Seeds: Narrative Lectionary Resource 11/18 Swords into Plowshares

Isaiah 36:1-3, 13-20; 37:1-7; then 2:1-4

There are two entries about this text at the Narrative Lectionary/Working Preacher site.
2018
http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3835
2014
https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2236

While the lectionary adds in verses from Chapter 2 about beating swords into ploughshares, I find myself wondering if this provides too ready a solution to the situation, moving from a threat to morale and from the military to a time when might will not dictate right, but without necessarily addressing the time now/between now and then.
I have to admit to not being too fond of taking chapters out of order in this way, either.

In chapters 36 and 37, the king of Assyria, rather than defeating Israel in battle, seeks to conquer them by making them disbelieve God’s power and support. Take away the people’s hope/vision and it won’t matter what you do to them after that.

Why does the Assyrian king talk instead of fighting, especially when he apparently has the military advantage? Maybe he figures he can defeat the Israelites for all time at less cost if they give up hope. Without hopes/dreams, we are lost.

While in the lectionary the text is paired with Matthew 5:14 about being the light of the world/city on a hill, I find myself thinking of other passages.

Psalm 138 talks about kings who, like Hezekiah, rely on God
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+138&version=NRSV

2 Timothy 4:1-5 about the people having “itching ears,” hearing what they want to hear
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+4&version=NRSV

In John, Jesus praises those who believe without seeing. In a sense, the king of Assyria is contrasting his own visible, physical rule with that of the (unseen) god of Hezekiah that must be believed without being as visible.
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john+20%3A26-29&version=NRSV

Below are angles on the king of Assyria’s attempt to kill the Israelites’ hope

See Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=proverbs+13%3A12&version=NRSV

and Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision/hope, the people perish
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+29%3A18&version=KJV
Also see Langston Hughes’ poem, “Harlem,” which begins: What happens to a dream deferred?
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46548/harlem
and this piece emphasizing “when your dreams meet reality, choose hope”
http://www.linglestownlife.org/filerequest/2551.pdf
In Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” hell is the place where all hope is abandoned
Maybe abandoning all hope = hell
https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/abandon+hope%2C+all+ye+who+enter+here
Liturgical resources related to this aspect of the passage

Collect/invocation:
O God of Israel, Hezekiah, and Isaiah,
who sustained the hope of your people Israel,
threatened by Assyria’s words and weapons
embolden us to face all threats to our faith and hope,
that we can serve and praise you with our whole selves for our whole lives.
Amen.

Confession of Sin (the refrain is from Isaiah 37: 31, Isaiah’s prophecy to Hezekiah)

 

O God, you shatter the powers of this world.

You conquer all that separates us from you and from one another.

Yet we remain captive to doubt and fear.

 

When the problems of the world and our own problems overwhelm us, forgive us.

As your faithful remnant, root us below that we may bear fruit above.

 

When we look at our challenges as though we must meet them ourselves, forgive us.

As your faithful remnant, root us below that we may bear fruit above.

 

When our lack of seeing threatens to result in a lack of believing, forgive us.

As your faithful remnant, root us below that we may bear fruit above.

 

When hopelessness is contagious and cynicism reigns, forgive us.

As your faithful remnant, root us below that we may bear fruit above.

 

When we give in to meeting hate with hate, forgetting to listen, forgive us.

As your faithful remnant, root us below that we may bear fruit above.

 

When our lack of seeing threatens our believing, forgive us.

As your faithful remnant, root us below that we may bear fruit above.

 

God promises that we will sow and reap;

taking root below and bearing fruit above.

Out of Jerusalem will come a remnant,

and out of Zion a band of survivors.

The zeal of the Lord will accomplish this.

Thanks be to God!

 

Prayers of the People

The leader part could also be prayer concerns/petitions/prayers of the people, with the refrain as a call to action: As your faithful remnant, root us below that we may bear fruit above.

 

This might open with the closing from above:

 

God promises that we will sow and reap;

taking root below and bearing fruit above.

Out of Jerusalem will come a remnant,

and out of Zion a band of survivors.

The zeal of the Lord will accomplish this.

Thanks be to God!

 

For newly elected leaders, that they may serve the people and thus serve you, we pray and take action. As your faithful remnant, root us below that we may bear fruit above.

 

For victims of wildfires, hurricanes and other disasters, we pray and take action.

As your faithful remnant, root us below that we may bear fruit above.    Etc.

 

(Closing) God, make us part of your zeal, praying and working as members of your kingdom, the faithful remnant.

 

 

Prayer of Great Thanksgiving (Note that aspects of this prayer may also be used when the Lord’s Supper is not celebrated)

 

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

 

God make us truly thankful to you.

For all that you have made, for the world and the people in it, we give thanks.

For the witness of your people and your prophets, we give thanks.

For your providence and your promises, we give thanks.

For sowing and reaping; for harvest and feasts, we give thanks.

For the planting of vineyards and the reaping of their fruit, we give thanks.

 

For your presence as Creator, Redeemer, and Spirit, we give thanks.

For the sustaining gift of this Supper, we give thanks.

 

As Hezekiah came to Isaiah

when external and internal threats seek overwhelm,

when forces that destroy hope are gaining power,

when those who do not believe in you belittle you—and us,

we come to you.

 

In this meal, we come to you,

to partake what you offer:

your constant presence and power,

your everlasting hope,

nourishment and strength for the journey of faith.

 

Send your Spirit upon these gifts of bread and cup,

that they may be for us the body of your Son, Christ Jesus,

so that we may be the body of your Son in the world.

 

Hymns relating to various themes of the passage

From Glory to God: Presbyterian Hymnal

 

#53: O God, Who Gives Us Life

#168: Within Your Shelter, Loving God (Psalm 91)

#177: I Will Come to You, You are Mine

#339: Lift Every Voice and Sing

#356: Praise to God, Whose Mighty Acts

#357: The Days Are Surely Coming

#373: O Day of Peace (swords into plowshares)

#463: How Firm a Foundation

#706: Commit Your Way to God the Lord (Psalm 37)

#758 Why Do Nations Rage Together (Psalm 2; swords into plowshares)

#776 O God, Be Gracious (Psalm 4)

#781 Hear My Cry, O God, and Save Me! (Psalm 77)

#782 Hear My Prayer, O God (Psalm 43)

#790 In Silence My Soul Thirsts (Psalm 62)

#812 O Save Me, God, and Hear My Cry (Psalm 54)

#817 We Walk by Faith and Not By Sight (John 20)

#818 By Gracious Powers

#831 I Depend upon Your Faithfulness

#841 God Is My Strong Salvation (Psalm 27)

#842 The Lord is My Light (Psalm 27)

#843 My Soul Is at Rest (Psalm 62)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note that if you have access to ATLA, you should try articles there, which are peer-reviewed.

 

Other open access materials are mainly of the conservative persuasion.

They include:

https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/isaiah-36/

https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/isaiah-37/

This commentary notes the text of Isaiah 36-37 is nearly identical to that of 2 Kings 18-19 and that the events are also provided in a more summary fashion in 2 Chronicles 32:1-19.

 

For a side-by-side comparison of the three from the KJV with summary and commentary

http://bibletrack.org/cgi-bin/bible.pl?incr=0&mo=10&dy=2

 

For a commentary from Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, probably the most conservative branch of Lutheranism in the US:

http://www.iowaeastdeaf.org/dit/eiit04/documents/eiit04_2_1_PeoplesBibleonHezekiah.pdf

 

 

Less conservative takes on the 2 Kings version include

 

This blog tells the story all the way through the defeat of the King of Assyria

https://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2016/05/09/commentary-on-2-kings-18-19-   hezekiah-and-sennacherib/

 

Here’s a Schmoop summary of the 2 Kings version

https://www.shmoop.com/2-kings/chapter-18-summary.html

https://www.shmoop.com/2-kings/chapter-19-summary.html

 

 

The Siloam Tunnel, also called Hezekiah’s Tunnel, relates to the potential siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrians.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siloam_tunnel

On another tack, note the (Advent-ish) phrase “Do not be afraid,” delivered by Isaiah, God’s messenger (37:6).
“Be not afraid”
https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=be+not+afraid&qs_version=NRSV
“Do not be afraid”
https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=%22do+not+be+afraid%22&qs_version=NRSV
John Michael Talbot song, “Be Not Afraid,”

Liturgical resources related to “Be not afraid”

Collect/Call to Worship
O Lord, you continually cast out our fear,
calling us to trust in you rather than we can see—and cannot see—
in the world around us.
Visit us this day with your courage and strength,
that we may know that our hope is in you alone,
and share that hope with one another and the world.
In the new creation of the Father,
the victorious action of the Son,
and the ongoing action of the Spirit,
hear our prayer. Amen.
Note that if you have access to ATLA, you should try articles there, which are peer-reviewed.

Other open access materials are mainly of the conservative persuasion.
They include:
https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/isaiah-36/
https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/isaiah-37/
This commentary notes the text of Isaiah 36-37 is nearly identical to that of 2 Kings 18-19and that the events are also provided in a more summary fashion in 2 Chronicles 32:1-19.

For a side-by-side comparison of the three from the KJV with summary and commentary
http://bibletrack.org/cgi-bin/bible.pl?incr=0&mo=10&dy=2

For a commentary from Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, probably the most conservative branch of Lutheranism in the US:
http://www.iowaeastdeaf.org/dit/eiit04/documents/eiit04_2_1_PeoplesBibleonHezekiah.pdf
Less conservative takes on the 2 Kings version include

This blog tells the story all the way through the defeat of the King of Assyria
https://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2016/05/09/commentary-on-2-kings-18-19- hezekiah-and-sennacherib/

Here’s a Schmoop summary of the 2 Kings version
https://www.shmoop.com/2-kings/chapter-18-summary.html
https://www.shmoop.com/2-kings/chapter-19-summary.html

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Seeds: Narrative Lectionary Liturgy 11/11

Scripture 

Micah [1:3-5]; 5:2-5a; 6:6-8 and Matthew 9:13

Additional Scripture 

Hebrews 12:14-15

Psalm 119

Psalm 85

Meditative Thought: Does infinity look like justice, mercy and kindness?

Call to worship:

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak

For he will speak peace to his people

Surely his salvation is at hand for all God’s people, the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.

Let us worship the God of Righteousness. 

 

How shall we approach the Lord, with great sacrifice?

The Lord has told you what is good

What does the Lord require?

Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God

Prayer of Confession: Lord we admit that we have trouble with the words justice, mercy and kindness. We confess that it would be easier to just give over some goods or money than to do things. Guide us on the path of righteousness, show us justice, mercy and kindness so that we can do that same, we pray. Amen. 

Assurance of Forgiveness: Fear Not, God promises that Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss. So we know the truth: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. 

