Monthly Archives: January 2016

January 26, 2016, Psalm 105:1-12, Luke 7:36-50, Psalm 105:13-25 (16)

Sinner Woman who washed Jesus feet, parable of money lender who forgave debt. Why the big emphasis on women covering their hair. It is that way throughout the middle East. I think it is men exerting their control, although women are asserting their modesty. In verse 48, your sins are forgiven. Is it by God or is Jesus. The Message says, that Jesus says “I forgive you your sins. Jesus puts the story about the money lender forgiving debt to contrast someone for whom much as been forgiven to compare the woman who the Message says was the town harlot, with the Pharisee and indicates that she had much to be forgiven and that her faith in Jesus saved her. He is building on his legacy. In verse 50 Jesus suggests it is not the washing feet but rather her faith that has saved her. Simon said to himself this is if this man were a prophet he would have known she were a sinner. Why was she in the house at all? It almost appears that this was an open house and people just wandered in. Maybe the money and land forgiven in jubilee gave this money, gave the money in light of this. The question of baptism came up as to the question of who can do it and we have evolved to a looser interpretation that in emergencies lay people can do that. Forgiveness and apology come very hard in our environment here in Iowa City. Maybe we are afraid of the legal implications of an apology. Maybe  just want to appear invincible.

January 19, 2016, Psalm 10:1-9, Luke 7:18-35, Psalm 10:10-18

The psalm this morning is about the wicked and how one should deal with them and how God will handle them.

Here we have the questions from John the Baptist about who Jesus is. Jesus and John the Baptist. John is in prison wondering who this Jesus was and was he the Messiah. The tax collectors are mentioned here and probably it was because they were Jews hired by the Romans.  The Jews paid a religious tax to the Jewish authorities to maintain the temple. They also paid a tax to the Roman government. This tax is estimated to have been 30-40% of an individual’s income. The tax collectors were independent contractors. They were usually Jews who paid a fixed sum to collect. Anything they could collect in excess of the tax required by the Romans was profit to them. There was a lot of abuse, as collectors would open every carton of goods traded, arbitrarily assess its value, and exact a tax payment. Assessments were usually inflated but there was no recourse or appeal of the decision about an unjust assessment. they also made money by making false charges of smuggling, then extorting hush money. They also targeted citizens unable to pay so that exorbitant interest could be charged them.  Tax-collectors were despised by their fellow Jews. “They were an ever-present symbol of foreign oppression, they used cruel methods to become wealthy at the expense of their countrymen, and they worked in close association with Gentiles. For these reasons, tax-collectors were treated as the lowest class of sinners. Socially, they were rejected. Politically, they were regarded as both traitors. Religiously, they were excommunicated as apostates. Being a tax collector created an indelible black mark on a man in the eyes of the people. Tax collectors were not allowed to hold any office of community responsibility. They were not allowed to testify in Jewish legal courts. Rabbis debated whether it was possible for a tax-collector to experience true repentance.” Of course, everyone dislikes taxes and the people who collect them.

Johns baptism is about redemption, where Jesus was about forgiveness. The evangelicals believe that baptism and the receipt of the spirit are separate. Both must should happen. It initiates us into the fellowship of all believers. If the infant has just died you still do the baptism for the parents sake. The baptism is the combination of the word and the water. And we should invite people to be baptized. We have a lot of trust in our parents or whoever has us baptized when they tell us we were baptized. Affirming baptism is part of the 5th grade acceptance into communion. It begins the confirmation process. How does a sacrament like baptism differ from a symbol of our faith. This is a gift of grace given by God. Jesus gave us grace which allows things like baptism to be a gift of faith to us whereas Jews and Muslims worry about the details of the law. It also makes someone a part of the community.

January 12, 2016, Psalms 37:27-40, Luke 7:1-17, Psalms 52 (17)

We talked about Acts 8, and the spirit had not shown up yet. Possible we look on baptism differently. Is the issue efficacy or that the baptism isn’t complete yet. Maybe being baptized in the spirit is separate from baptism. Isaiah 43, there is a description of a big land deal. Luke 7. The story of healing the centurians servant. The centurian also had to blow his own horn, but he used this to acknowledge Jesus had authority like his in different way. Does faith make a difference? Monica with stage 4 cancer and is to have mistletoe therapy. Faith can strengthen us for a rocky way that we have to face. Possibly we have to let go and let things happen as we pray it works out OK. Is faith a letting go and seeing that you have to let go and let God do his will and accept that. Let’s make the most of the hand we have been given. If you pray and it doesn’t turn out your way what do you do then. It isn’t our lack of our faith that causes bad outcomes. Do physical processes control some of the things that happen in our lives. Faith is present in all of us, we have to come back to our faith in God and that he will see us thru our trials and tribulations. Brian’s prayer is for healing and Gene adds prayers for strength in difficult situations. Maybe we have to use the serenity prayer to fight for the things we can and to accept those we can’t and the wisdom to know the difference. What did the widows son do after being raised from the dead? Is there a purpose to everything that happens? Is there a grand plan to what happens? Maybe the purpose here is to help the mother, who is a widow and needed a man to help her. Maybe our purpose is to serve as a warning to others not to do as we have done. Maybe a trial has helped us to bridge to a higher purpose. We had a good open discussion about the role of faith and prayer in our lives along with having to deal with from our perspective both good and bad outcomes in life. We believe in a heaven at the end of life for those who are faithful, but is it not possible that the way we conduct our life in difficult times also a possible heavenly situation on earth?

January 5, 2016 Psalm 37:1-13, Luke 6:43-49, Psalm 37:14-26 (23)

We talked about the thought in the psalm that the wicked will be gone in the future.

 “The prophet Isaiah dreamed of the day when the lion and the lamb would lie down together, when, in other words, the law of nature which prompts the strong to devour the weak would be abrogated….Sometimes the contrast between the real and the ideal is drawn so sharply that the religious man despairs of the achievement of the ideal in mundane history.  He transfers his hope to another world….The gospel conception of the Kingdom of God represents a highly spiritualised version of…Jewish millennial hope, heavily indebted to the vision of the Second Isaiah. Wherever religion concerns itself with the problems of society, it always gives birth to some kind of millennial hope, from the perspective of which present social realities are convicted of inadequacy, and courage is maintained to continue in the effort to redeem society of injustice. The courage is needed; for the task of building a just society seems always to be a hopeless one when only present realities and immediate possibilities are envisaged.”
Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932)

Mark talked about not finding value in any tree, not just those bearing fruit.  I brought up the problem if Honey Locust trees with their lethal thorns, but Jim said that these trees are where the warblers go for refuge from hawks. Are we aware of a great foundation for our faith like that of a strong house. There is a very severe dualism here while in Romans 7 Paul says the good that I would do I don’t. Is it aspirational for a tree or a person to want to do good. Is this just a statement of fact about good and bad. You don’t get good fruit from a thorn tree. The message uses healthy versus diseased rather than good and bad. Your thoughts become your words become your deeds and then become the tree. Never lose hope. What kind of tree are you and what are you producing because this defines you. It is who you are not what you say is what is important. Who you are should be congruent to who you are and what you do. The question in Pella is “are you saved?”, but that is God’s prerogative. Mark said in Pella a man came to him and said that if you are missing something come to my house and I will show you how to live without it. Even the most open minded person has principles that are absolutes. But absolute are these things really absolute. Luther’s evening prayer is penitential and asks for safety through the night but his morning prayer is hopeful for the day ahead.

The closing psalm says to depart from evil and do good and adds that the wicked shall be cut off.