Sue Whitt

Author's details

Name: Sue Whitt
Date registered: March 3, 2012

Latest posts

  1. Sunday's Child: Reflection on One-Year-Bible readings for November 22 — November 22, 2014
  2. Sunday's Child: Reflection on the One-Year-Bible readings for November 21 — November 21, 2014
  3. Sunday's Child: Reflection on One-Year-Bible readings for November 20 — November 20, 2014
  4. Sunday's Child: Reflection on One-Year-Bible readings for November 19 — November 19, 2014
  5. Sunday's Child: Reflection on One-Year-Bible readings for November 18 — November 18, 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: Daily Prayer, Sunday, August 4, 2013 — 1 comment
  4. Sunday's Child: Who Gets In, a Reflection on Psalm 15 — 1 comment
  5. Sunday's Child: Daily Prayer, Sunday, February 24, 2013 — 1 comment

Author's posts listings

Nov 22 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on One-Year-Bible readings for November 22

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Open my eyes so that I might behold
wondrous things out of your law.
(Psalm 119:18)

Ezekiel 44:1-45:12
Troubling message: Not all will be welcome.

1 Peter 1:1-12
This letter was to Christian congregations in what we now call Turkey, as the Common English Bible puts it," to God's chosen strangers in the world of the diapora."

He reminds them of what they already have--a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He offers them reassurances that God will continue to protect them.

But, as we read these reminders and reassurances, we also realize the reason Peter offered them--They were undergoing suffering because of their faith.

Peter's explanation for the suffering is that it is necessary so that their faith may be found genuine. Suffering helps us get rid of the unnecessary and focus on the important. For example,
See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight--indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness (Malachi 3:1-3).
Many Christians during Lent do a kind of purification, choosing to eliminate certain foods or distractions from their lives so that they can focus more on what is really important. I'm wondering whether we have picked those habits back up when Lent is over or whether we have now become a new kind of Christian.

Peter says to them to rejoice. Their new faith that has come through the period of testing, will be genuine and will result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Reading these words from Peter (or as my Bible commentaries lead me to believe, someone else for whom the early church put Peter's name on his letters), I'm wondering how applicable they are for me. I know that in some parts of the world that Christians are under attack. But where I live, they really aren't. What is it that I have to give up in the world that I live because I am a Christian? Am I suffering because of it?

How genuine is my faith? How much of my life, how many of my decisions are based on example of Jesus Christ?

Can I discern what is important? Can I tell the difference between the gold and what should be refined away?

Psalm 119:17-32

Proverbs 28:8-10
One who augments wealth by exorbitant interest
gathers it for another who is kind to the poor.
When one will not listen to the law,
even one's prayers are an abomination.
Those who mislead the upright into evil ways
will fall into pits of their own making,
but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance.

Prayer for today: O Lord, keep our faith strong as we pass through life's difficulties. Focus us on what is important to you. Amen.

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Nov 21 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on the One-Year-Bible readings for November 21

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Blessed are you, O Lord; 
teach me your statutes.
(Psalm 119:12)

Ezekiel 42:1-43:27
A vision of the temple, restored and filled with the glory of the Lord. Is the temple being described to be a physical structure or is it metaphorical/ Verses 10-12 in chapter 43 the description of the temple, now destroyed but to be rebuilt, is tied together of the with recognition of their sins and their need to observe and follow God's law and ordinances.

James 5:1-20

James warns the rich that their riches won't protect them and that they should have paid higher wages to their employees.

James reminds us that Christians know both the bad and good of life. "When you are suffering," he says, "then pray." We are not alone. We are not with help. And he tells us, "When you are cheerful, sing songs of praise." Again, we are not alone, and we need to remember with gratitude the help we've received that led to our cheerfulness.

Also, James reminds us that being a Christian is more than that me-and-Jesus thing. He says to confess our sins to each other. To each other?

And not just pray for my healing, my gratitude, my sins, but also I'm to pray for yours.

James uses the Scripture to bolster his teaching: Remember Elijah.

Psalm 119:1-16
A way that Christians have used to express disdain for Jews--and Protestants for Catholics--is to say that they are obsessed with the law. Walter Breuggemann reminds us that Torah piety is a living-out of the realization that they have been disobedient but were rescued by the Lord anyway. Thus, their commitment to doing what God wanted them to do was driven not by guilt, fear, or coercion, but by joy, comfort, and well-being (Theology of the Old Testament).

Psalm 119 demonstrates this praise of the law and the law-giver.