Eucharist Prayer: Lord we give thanks that you have given us many ways to experience your love. And when you sent your only son to die on the cross, we were able to witness your mercy. Whenever we taste your bread and cup we can experience your kindness and abundance. When we gather into communion with one another and you we can practice your justice. Creator of all good things, add your spirit to this meal, make it a meal of righteous and holiness, so that we might be nourished to continue your kingdom work today and everyday we pray.

Prayer of Dedication/Closing Prayer: God, you are love, you are mercy, you are justice. Send us into the world with hope for all these things. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen

Food for Thought

image.png

url

http://www.mydailycupofjoe.com/free-thought/wisdom-from-calvin-and-hobbes-look-up-to-the-stars/

When I worked at the psych hospital and asked the patients (for their spiritual assessment) if they had hope, some would say, no but I’m hoping for it–hoping for hope.

 

Hymns:

Live into Hope

I’ve Got Peace Like a River

Lift Every Voice and Sing

Amazing Grace

Sunday School Ideas: Footprints to follow & talk about walking humbly, trace shadows and talk about being made in God’s image, Take pictures of everyone and fill them in as the body of Christ to do God’s work

Seeds: Narrative Lectionary Resource Naaman

2 Kings 5:1-15a

Matthew 8:2-3


More images & other resources:
https://preachingandworship.org/search/naaman

Kids’ versions of the story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuzMNR6MFb42 Kings 5:1-15a
Song and puppet show version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chUWkrcgdr0
Puppet theater version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpCVnUb6t_8
Lego Star Wars version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JQgGQUqGR4&feature=youtu.be

Readers’ theater script of the story for 3 voices: https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2013/06/readers-theatre-naaman-healed-of-leprosy.html

Prayer reflection on the different people in the story: https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2013/06/prayer-reflection-2-kings-5-1-14.html
Ways of retelling the story:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theperipateticpreacher/2016/06/improbable-emissaries-2-kings-5/

Naaman’s personal leprous disaster drives him to plan a trip to Israel, but this time not as conqueror but as sickened supplicant. But first he must go through the hoops of ancient channels of diplomacy. He asks his king to write a letter of introduction to the king of Samaria, the northern kingdom of Israel, to smooth his way into the presence of the mighty prophet, Elisha, fabled for his miraculous abilities to effect cures. The king of Aram agrees to write the letter, while Naaman prepares to depart, assembling a vast caravan of silver and gold and festal garments, stacked on numerous carts, guarded by a phalanx of his finest soldiers. No general would or could do less!
Unfortunately, the king’s letter, though intended to assuage any fears the Israelite monarch may have as he watches the general and his enormous train approach, instead terrifies the king due to its straightforward, though perhaps ambiguous prose. “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:6). What, shouts the king, tearing his royal robes in horror. “Am I God to give death or life, that this man sends me word to cure someone of leprosy” (2 Kings 5:7)? This letter, reasons the king, is nothing more than a ruse to start another war. Once I fail to effect the cure, which I surely will, the Arameans will think I do not care about their general, and will come at me again with force of arms.

[Another rendering of this part of the story from http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1747%5D  The message to the king is a bit like a medical referral getting lost en route, Naaman’s case is held up by bureaucratic twists and turns. Israel’s king panics when he receives the letter — how in the world is he supposed to cure leprosy? And if he doesn’t, will Aram attack again? Is this some kind of trick? Interestingly, the King of Aram could have asked for almost anything else, and the King of Israel would have figured out some way to handle it. But curing leprosy was not an option for him. Elisha, upon hearing of the King’s anxiety, tells the King to send Naaman to him.
Fortunately, the prophet hears that the king has torn his clothes in terror, and himself sends a letter, calming the king and suggesting that he send Naaman to him; that way all will know “that there is a prophet in Israel” (2 Kings 5:8). So, after receiving Elisha’s address from the king, and coordinating his GPS, Naaman heads toward the house of the prophet. He brings all of his entourage with him and draws up to the entrance to Elisha’s house, horses stamping and wheezing, chariots squeaking and creaking in the dust. And then another improbable emissary appears.
Instead of Elisha, an unnamed messenger steps from the house and announces to the great throng, and especially to the general, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored and you will be clean” (2 Kings 5:10). And with that he turns and heads back through the door. And Naaman is enraged, commanding that all the chariots and horses turn around and head for Aram. “Does this so-called prophet not know who I am,” he fumes? I thought he would come out with magic robes whipping in the wind, wave his arms about, calling on the name of his God, YHWH, point at my skin and cure the leprosy. And the Jordan River? I know the Jordan River; we have just passed through that muddy creek. There are fabulous, rushing clear streams in our own land that make the Jordan look pathetic! I will not stand here and be treated like this. We are not amused! We are going home!

[Also from http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1747%5D Being treated as a nonentity by rude or busy practitioners and then being subjected to strange and distasteful procedures — this is very much the stuff of life on the other side of health and wholeness. Losing his identity, becoming a number, and feeling foolish and desperate at the same time proved overwhelming to Naaman. How could he possibly trust the prophet’s strange prescription relayed through a lowly underling?
And still one more improbable emissary shows up in the story. Again, some servants (the third time servants have delivered the powerful truths of the tale) admonish their leader, saying that if the messenger had asked Naaman to do something really hard, he would have done it, thinking that a cure can only come through arduous trial. How much more should he do this simple thing, dipping his body into the Jordan? The general again listens to a servant, takes his Jordan bath, and comes out clean as a baby (2 Kings 5:13-14). This grand story is driven by improbable emissaries at every crucial turn.
http://professorhswaybackmachine.blogspot.com/2013/03/tales-from-bible-1955.html

Healing 3.png
Themes/Titles:
Not specifically mentioned anywhere I found is baptism/renewal of baptism, which my husband used preaching a first-person sermon on this passage many years ago. He notes that washing 7 times can be seen as reflecting the 7 days of creation ending with the new/re- creation.
My own take is heading toward who Namaan was. He is an example of intersectionality, which notes that we are not monolithic beings. He is admired, famous, accomplished as a military leader and he is despised, rejected, unclean as a leper. And yet neither of these apparent polar opposites ultimately define him—ultimately he is a person in need of God’s mercy and healing, which he receives—as we all are.

Themes in online resources include health care, power dynamics, the witness of the unnamed servants, healing, etc.
Looking for God in All the Wrong Places See http://www.patheos.com/progressive-christian/2013/06/wrong-places-john-holbert-07-01-2013.aspx?p=2)
*Can’t Buy Me … Healing See https://politicaltheology.com/trickle-down-health-care-the-politics-of-2-kings-5-1-14-maryann-mckibben-dana/
Holy Health Care? See https://politicaltheology.com/trickle-down-health-care-the-politics-of-2-kings-5-1-14-maryann-mckibben-dana/
Power, Humility and Healing See https://lectionarylab.com/2013/06/28/year-c-the-seventh-sunday-after-pentecost-proper-9/
and http://day1.org/7368-on_scripture_moral_leprosy_2_kings_5114_by_adriene_thorne and https://www.pulpitfiction.com/archive/2017/02/24/ep-21-seventy-apostles-of-christ-on-the-wall-or-proper-9c-ordinary-14c-pentecost-7?rq=naaman

The Mountains Are Laid Low and the Valleys Are Exalted See https://lectionarylab.com/2012/02/02/year-b-the-sixth-sunday-after-the-epiphany/

The Magic Pill/Your Part in Your Healing See http://www.bethscib.com/lectionary-reflections/magic-pill.)

*That River? See http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1204_

Prophet for All See https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/worship/lectionary-calendar/seventh-sunday-after-pentecost-year-c-2016#notes

In, Through, and Despite of Bureaucracy See https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/worship/lectionary-calendar/seventh-sunday-after-pentecost-year-c-2016#notes

Bodies/Embodiment See https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3833
Hymns
BOW – The United Methodist Book of Worship
CLUW – Come, Let Us Worship (Korean)
MVPC – Mil Voces Para Celebrar (Spanish)
SOZ – Songs of Zion
TFWS – The Faith We Sing
UMH – The United Methodist Hymnal
URW – Upper Room Worshipbook
WSM  – Worship & Song, Music Edition
WSW  – Worship & Song, Worship Resources Edition
SoG  – Songs of Grace
Hymns directly referring to Namaan
See https://hymnary.org/search?qu=naaman (See place below first 3 hymns where it says “View 22 more texts”)
Note: you can set the hymnal so that you see only the hymns in whatever hymnal you are using (if it’s on hymnary.org)
These include:
Namaan the Leper
There was Namaan the Leper
The Beautiful Stream (although apparently it wasn’t!)
Great Namaan the Syrian
Naaman
Wash and Be Clean
We Read that Leprous Namaan’s Cleansing/Faith is the Victory
Namaan, Go/ When the captive maid had told of a prophet
Jordan River Is Flowing By/ Would your heart be free from sin
Is there anybody here like leprous Naaman/Weeping Mary
The Cleansed Leper/’Twas Namaan the Leper
The Little Missionary/Abana was a river
Washing
For those listed on Hymnary.org, see https://hymnary.org/search?qu=all%3Awash%20in%3Atext
Some examples (titles are after final /)
https://hymnary.org/text/wash_me_o_lamb_of_god
https://hymnary.org/tune/wash_me_cleanse_me
https://hymnary.org/text/lord_jesus_i_long_to_be_perfectly_whole (Also known as “Whiter Than Snow”
Healing
At Hymnary.org: https://hymnary.org/search?qu=all%3Aheal%20in%3Atext
https://hymnary.org/text/wounded_world_that_cries_for_healing

Teasers from other sources
Geneva Notes
http://www.ccel.org/g/geneva/notes/2Kings/5.html
2Ki 5:11
5:11 But Naaman was {f} wroth, and went away, and said, Behold,
I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and
call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand
over the place, and recover the leper.

