Choices, Choices…, November 8, 2015

Old Testament Lesson: Joshua 24:1-15 New Testament Lesson: II Peter 1: 3-11 Gospel Lesson: Luke 13: 22-30   The great Exodus was winding down.   Forty years of wilderness wanderings – tangible evidence of the forlorn landscape of disobedience – was about to become history as the Children of Israel prepared to de-camp from the Jordan River’s west bank and cross over into the Promised Land of Canaan.   Of the 600,000 Hebrews who were led out of Egyptian bondage – to salvation of God working through His servant Moses – only 2 (Joshua and Caleb) entered Canaan. All the others died during the 40 years ‘journey of disobedience’ in the Sinai Peninsula.   Recall the basics: God led the Hebrew people out of Egypt – through the Red Sea – which then enveloped and destroyed the world’s most mighty army which was in fierce pursuit of this amazing and chaotic migration.   Once safely across the Red Sea (and into the western-most reaches of Sinai), Israel’s salvation was procured and bondage to Egypt was no longer a threat.   But after being led directly across Sinai, free will ran amok, diminishing – as it always does – connection to God –; the Israelite’s failure to choose wisely by allowing their free will to be influenced by faith cost them 40 years of misery.   You recall the story.   The Hebrews were at the Jordan River, with the Promised Land just across the way. Moses selected 12 spies to reconnoiter the land of Canaan and report back.   Upon re-convening the group, the vote was 10-2 against proceeding...
Gifts for the Journey (Epiphany)

Gifts for the Journey (Epiphany)

OT Lesson: Psalm 103: 1-22 NT Lesson: 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 Gospel Lesson: Luke 12: 22-31 Reading of the Magi account: Matthew 2: 1-12   To set the record straight – the Magi were not at the manger. They did not arrive the night of Jesus’ birth. Recall Matthew’s account; ‘when they came into the house….they gave their gifts.’ Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem for the census. Joseph likely worked as late as he could – to earn as much as he could – causing a late start from Nazareth, hence a late arrival at Bethlehem, and at least one night spent in the barn due to overcrowding. Roman rule required payment of all due taxes prior to returning home.  So while in Bethlehem, Joseph probably took some odd-jobs of carpentry to earn enough to pay the tax and have sufficient money for the journey home. Meantime, he found lodging in a house. We are not sure how much time had passed – not really important – but it is interesting that the Wise Men were not there on the birth-night. These Wise Men – astrologers – had probably been en route from the Far East (Iran/Iraq…some authorities cite Africa and China) for two years, as evidenced by Herod’s infanticide decree that all male Hebrew babies two years old and younger in-and-around Bethlehem be killed. Astronomers have for years written of a supernova that appeared in the skies over Palestine around 4 – 6 BC, remaining visible for approximately two years. Of course, the main point is the Wise Men got there, and offered their gifts and their...