Forgiveness

Proper 15, Year A, Old Testament Lesson

Scripture: Genesis 45:1-15

The story of Joseph and his brothers continues this week as it culminates in forgiveness. Joseph forgives his brothers for selling him into slavery and sees it as a gift from God that he is there to help them in their time of need. After all he has been through and all that he has overcome, he is still a member of the family and is overwhelmed by seeing them again.

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Being Fed and Feeding Others

Proper 13, Year A
Scripture: Matthew 14:13-21

Today’s Gospel lesson is one version of the well-known story about the feeding of the 5,000. It is so well known, we may not pay attention to it, but we have much to learn from it. The feeding of the 5,000 is more than a story about fishes and loaves. It is about Jesus’ compassion. It is about Jesus teaching the disciples how to feed people. It is about the generosity sharing what was there and being overwhelmed with the abundance. It is a foreshadowing of the last supper where Jesus also takes bread, breaks it, and shares it.  What can we learn anew from this well-known story? Where can we feed others and where are we being fed?

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Lifelong Faith Journey

Proper 13, Year A, Old Testament Lesson
Scripture: Genesis 32:22-31

The Book of Genesis provides the foundational stories of our faith, God’s calling of a people, their often failed responses to God, and God’s steadfast love throughout. The Abraham Saga tells of the formation of Israel, beginning with the faithfulness of its patriarch Abraham. Although disillusioned with the wickedness of men, God separates out one family line to bring divine blessing to all subsequent families of the world. Abraham, the model of absolute faithfulness, trust, and obedience is symbolic of Israel’s idealized self. At the request of God, Abraham has left his homeland to travel to a promised land. God promises an heir even though Abraham and his wife Sarah are long past childbearing age. Sarah gives birth to Isaac. Isaac marries Rebekah who gives birth to twins, Esau and Jacob. Jacob has tricked his brother Esau out of his birthright, and blessing. Jacob left home to escape his bother and to find a wife. After working for his uncle Laban for twenty years, Jacob, all his livestock and property, his two wives and 11 children set out to return to his homeland. On the way, Jacob would like to make peace with Esau. Hoping to appease his brother, Jacob sends servants ahead with large gifts of herds. A messenger returns with the news that Esau, accompanied by four hundred men, is coming to meet Jacob. Fearing the worst, Jacob divides his flocks and people into two companies, so that if harm comes to the first, he will at least still have the second. That night Jacob sends his two wives, their maids, all the children and everything he owns across a stream for safety. Jacob waits alone through the night. The place name of Peniel is explained. The injury to Jacob is the reason certain cuts of meat are not eaten. Jacob’s new name signifies a new self. Jacob the supplanter becomes Israel, which probably means God rules. (According to the Oxford Annotated Bible, 1977.)

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Waiting and Patience

Proper 12, Year A, Old Testament Lesson
Scripture: Genesis 29:15-28

The Book of Genesis provides the foundational stories of our faith: God’s calling of a people; their often-failed responses to Him; and God’s steadfast love throughout. The Abraham saga tells of the formation of the nation of Israel, beginning with the faithfulness of its patriarch, Abraham. Although disillusioned with the wickedness of men, God separates out one family line to bring divine blessing to all subsequent families of the world. Abraham, the model of absolute faithfulness, trust, and obedience, is symbolic of Israel’s idealized self. At the request of God, Abraham leaves his homeland travels to a promised land. God promises him an heir even though Abraham and his wife Sarah are long past childbearing age and Sarah gives birth to Isaac. Isaac marries Rebekah who gives birth to twins, Esau and Jacob. Jacob tricks his brother Esau out of his birthright and blessing. Jacob then leaves his home for two reasons: Esau wants to harm him and his parents want him to take a wife from among their own people. Today’s story highlights marriage customs of the time: multiple wives, a bride price, and older daughters having to wed before younger. It sets the stage for the growth of Israel into twelve tribes.

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Have You Understood All This?

