Healing and Wholeness

Proper 9, Year C, Old Testament Lesson

Scripture: 2 Kings 5:1-14

There is a lot going on in this story, but it is enough for children for it to be a story of healing, brought about by a messenger of God. As we continue to hear stories of prophets, it is good to remember they did much more than simply go around announcing doom or hope. They were agents of God’s healing mercies, as indicated in this story. And God’s healing extends beyond the boundaries we usually put up between people. Another lesson of the story is in Naaman’s response to his instructions. We also often want grand gestures and big obvious signs. Sometimes healing comes from the simplest of acts.

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LPTW Proper 9, Year C, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Proper 9, Year C, Older Children, Old Testament

God Will Care for Us!

All Saints, Year B, Old Testament
Scripture: Isaiah 25:6-9

This is the promise! This is the dream! Today’s scripture passage features Isaiah’s prophesy that God will provide a feast for all people, remove the shroud of death, take away all of our sadness, and bring us to God, “for whom we have waited.” Whew! If that doesn’t warrant an “Alleluia!” I don’t know what does. As Christians, we believe that this prophesy is a foretelling of Jesus coming to walk amongst us, teach us, and carrying our sins to the cross for us – eliminating the finality of death with his resurrection. This image of the heavenly banquet assures us on this All Saints Day that the saints who lived and died telling the story of Jesus are now sitting on the right hand of God, “rejoic(ing) in his salvation.”

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LPTW All Saints, Year B, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW All Saints, Year B, Older Children, Old Testament

The Power of Words

Proper 29, Year B, Old Testament
Scripture: 2 Samuel 23:1-3

Final words carry power. Think back over your life and see if you can call to mind the last thing someone important said to you before they were no longer a part of your life. You remember, don’t you? Last words are important because they are our last opportunity to shape things or make an impression. It’s only human to wish that we could know when we were going to speak our last words, so we could make sure to say something profound. We could make sure someone was there to record and share our words with others. David uses his last words to make sure that we are reminded of the promises of God. If you could choose, what would you want to say with your last words?

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LPTW Proper 29, Year B, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Proper 29, Year B, Older Children, Old Testament

Oh Lord Hear My Prayer

Proper 28, Year B, Old Testament
Scripture: 1 Samuel 1:4-20

Hannah is a lucky woman. She is beautiful and her husband Elkanah loves her more than anything. But Hannah desperately wants to have a baby. She has prayed feverishly, night and day, to the point that she seems to be loosing her sanity. Through it all Elkanah steadfastly proclaims his love and stands beside her. But Hannah’s mind is made up and she does not care how it looks to others on the outside, she knows the deepest desire of her heart and pleads with God asking for God to send her wholeness. While this verse can be challenging because it seems to suggest that God’s answer will always be “yes” to those who pray hard enough; it is also vital to our understanding of healing in the modern form. What if Hannah’s healing was not that she bore a child, but that she got up the morning after her tear-filled prayer at the temple and worshipped God despite her sadness?

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LPTW Proper 28, Year B, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Proper 28, Year B, Older Children, Old Testament

We Are Family

Proper 27, Year B, Old Testament
Scripture: Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17

This week we continue the journey with Naomi and Ruth. The two women have arrived back in Naomi’s homeland; but the future for these two poor widows is still uncertain. Ruth’s heritage as a Moabite woman works against her, but Naomi’s claim of Ruth as her “daughter” acts as a talisman against the public perception. The passage for today is all about claiming our familial identity. Today’s passage is a story in two parts: In the first part, Naomi worries that they need help to provide for Ruth’s needs in the patriarchal society in Bethlehem. Naomi devises a plan to secure a husband for Ruth. In the second part, which takes place after we learn of all of the ways that Boaz was a kind and generous man, the reader discovers that Ruth married the exact right person for the continuation of the chosen line from Abraham. Ruth and Boaz’s son, Obed, became the father of Jesse – whose youngest son David was anointed by Samuel and became the greatest King of Israel. David is important in Christian lineage because the Messiah is prophesized to come from the line of David. Thus, Ruth, the Moabite woman who refused to leave the side of her mother-in-law, is named in Jesus’ genealogy at the beginning of the Gospels.