(f) Man’s reason murmurs when it considers only the signs
and outward things, and has no regard for the word of
God, which is contained there.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc2.iiKi.vi.html
Note, the methods prescribed for the healing of the leprosy of sin are so plain that we are utterly inexcusable if we do not observe them. It is but, “Believe, and be saved”—”Repent, and be pardoned”—”Wash, and be clean.”

http://day1.org/7368-on_scripture_moral_leprosy_2_kings_5114_by_adriene_thorne

Now the United States of America was commander of the free world. She was a great country, in her own sight and in the sight of others, highly regarded, because through her the Lord had given victory. She was a valiant warrior, but she had leprosy.
Ways of retelling the story:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theperipateticpreacher/2016/06/improbable-emissaries-2-kings-5/

Naaman’s personal leprous disaster drives him to plan a trip to Israel, but this time not as conqueror but as sickened supplicant. But first he must go through the hoops of ancient channels of diplomacy. He asks his king to write a letter of introduction to the king of Samaria, the northern kingdom of Israel, to smooth his way into the presence of the mighty prophet, Elisha, fabled for his miraculous abilities to effect cures. The king of Aram agrees to write the letter, while Naaman prepares to depart, assembling a vast caravan of silver and gold and festal garments, stacked on numerous carts, guarded by a phalanx of his finest soldiers. No general would or could do less!
Unfortunately, the king’s letter, though intended to assuage any fears the Israelite monarch may have as he watches the general and his enormous train approach, instead terrifies the king due to its straightforward, though perhaps ambiguous prose. “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:6). What, shouts the king, tearing his royal robes in horror. “Am I God to give death or life, that this man sends me word to cure someone of leprosy” (2 Kings 5:7)? This letter, reasons the king, is nothing more than a ruse to start another war. Once I fail to effect the cure, which I surely will, the Arameans will think I do not care about their general, and will come at me again with force of arms.

[Another rendering of this part of the story from http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1747%5D  The message to the king is a bit like a medical referral getting lost en route, Naaman’s case is held up by bureaucratic twists and turns. Israel’s king panics when he receives the letter — how in the world is he supposed to cure leprosy? And if he doesn’t, will Aram attack again? Is this some kind of trick? Interestingly, the King of Aram could have asked for almost anything else, and the King of Israel would have figured out some way to handle it. But curing leprosy was not an option for him. Elisha, upon hearing of the King’s anxiety, tells the King to send Naaman to him.
Fortunately, the prophet hears that the king has torn his clothes in terror, and himself sends a letter, calming the king and suggesting that he send Naaman to him; that way all will know “that there is a prophet in Israel” (2 Kings 5:8). So, after receiving Elisha’s address from the king, and coordinating his GPS, Naaman heads toward the house of the prophet. He brings all of his entourage with him and draws up to the entrance to Elisha’s house, horses stamping and wheezing, chariots squeaking and creaking in the dust. And then another improbable emissary appears.
Instead of Elisha, an unnamed messenger steps from the house and announces to the great throng, and especially to the general, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored and you will be clean” (2 Kings 5:10). And with that he turns and heads back through the door. And Naaman is enraged, commanding that all the chariots and horses turn around and head for Aram. “Does this so-called prophet not know who I am,” he fumes? I thought he would come out with magic robes whipping in the wind, wave his arms about, calling on the name of his God, YHWH, point at my skin and cure the leprosy. And the Jordan River? I know the Jordan River; we have just passed through that muddy creek. There are fabulous, rushing clear streams in our own land that make the Jordan look pathetic! I will not stand here and be treated like this. We are not amused! We are going home!

[Also from http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1747%5D Being treated as a nonentity by rude or busy practitioners and then being subjected to strange and distasteful procedures — this is very much the stuff of life on the other side of health and wholeness. Losing his identity, becoming a number, and feeling foolish and desperate at the same time proved overwhelming to Naaman. How could he possibly trust the prophet’s strange prescription relayed through a lowly underling?
And still one more improbable emissary shows up in the story. Again, some servants (the third time servants have delivered the powerful truths of the tale) admonish their leader, saying that if the messenger had asked Naaman to do something really hard, he would have done it, thinking that a cure can only come through arduous trial. How much more should he do this simple thing, dipping his body into the Jordan? The general again listens to a servant, takes his Jordan bath, and comes out clean as a baby (2 Kings 5:13-14). This grand story is driven by improbable emissaries at every crucial turn.
http://cep.calvinseminary.edu/sermon-starters/proper-9c/?type=old_testament_lectionary

Nearly everyone needs some kind of healing. It may be from physical or mental illness. Or perhaps it’s from haunted memories or grief. Yet while God’s people know to look to God for that healing, we don’t always get to choose its method. So we may not always particularly like the way God chooses to heal us.
https://www.pulpitfiction.com/archive/2017/02/24/ep-21-seventy-apostles-of-christ-on-the-wall-or-proper-9c-ordinary-14c-pentecost-7?rq=naaman
war vs healthcare
Interfaith relations/dialogue
How might we reclaim evangelism as a way of showing God’s goodness and not about getting more members?
Are we willing to accept the strangeness of the Gospel in order to be healed?

Seeds: NL ideas 10/28

 

1 Kings 3:4-9

Matt 6:9-10

Additional Scripture

Psalm 5

Ecclesiastes 7

Meditative Thought: What is the wisdom of the Saints?

Call to Worship

Lord let us approach you with wisdom

Let us approach you with hope

Let us approach you with love

Come let us approach the Lord

Prayer of Confession Holy God, we confess that we do not always approach you with wisdom. Sometimes we are afraid, that we do not know everything, and we feel foolish to approach you. Yet, you are always inviting, all people of differing ages, faiths, intelligences and abilities. You promise that all can be used to glorify you. Though we may be aware of our limitations, open our eyes to the possibilities we pray. 

 

Assurance of Pardon

God wisely sent his only son to teach us, but also to love us. Remember the truth. In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

Additional Prayer

Call to Worship (from Psalm 5)

                                     

Give ear to our words, O Lord;
Give heed to our sighing.
Listen to the sound of our cry, O Lord;
We pray to you, our God and our King.

You hear our voice in the morning.
At sunrise we offer our prayer.
O God, we wait for your answer.

*Hymn # 80   I Greet Thee Who My True Redeemer 

*Call to Confession  

*Prayer of Confession (adapted from prayer by Brenda Kuyper)

One: Our Father in who art in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Many:  Forgive us when we act in ways that shame your name;                                                                                                                     empower us to honor and praise you by all we think, say, and do.

One: Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Many: Forgive us when we are so caught up in our own lives                                                                                                                               that we fail to share your love and grace with the world around us.                                                   

One: Give us this day our daily bread.

Many: Forgive us when we trust too much in the things and people

you have given us, forgetting they come from you.

One: Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Many: Forgive us when we harden our hearts toward those who have hurt us,                                                                                        forgetting that, time and again, you forgive us when we have hurt you.

One: Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

Many: Show us the ways we hurt you and the work of the Kingdom.                                                                                                     Embolden us to stand firm against temptation..

One: For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

Many:  Make us your people, serving your kingdom.

ALL: IN CHRIST’S NAME WE PRAY, AMEN.  

*Assurance of Forgiveness                                                                                                                                                                                            

    One: Christ Jesus came that we might know forgiveness and be renewed,                                                                                                     

    becoming more and more like him. 

    ALL: THANKS BE TO GOD FOR THE GOOD NEWS:  IN JESUS CHRIST,

    WE ARE FORGIVEN.

Hebrew Scripture Lesson:    2 Chronicles 6:18-21

Special Music: Make My Life A Prayer to You           Len & Barb Hedges-Goettl

Gospel Scripture Lesson:   Matthew 6:5-13                    

Epistle Scripture Lesson:   Romans 8:26-27  

                                                           

*Hymn #350  Open My Eyes, That I May See                   

Teach Us to Pray Rev. Dr. Len Hedges-Goettl

*Hymn #435   What a Friend We Have in Jesus            

Prayer of Confession adapted from https://www.reformedworship.org/article/june-2013/lord%E2%80%99s-prayer. Cover image from https://www.puttingonthenew.com/2014/04/01/make-my-life-a-prayer-to-you/

Rev. Dr. Len Hedges-Goettl (GATE-L) is an ordained PC(USA) pastor who became a clinical psychologist after discovering he needed more training to continue and deepen his pastoral work with survivors of abuse. Len (and his wife Barb) returned to the East Coast several years ago to be nearer to their grown children, most of whom settled on the East Coast after living in Jenkintown for ten years as kids. Katy, a pastor in Albany, NY, and her librarian husband Anthony have three boys ages 10, 8 and 6. Bob, an Information Tech guy who lives in Philly, will be married to Brenna next year. Social worker Izzy lives with lawyer husband James in NYC. Their youngest daughter Noelle, a theater person, inexplicably lives in Chicago. 

Possible Lord’s Prayer hymns

Presbyterian Hymnal: 

347: Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive

349: Let All Who Pray the Prayer Christ Taught

358: Help Us Accept Each Other

God’s will

#86 (refrain) When We Are Tempted to Deny Your Son

#178 (verse 1) Lord, to You My Soul  Is Lifted 

#287 (verse 1) God Folds the Mountains Out of Rock

#316 (verse 2) Breathe on Me, Breath of God

#324 (refrain) Open My Eyes That I May See

#387 (verse 3) Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us

#391 (verse 5) Take My Life

#409 (verse 1) Wild and Lone the Prophet’s Voice

#553 (verse 2) For the Fruit of All Creation

Hymns for the Living Church (1974)

#370 Teach Me Thy Will, O Lord

#516 Father Eternal, Ruler of Creation

Paraphrase(ish)

#203 (verse 2) God of Mercy, God of Grace 

Lord’s Prayer as service music: 

#571 (John Weaver 1988)

#589 (West Indian Folk Melody transcribed by Olive Pattison) 

#590 (Vater Unser/Schumann’s Gestliche Lieder, harmonized by Bach; Vers. Henry J. deJong, 1982)

Seed: Narrative Lectionary Resource for David and Bathsheba

 

Resources by Rev. Dr. Barbara Hedges-Goettl

The story of David and Bathsheba is part of the RCL lectionary for 2 consecutive weeks Proper 12/Ordinary 17B and Proper 13/Ordinary 18B; the second half of the story makes 2 appearances, also appearing as Proper 6C/Ordinary 11C.

See resources for 2 Samuel 11:1-15 at http://www.textweek.com/history/2sam11.htm

and for 2 Samuel 11:26-12:15 at http://www.textweek.com/history/2sam11_12a.htm

This passage is, as they say, “a sticky wicket”–from the odd slicing of this pericope to the passage’s relationship to our society’s growing awareness of  the abuses of men; see Gennifer Brooks’ commentary at https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3813

With regard to the NL pericope, if the congregation knows the story (mine does), one could preach from just the Nathan part of the story and use that to review the larger saga. I plan to use 2 Samuel 12:1-13/14/15; I am not yet sure what to do with the punishment being the death of David & Bathsheba’s child—as if she hasn’t suffered enough already! If the story needs to be told more fully, vv. 26-27 don’t work well in isolation from the rest of the story; one at least needs to include (in the reading or as an explanation) that David arranged Uriah’s death.

With regard to the relationship of the text to today, I am thinking of God requiring repentance before offering forgiveness–a piece that is often forgotten when victims are told to forgive their abusers. I am thinking of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, which saw telling the truth as a road to reconciliation. I am thinking of the controversial political cartoon featuring Judge Kavanaugh’s daughter praying for forgiveness for her father, a backhand recognition that we all need God to be our ultimate arbiter, forgiver, and healer. 