Brueggemann again, but this time in the commentary, Texts for Preaching, points out the three steps in this section of Psalm 119: Step 1, verses 1-3, We have seen destruction and disappointment. The Lord has shown us how we can attain happiness. Step 2, But, just have been told what to do is not enough. We need continued support--verse 4 shifts to a prayer to the Lord. The third step, verses 5-8, the psalmist expresses the resolve to keep Torah and to establish God's instruction as the pole around which life revolves...and the joy to be found in that commitment.... At the same time that the psalmist gives voice to this resolve, however, he or she confesses the power of human ignorance and weakness. In order to keep Torah, it must first be learned (v. 7b). And even when God's instruction has been learned, faithfulness to it is often interrupted by human weakness and sin, so that the petition in v. 5 becomes a necessary one for the poet to raise.

Proverbs 28:6-7
Better to be poor and walk in integrity 
than to be crooked in one's ways though rich.
Those who keep the law are wise children, 
but companions of gluttons shame their parents.

Prayer for Today: Pray Psalm 119:12-16.

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Nov 20 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on One-Year-Bible readings for November 20

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Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
(Psalm 118:19)

Ezekiel 40:28-41:26
The temple will be rebuilt.

James 4:1-17
"Why can't we just get along?" someone asked.

Well, why can't we?

James seems to be telling me that I'm not going to be able to get along with anybody as long as I'm worried about my own self too much.

Give thought to what God wants.

Is there any hope for me?

James says "Of course. Just give up what the devil wants and start wanting what God wants."

Can it be as simple as James makes it out to be: Resist the devil and he's beaten. Draw near to God and God's with you.

James writes of the importance of wisdom and also of the divergent outcomes of being wise and being unwise. He says that it's pretty obvious if somebody is wise. If you're envious or selfishly ambitious, you're not.

Moreover, your envy and selfishness harms everybody. (I'm wondering if envious and selfish people worry about this.)

How God wants us to be, according to James, is peaceful, merciful, impartial, and not hypocritical. Perhaps, if I would try to attain and act out those characteristics, then I wouldn't be envious or selfish. Or, if I weren't so envious and selfish, then I would find it easier to practice peace, mercy, and impartiality, rather than hypocrisy.

When you are aware of bad things happening in the congregation, what is your responsibility? Please note that I'm not talking about the many times that we don't agree with someone or the times when we don't get our way.

Psalm 118:19-29
I often used to begin the worship service by quoting the first part of 24, "This is the day the Lord has made," and the congregation would immediately respond, "let us rejoice and be glad in it."

The "us" is important. Everyone in that congregation had known some kind of pain or rejection. Yet, they could rejoice.

We wouldn't need victory if we didn't already know rejection, but our lives have both. We don't have to pretend that our lives haven't had and don't have grave difficulties. But, we can remember and be thankful what the Lord has done and continues to do for us. And,  even in that rejoicing over what had been overcome, we still need the strength and support that God gives us. This is the day. Every day is this day.

Proverbs 28:3-5
A ruler who oppresses the poor
is a beating rain that leaves no food.
Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
but those who keep the law struggle against them.

Prayer for Today: O Lord our God, forgive us for those times that we have been envious or selfish or hypocritical. Guide us into ways of peace, into ways of accepting others, into ways of helping people in difficulty. Amen.

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Nov 19 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on One-Year-Bible readings for November 19

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O give thanks to the Lord.
You are good; 
your steadfast love endures forever!
(adapted from Psalm 118:1)

Ezekiel 39:1-40:27
Restoration. They had deserved their losses, but the Lord will take them back.

James 2:18-3:18
One of my new favorite books is The Twible, in which Jana Riess presesents all the chapters in the Bible in 140 characters or less. For example, she sums of James 2:
EPIC FAIL RELIGION: when a cold, hungry guy hears a Christian say, "Stay warm and be fed, pal!" while passing him by.
James asked, What is the conflict among you? If he were writing to Americans right now, we could say that it is this recent political season  exposed quite a bit of conflict. Here's a suggestion of how we could be more Jamesian when we express a political opinion (by Ginger on her blog RambleRamble):

But, of course, we don't restrict our trash talk to discussing politicians. We may also judge the people we are around us. James say to stop it now.

Psalm 118:1-18
"The Lord is my strength and might; he has become my salvation." We acclaim the victory, yes, but we also recognize what impact that victory has on us--how we are to live now.

"I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord." We wouldn't need victory if we didn't already know rejection, but our lives have both.We don't have to pretend that our lives haven't had and don't have grave difficulties. But, we can remember and be thankful what the Lord has done and continues to do for us.

Proverbs 28:2
When a land rebels,
it has many rulers;
but with an intelligent ruler
there is lasting order.

Prayer for Today: O Lord, we give you thanks for what you have done for us and continue to do. Help us now to live the lives that show your love. Amen.

