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FPC Summer Reading

These past months we have spent a lot of time discussing how we can remain the church together during the acute crisis of a pandemic. But these past months have also reminded us of the chronic crisis of racism that is still present in our country. How can we respond as a church? How can we respond to the call of God who asks as to “do justice” (Micah 6:8)?

In the coming months we will have the opportunity to discuss issues related to racial inequality in our country and how we are called to respond as a church. Click on the book title to purchase.

To begin the discussion, we offer the following books to guide us:

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

 

Debby Irving, Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race

We encourage you to commit to read a book (or all, if you like) and join in discussions that will happen beginning in late August. We recognize that these books are not necessarily what we would typically read in church; but hope that the encounter with different perspectives will challenge us to live our theological commitments more deeply as we discern how to best embody the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our church life together. Email Will which conversation(s) you’d like to join.  wscott@firstpresdalton.org

(Conversations will either be over zoom or, if conditions are improved, in a safe, physically-distanced manner.)

FPC Summer Reading2020-09-08T16:04:29-05:00

Daily Lectionary – July 13, 2020

Morning Psalms 5; 145

First Reading Joshua 2:1-14

Second Reading Romans 11:1-12

Gospel Reading Matthew 25:1-13

Evening Psalms 82; 29

 

Matthew 25:1-13

 

1“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ 13Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

 

It can be hard to attend to the presence of God when every day is the same. There might be a day when we forget the oil, or forget to care for what we’ve been given. The parable warns that this is just when God is liable to show up. On the one hand, then, this parable can be discouraging. How can we possibly live with expectation all the time? On the other hand we can be encouraged: because the parable is nothing less than the promise that, no matte how long we have to wait, God is coming. How could we fail to be hopeful or unprepared?

 

God, keep us ready and waiting—in your Word and in your Spirit—hopeful of your promise that we claim, in our Savoir, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – July 13, 20202020-09-08T16:04:29-05:00

Daily Lectionary – July 12, 2020

Morning Psalms 103; 150

First Reading Joshua 1:1-18

Second Reading Acts 21:3-15

Gospel Reading Mark 1:21-27

Evening Psalms 117; 139

 

Joshua 1:1-18

 

1After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, 2“My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites. 3Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. 4From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory. 5No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. 6Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. 8This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. 9I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

 

10Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, 11“Pass through the camp, and command the people: ‘Prepare your provisions; for in three days you are to cross over the Jordan, to go in to take possession of the land that the LORD your God gives you to possess.'”

 

12To the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, 13“Remember the word that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, ‘The LORD your God is providing you a place of rest, and will give you this land.’ 14Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan. But all the warriors among you shall cross over armed before your kindred and shall help them, 15until the LORD gives rest to your kindred as well as to you, and they too take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving them. Then you shall return to your own land and take possession of it, the land that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you beyond the Jordan to the east.”

16They answered Joshua: “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you, as he was with Moses! 18Whoever rebels against your orders and disobeys your words, whatever you command, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”

 

Sometimes we need the reassurance. God tells Joshua about the challenge of the road ahead. Now is the time to take hold of the Promised Land; but the land is full of enemies (mentioned above). Joshua is encouraged, however: the challenge doesn’t matter in light of the greater assurance of God. “No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Maybe Joshua was afraid. Maybe he didn’t know how he would inhabit Moses’s burden of leadership. But it didn’t matter in light of God’s assurance. Maybe we feel afraid—nervous, challenged, stretched, discouraged—by the road ahead right now. What was true for Joshua is true for us, too: No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Sometimes all we need is the reassurance. Sometimes it’s enough.