PH 1993

Hymns relating to truth, abuse of power 

278 Our God, to Whom We Turn

285 God, You Spin the Whirling Planets

289 O God of Every Nation

291 O God of Earth and Altar

386 O for a World Where Everyone

Hymns related to Penitence/God’s Mercy

261 God of Compassion, In Mercy Befriend Us

301 Lord Jesus, Think on Me

303 Jesus, Lover of My Soul

345 Dear Lord and Father of Mankind/Dear Lord. Creator Good and Kind

355 Hear the Good News of Salvation

370 Just As I Am, Without One Plea

381 O Come Unto the Lord

383 My Faith Looks Up to Thee

395 Have Mercy, Lord, on Me

Settings of Lord, Have Mercy (566, 572, 573, 574)

The David/Bathsheba story in pictures 

http://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/david-bathsheba/

A friend of mine who is a NT scholar, Rene Schreiner, recently did an extended Sunday School class on Bathsheba, including looking at the history of its interpretation. 

Here’s one she recommends thinking critically about: Bible Stories for Adults: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEaTuGfm14Q).  

She feels the Feminist approach is probably the most even-handed. See https://www.google.com/search?q=feminist+bathsheba&oq=feminist+bathsheba&aqs=chrome..69i57j0.5043j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

She also highly recommend Wils Gafney’s section on Bathsheba in

https://www.amazon.com/Womanist-Midrash-Reintroduction-Women-Throne/dp/066423903X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539696207&sr=8-1&keywords=wilda+gafney

If you want to get into the idea that 2 Sam was written by the Deuteronomist, a great podcast on Deuteronomy can be found on The Bible for Normal People with Peter Enns (Episode 39).

Veggie Tales also has Nathan’s song posted on YouTube.”  image.png

 

Seeds: Lectionary Resource 10/14

Joshua 24:1-15 [16-26]

Matt 4:8-10

Additional Scripture

Psalm 119: 25-32

Ephesians 4:22-24

Meditative thought: Renew us with rocks and covenants and water and baptism. 

Call to Worship: 

There are so many places we can go and so many things we can do

As for me and my house we will serve the Lord

The worries of the world are temporary, we look to the eternal

Come let us worship the Lord. 

 

What is worship?

Its time spent with God

What a gift to worship God

Let us worship God!

Prayer of Confession

We confess that we don’t know how to worship you. We spend a lot of time worrying about how to serve you. We forget that we renewed by worship. We are so human in scope, but when we spend time with your, remember how to worship, we are able to let go of worry, and give some of our burdens to you. Help us to worship you today and everyone, we pray.

For all that we’ve forgotten

Forgive us Lord of mercy

For all that we worry about

Forgive us Lord of mercy

For all the burdens that embitter us 

Forgive us Lord of mercy

For all those things that we judge others about

Forgive us Lord of mercy

Lord, let us confess that we belong to you. Help us to let go of all of those things in our lives that do not belong to you, and place those things in our heart that belong to you, we pray. 

Assurance of Pardon:

Remember, nothing separates us from God, God has promised us over and over again that we will always be God’s People. Hear the Good News; In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Eucharist Prayer:

God of Abraham and Sarah, the one to whom Miriam sang after the liberation of the Hebrew People. You created us and loved us into being. You are our God, passing blessings throughout time and space, consecrating ordinary acts of eating bread and drinking wine, promising presence whenever two or three gather together in your name. We are here, in your name, we are gathered to taste your goodness. Please send your Holy Spirit on these elements so we can celebrate communion with one another and with you. 

Prayer of Dedication/Closing Prayer

Lord, help us to dedicate our full selves to worshipping and serving you here and in the world we pray. Amen

Food for Thought

 

 

Things without Arms or Legs

i have a sad, are you looking for solutions of comfort?

http://www.thingswithout.com/comic/311-a-sad/

Craft Idea: Draw something permeant on Rocks, Draw God’s house with all the people God welcomes. Create a renewal of baptism and remind everyone that they belong to God.

Hymns/Music

BOW – The United Methodist Book of Worship
CLUW – Come, Let Us Worship (Korean)
MVPC – Mil Voces Para Celebrar (Spanish)
SOZ – Songs of Zion
TFWS – The Faith We Sing
UMH – The United Methodist Hymnal
URW – Upper Room Worshipbook
WSM  – Worship & Song, Music Edition
WSW  – Worship & Song, Worship Resources Edition
SoG  – Songs of Grace

 

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 UMH MVPC CLUW TFWS SOZ URW WSM WSW SoG
Awesome God       2040          
Battle Hymn of the Republic 717       24        
Christ Beside Me       2166          
Come, Let Us Use the Grace Divine 606         135      
Dear Lord, Lead Me Day by Day 411   100            
Freedom Is Coming       2192          
Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah 127                
Holy Ground       2272          
I Have Decided to Follow Jesus       2129          
I Will Trust in the Lord 464   292   14        
Lord, What a Cloud of Witnesses!                 55
Near to the Heart of God 472   324            
O Happy Day, That Fixed My Choice 391                
One God and Father of Us All       2240          
Stand Up and Bless the Lord 662   128            
Surely the Presence of the Lord Is in This Place 328 344 215            
The Family Prayer Song       2188          
The God of Abraham Praise 116 28              
We Believe in One True God 85                

http://www.carolynshymns.com/choose_this_day_the_one_youll_follow.html

to tune “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly”

Joshua 24:16  From God Shall Naught Divide Me.  

The Lutheran Hymnal 39

393  
Joshua 24:16  From God Shall Nothing Move Me.

Lutheran Service Book 713/Lutheran Worship 409

  409

Commentary

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/livingaholyadventure/2017/11/adventurous-lectionary-november-12-2017-pentecost-23/ (below)

Sample: Paul Tillich saw our god-visions in terms of our ultimate concern, that is, what we are willing to live or die for, the primary objects of our loyalty. What we worship and treasure shapes our character. Anything that demands exclusivity or primacy focuses our spirit. Placing the one God above all others orders our lives and enables us to live globally as well as locally, transcending the individual ego in light of larger visions. Yet, exclusivity can also lead to violence and displacement as it did in the Israelite occupation of Canaan. Joshua demands a choice. There is no “cheap grace” here; following your god’s path is not optional, and there are consequences to serving the “wrong” deities.

Full content from https://www.pulpitfiction.com/notes/proper27a (below)

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JOSHUA 24:1-3A, 14-25

INITIAL THOUGHTS

  • “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” makes a beautiful arts and craft project to hang in your home.  Somehow, I feel like this cheapens the solemn act of covenant that happens here.

BIBLE STUDY

  • Literary Context
    • Near the closing verses of Joshua.  One of the last things he does alive. Before it closes, they bury the bones of Joseph in the promised land
    • Promise of Genesis: You will be a great nation in this land.
    • Genesis closes with a great nation in the wrong land
    • Exodus closes with the nation on the border of the land.
    • Joshua is the story of possessing the land.  It contains some of the most disturbing parts of the Bible. They are now a great people in the land
      • Do you read Joshua as God ordaining horrendous violence OR do you read Joshua as a history of the victors justifying the violence they used to win?  Is there another way to read Joshua?
  • Lectionary Issues
    • The verses cut out are a retelling of the history of the people.
    • Verses 4-12 retells Exodus and Joshua.
    • Focus is on God’s work, “I sent.. I plagued… I brought… I handed…”
  • “I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and towns that you had not built…”
    • Not a self-made nation
    • God reminds them that their existence is dependent upon God, and God alone.
    • NRSV and CEB translates: “Now go and revere the Lord.”
      • CEB Study Bible note: “The word revere is sometimes translated ‘fear,’ but the rendering here is most helpful.  The term has to do with the reverence and honor for God seen in complete devotion.”
      • “Fear the Lord,” seems to be in direct contrast to Jesus’ call to “Fear not.”  How are these things related?  Does this reveal the nature of God that is changed from the Old and New Testaments?  Is Jesus claim to “fear not,” go against the OT claim to “fear the Lord.”  Or is it a misunderstanding of the OT’s use of the word ‘fear.’  There is no way that Jesus is saying “Respect Not,” or “Be irreverent.”  Or maybe he is saying, “lighten up.”
  • Joshua puts forth a choice: “Serve the Lord” or “serve the other gods.”  You cannot serve both (reminiscent of Jesus’ claim that no one can serve two masters)
    • Joshua: “My family is going to serve the Lord.  What about you?”
    • People:  “Of course we’ll serve the Lord, he’s awesome.”
    • Joshua: “I don’t think you realize what you’re saying.  Serving the Lord is really hard, and he’ll get extra pissed if you promise to serve him, and then don’t.”
    • People: “No really, we will serve the Lord.”
    • Joshua: “Alright.  Let’s mark this agreement with this big rock just in case someone forgets.  And by ‘someone’ I mean you, because God won’t forget.”

PREACHING THOUGHTS

  • What does it mean to “serve the Lord?”
    • Put away other gods. – What is the modern equivalent of putting away other gods?
    • “Inner devotion can be so vaporous, so vague and unmeasurable, that it is meaningless.  Perhaps for that reason verse 14 recalls Genesis 35:2-4, in which Jacob leads a ceremony of collecting and burying idols.  Joshua 24:14 may suggest a ritual removing of gods that might compete with the Lord as a sign of exclusive devotion.  This can be important for contemporary people of faith who find it difficult to reject the pervasive societal and cultural influences that mitigate faith in God” (Jerome Creach, Interpretation: Joshua, p. 125).
      • This sort of ritual burying of false idols could have some potential for modern worship services, but could also slip into ‘book burning’ type of ritual that could be counter productive.
  • Is a wall hanging a pleasant reminder of the covenant, or a cheapening of what is meant?  It depends on the motivation, and the heart of those in the covenant.
    • An analogy: “A fitting similitude for modern people is the relationship of a person to a passionate lover.  If the relationship leads to a marriage covenant, certain formal agreements apply.  The obligation to the lover, however, is not fulfilled by mechanical compliance with stipulations.  Imagine the absurdity of a partner in marriage greeting the spouse at the end of the day, ‘My commitment to you is complete today because  I have not committed adultery.’  The relationship requires multiple expressions of love that can never be legislated fully.  Moreover, the passion of the lover is naturally expressed as anger if the partner ignores or neglects the relationship” (Creach, p. 127)

Whole content from https://lectionarylab.com/2014/11/03/year-a-the-twenty-second-sunday-after-pentecost-november-9-2014/ (below)

Teaching the Text
by the Rev. Dr. John Fairless

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
“Third time’s a charm!”

I’ve heard that all my life, though I’ve never thought much about the meaning (or original context) of the phrase. I suppose usually we mean it as either a token of good luck or persistence. Of course, I’ve also always heard that “the harder you work (persist), the luckier you are.”