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Nov 18 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on One-Year-Bible readings for November 18

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Praise the Lord, all you nations!
We extol you all you peoples!
Great is your steadfast love toward us,
and your faithfulness endures forever.
Praise the Lord!
(adapted from Psalm 117:1-2)

Ezekiel 37:1-38:23
Ezekiel was speaking to people in exile. Was their home lost for them forever? Did the losses in their lives prevent them from worshiping God, from being connected to God? Could they still be a people? Does the despair that comes from the pain in our lives keep us from any hope?

The Lord comes to Ezekiel and asks, "Can these bones live?" Ezekiel says, "You know the answer."

The answer that the Lord gives him is in the form of an instruction, "Prophesy to these bones. Tell them what I am going to do."

Ezekiel does speak to the people. And as he does, those scattered bones come together, sinews and flesh and skin cover them. But, no breath.

Here we are, a bunch of individuals grouped together, yet not accomplishing anything. Economic times are tough. Where will the money come from to satisfy our needs? our wants?

A bunch of bones lying in a field. Even when connected, they're not getting the job done.

God says, "I'll put my breath into you and you shall live again."

This state of life works as a metaphor for our own times.  A couple of examples: We can use it to despair of our economic difficulties or of the decline in organized religion--or in our particular denomination. We may still look the way we did in the past when things were better, but things aren't the same. We aren't as productive, we fear the future.

Here we are, church congregations, fearful of their present and for their continued future, who can celebrate receiving God's own breath into their midst.

When there was no breath in those mortals, the breath of the Lord God came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet.

O Lord, lift us from our fear.

James 1:19-2:7
God created us with God's purpose in mind. So, we are to act in a way that will fulfill God's purpose.

The first requirement is a hard one: Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Also, eliminate sordidness and wickedness.

What kind of person would be like this? Oh, right. The kind of person that will be able to welcome God's word that can save our souls.

James knows that we are familiar with scripture, can even recite it or discuss it, and he knows that we may have not allowed that scripture to change us very much. He says "But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves."

He cautions us to look at what the Bible throughout has required.

His test for whether someone is religious includes care for orphans and widows in distress and keeping oneself unstained from the world. Some of us think that one of those is more important than the other. James is holding out for both--as well as refraining from anger.

Being religious might be hard for some of us.

James wrote to the Christians of his day "What good is it to say you have faith if your neighbors need food or clothes?"

Psalm 117:1-2

Proverbs 28:1
The wicked flee with no one pursues, 
but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

Prayer for Today: O Lord, calm our fears. Increase our trust in you so that we have the courage to follow your commands to be more generous. Amen.

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Nov 17 2014

Sunday's Child: Reflection on the One-Year-Bible readings for November 17

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I love the Lord.
You have heard my voice and my supplications.
You have inclined your ear to me,
therefore I will call on you as long as I live.
(adapted from Psalm 116:1-2)

Ezekiel 35:1-36:38
After the prophecies of judgment against the aggressors comes the blessing of Israel. And a reminder. The last time that the Lord had provided the people with their own country, they responded badly. They had deserved the punishment they had received, but the Lord forgives them.

This time will be different. The Lord offers this assurance, "A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." The gift is free but comes with obligations,  "I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances."

James 1:1-18
The letter to James is written to a congregation that has already heard the basics of the Jesus story. They've heard about Christianity, but they need instruction on how to live out the faith.

Being a Christian may mean taking a more difficult path, but the result could make you stronger, whereas dithering can make you weaker. Riches don't last. Your gifts come from God. Remember that God had something in mind for how you use those gifts.

Psalm 116:1-19
I can't remember my first prayer. I don't even remember who first told me about prayer or suggested words that might be used. I'm guessing that grace before meals and those bedtime prayers were the first. But, I don't remember who taught me about prayer in time of great difficulty. Somebody must have, because I have been praying that kind of prayer throughout the tough times in my life.

One source of instruction for all of us is, of course, the Psalter.

The psalm for today is a thanksgiving psalm.

And, as a thanksgiving psalm, it also gives the need for the prayer that the Lord has answered.

The psalmist remembers the time of distress and anguish and calling on the Lord for help. And, having received that help, the psalmist then gives thanks.

Notice that the psalmist is not being totally private, but is promising to be a witness to the care and support that the Lord gives.
I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!
Proverbs 27:23-27
Know well the condition of your flocks,
and give attention to your herds;
for riches do not last forever,
nor a crown for all generations.
When the grass is gone, and new growth appears,
and the herbage of the mountains is gathered,
the lambs will provide your clothing,
and the goats the price of a field;
there will be enough goats' milk for your food,
for the food of your household
and nourishment for your servant girls.

Prayer for Today: O Lord, we have heard the story, we have received the gifts, and we have informed of the commands; yet, we often behave as if we did not know what you wanted us to do. We ask forgiveness and your continued presence. Amen.

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