Monthly Archives: March 2019

Prayers of the People

The Prayers of the People,
Redmond United Methodist Church,
February 3, 2019
Led by Pastor Lara Bruce Bolger

Let us pray

Loving and Gracious God
Where Love and Charity are
You are here; You are there.
You are where all Love can be found.
Even in the places where we don’t think it might be.
We praise you that your Love reaches into far places
Of this world and in our community.
We thank you that it reaches deep into our hearts
In our struggles and in our joys
In our hidden places of fear and shame
In our sorrows and disappointments
We’re so grateful that, in your Love, you meet us where we are
You sweep aside any sense of inadequacy
You overturn misplaced dependencies
You open windows of light and hope
So we can see our true home.
Thank you God.

Thank you for your love that comes gently
That sits beside us
That enters into the stillness of our hearts
We are here with You.
Just as you care for every detail of our lives
Help us care for others
Especially for those people who feel overlooked
For those people who are unnoticed
Driven away by policies that do not include them
Pushed away from the corners of our minds and our society and our world.
Just as you give us people who look us in the eye
Who do not turn away from our vulnerability and pain
Help us to have eyes of love so that we may not turn away from theirs
Give us a different way of seeing
May we see with clarity
Your love.

For all those people who are suffering this day
Due to weather, due to violence
Help us to see them.
All the people you have placed on our hearts this day
We take this time now to lift them up.
(Pause while the people in the congregation mention names of those they’re praying for)
We pray for them
Your Love came to us embodied in the person of Jesus Christ
And we can embody your Love as well
Thank you God.

We continue to pray the prayer Jesus taught us to pray
(Aloud in unison)
Our Father who art in heaven
Hallowed by thy name
Thy kingdom come thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses

as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Amen

Wicked and Adulterous

A question came up in a discussion group yesterday evening. It involved a quote from Matthew 16 in the New International Version translation:

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”

Jesus then left them and went away.”

The quote was used in the context of “the sign of Jonah” and the ideas that might represent.

The question was not, as one might guess, about “Signs of the Times.” Bob Dylan sang “we don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” The question was also not about the Pharisees and Sadducees or why they come off so poorly (after all they were the most religious folks of their day). The question was about this phrase “a wicked and adulterous generation.” The assertion was that this phrase was in Luke. That didn’t sound right to me, so I asked for time to research before sharing my take on it. My guess was that is Matthew’s voice and not aimed at Jesus’ followers (that is, not at the Church) but rather at the employees of Jerusalem Temple, Inc.

I was right on both of counts. I also mentioned that Mohammad refused to give his followers “signs” stating, rather, that there are so many indications of Allah’s existence, wisdom, provision, love, and justice all around us that if our eyes are blind to them no tricks he could perform would open our eyes. That might be the most common theme in the Quran in fact. I remember that more than once he referenced Jesus (Isa) and his phrase “a wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign.”

Matthew and Luke got this story from Mark.

Mark 8 (CEB)
… After Jesus told the crowd to sit down, he took the seven loaves and gave thanks. He then broke the loaves and handed them to his disciples, who passed them out to the crowd. They also had a few little fish, and after Jesus had blessed these, he told the disciples to pass them around.

The crowd of about 4,000 people ate all they wanted, and the leftovers filled seven large baskets.

As soon as Jesus had sent the people away, he got into the boat with the disciples and crossed to the territory near Dalmanutha.

The Pharisees came out and started an argument with Jesus. They wanted to test him by asking for a sign from heaven. Jesus groaned and said, “Why are you always looking for a sign? I can promise you that you will not be given one!” Then he left them. He again got into a boat and crossed over to the other side of the lake.

The context is the miracle of the loaves and fishes and the inquisitors are just the Pharisees. There is no insult. If 4000 families being fed by freely sharing with and trusting each other is not “sign” enough, they won’t get a sign.

Luke 12 (CEB) has it
Then Jesus said to the crowds, “As soon as you see a cloud rising in the west, you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and that is what happens. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It will be hot,’ and it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and sky. Why don’t you know how to interpret the present time?

Luke’s version is a condemnation of those who are unaware of their times, but leaves the religious political parties out of it.

Matthew in Aramaic

My answer is that, likely, Matthew added “wicked and adulterous” to Mark’s story because Matthew was writing after destruction of Jerusalem, the burning of the Temple, the slaughter or enslavement of more than a million Jews by Rome and the loss of the Israeli homeland (renamed to Palestine). Matthew and his congregation in Syria knew that the Sadducees and Pharisees’ bad leadership and infighting were partly to blame.

The literary, translational, and historical context and the Sign of Jonah can lead to interesting discussions, too.