Whatever the deepest meaning may be, Joshua makes the Israelites commit three times to follow Yahweh. I guess he didn’t want any backing up later…nobody saying, “Well, you didn’t tell us it would be this hard!”

Whole content from http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/apr32m.shtml (below)

Joshua

Joshua tells of the conquest of the Promised Land (Palestine). God had promised to their forefathers that they would one day occupy this territory. The book begins with the crossing of the Jordan. It then relates the stories of military victories, achieved under his guidance, through which the people of Israel came to control all of the hill country and the Negev Desert. It describes the allotment of land to each of the tribes and ends with Joshua’s final address to the people.

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Joshua 24:1-3a,14-25

The people of Israel are now residents of Canaan. According to this book, the conquest is complete. The land has been divided among the tribes. We leap forward to the final chapter of the book. The people (or their representatives) gather at Shechem, on the eastern edge of the hill country, some 50 km (30 miles) north of Jerusalem. Shechem was the site of a pagan shrine. Here Abraham built an altar to commemorate his meeting with God; here Jacob, returning from Haran, set up camp, bought land, and erected an altar; here Joseph was buried. Our reading describes a treaty between God and his people, in the general style of treaties between a victorious king and a vanquished people, vassals. Such treaties say: in return for protecting you …, you are obligated to … But what really matter to us are the differences from a typical treaty, what makes this an agreement between God and Israel.

In v. 2, God’s titles are given. (“Terah” was Abraham’s father, who “served other gods”.) Vv. 2-13 is the whereas section: the background, the reason why the parties wish a treaty. V. 14 states Israel’s obligations: “to revere the Lord …”. V. 22 speaks of witnesses, but (then and now) it is odd that the witnesses are parties to the agreement. This treaty, unlike others, is light on the curses: what will happen if either party breaks the oath; v. 20 says “if you forsake the Lord …” But this verse is discordant with the rest of the reading and with Israel’s experience during the Exile, so perhaps it was inserted later, as a lesson for people of a later age who were straying from worshipping God. V. 25 says that the treaty was ratified, together with subsidiary documents.

Vv. 14-20 are really separate from the treaty. The people have a free choice as to whether they worship God or the local gods, but Joshua and his household elect to serve God (v. 15). The people, recognizing all God has done for them, do choose to serve him. (“Beyond the River”: the river is the Euphrates, so this refers to Aramea, the land to the north. The ”Amorites”, vv. 1518, appear to be an indigenous people of the Promised Land.)

Verse by verse word study: http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/apr32l.shtml

Full content from http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?title=Proper_32A#First_Reading:_Renewing_the_covenant (below)

First Reading: Renewing the covenant

The OT reading from the RCL invites us to reflect on the theme of covenant renewal, and specifically renewal of the covenant as the people of God near the end of the beginning.

As the biblical narrative of Israel’s origins tells the story, the 12 tribes of Israel (under the leadership of Joshua/Jesus) have now taken possession of the land. They have worked together for the common good, and they have overcome great obstacles (with the assistance of their god, Yahweh). All they hoped for is now in their grasp. The land of promise is theirs.

All of us familiar with the story know it was too good to be true, and the ensuing narratives will show a never-ending struggle to retain the land and sustain anything like a viable sense of being the covenant people.

Even the collective promise to put away (finally? after all these years?) the pagan gods of their ancestors has no substance. Later episodes in Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings—not to mention the testimomy of the prophetic literature—show that ancient Israel and Judah were attached to their plethora of deities (as well as their sacred images) until at least the time of the Exile.

Even so, the story in Joshua 24 is a classic scene in which the essence of Israel’s faith is proclaimed:

  • gratitude to Yahweh for past and present blessings
  • a sense of collective vocation/identity
  • a rejection of other gods, and their sacred paraphernalia
  • commitment to serve Yahweh and no other gods

Full content from https://ralphmiltonsrumors.blogspot.com/search?q=joshua+24 (below)

The Story (from the Revised Common Lectionary) Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 and Matthew 25:1-13

Here’s an amazing coincidence. Deuteronomy 30 says that Moses closed his career by urging his people to “Choose life!” Here, Joshua ends his leadership by demanding, “Choose whom you will serve!”
It could be Joshua’s spin-doctors still trying to show that their leader was a worthy successor to Moses.
Or it could be that every leader needs to confront her/his followers with the need to choose. Don’t drift. Choose! Choose now! And then run your life accordingly.
I would hope to dramatize that message with video clips from television ads (copyright be damned – they put them out there to be seen!). All those ads say, “Choose! Choose ME to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be healthy, to be powerful… to be loved…”
If TV ads prove technically impossible, I could resort to glossy magazine ads.
We also need to say, “Choose!” But the real choices are not which product to buy, but which values, which standards, which way of life. Will we support a culture that deals with short-term interests and selfishness, or will we promote long-term values that will benefit all of God’s creation, including us?
As Joshua says, whatever our decision, our life choices make us witnesses against ourselves.
Jim Taylor

It seems to me the Joshua and Matthew readings come together to form a couple of parables with strong contemporary relevance. It’s important to notice that Joshua is not calling on the folks to choose between God and no god. The choice is between God and gods – the gods of fertility and prosperity.
So why not paraphrase the Joshua reading and where he refers to the gods of fertility and prosperity, talk instead of the gods that rule the shopping malls, the car dealerships, the real estate market and yes, in these days especially, the stock market. I might ask them to take out their favorite credit card and look at it while I read the paraphrase.
Be sure to include the built-in warning that’s in the story. Don’t make pious little promises you don’t intend to keep, because they’ll come back and bite you.
And Matthew’s story about the bridesmaids – try not to tell the one about the preacher who asked a group of young men, “Would you rather be with the wise bridesmaids and their lighted lamps, or would you rather spend the night in the dark with those foolish bridesmaids?”
The story reminds me of the geezer who was asked why he spent so much time reading the Bible and doing church stuff. “I’m cramming for the finals!” he said. Or the person who said, “I’m going to stop procrastinating. As soon as I can get around to it.”
This story connects with the Joshua passage in reminding us that good intentions about future changes in our lifestyle or habits are quite irrelevant. The promise must be made in the present tense.
Ralph Milton

Following musings on a cruise, also on https://ralphmiltonsrumors.blogspot.com/search?q=joshua+24

The Joshuas among us demand that we choose – and we do choose. Whatever is the most fun and the least hassle.
Don’t read this as a grumpy, green-eyed rant about folks who have things we covet. It is a lament for the living that is lost. It is a lament for people who “laugh, but not all of their laughter. Who cry but not all of their tears.” (Kahil Gibran)
It is a lament over the dull-eyed wanderers who have made their choice about who they will serve. They spend their days moving from one amusement to the next. They spend their evenings mindlessly pulling the handle of a slot machine. They spend their nights in drugged and dreamless sleep.
And they tell themselves.
“I must be happy, because nothing hurts.”

Soft Edges – by Jim Taylor
Getting a Grip on Gravity
Around the time of Moses, the ancient Egyptians worshipped the sun god Ra. They were smart enough to recognize that all the other gods that people worshipped – gods of wind, fertility, river, storm, etc. – all depended on a single source of heat and light, the sun.
Moses may have adapted the concept of monotheism – one God, and only one God – from the Egyptians; he was raised in the Pharaoh’s palace, after all. Or he may have borrowed it from his Midianite father-in-law, Jethro, after Moses fled from Egypt as a wanted-dead-or-alive murderer.
Or, of course, he may have received his revelation directly, just as the Bible relates, from a burning bush in the middle of the desert.
There’s a growing trend among some environmental movements to worship Ra again. They recognize that everything on this earth – plants, animals, insects, fish, and yes, humans too – depends on the sun for life.
Without the sun, there would be no photosynthesis and no plants. Without the sun, we would be a sterile rock hurtling through frozen space. Without the sun, water would not evaporate, form clouds, fall as rain, run as rivers, or irrigate our fields.
Even the fossil fuels that our industrial civilization depends on are simply solar energy that fell on the earth millions of years ago.
Some people claim that if we could more efficiently capture the energy that reaches the earth from the sun, if we could store it, convert it to heat and electricity, we would have no need for fossil fuels.
With no pollution, they insist.
But if I were going to worship something other than God, I think I would choose gravity.
That thought occurred to me the other day, while taking the dog for a walk. We go down a steep little trail that the municipality kindly graveled a few years ago.
The top end of the trail has no gravel left, though. Because every time I put my heel down, it crunches a small mound of gravel ahead of it. Thousands of foot-falls over the years have moved the overlay of gravel steadily downhill.
Gravity does more than just drop apples on Isaac Newton’s head. It causes water to flow downhill, carving ravines and canyons. It causes cliffs to crumble. It wraps a thin skin of atmosphere around the earth.
It holds the earth – and the other planets – in stable orbit around the sun.
Indeed, gravity brought the sun god Ra into being, by compressing the solar gases until they ignited the fusion furnace that still gives us light and heat.
Gravity is the only thing that escapes the clutches of an astronomical black hole.
Physicists speak of four forces. Compared to the “strong force” that holds atomic nuclei together, gravity is considered a very weak force.
Yet gravity surrounds us, envelops us, so completely, so universally, that most of us are completely unaware of its presence.
Which is, now that I start to think about it, a pretty good description of how most of us perceive God, too.

Another commentary, incl. address of the problem of the incomplete conquering of the Canaa  http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3465

Excerpt from http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2602 (below)

The place in the story

We are at the end of the story of Joshua and the Israelites’ conquest of the Promised Land. In fact, we are well after the period of invasion and warfare, “a long time afterward, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their enemies all around, and Joshua was old and well advanced in years” (Joshua 23:1). All the tribes have gathered at Shechem, a point right in the middle of the land and right between Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim, where Joshua had previously renewed the covenant with the people (Joshua 8:30-35). Joshua had already spoken to the leaders of all the people in chapter 23, right before our passage, had given what had seemed to be his final words, in awareness that he himself was shortly to die (23:14). He had given them stern warnings to follow the law of Moses, laying out the severe consequences should they fail to do so, concluding with, “you shall perish quickly from the good land that he [the Lord] has given to you” (23:16).

Yet here in chapter 24 Joshua speaks again. This time he speaks “to all the people” (Joshua 24:2), and he speaks not from himself but as a prophet: “Thus says the Lord,” begins his speech. The speech from v. 2b through v. 13 consists of a first-person narrative — from the perspective of God — of the mighty acts God had accomplished from the time of Abraham through the conquest of the land. It emphasizes throughout that the whole history was God’s doing, not the people’s: “I brought you out” (v. 5); “I destroyed them before you” (v. 8); “I rescued you” (v. 10); “I sent the hornet ahead of you” (v. 12); culminating with, “I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and towns that you had not built, and you live in them; you eat the fruit of vineyards and oliveyards that you did not plant” (v. 13). The speech contains no admonitions, instructions, or warnings, not even including the giving of the law in its account. None of Israel’s failures along the way are mentioned, either. It is a straightforward, powerful narrative of God’s presence with and action on behalf of the people….