Proper 12, Year A
Scripture: Matthew 13:31-33,44-52

Today, we have a series of parables from Jesus. All of them tell us that the Kingdom of Heaven is not what we would expect, that God does amazing things with the small, that God does the unexpected, that God is doing a new thing with both the old and the new.

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The Lord is With Us

Proper 11, Year A, Old Testament Lesson
Scripture: Genesis 28:10-19

The Book of Genesis provides the foundational stories of our faith: God’s calling of a people; their often failed responses to Him; and God’s steadfast love throughout. The Abraham saga tells of the formation of the nation of Israel, beginning with the faithfulness of its patriarch, Abraham. Although disillusioned with the wickedness of men, God separates out one family line to bring divine blessing to all subsequent families of the world. Abraham, the model of absolute faithfulness, trust, and obedience, is symbolic of Israel’s idealized self. At the request of God, Abraham leaves his homeland travels to a promised land. God promises him an heir even though Abraham and his wife Sarah are long past childbearing age and Sarah gives birth to Isaac. Isaac marries Rebekah who gives birth to twins, Esau and Jacob. Jacob tricks his brother Esau out of his birthright and blessing. Jacob then leaves his home for two reasons: Esau wants to harm him and his parents want him to take a wife from among their own people. This is also an etiological story that explains the significance of Bethel as an important place of worship. Bethel means ‘house of God.’ The phrase ‘the gate of heaven’ suggests the ancient view that a sanctuary was a place where God came down to meet the people.

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Wheat and Weeds

Proper 11, Year A
Scripture: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Jesus continues to engage in parables as he explores what the kingdom of God is like. The Gospel lesson for today focuses on the empire vs. God. The key message is that we are not to be the ones judging, but that it is God’s judgment in the end that matters. We are to let things grow as they will and God will sort it out in the end. In our lesson today we will focus on the first part of the Gospel lesson and let the children engage in thinking about what it means rather than listening to Jesus’ explanation that was given to the disciples. You can understand Jesus’ point without having to get into end-times language.

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Sibling Rivalry and God’s Love

Proper 10, Year A, Old Testament Lesson
Scripture: Genesis 25:19-34

The Book of Genesis provides the foundational stories of our faith: God’s calling of a people; their often failed responses to Him; and God’s steadfast love throughout. The Abraham saga tells of the formation of Israel, beginning with the faithfulness of its patriarch Abraham. Although disillusioned with the wickedness of men, God separates out one family line to bring divine blessing to all subsequent families of the world. Abraham, the model of absolute faithfulness, trust, and obedience, is symbolic of Israel’s idealized self. At the request of God, Abraham has left his homeland to travel to a promised land. God promises him an heir, even though Abraham and his wife Sarah are long past childbearing age, and Sarah gives birth to Isaac. In a test of faith, God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham passed God’s test of faith and God spared Isaac. Abraham sends his servant with gifts and camels to the Mesopotamian city of Nahor to seek a wife for Isaac. Isaac marries Rebekah who gives birth to twins, Esau and Jacob.

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Seeds and Soil

Proper 10, Year A
Scripture: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

We skip from Chapter 11 in Matthew to Chapter 13. Chapter 12 is important because this is where Jesus is being challenged over and over by various groups of people. What we are reading today is some of the response to those ongoing challenges. Jesus uses parables to teach as well as deal with conflict that is around him. The parable of the sower has many layers and much to discuss with no easy answers for us, and that is where we will begin our discussion today.

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My Yoke is Easy

Proper 9, Year A
Scripture: Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

Today’s lesson comes from a section in Matthew where John the Baptist and Jesus are talking about what Jesus’ ministry is going to be. John the Baptist had a different picture of what Jesus’ ministry would bring to the world. People are comparing what John had said and what Jesus was doing and wondering about their ministry. We hear Jesus’ response in our passage today. Jesus recognizes John’s ministry and at the same time, he tells people that his ministry is different. John’s ministry was filled with austerity (no food and drink) as it is a period of waiting and repentance, and Jesus’ ministry is filled with celebration (eating and drinking) as it is the time of fulfillment.  The final verses lead us to see that Jesus’ ministry is also full of compassion and mercy.

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