to be found.
The purposes in the human mind are like deep water,
but the intelligent will draw them out.
Many proclaim themselves loyal,
but who can find one worthy of trust?

Prayer for Today: O Lord our God, we recognize that we have had the opportunity to hear your word over and over. We confess that we have often responded by doing what we wanted to do anyway. We ask you now to continue to speaking to us and to stir us this time into listening and obeying. Amen.

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Jul 26 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on readings for July 26

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The Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
The name of the God of Jacob protect you!
(Psalm 20:1)

2 Chronicles 17:1-18:34
The king preferred favorable comments from his prophets. Some prophets prefer to tell the king what he wants to hear. Results may turn out not so well.

Romans 9:25-10:13
The righteousness that come from the law is one thing according to verse 5; the righteousness that comes from faith is something else, according to verse 6-8. But, this is not an argument about which is superior--Judaism or Christianity, because both arguments come from what Christians call the Old Testament. Jewish arguments presented for an aid to understanding Christianity?

Righteousness from the law: see Leviticus 18:5, You shall keep my statues and my ordinances; by doing so one shall live: I am the Lord.

Righteousness is not something human beings are capable of achieving on their own. God's help is necessary: see Deuteronomy 30:11-14, Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?" Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it? No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.

Faith is in your heart but cannot be confined there. As Boring & Craddock put it in their People's New Testament Commentary: "'Internal' faith without 'external' confession is as defective as external pretense without faith in the heart...."

The prophet Joel goaded his Jerusalem listeners: Be aware, the Day of the Lord is coming. Repent, return to the Lord. Be glad and rejoice in God. Joel told them that good times would replace the devastation they they had been experiencing. Then he said, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." For I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem" (Joel 2:32).

Centuries later, Paul quotes this prophet, Romans 10:13.

Many have read this promise stated by Paul as an exclusionary statement. They assert that Paul is saying "Only those who believe that Jesus is Christ and Lord are included in God's promises." Others, influenced by verse 12, read Paul's remarks as inclusionary rather than exclusionary. "You, even you, are included. You don't have to be a Jew to be part of God's promises."

Psalm 20:1-9
The psalmist is addressing the King who is going into battle
--Here is my prayer to the Lord for you.
May the Lord answer you when you call for help.
May the Lord accept your offerings.
May the Lord grant your requests and fulfill your plans.

We want and need the king to defeat our enemies. We acknowledge that the king needs God's help.

Our enemies, on the other hand, says the psalmist, depend on chariots and horses. They fail. We, who depend on God, succeed.

We might ponder how we apply Bible scriptures written in a different society and different time to our own situations. In countries like mine with no king, how do we read that question? Who is king for us? What does the term anointed mean to us? Are there any modern-day equivalents?

Another tangent--I'm struck by the last verse, "Give victory to the king, O Lord; answer us when we call." The psalmist seems to recognize that the king's victory is not the end of the story. Rather, we still have request of the Lord, and, even after the king's success, we want the Lord to respond to our prayers.

Yet another tangent--and a reward for those who kept reading to this point. I'm reading Walter Brueggemann's Out of Babylon that calls Americans to consider how attached we are to being a modern-day Babylon. Here's an excerpt from a review:
It was the center of learning, commerce, wealth, and religion. Devoted to materialism, extravagance, luxury, and the pursuit of sensual pleasure, it was a privileged society. But, there was also injustice, poverty, and oppression. It was the great and ancient Babylon—the center of the universe. And now we find Babylon redux today in Western society. Consumer capitalism, a never-ending cycle of working and buying, a sea of choices produced with little regard to life or resources, societal violence, marginalized and excluded people, a world headed toward climactic calamity. Where are the prophets—the Jeremiahs—to lead the way out of the gated communities of overindulgence, the high rises of environmental disaster, and the darkness at the core of an apostate consumer society?
Proverbs 20:2-3
The dread anger of a king is like the growling of a lion;
anyone who provokes him to anger forfeits life itself.
It is honorable to refrain from strife,
but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Prayer for Today: O Lord, we yearn for our own comfort, we pray for your support. Remind us now that others are in need today, that you can use us to extend your help to them. Amen.

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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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