How do we remember?

The question for the people, then, is how they will remember their history and whether this history of God’s acts will be the basis of their identity going forward. Here we ought to see ourselves in a similar position, for the question of how we narrate our own past and present, and how we see God working in them, is a perennial question for Christians….

Moreover, the question is always before us in our daily lives. Can we narrate the story of our own lives as the mighty acts of God? We might think of the question in terms of our individual lives, but Joshua put it to the people as a whole. We thus might better think of the question corporately, as a church. How can we narrate our history as a people and our lives together going forward as God’s work among us?…

The response

The people shined in their response to Joshua: “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods” (Joshua 24:16). They summarize Joshua’s (God’s) account of their history as their own (vv. 17-18a) and then conclude, “Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God” (v. 18b). Joshua is not satisfied, for he then goes on to give all the warnings we might have expected already (vv. 19-20), but the people are emphatic in their commitment to the Lord (vv. 21-24), and the exchange concludes with a covenant renewal (vv. 25-28). Nor was this mere lip service, for v. 31 then tells us that “Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua.” This was a great moment in the history of Israel, one of those all-too-few times when the people really got it right. The story stands as an example and a charge to us: Will we serve the Lord or the gods of our times?

Sample from http://words.dancingwiththeword.com/2015/08/do-i-choose-or-am-i-chosen.html (below)

Did I choose or was I chosen?

It seems to me this is what Simon Peter finds himself struggling with today as he hears Jesus’ demand to choose. For he responds by saying there really is no choice at all, even though others have clearly chosen not to follow. And as Jesus points out, the twelve were chosen, yes. But one of the twelve chose another way.

So I expect in the end it is perhaps some of both. Indeed, it goes without saying that out of great love, God has chosen us all. And yet, at the same time, you and I are called to choose every day ‘whom we will serve.’

And so I am called to wonder every day as I begin a new day:

  • Will I choose to live in kindness or will I let old hurts taint my responses to those around me?
  • Will I close my office door or will I respond to the cry of pain in the outer office? Or on the other end of the phone line? Or in our neighborhood and beyond?
  • Will I work for justice in the world or will I cower in my fear that I might offend?
  • Will I entrust to God a portion of what I have been given or will I hoard it all away in fear?
  • Will I begin and end my day in prayer or will I try to go it alone?

And on and on…

Oh yes, with Joshua and Simon Peter we do choose ‘who we will serve — who it is we will follow.’ This being so, I thank God every day that God made the ultimate choice for me first. Because of this, all of my choices every day are made under a benevolent cloud of grace.

Indeed, we have before us now a central question for people of faith and so it is so vitally important to keep it before us. For while God did choose us, you and I are called to choose how we will live out the joy of having been so chosen. Shall I, shall we, live it in hope and love and promise? Or shall we not? Either way, what will that look like?

  • Do we choose or are we chosen? What do you think? What stories from your own experience shape your thinking on this?
  • What does it look like to ‘choose’ to serve God in the day to day? What choices are you faced with even now?

Another take on choosing, this one on free human choice over God’s provenience is found at http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2215 and includes this commentary:

In verse 14, where Joshua urges the people to fear and serve the Lord. “Serve God” becomes the core refrain of Joshua’s message. He repeats the word twice in verse 14, and it appears three times in the subsequent four verses. Serving God means worshipping God alone and not other gods. Indeed, Joshua’s admonition to serve other gods includes instructions to “put away” those gods that their ancient ancestors served and that their more recent ancestors served in Egypt (Joshua 3:14).

But the semantic range of the Hebrew word ?abad includes both “worship” and “serve,” and in the book of Joshua it makes sense to translate — and understand — it as service because of its proximity to Exodus. The Israelites have been freed from slavery in Egypt, but their freedom is not absolute. Rather, they move from being Pharaoh’s servants to being God’s servants. Unlike the type of slavery and service they provided in Egypt, however, this time they must choose to serve God.

And Joshua presents this as a genuine choice, not something they are compelled to do. In fact, the Hebrew of Joshua 24:15 puts it starkly, “it may be evil in your eyes” to serve God! The NIV and NRSV soften the language, with the NRSV saying, “if you are unwilling,” and the NIV saying, “if it is undesirable to you,” but the ESV and the KJV present the difficulty more literally. Maybe it is not a good thing to serve God! Maybe it seems bad to serve God! Joshua ends the verse by presenting his own choice: he, and his house, will serve God.

Perhaps unsurprisingly in the light of Joshua’s rhetorical challenge, the people affirm that they will never forsake the Lord and serve other gods. But they are not only imitating their leader, because they have their own reasons. In verses 17-18, they recall what God has done for them in the past: bringing them and their ancestors up from Egypt out of slavery, doing great signs in their sight, protecting them along the way and among the people, and driving out the people in the land. Because of what God has done for them, they choose to serve God. And, in verse 18, they add another reason, “For he is our God.” This God they choose to serve is their own, personal God.

The other lectionary passage from year B ends with that verse, with the people making the positive affirmation that they will serve the Lord. This one continues, almost humorously. Joshua had laid down the challenge in verses 14-15 — to serve God — and the people have said they would in verses 16-18, but in verse 19, Joshua tells them, “You cannot serve the Lord!” He goes on to explain that God is holy, and jealous, and if the people forsake God, God will not forgive. To Joshua’s word that they cannot serve the Lord, the people respond (with indignation?), “No, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:21).

It seems unlikely that Joshua is merely practicing reverse psychology. Instead, Joshua is proving the people an opportunity to reaffirm their choice. They have already said, once, in verse 18, that they will serve God, but after Joshua’s rejoinder, they affirm it two more times in verse 21 and in verse 24. Their three-fold affirmation to serve God is followed by the official covenant making ceremony, writing down the words, and setting up a stone as a witness.

http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1371 excerpt below 

Joshua has gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem, the place where, long ago, God had appeared to Abram and promised the gift of the land (Genesis 12:6-7). Abram built there an altar, the first sanctuary to Yahweh in the land of promise. In the book of Joshua we learn that the Lord has also designated Shechem as a city of refuge, a haven that interrupts and transforms a landscape marred by violence and revenge (Joshua 20:7).

Joshua now gathers the people in this city that orients them to the boundary between justice and mercy and beside the altar that commemorates God’s revelation and promise and their ancestor’s worshipful response.  At the moment of decision the people are surrounded by physical reminders of God’s revelation and promise and oriented by their own shared practices of worship, justice, and mercy.

The leaders of the community are also such a physical reminder. Joshua summons the elders, heads, judges, and officers to station themselves and stand upright in the presence of God (24:1). These individuals possess wisdom and memory, live as visible examples of covenant faithfulness, dedicate their lives to justice, and are entrusted with responsibility for the people’s welfare. They commit their bodies, hearts, and minds to bridge the space between heaven and earth and draw their people closer to God.

The opposition between worship and slavery rises to the fore.

The editorial shaping of the lection moves the hearer past God’s first-person account of what God has done for Israel’s past generations and given to the present generation. The emphasis falls instead on what the people will do.

The threefold repetition in one verse (24:14) of the Hebrew verb ‘abad sharpens the focus. The verb occurs six more times in the lection (24:15-18; the related noun ‘abadim occurs once). The range of meanings for this verb includes “to be a slave”, “to serve”, “to work”, and “to worship.” The conceptual link between worship and slavery may seem obscure or theologically distasteful, but it is critical for understanding the choice Joshua offers the tribes of Israel. They can and will give their whole selves to one kind of relationship only. Worship of false gods is slavery to human artifice and self-interest. Joshua calls Israel out of bondage into the freedom of life in covenant with God.

Joshua’s call to worship Yahweh in integrity therefore entails putting away (vehasîrû)  the gods “your ancestors” worshipped in Mesopotamia and Egypt (24:14). This instruction echoes an earlier command. In the book of Genesis, Jacob instructs his household to put away foreign gods (Genesis 35:2), and he hides the gods beneath the oak at Shechem (35:4), in the very ground on which the tribes now stand. The preacher who now summons the congregation to choose worship of God must also reveal the false gods hidden like landmines in the ground beneath their feet.

The people speak their reasons and tell their story in their own words.

The elided divine speech in Joshua 24:2b-13 offers God’s version of the story and suggests reasons, from God’s point of view, why the Israelites should now choose to serve God. But to arrive at their decision in true freedom and integrity, the people must tell their own story and declare their own reasons.

They begin by naming the relationship that has claimed them and allows them to claim God for their own: “Yahweh is our God” (24:17). They then profess that God brought “us” and “our fathers” up from Egypt, from a house of slaves. The people who stand before Joshua never set foot in the land of Egypt (except possibly Caleb, see Deuteronomy 1:36), but they remember this passage to freedom. They testify to miracles worked in their sight and to God’s care for them on the road and in their crossings.

Only after the tribes have told the story in their own words do they declare their commitment to serve Yahweh (Joshua 24:18). This declaration is climactic, but not the last word. Three words follow, highlighting once again the relationship that is the ground for every free choice this people makes: “Because [Yahweh] is our God” (24:18).

Brief commentary from Brueggemann https://www.huffingtonpost.com/walter-brueggemann/joshua-2413a-1425_b_1070263.html (excerpt below)

Joshua attests to his community that he and his household have chosen covenantal life with YHWH, the God who has given both the land and the commandments of Sinai. But he fully recognizes that other choices are available, other gods and other ways of life. And a decision must be made! Israel, and the church, must decide again and again about identity, about defining passions and loyalties. And beyond religious community, the civic community continually needs to decide again what kind of society it intends to be. This decision may be made in a formal ceremonial way, thus we have frequently reiterated patriotic occasions. But more powerfully, these decisions are made by public action, by policy formation, by budget priorities, and by the shape and nature of the infrastructure of the community….

What this God requires is a life-commitment that will impinge upon every dimension of public life — social, political and economic. This God, so says Joshua, is uncompromising. With YHWH it is “all or nothing,” no casual allowance for accommodation. What is at issue is a jealous God who is committed to neighborly justice and the organization of the economy for the sake of the weak and vulnerable (thus the testimony of the book of Deuteronomy that stands behind this narrative chapter). But the other gods, the totems of agricultural self-sufficiency, do not require such neighborly passion. The either/or that Joshua presents has immediate practical social consequences. A decision for YHWH entails socio-economic justice. A decision for the “other gods” leads inevitably to socio-economic exploitation, the accumulation of wealth at the expense of neighbors. Such a “religion” without commitment to social justice will eventuate in communities of economic failure, such as we now witness in Reading.