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LPTW Proper 27, Year B, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Proper 27, Year B, Older Children, Old Testament

We’re In This Together

Proper 26, Year B, Old Testament
Scripture: Ruth 1:1-18

As we head to our journey’s simultaneous ending and new beginning, Ruth and Naomi set out across the desert on their own path. The journey they are undertaking is the rebranding of their relationship: from mother and daughter-in-law to partners and friends. Ruth’s refusal to leave the side of her mother-in-law was social suicide. Ruth chose family and love over the chance for familiarity and comfort. It is important to note that Ruth is a Moab. In the Hebrew Scriptures there isn’t really a worse thing to be than a Moabite. In Deuteronomy we learn that the Moabites were not allowed to ever convert to Judaism. Marrying a Moabite was out of the question. The author of Ruth states over and over again that Ruth is a Moabite because it is essential to understand that when Ruth returns to Judah with Naomi, she is traveling to a place that despises her because of her heritage. In choosing Naomi, Ruth chooses the God of the Hebrews over the gods of her ancestors. Ruth chooses the unknown and possibly dangerous over the safe and predictable. This section of the text sets us up to begin the journey with these two women over the next couple of weeks and begs the question: would I have the strength to follow if God called me into the unknown?

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LPTW Proper 26, Year B, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Proper 26, Year B, Older Children, Old Testament

Praising God Always

Proper 25, Year B, Old Testament
Scripture:Job 42:1-6, 10-17

Job has a lesson to teach us about complacency as well. For the past few weeks we’ve learned about Job’s suffering and have walked with Job as he continued to praise God despite of the hardships he faced. Sometimes Job felt let down by God, but he always returned to praise. Now, as we are coming near to the end of the long green season, we also come to the end of Job’s trials. Job has two choices in front of him: to curse God for all of the pain in his life or to praise God for staying with him through his trials and seeing him safely to the other side. Which would you choose?

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LPTW Proper 25, Year B, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Proper 25, Year B, Older Children, Old Testament

God Answers All

Proper 24, Year B, Old Testament
Scripture: Job 38: 1-7, 34-41

 Job has asked to speak with God because he would like to ask him many questions about his great misery. He has endured pain and grief from losing his health, his family, and his servants. Job’s friends have questioned his faith to God and Job has defended his beliefs. God’s answer to Job comes in an unexpected manner. God asks Job question upon question in a fast series of rhetorical inquiries. God questions Job about creation, the cornerstone laying, nature, and how all are provided for. God’s authority and source of all wisdom allows Job to gain a new perspective in his own suffering.

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LPTW Proper 24, Year B, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Proper 24, Year B, Older Children, Old Testament

We Are All Tested

Proper 23, Year B, Old Testament
Scripture: Job 23: 1-9, 16-17

Job is in physical pain and his friends have told him to repent for his sins. They believe that Job must have sinned greatly because he is experiencing so much pain. This to them is the idea of God’s cause and effect – you do something bad so God makes you suffer, or you do something good and God blesses you. Job dialogues with his three friends and this part of the reading is his dialogue with Eliphaz. Job decides that he needs to speak with God face to face. He wants to present his case to God because he feels that he has been so faithful to God that he deserves a fair hearing before God. Job feels that God is absent because God does not immediately respond. Job feels alone and terrified and he would rather die. He has grown tired of defending his faith to his family and his friends.

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LPTW Proper 23, Year B, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Proper 23, Year B, Older Children, Old Testament

Having Faith Through Good and Bad

Proper 22, Year B, Old Testament Lesson
Scripture: Job 1:1; 2:1-10

God and Satan are looking to solve a dispute between themselves when God shows Job to Satan and tells him that he is a very faithful servant of God’s. God allows Satan to wreak havoc on Job’s life in order to show Satan just how faith filled Job is. Satan believes that Job will turn against God in his misery. Job gets sores all over his body and his family loses what many would see as favored (by God) status. Job’s wife questions his continued faithfulness toward God. Job speaks harshly to his family about his continued faith in God. Job believes that in order to be a true believer and follower of God one must take the good as well as the bad.

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LPTW Proper 22, Year B, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Proper 22, Year B, Older Children, Old Testament