August 7, 2016

Pentecost 12   August 7, 2016   Psalm 27, Acts 18:24-28; 19:1-7; 18:1-11 ******************************************************* Today we’ve heard a cluster of brief stories from the book of Acts, tied together thematically by each story’s relationship to the others, and the whole story of Acts. The book of Acts is all about our spiritual journey to closer relationship with God and neighbor. A journey in which, as we travel, we also need to frequently step back, and spread out the biblical road map before us on the table.  And try to figure out where we are in the story… We need to see the big picture… to see the meaning of our smaller stories… Just as we also need to see the details of each smaller scene…to see the big picture. In our last reading (which actually comes first chronologically) we learn Paul, in addition to serving as an apostle, is also a tentmaker. He works alongside fellow tentmakers Aquila and Priscilla, a married couple whom he lives and works with in Corinth, a large seaport city of Greece, that’s become Paul’s next stop after his time in Athens, where we were last week. And a detail we notice as they’re introduced, is that Aquila, the husband, is named first – no surprise. This was the custom (and still is) in much of the world. Yet after this first introduction, now it’s Priscilla who is named first – twice, actually – as this couple takes Apollos aside to teach him the way of Jesus in more detail (in our first reading). Probably this indicates, many bible scholars say, she’s the lead teacher here, of Apollos. A detail well-worth noticing, since the role of women in teaching is still debated in some parts of the church, and because the bible is thought by some to be a sexist, gender-biased story. (All scripture is God-breathed, we know, from 2 Timothy 3:16-17. All scripture we also know, bears the fingerprints of human authors, all of whom heard God speak to them in their own cultural languages, in earlier times and places. One of the many reasons we study Acts is because it’s set in a time when older ways are rapidly changing, and people of God are interpreting the word of God in ways that seek to be both true to ancient promises… while faithfully adapting worship and witness to new cultural realities and opportunities. Exactly the challenge we face today…) And the more we know the whole biblical story, the better we’re able to communicate the word of God as the life-giving, life-saving word it is… And the angels are often in the details… Another major detail here is that Paul has considerable learning – a relatively rare thing in those days – he’s trained as a Pharisee in the law and prophets of Israel, he’s also trained in Greek rhetoric.  Yet Paul doesn’t mind working with his hands. He’ll use the money to support his ministry. And perhaps at least as important for him, his tent-making work helps him know and identify with the working people of Corinth – which his first letter to the Corinthians indicates was a large majority of his congregation. (In several of his letters Paul also makes it clear – he will always choose to work with his hands...

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August 16, 2015 – Making melody to the Lord in our hearts

Pentecost 12   August 16, 2015 (Psalm 111, 1 Kings 3:5-14, John 6:51-59) Ephesians 5:1-2,15-20   Making melody to the Lord in our hearts ****************************************************** The word of God in the letter to the Ephesians says “sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts.” Alleluia! We’re doing at least one thing God says to do… Today and every Sunday. Singing to the Lord and to each other, from the heart. How we hear this counsel to sing is interesting, because it comes to us in a letter that’s a rich mix of prayer, exhortation, and wisdom teaching. Our reading from Ephesians starts off telling us to be wise, not foolish – and Wisdom is a theme that runs through all our readings today… The last verse of our psalm says “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The word fear here is best translated as ‘awe and wonder.’ And the psalm continues, saying, of wisdom, “those who practice it have a good understanding.” Concluding “His praise endures forever.” Then in our next reading, King Solomon asks for wisdom above all other gifts when God says go ahead, ask me for whatever you want most. Solomon asks well, and gets a very good answer from God… and… God’s wisdom is the theme of the whole letter to the Ephesians – (and the whole gospel of John also in its own unique way). And God’s wisdom is very different from the world’s wisdom. And our psalm and the letter to the Ephesians both tell us – Wisdom takes practice. And the wise and those who want to be – practice praising God and thanking God… And thanking and praising God is often best done through song. (The words of Jesus in John chapter 6 that are hard for his first hearers to digest…become much easier to ingest… as we sing his message in song, as we’ve been doing, the past several weeks… Eat this bread, drink this cup… Come to me and never be hungry… Eat this bread, drink this cup, trust in me and you will not thirst.) Singing helps us understand the language of God… Miriam leads the people of Israel in song as they cross the Red sea waters… Music was a big part of worship in the Jerusalem temple. When the temple was destroyed, 70 AD, Jewish synagogues began to rely on cantors, along with rabbis, to lead congregational worship, with cantors leading, usually, all the singing and liturgy. Later Christian churches began to do likewise. (Bach was employed as a Lutheran cantor.) Sacred singing is a bridge between the languages of heaven and earth… We’re told specifically to sing the psalms – the sacred poetry of Israel, written to be sung. The word psalms comes from a Greek word that means “songs” – and the Hebrew title for the Psalter is Tehillim which means “hymns” or “songs of praise.” Many of the psalms come with instructions for musical accompaniment. And as scripture the psalms are also for teaching. Ephesians sounds like a psalm at times, telling us to sing God’s praises… and practice wisdom by imitating God (Ephesians 5:1-2)… Look to God above all human role models… And be wise in all our communicating –...

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August 31, 2014 – We are God’s people (guest preacher: Isaac (Ryong Jae) Jung)

John 1:35-42 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”  The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift… The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. Jeremiah 1:4-10 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you, Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” **** August 31, 2014 John 1:35-42, Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13, Jeremiah 1:4-10 We are God’s people Isaac (Ryong Jae) Jung **** Good morning church. I am glad to be here with you on this beautiful and glorious Sunday. I am so honored to meet you and worship with you today. I pray that...

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