Brueggemann on scarcity and abundance https://www.religion-online.org/article/the-liturgy-of-abundance-the-myth-of-scarcity/

Another commentary raising questions about Joshua’s depiction of the victory over the Canaanites: http://www.patheos.com/resources/additional-resources/2011/11/whom-will-you-choose-john-holbert-11-02-2011.aspx?p=2

African American commentary on the passage*** http://www.theafricanamericanlectionary.org/PopupLectionaryReading.asp?LRID=167    

Australian resource with links***

http://otl.unitingchurch.org.au/index.php?page=joshua-24-1-25

Quoting MLK about choice: http://www.workingpreacher.org/.aspx?commentary_id=378

Another Working Preacher commentary http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=175

Seeds: Narrative Lectionary Resource 9/30 Parting of the Seas/Escape Egypt

Genesis 14

Matthew 2:13-15

Additional Scripture

Psalm 105 (summarizes story thus far)

Psalm 80

Meditative Thought: How often is rescue through a restoration?

Call to Worship (based on Psalm 105)

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the people

Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works.

Call to Worship

Rescuer of Israel, You call your people out of Oppression

When Moses was enslaved, when baby Jesus was threatened, you rescued them

Call us out of oppression, again, lead us into light

You are our Lord and Our God, worthy of our Praise.
Prayer of Confession

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. We confess that we follow our own ideas instead of you.

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts, let your face shine, that we may be saved.

We confess that we are often distracted by shiny things, the popular things, we put our trust in money and power.

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts, let your face shine, that we may be saved.

We confess that we have trouble listening to you and to one another, and that our relationships need to be saved.

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts, let your face shine, that we may be saved.

We confess that we forget that you are the God of forgiveness, that we would rather hid our faults than name them.

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts, let your face shine, that we may be saved.

Remind us of your love, your grace and your forgiveness, so that we can be filled with hope and live the life of the People of the Resurrection

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts, let your face shine, that we may be saved.

Prayer of Confession

God of the rainbows and the stars. We confess that we have trouble trusting. We do not want to make ourselves vulnerable. We have trouble baring ourselves in relationships. Yet, you promise to bring us out of the wilderness we wander in, you give us signs of your love, splitting the oceans and splashing us with baptism. Help us to trust in your steadfast love we pray. Amen.

We confess that we have trouble listening. We do not listen to you, we do not listen to those who are oppressed, we plug our ears and hum as if everything is find

Assurance of Pardon: Our God is the God of the Covenant. Promising us over and and over again to love us no matter what. In the name of this God we can proclaim together: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

God declares, God is our God, and we are God’s people, forever. In this we know that God’s forgiveness never ends.

Eucharist Prayer: Lord, you are a Covenantal God. You created us to be relational, to one another and to you. And when we forgot that relationship you gave us a rainbow and pointed to the multitude of stars, you walked with us along the beach. And when we got tangled in rules and who was in and out, you came to us as a baby. Vulnerable and cute, your grew into the grace of Jesus Christ, showing us just how radical your love could be. And when we met love with hatred, you died on the cross for us, you proved love to be the power of resurrection and you sent your loving advocate in the Holy Spirit to bless us. Bless these elements here, so that they are imbued with your love, and so that we can taste and see the seal of your Covenant we pray. Amen

Prayer of Dedication/Closing Prayer: Let us Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually. Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgements he has uttered as we go forth as the children of the promise to Abraham and Sarah. Amen.

Food for Thought:

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/trust Trust and Vulnerability a comic

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https://fromoffshore.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/calvin-hobbes-santa.gif?w=525

Music

You Are My Hiding Place O Lord https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnM4a3TKPro

O Hear Our Cry, O Lord (vineyard haven tune)

Our God, Our Help in Ages Past (St. Anne tune)

Spirit of the Living God

Every Time I feel the Spirit (Pentecost tune)

When Israel Was in Egypt’s Land (Go Down Moses Tune)

I Love the Lord, Who Heard My Cry (Watts words)

O Jesus, I Have Promised (Nyland or Angel’s Story tune)

Craft/Sunday School Ideas

Create Meditation Mason Jars: Glitter & Water, add fish sequins if you want, Remembrance of baptism prayer & sprinkle water, Make an ocean with glue & glitter draw with crayon in the middle for the split (keeping glue/glitter off) put a Moses in the middle, Make a promise banner: add what promises God makes along the way, Older: Discuss Slavery & What deliverance meant, Action: Have some pleople wave streamers and others walk thru on dry land.

Image result for ocean crafts

https://ducksnarow.com/2016/03/o-is-for-ocean-paper-plate-preschool.html

Ocean in a bottle http://activitiesforkids.com/ocean-in-a-bottle/

 

Resource: By Pastor Katy Stenta, solo pastor of a bigger on the inside Church New Covenant Presbyterian in Albany, NY

Seeds: NL (try 2) Potiphar’s wife

HYMNS

ELW-Evangelical Lutheran Worship (from NL website)
God himself is present openhymnal.org
Arise your light has come ELW314
Goodness is stronger than evil ELW 721
Presbyterian Hymnal (1993)
If there is a number after the decimal, it refers to the verse addressing the theme
Hymns in bold print are thought to particularly address the theme
Parentheses mean that the theme is not explicitly mentioned

God’s Faithfulness
251 Your Faithfulness is Sure, O God
276 Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Assurance of God’s Presence
170.3 The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want
172.2 My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
173.2 Psalm 23
(174.3) The Lord’s My Shepherd
248 You Are Before Me, Lord (Psalm 139)
Note: Margaret Wise Brown’s picture book, Runaway Bunny, is a good parable of God constantly holding us as in Psalm 139.
(269) O God of Bethel, by Whose Hand
342.1 By Gracious Powers
361 How Firm a Foundation
407 When a Poor One
446.3 Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken
461 God is Here!
483.3 Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above

LIBERATION: GOD HAS LIBERATED
112.1 Christ the Lord Is Risen Again
114.1 Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain
115.1 Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain
153.2 He Is King of Kings
168.2 Lord, Why Have You Forsaken Me
205 All Hail to God’s Anointed
237 When God Delivered Israel
334 When Israel Was in Egypt’s Land
604 Song of Simeon (Nunc Dimittis)

LIBERATION: GOD LIBERATES
222.6 Psalm 103
243.4 We Thank You, Lord, for You Are Good
253.2+3 I’ll Praise My Maker
254.7+8 Psalm 146
423.4 Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun
466.3 O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
478.3 Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven
600 Song of Mary (Magnificat)

LIBERATION: GOD WILL LIBERATE
18 The Desert Shall Rejoice
205 All Hail to God’s Anointed
219.3 To God Compose a Song of Joy
332 Live Into Hope
401 When Will People Cease Their Fighting?
445 Great Day!
601 Song of Zechariah (Benedictus)
602 Song of Zechariah (Benedictus)

LIBERATION: OUR RESPONSIBILITY
274.3 O God of Earth and Space
291.3 O God of Earth and Altar
311 We Meet You, O Christ
332 Live Into Hope
334 When Israel Was in Egypt’s Land
401 When Will People Cease Their Fighting?
411 Arise, Your Light Is Come!
420.4 God of Grace and God of Glory
428.4 We Give Thee but Thine Own
434 Today We All Are Called to Be Disciples
443.3 O Christ, the Great Foundation
552 Give Thanks, O Christian People
563 Lift Every Voice and Sing

LIBERATION: PRAYER FOR
1 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
2 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
9 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
204 Psalm 72
237.3 When God Delivered Israel
291.3 O God of Earth and Altar
(321.4) Holy Spirit, Truth Divine
343.3 Called as Partners in Christ’s Service
(351.2) Give to Me, Lord, a Thankful Heart
(353.2) Great God, Your Love Has Called Us Here
378 Make Me a Captive, Lord
427.2 Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service
555.2 Now Thank We All Our God

PRISON/PRISONER
9.1 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
253.3 I’ll Praise My Maker
(321.4) Holy Spirit, Truth Divine
411.2 Arise, Your Light Is Come!
423.4 Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun
466.3 O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing

CHORAL A Blessing, Howard Don Small

From Glory to God PCUSA 2013
772 Live into Hope
773 Heaven Shall Not Wait
776 O God, Be Gracious (Psalm 4)
777 How Long, O Lord (Psalm 13)
779 How Long, O Lord, Will My Prayers Be in Vain?
782 Hear My Prayer, O God (Psalm 143)
786 Why Stand So Far Away, My God (Psalm 10)
790 In Silence My Soul Thirsts (Psalm 62)
841 God is My Strong Salvation (Psalm 27)
842 The Lord is My Light (Psalm 27)
845 To the Hills I Lift My Eyes (Psalm 121)
851 Come, Bring Your Burdens to the Lord

Note: One might search other hymnals for hymns connected to the psalms listed above, or do the same at hymnary.org or other online hymn source.

Wondered if others in these categories from the index, p. 949ff, might apply
Assurance
Love of God for Us
Sovereignty of God
Original materials:
you may print/adapt but please credit: © Barbara Hedges-Goettl

The psalms above seem to indicate what Joseph might be saying to God; therefore, I have taken them as texts for the original resources below:

Confession of Faith:
Psalm 4 (primarily from the NRSV)
Our righteous God answers me when I call.
God gives relief from my distress;
God has mercy on me and hears my prayer.

When people turn glory into shame,
when people love delusions and seek false gods,
God still sets apart faithful servants for God’s own service.
God hears when these servants call.

So we tremble and do not sin;
when we are on our beds,
we search our hearts and are silent.
We offer the sacrifices of the righteous.
We trust in the Lord.

When people ask, “Who will bring us prosperity?”
we respond by asking the light of God’s face to shine on us.
The gladness God gives us is far greater than their joys at
harvest, as they gaze on their bountiful crops.
In peace we will lie down and sleep,
   for God alone makes us dwell in safety.

Note: See also The Message paraphrase of this psalm, https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm4&version=MSG

Prayers of Intercession from Psalm 13 (part for “Many” is from v. 3, 5):

One: When betrayal comes,
Many: O Lord our God, we trust in your steadfast love. Consider and answer us.
One: When loneliness takes the place of family and friends,
Many: O Lord our God, we trust in your steadfast love. Consider and answer us.
One: When pain has to be borne,
Many: O Lord our God, we trust in your steadfast love. Consider and answer us.
One: When needs are large and resources small,
Many: O Lord our God, we trust in your steadfast love. Consider and answer us.
One: When darkness is overpowering,
Many: O Lord our God, we trust in your steadfast love. Consider and answer us.
One: When it’s hard to know what to do,
Many: O Lord our God, we trust in your steadfast love. Consider and answer us.
One: When divisions deepen,
Many: O Lord our God, we trust in your steadfast love. Consider and answer us.
One: When words wound and inaction lets those words stand,
Many: O Lord our God, we trust in your steadfast love. Consider and answer us.
One: When God’s bounty is evident,
Many: O Lord our God, we trust in your steadfast love. Consider and answer us.
One: When salvation beckons,
Many: O Lord our God, we trust in your steadfast love. Consider and answer us.
One: When light dawns and songs are sung,
Many: O Lord our God, we trust in your steadfast love. Consider and answer us.
Prayers for individual needs or lifting up of particular names may take place here
ALL: O Lord our God, we trust in your steadfast love. Consider and answer us.

