In our end is our beginning;
in our time, infinity;
in our doubt there is believing;
in our life, eternity.
In our death, a resurrection;
at the last, a victory,
unrevealed until its season,
something God alone can see.
~In the Bulb There is a Flower,
Natalie Sleeth, 1986
Telling the difference between good and evil is sometimes no simple thing. Consider the characters that inhabit today’s readings. Laban outtricking the trickster Jacob in Genesis. In Matthew, a thief and a merchant. Fish both desired and rejected. Yeast in a batch that is properly without leaven. A weed masquerading as a plant that is intentionally sown in a field. Shady, subversive, corrupting, confounding stories all, yet Jesus offers them up, and, along with the disciples we are so confident: “Yes, we understand.”
Here is a counter-cultural good word. Wisdom is more fleeting than we might think, although it is there in abundance for the harvest. Like baptism, it takes a lifetime to achieve, and ears to hear. Perhaps that is why it is so valuable! Finding our way amidst masquerading either/or realities is harder than we might think. Remembering that we belong together when we are so torn apart is no small feat. Poking around the edges of Jacob and Rachel and Leah’s stories we discover just how difficult and important this is. And perhaps around our own stories as well. The poking, the prodding, the searching, the sorting. These just may lead to that pearl of great price.
The Spirit helps us in our weakness. There’s food for thought! Open yourself up to the Love from which nothing can separate us. Listen for that Spirit of truth. Be transformed. Enter into worship. Sunday 10:00am in person or online.
Readings: Genesis 29:15-28 † Psalm 105:1-11, 45b † Romans 8:26-39 † Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
About the Art: Koenig, Peter. Treasure in the Field, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=58507 [retrieved July 17, 2023]. Original source: Peter Winfried (Canisius) Koenig, https://www.pwkoenig.co.uk/.
And the LORD stood beside [Jacob] and said, … “Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
~Genesis 28:13, 15
These ancient stories! How they hold us with tales of lives twisting, turning, unfolding, growing. Herein lie stories of calling, of promise, of purpose, of blessing. It turns out they are not simply tales. They speak to our own lives and to the twists and turns, the unfolding and growing, and most astonishing of all, to the deep roots that nourish us—even us!—in nurturing love. For these stories are our stories. This story is Jill Jones’ story. Come and witness as Seattle Presbytery ordains Jill to the ministry of Word and Sacrament.
Enter into worship. July 19, 2023, 7:00PM at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, Renton, WA.
Readings: Genesis 28:10-19a † Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24 † or Isaiah 44:6-8 † Psalm 86:11-17 † Romans 8:12-25 † Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
About the Art: Tree in Our Neighborhood. Photo and text by Loren Wiebe. From personal correspondence with Jill Jones. Used by permission.
“Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path,… Other seeds fell on rocky ground, … Other seeds fell among thorns, … Other seeds fell on good soil …. 9 Let anyone with ears listen!”...
~Matthew 13:3-9 (excerpts)
This familiar parable of the sower and the seeds falls right in the heart of the summer growing season. Knee-high corn and its lessons of well-being and maturation are tilled together with the story of Jacob the heel grabber and his hungry brother Esau.
The long season of Ordinary Time provides us with ample opportunities to reap wisdom and understanding from these ancient stories and parables that speak to humanity through time.
Let anyone with ears listen!
Enter into worship.
Readings: Genesis 25:19-34 † Psalm 119:105-112 † Romans 8:1-11 † Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
About the Art: Sower went out to sow, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55021 [retrieved July 10, 2023]. Original source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/feargal/5765705109/.
"We gather around the well of Beer-lahai-roi, the place where God sees us." Remember the well where Hagar and Ishmael were delivered in the desert? This well is now the meeting place of Rebekah and the servant of Abraham who was given the task of finding a wife for Isaac. A well for life and for the future, for both Ishmael and for Isaac. Isaac loved Rebekah, and was given comfort from her after his mother's death. How about Abraham? All the story tells us is that Isaac has inherited Abraham's wealth. In response to our reading, we hear some of the most beautiful scriptures in the bible. "Arise, my love, my dear one, and come away." This setting declares the relationship between the two lovers as one of equals. Many believe this is the image that was meant to happen at the beginning: no snake, no apple, just two people enjoying their full humanity, that was created "good." In Matthew, Jesus offers comfort to all of us, who are weary and carrying heavy burdens. Some rest right now sounds pretty good, doesn't it?
Come, let us gather for worship.
READINGS: Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67 Song of Songs 2:8-13 Romans 7:15-25a Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
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