Everyone Drowns – September 12, 2021

Scripture:  Genesis   6: 9-22    “I am now bringing the floodwaters over the earth to destroy everything under the sky that breathes. Everything on earth is about to take its last breath. But I will set up my covenant with you. You will go into the ark together with your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives.” (Gen. 6: 17-18)

The most familiar parts of the Bible are often the parts we have the hardest time reading through ancient eyes. And everyone is familiar with the story of the flood. At least, they think they are! This isn’t  merely a beloved children’s story with cute animals. For ancient Israel, as for other ancient cultures, a cataclysmic and tragic flood had to be explained somehow. And Israel’s explanation was no more a ​”​“historically accurate”​”​ account than the others. This is the reason given for the flood, Israel’s theological explanation for a massive tragedy: it was God’s response to human failure, the failure to reflect God in the world as image-bearers. God wipes the slate clean and starts over by choosing Noah, the righteous one, as the new beginning.

Cain is a Fool – September 5, 2021

Scripture: Genesis 4:1-16 ; 25-26

Synopsis: The first sin recorded in the Bible is Cain killing Abel, his younger brother, out of jealousy. In doing so, Cain is following in his father Adam’s footsteps in not obeying God’s direction. And, like the Adam story, this is also a story of Israel in miniature. Adam, Eve, and Cain were already in exile outside of the Garden, but Cain’s act leads him further away. Meanwhile, Adam and Eve have another son, Seth, and  people began to worship in  the Lord’s name. The line of Seth may not be perfect, as we will see again and again in Genesis. But at least they are calling on Yahweh’s name. Seth’s line will eventually bring us to Abraham, the father of Israel, the people of Yahweh.

Adam is Israel – August 29, 2021

Adam is Israel – August 29, 2021

Scripture: Genesis 3: 8-13a  “The Lord God said to the woman, “What have you done?!” (Genesis 3: 13a)

The story of Adam and Eve is neither a continuation of Genesis 1, nor another version of the creation of the cosmos. It is a different kind of story altogether. It shifts the focus of Genesis from the cosmos to Israel. Genesis 1 sets up the big picture of what kind of God Israel worships; Genesis 2–4 is a preview of Israel’s long journey in the Old Testament as a whole.  Adam and Eve’s failure to live the wise life is a miniature version of Israel’s repeated failures to do likewise.

Yahweh  is Better – August 22, 2021

Scripture: Genesis 1  “When God began to create the heavens and the earth – the earth was without shape or form it was dark over the deep sea and God’s wind swept over the waters…” (Gen. 1:1-2)

If Genesis 1 is read with modern expectations instead of ancient eyes, the meaning of this story will be obscured. To respect and more fully understand the story, we must read it as it was meant to be read. The story of creation in Genesis 1 is an ancient story written by and for ancient Israelites. For us to understand it, we must learn to read it through ancient eyes, suspending our twenty-first-century views of science. ​”

The Genesis of  Genesis – August 15, 2021

Scripture: Genesis 50: 21 “Now, don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your children.” So he put them at ease and spoke reassuringly to them.

Genesis takes us from creation to the doorstep of Israel’s slavery in Egypt, and tells this story by dividing the book, not into chapters and verse numberslike we see in the current editions of our Bibles, but into ten sections that begin ​”​“This is the account of [so and so.”​”​ This arrangement reminds us that Genesis is telling the beginning of Israel’s story. Genesis is not about the world as a whole, even if it includes a creation story. It is a story about Israel’s relationship with God that is marked by struggle (which is what ​”​“Israel”​”​ means) over the twin issues of people and land. It is the first book in a five part series we call the Pentateuch, or, The Torah.  Genesis is not a textbook or personal moral guide. Genesis is a story and should be read like one. It creates a different world for us and then invites us in, leaving aside our world, as all great stories do.

The One is Shining Forth – August 8, 2021

Scripture: Psalm 50  “God speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. (50: 1)

The Psalm that comes at the end of our series speaks of an active God whose light shines for all time and in all places. God is not silent, but calls the people to remember that they, too, can act on God’s behalf, holding all suffering peoples in hands of prayer and care and transforming the world that will shine bright into the future. May it be so.

Whole Heart Hallelujah – August 1, 2021

Scripture: Psalm 111  “The works of God’s hands are faithful and just.” (111:7)

One mode of poetry in the Psalms is all-out praise and thanksgiving, such as the one for today. We also find praise even in Psalms of lament and complaint because “God is good all the time and all the time God is good!” Life is not always good, but when we engage in gratitude, we remember the evidence of God at work in our lives and we remember that indeed, God is holding our lives, even now.

In God Alone – July 25, 2021

Scripture: Psalm  62  “God alone is my rock and salvation… I shall not be shaken.” (62:2)

“My one and only!” So many songs have utilized this phrase to express devoted love. This week we see that this tradition goes back all the way to the poets of the psalm tradition. This is a love psalm of trust in the Holy One and Only who is the rock and refuge in the midst of life that sometimes feels as fleeting as breath. We put our trust in the One who, indeed, is holding our lives.

Where Can I Go? – July 18, 2021

Where Can I Go? – July 18, 2021

Scripture: Psalm 139  “You have searched me and know me.” (139:1)

This week’s Psalm text brings home this message: we are in an intimate relationship with God. There is nowhere we go that God is not present–no state of our being that results in our being abandoned. God has knit us together, has woven us, knowing us from before our beginning. God, indeed, is holding our lives.

Awe and Wonder – July 11, 2021

Scripture: Psalm 29  “My God gives strength to the people and blesses the people with peace.” (29: 11)

Strength and peace is the prayer of the Psalm this week. The Psalmist says “let me count the ways” that we can know the strength of the Holy One. With awe and wonder we behold the presence of God in all the elements of creation–water, fire, air, earth. And it is this glory that assures us that God, indeed, is holding our lives.