Calls to Worship
Psalm 13:5-6 (The Message)
I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms—
    I’m celebrating your rescue.
I’m so full of answered prayers,
 I’m singing at the top of my lungs [should be followed by a song!]

Psalm 27: 4, 8-9 (NIV)
One: One thing I ask from the Lord,
    Many: this only do I seek:
One: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
Many: to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
ALL: Come, together let us seek the Lord.
[Prayer of invocation could go here instead of at reading of Scripture]

The clothes unmake the man?

COMMENTARY:
https://www.workingpreacher.org/narrative_podcast.aspx
https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3809

FROM ATLA
If you’re a seminary grad, you likely have alum access at your seminary.

Tamar and Joseph in Genesis 38 and 39
Bekins, Peter
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, June 2016, Vol.40(4), pp.375-397
story of Joseph and his master’s wife in Genesis 39. If… his master’s wife in Genesis 39. This episode appears… positions of Genesis 38 and 39. In
PEER REVIEWED
Full text available

ARTICLE
CONFRONTING REDUNDANCY As MIDDLE MANAGER AND WIFE: THE FEISTY WOMAN OF GENESIS 39 [1]
Mckay, Heather A.
Semeia, Summer, 1999, p.215
: Uncovering the Woman in Genesis 39." Pp. 318-42… Potiphar's wife (Genesis 39) using a reader-response… . A READING OF GENESIS 39
PEER REVIEWED
Full text available
DISSERTATION
Powerplay in Potiphar’s house: The interplay of gender, ethnicity, and *class in Genesis 39
Junior, Nyasha Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob (advisor) 2008
ProQuest Dissertations and Theses
Wife: The Feisty Woman of Genesis 39.” Semeia 87 (1999… CLASS IN GENESIS 39 A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED TO THE… . Within this story, Genesis 39 constitutes
Full text available
ARTICLE
Madam Potiphar’s Boy Toy: No Laughing Matter
Zucker, David
Women in Judaism, Spring 2011, Vol.8(1), pp.1-11
gender, ethnicity, and class in Genesis 39,” Princeton… . In Genesis 39, Madam Potiphar’s use of the verb…Genesis are familiar with the outline of chapter
PEER REVIEWED
Full text available

ARTICLEmultiple sources exist. see all
Divestiture, Deception, and Demotion: The Garment Motif inGenesis 37–39
Huddlestun, John R
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, June 2002, Vol.26(4), pp.47-62
reading of Genesis 3739 suggests that, as far as the… Genesis 39, Alter draws attention to a number of… , Deception, and Demotion: The Garment Motif in Genesis 37
PEER REVIEWED

Note: My husband feels there is a message here about (male) vulnerability and the lack of recognition of this possibility/reality
Related stories: female clothes in tennis!
http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2018/08/29/us-open-official-draws-ire-after-penalizing-female-player-who-fixed-shirt-mid-match.html

https://www.cbssports.com/tennis/news/french-open-bans-serena-williams-black-catsuit-to-impose-rules-on-clothing-starting-in-2019/

Prayer on clothing angle:

O God, we say that “clothes make the man,”
but in Joseph’s case, clothes unmade the man.
His fancy robe gave rise to jealousy and was used to “prove” his death to his father.
The robe he abandoned in the hand of Potiphar’s wife was used to frame him.

God, protect us from the tendency to be defined by outward things,
by what is seen and worn. Deepen our gaze, that we may see with our hearts,
for what is essential is invisible to the eye.

See below for artwork/quote using The Little Prince

Artwork credit: By Marcel Mayer – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3337510

Seeds: Narrative Lectionary Resource 9/16

 

Resource: By Pastor Katy Stenta, solo pastor of a bigger on the inside Church New Covenant Presbyterian in Albany, NY

Scripture

Genesis 12

Matthew 28:19-20

Additional Scripture: Matthew 5-7, Psalm 115

Meditative Thought And the Lord said Go Go into the world and tell the good news, for what is news if you keep it to yourself? 

Call to Worship:

This is the day that the Lord has made

Let us rejoice

This is the church that the Lord has made

Let us rejoice

Bless and be a blessing, this is the covenant that the Lord has made

Let us rejoice and be glad in it

 

Call to Worship

Lord we like it here.

Go into the world 

We are happy with the Church

Make more disciples and include all nations, sexualities and genders

What can we do to make certain they are Christian?

Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit

Call to Worship

Bles the Lord, all the people

Praise God’s Holy Name

Blessings are given to us by God

And they never run out, so let us be blessed and be a blessing to all

Prayer of Confession: Holy One, we confess that we do not count our blessings, instead we hoard them, thinking they run out or are like pie. Remind us that blessings are not pie, they are like seeds or a cup overflowing or a banquet for all people. Give us the vision of how your blessings work we pray, and forgive us when we stumble or forget. In your Holy Name we pray. Amen

Prayer of Confession: God most high, forgive our sins we pray. Reclaim us as your baptized children, remind us of your love and mercy. You were the God of Abraham and Sarah, you blessed them and promised to always be their God. Be our God, teach us to be your people we pray in the name or your son. Amen

Prayer of Confession: Heavenly God, we confess that we do not know how to bless one another. On our worst days we give gossip and judgement to one another. On our best days we share food and money with one another. But blessings are harder. Teach us how to bless one another. Reveal to us your blessings in the rainbow, the taste of the bread and the cup and the splashing of the baptismal waters, so we might begin to bless one another again, we pray together in the name of Christ. Amen. 

Assurance of Pardon: Go forth, proclaiming the blessings of Jesus Christ, practice forgiveness as you are forgiven in Jesus Christ.

Assurance of Pardon: God’s mercy is from everlasting to everlasting, infinite grace for each and and every one of us. Let us proclaim the truth to one another: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven

Assurance of Pardon: Amazing Grace, how sweet the song, that saves wretch like me. Know the truth, once you were lost to love, but now you are found in the grace of Jesus Christ, know that you are completely forgiven in the name of Jesus.

Eucharist Prayer: Source of all blessings, you breathed life into earth and then formed an everlasting covenant with Noah to nurture us with rainbows, and with Abraham and Sarah to spread your blessing throughout the universe of stars. You then blessed us with Jesus Christ, your only son who insisted on blessing the young and old, the poor and the rich, the sick and the well. Jesus’ continuous blessings overflowed even into the last meal that he has with his disciples, where he took bread, blessed it, broke and said “This is my body broken for you do this in remembrance of me” and then he shared that blessing in the bread to feed all present. Then in the same way, Jesus took the cup and in the same way blessed it and said “this is the blood of my new covenant, poured out for each of you. Whenever you eat this bread and your drink this cup, you proclaim my death until I return.” Bless this bread and cup with your most Holy Spirit, we pray, so we might be nourished to continued your work of blessings as we go forth, we pray. Amen.

Prayer Dedication/Ending Prayer Bless be the one who binds us together, reminding us to love one another through sharing our blessing. Send us forth as true disciples of hope and sharing we pray. Amen

Food for Thought

Agnus 1

Comic: https://www.agnusday.org/comics/16/genesis-121-4Matthew28v16to20_2014.jpg

comic: https://www.agnusday.org/comics/625/matthew-28-16-20-2014

Holy Ghost

Comic: http://adventuresoftheholyghost.tumblr.com/page/2

 

John Calvin “All the blessings we enjoy are Divine deposits, committed to our trust on this condition, that they should be dispensed for the benefit of our neighbors.”

Mr. Rogers “The real issue in life is not how many blessings we have, but what we do with our blessings. Some people have many blessings and hoard them. Some have few and give everything away.”

The following reflection on the Beatitudes comes from Elias Chacour, a Palestinian Christian, in “We Belong to the Land” (pp 143 – 144).

Knowing Aramaic, the language of Jesus, has greatly enriched my understanding of Jesus’ teachings. Because the Bible as we know it is a translation of a translation, we sometimes get a wrong impression. For
example, we are used to hearing the Beatitudes expressed passively:
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
“Blessed” is the translation of the word MAKARIOI, used in the Greek New Testament. However, when I look further back to Jesus’ Aramaic, I find that the original word was ASHRAY, from the verb YASHAR. ASHRAY does not have this passive quality to it at all. Instead, it means “to set yourself on the right way for the right goal; to turn around, repent; to become straight or righteous.”
How could I go to a persecuted young man in a Palestinian refugee camp, for instance, and say, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” or “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven?” That man would revile me, say neither I nor my God understood his plight, and he would be right.
When I understand Jesus’ words in the Aramaic, I translate like this:
Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are hungry and thirsty for justice,
for you shall be satisfied.
Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you peacemakers,
for you shall be called children of God.
To me this reflects Jesus’ words and teachings much more accurately. I can hear him saying, “Get your hands dirty to build a human society for human beings; otherwise, others will torture and murder the poor, the voiceless, and the powerless.” Christianity is not passive but active, energetic, alive, going beyond despair.
One day two bats fell into a pot of milk. The pessimistic bat said, “What can I do? Will I struggle and sink, and die so very tired? I will not die tired.” He sank and drowned immediately. The optimistic bat said, “I will strive to the end, and at least they will say I tried everything.” She struggled and struggled, trying to fly, until she fainted. Later she awakened and found herself resting safely on a big roll of butter. This is not giving in to despair, but going beyond despair.
“Get up, go ahead, do something, move,” Jesus said to his disciples.

Music:

Taize: Bless the Lord My Soul

Bless Be The Tie that Binds

Lord I Wanna Be a Christian In My Heart

Amazing Grace

As For Me and My House, we will serve the Lord

Bless Be the Tie that Binds

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Blessed Assurance Jesus is Mine

Lord Dismiss Us with Your Blessing

Great Is They Faithfulness

The God of Abraham Promise

God of the Ages, Whose Almighty Hand

Craft Ideas: God’s promises as knots with rainbow beads in a bracelet, Decorate tissue boxes and remind people to “Bless and be a Blessing,” Crayon draw a lot of white stars on black paper, Draw white stars on white paper and then watercolor paint over it for it to “appear,” Start a gratefulness chain writing down so you can “Count your blessings” together