August 1, 2016 - Sunday was the 11th Sunday after Pentecost. The Gospel Lesson for this Sunday was the Matthew version of the Lord’s Prayer. For over fifteen hundred years the church fathers have established a three-year outline of the scriptures to be used on each Sunday. There is usually a reading from the Old Testament, a reading from the Psalms, a reading from one of the New Testament letters, and a reading from one of the Gospels.
July 25, 2016 - Sunday was the 10th Sunday after Pentecost. The Gospel Lesson for this Sunday was Luke 11: 1-13. After Jesus had gone to a quiet place to pray, his disciples wanted Jesus to teach them to pray. The prayer Jesus teaches them is what we call the Lord’s Prayer. It is a very simple prayer that has become part of most Christian churches’ worship services. The request for the Lord to teach them to pray may seem an odd one. All of them had been taught as children how to pray the Shema, which was to be prayed three times a day.
July 19, 2016 - Sunday was the 9th Sunday after Pentecost. Our Sunday school lesson came from Romans 3: 21-31. Paul is still dealing with divisions among the Jesus followers. Paul tells both Jewish and Gentile followers that there is no distinction between them. I guess the only distinction is that everyone has fallen short and all sin. That is nothing to brag about. Paul’s religious learning came from the Jewish Testament (what we Christians call the Old Testament), so he certainly believes in restoration and hope as expressed by the prophets.
July 12, 2016 - Sunday was the 8th Sunday after Pentecost. The Gospel story is one of the best known of Jesus’ parables: The parable of the Good Samaritan is not found in any of the canonical Gospels except Luke. The story is well known but is also truly revolutionary. If Jesus only wanted to speak of healing and help, he would have made the wounded man the Samaritan. But no, the Good Samaritan is the one whose heart went out the wounded man and made sure he was taken care of.
July 3, 2016 - Sunday was the 7th Sunday after Pentecost. Monday, July 4th is our nation’s Independence Day. If these first days of July are any indication, July 4th is going to be a hot one. But we live in Texas, so we have to expect it to be hot. We have so much to be thankful for as citizens of the United States. We are sometimes a divided nation, but I think we concentrate too much on what divides us and forget all that binds us together. We as a nation have overcome much for two plus centuries.
June 20, 2016 - Sunday was the 5th Sunday after Pentecost. It is also the third Sunday in June so our nation celebrated Father’s Day. If you read Ephesians 6: 4 in The Message, it says “Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.” The role of the Father has gone through many changes in the last few generations. Most women work outside the home, and the care of hearth and home is shared in most families. The most important and difficult job fathers have is raising the kids.
June 6, 2016 - Sunday was the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost. The Epistle Lesson comes from the 3rd chapter of Galatians. This short letter is the second oldest Christian writing that has survived. It is the only one of the seven “Pauline letters” that was written to an entire group of Jesus communities. Paul is not very happy with the people of Galatia. Paul thought he had settled the issue of whether Gentile converts had to subscribe to the Torah. Paul believed that trust in the Christ was sufficient.
May 30th, 2016 - Sunday was the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost. The Gospel Lesson was Luke 7:38-50. Luke often has the Pharisees in his stories but doesn’t paint them all bad. Simon invites the celebrated traveling preacher to his home so he and his friends can decide for themselves about this Jesus. Despite some doubts they are willing to give him a hearing until… The woman who is a sinner throws herself at Jesus, washes his feet with oil and tears, and dries them with her hair. She is not the only woman in the Gospels to do this.
May 23, 2016 - Sunday was Peace with Justice Sunday in Methodist churches. Our focus this Sunday was on Paul’s letter to the Romans. It is the longest of Paul’s letters, so it comes first in the New Testament, right after the Acts of the Apostles. It is the first letter in the New Testament but was probably the last written of the genuine Pauline letters. Most of Paul’s letters were written to communities that Paul had founded and knew very well. That was not true about this letter: Paul had never been to Rome but wanted to visit and pass the hat for a mission trip to Spain.
May 17, 2016 - Sunday was the Day of Pentecost. Pentecost’s meaning “50” is because it’s 50 days after Easter. For Christians, Pentecost is seen as the birth of the church, but it was also an ancient Jewish religious day. Originally it was an agricultural celebration in which the first fruits of the harvest would be given at the Temple. After many conquests and Jews being taken far from their homeland, Pentecost became a day to celebrate the Torah—which was instrumental in keeping the Jews together, at least in faith.