May 26, 2015

 Isaiah 16-18
“Dispatch a gift of lambs,” says Moab, “to the leaders in Jerusalem—Lambs from Sela sent across the desert to buy the goodwill of Jerusalem...‘Tell us what to do, help us out! Protect us, hide us! Give the refugees from Moab sanctuary with you....“When this is all over,” Judah answers,... A new government of love will be established in the venerable David tradition. A Ruler you can depend upon will head this government, a Ruler passionate for justice, a Ruler quick to set things right.”...

The joyful shouting at harvest is gone.  Instead of song and celebration, dead silence. No more boisterous laughter in the orchards, no more hearty work songs in the vineyards. Instead of the bustle and sound of good work in the fields, silence—deathly and deadening silence... When Moab trudges to the shrine to pray, he wastes both time and energy. Going to the sanctuary and praying for relief is useless. Nothing ever happens...

“The Day is coming when Jacob’s robust splendor goes pale and his well-fed body turns skinny. the country will be left empty, picked clean as a field harvested by field hands.... Yes, the Day is coming when people will notice The One Who Made Them, take a long hard look at The Holy of Israel. They’ll lose interest in all the stuff they’ve made—altars and monuments and rituals, their homemade, handmade religion—however impressive it is.  And yes, the Day is coming when their fortress cities will be abandoned—the very same cities that the Hivites and Amorites abandoned when Israel invaded! And the country will be empty, desolate.

And why? Because you have forgotten God-Your-Salvation, not remembered your Rock-of-Refuge.  And so, even though you are very religious, planting all sorts of bushes and herbs and trees to honor and influence your fertility gods, and even though you make them grow so well, bursting with buds and sprouts and blossoms, nothing will come of them. Instead of a harvest you’ll get nothing but grief and pain, pain, pain....

Everybody everywhere, all earth-dwellers: When you see a flag flying on the mountain, look! When you hear the trumpet blown, listen! For here’s what God told me: “I’m not going to say anything, but simply look on from where I live, quiet as warmth that comes from the sun, silent as dew during harvest.” And then, just before harvest, after the blossom has turned into a maturing grape, he’ll step in and prune back the new shoots, ruthlessly hack off all the growing branches. He’ll leave them piled on the ground  for birds and animals to feed on— Fodder for the summering birds, fodder for the wintering animals.

Then tribute will be brought to God-of-the-Angel-Armies,  brought from this people tall and handsome, this people once held in respect everywhere, this people once mighty and merciless, from the land crisscrossed with rivers, to Mount Zion, God’s place.

Luke 8:1-8:25 - He continued according to plan, traveled to town after town, village to village, preaching God’s kingdom, spreading the Message.  The Twelve were with him.  There were also some women in their company who had been healed of various evil afflictions and illnesses.  Mary, the one called Magdalene, from whom 7 demons had gone out; Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod’s manager; and Susanna --along with many others who used their considerable means to provide for the company.

Jesus addressed the crowds using the story about a farmer who went out to sow his seeds with it falling on the road, in the gravel, in the weeds, and in the rich earth, producing a bumper crop.  “Are you listening to this?  Really listening?”  His disciples asked, “Whey did you tell this story?”  He said, “You’ve been given insight into God’s Kingdom--you know how it works.  There are others who need stories.  But even with stories some of them aren’t going to get it:  Their eyes are open but don’t see a thing.  Their ears are open but don’t hear a thing.  This story is about some of those people.  The seed is the Word of God....But the seed in the good earth---these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there’s a harvest.”

No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a washtub or shoves it under the bed.  No, you set it up on a lamp stand so those who enter the room can see their way.  We’re not keeping secrets, we’re telling them.  We’re not hiding things, we’re bringing everything out into the open..Generosity begets generosity.  Stinginess impoverishes.”
Jesus’ mother and brothers showed up but couldn’t get through to him because of the crowd.  When Jesus was told of this, he replied, “My mother and brothers are the ones who hear and do God’s Word.  Obedience is thicker than blood.”

One day Jesus and his disciples got in a boat to cross the lake at which time he fell asleep when a terrible storm came up and the disciples felt they would drown as waves came in and almost capsized.  Jesus was awoken and calmed the storm....Then he said to his disciples, “Why can’t you trust me?”  They were in absolute awe, staggered and stammering, “What is this anyway?  He calls out to the winds and sea, and they do what he tells them!”