8/18/2014

Pure Heroines

Let’s shout out the names of some heroes!

  • Shiphrah!
  • Puah!
  • Levi’s wife! What’s her name? We’ll have to look for it . . .. Jochebed! (From Exodus 6:20)
  • Moses’ sister . . .. Miriam!
  • Pharaoh’s daughter . . . Let’s do some more digging for her name . . . Bathia! (Find it in the Talmud)
Why, of 5 of the most important women in the Bible, must I search in hopes of finding some of their names?Why does Moses get not only a name, but also a Hebrew word that associates it with his beginning (not to mention a really important Egyptian term too?)

Shiphrah, Puah, Jochebed, Miriam and Bathia are heroes. They saw opportunities, took risks, and made it possible, ultimately, for the Israelites to be delivered out of slavery in Egypt.

I wish we had more written about these heroes. I wish we would never forget their names, either.

Shiphrah, Puah, Jochebed, Miriam and Bathia.

Heroes.

8/17/2014

Reconciliation

This week's Bible reflection (Looking back)  took on some current events as part of today's sermon at St. Paul's UCC in Downers Grove, IL
"Reconciliation" podcast

8/11/2014

Looking back



Joseph forgave his brothers. He invited the brothers who conspired to kill him, but instead sold him as a slave, to come and live with him. He told them to bring their father that they all would be able to thrive during the time of famine in Egypt. Joseph told them that all of their actions were part of God’s plan to save them.

It’s easy to look back and see how one path led to another and then to another and how everything worked together to bring a person, a family, or an organization to the place they are now.

But who’s to say that it had to happen that way?

Did Joseph need to be sold as a slave for the brothers to be saved years later? What if the brothers had never conspired? What if they all got along and Joseph still dreamed about a famine? What if Jacob had never given Joseph the long robe with sleeves and made the other brothers exceedingly jealous?  What if any of the parts of the story of the life of Joseph had been different? Would the brothers have survived?

I don’t know. No one knows.  We have no idea how different or the same things may have turned out if parts of our story had been changed.

It is wise to study history. It is wise to learn from the mistakes made throughout history so that we don’t repeat them. 

But I’m not one to look at history and say, ‘It had to happen this way, otherwise it . . . couldn’t have happened” or something like that. 

I am one to say that whether you’re moving forward, in reverse, or standing still-- embrace the continuing journey.

And be nice.

8/03/2014

Filled

This week's Bible reflection (Stuffed) morphed into thoughts of enough in today's sermon at St. Paul's UCC in Downers Grove, IL
"Filled" podcast

7/30/2014

Stuffed



In the United States we consume far too much. The CDC reports that more than a third of all adults in the United States have a body mass index that classifies them as obese. 17% of children and adolescents are in the same condition.

When I read about Jesus feeding 5000+ beginning with just five loaves of bread and two fish, I can’t help but think of “all ate and were filled” through the eyes of our overstuffed stomachs and supersized meals.

Something in this week’s reading goes well beyond cultural views, however. It goes beyond the questions as to whether this is about food magically appearing out of a bottomless basket or if the real miracle is that Jesus got a group of 5000+ folks gathered to share what they had.

I think the “today” message of this week’s Bible reading is that worldwide, humankind is failing in our job to distribute what is enough for everyone.

What do you think?

7/28/2014

God's Neighborhood

This week's Bible reflection (Clear?) clearly moved into current events in yesterday's sermon at St. Paul's UCC in Downers Grove, IL.
"God's Neighborhood" podcast

7/23/2014

Clear?



God’s neighborhood is like:

  • A mustard seed
  • Yeast
  • A merchant in search of fine pearls
  • A net thrown into the sea
  • The master of a household

 You get it, right?

Sure!

Not.

This week’s Bible reading from Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52 gives offers opportunities to get confused and then start thinking. Here’s are a few thoughts for pondering:


  • The mustard seed: It seems so little – but has huge potential
  • Yeast: Favors rising over falling
  • The merchant: Might miss other valuable things in the search
  • The net: It includes everyone.
  • The master: A cultural misstep that forgets about the worth of all.
And the possibilities of thought are endless.

Clearly

7/14/2014

Present?

Jacob was still a scheming, dishonest, sneaky person.  In this week's reading from Genesis 28:10-19,  he cheated his brother out of the family blessing.  His brother was out to kill him and Jacob was on the run.

The story continues to bother me.  But this reading isn't about Jacob’s mistakes.  It is about God's presence in the best of times and in the worst of times.  It communicates this.

  • If you’re running, God is present
  • If you’re standing still, God is present.
  • If you’re celebrating, God is present.
  • If you’ve failed, God is present.
  • If you’re doing wrong, God is present.
It’s really hard for me to wrap my mind around all of that.

What good is a presence that communicates, through silence and inaction, an approval of violence, retaliation, and retribution?

7/13/2014

Sneaky

This week's Bible reflection (Siblings) introduced a 'Thank you Steve Case!' dramatic sermon about Jacob and Esau.  It was also recorded with my backup recording system - which was near an air conditioning source -- lotsa noise. 
"Sneaky" wind-noise enhanced podcast

7/07/2014

Siblings



Esau and Jacob didn’t like each other. Before they were born, they fought. When they were being born, they fought. Jacob came out grabbing at Esau’s heel. Their parents didn’t treat them equally and they lived their lives in a state of conflict.

Jacob schemed to get the better of Esau. One day he did. Esau traded his birthright for a meal.

I feel a connection with Esau. He worked hard. I think he was honest and likely very kind.

I have a completely opposite feeling about Jacob. He schemed. He was dishonest. He was sneaky.

I don’t like the conflict. I don’t like the sneakiness. I don’t like the beginning of this story of Jacob and Esau.

And thought I feel a connection with Esau, I know that I have and likely will again act like Jacob.

I’m glad it’s not the end of the story.