 

God, we thank you for your love, your presence, and your assurance, in the grace of Jesus Christ. Be with us in the way ahead: that no matte the challenge or the heartache or the fear we might claim your promise with boldness and follow wherever we lead, in the way of Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – July 12, 20202020-09-08T16:04:29-05:00

Daily Lectionary – July 11, 2020

Morning Psalms 63; 149

First Reading Deuteronomy 34:1-12

Second Reading Romans 10:14-21

Gospel Reading Matthew 24:32-51

Evening Psalms 125; 90

 

Deuteronomy 34:1-12

 

1Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the LORD showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, 2all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, 3the Negeb, and the Plain – that is, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees – as far as Zoar. 4The LORD said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.” 5Then Moses, the servant of the LORD, died there in the land of Moab, at the Lord’s command. 6He was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, but no one knows his burial place to this day. 7Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated. 8The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the period of mourning for Moses was ended.

 

9Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the LORD had commanded Moses.

10Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face. 11He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the LORD sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, 12and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

 

Have you watched TV recently and been alarmed by how close people are standing to one another? They’re not social distancing! We can keep distant for a while; but one of the things that we can never let go of entirely is the physical presence of another. This is true of the hugs of friends or family, or even just the commonplace handshakes with colleagues. Part of being human means this desire to connect with each other in reality—in the physical world. When Moses appoints Joshua to take his place, then, he does so with a familiar gesture: a laying on of hands. Moses places his hands on Joshua’s shoulder and confers wisdom, just as we do with our elders today. Israel grieves because Moses is lost; yet something of Moses remains alive in the physical presence of Joshua who received his touch. On the one hand Moses is irreplaceable; on the other hand he lives in the work of the people. On the one hand the presence of God in Jesus Christ is irreplaceable; on the other hand we who receive God’s Spirit embody the presence of God in our own lives.

 

God, we thank you for the gift we can never repay, in the eternal presence of Christ’s Spirit. Help us as we live, embodying your grace in the way we worship you, and in the ways we love and serve our neighbors, in Christ’s name. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – July 11, 20202020-09-08T16:04:30-05:00

Daily Lectionary – July 10, 2020

Morning Psalms 84; 148

First Reading Deuteronomy 31:7-13, 31:24-32:4

Second Reading Romans 10:1-13

Gospel Reading Matthew 24:15-31

Evening Psalms 25; 40

 

Deuteronomy 31:7-13, 31:24-32:4

 

7Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel: “Be strong and bold, for you are the one who will go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their ancestors to give them; and you will put them in possession of it. 8It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

 

9Then Moses wrote down this law, and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. 10Moses commanded them: “Every seventh year, in the scheduled year of remission, during the festival of booths, 11when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12Assemble the people – men, women, and children, as well as the aliens residing in your towns – so that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God and to observe diligently all the words of this law, 13and so that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are crossing over the Jordan to possess.”

 

24When Moses had finished writing down in a book the words of this law to the very end, 25Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, 26“Take this book of the law and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God; let it remain there as a witness against you. 27For I know well how rebellious and stubborn you are. If you already have been so rebellious toward the LORD while I am still alive among you, how much more after my death! 28Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officials, so that I may recite these words in their hearing and call heaven and earth to witness against them. 29For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly, turning aside from the way that I have commanded you. In time to come trouble will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands.”

 

30Then Moses recited the words of this song, to the very end, in the hearing of the whole assembly of Israel:

 

1Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; let the earth hear the words of my mouth. 2May my teaching drop like the rain, my speech condense like the dew; like gentle rain on grass, like showers on new growth. 3For I will proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God! 4The Rock, his work is perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God, without deceit, just and upright is he;

 

If you have watched the movie rendition of the musical “Hamilton” this week you may hear a tune in your head when you read the above story. If you haven’t seen or heard any of the Hamilton cultural phenomenon in the past five or six years, the musical is a short biography of Alexander Hamilton as he rose from anonymous immigrant to Secretary of the Treasury and died in duel with Aaron Burr. Hamilton benefited from the patronage of George Washington, who hired Hamilton as a staffer during the Revolutionary War and then appointed him Treasury Secretary. At one point in the musical, Washington surprises Hamilton with the news that he is not running for President and is instead “going home.” A song follows with the repeated refrain: “George Washington’s going home/to teach ‘em how to say goodbye.” The shock of the news draws a contrast between Washington and Hamilton. Hamilton has been an outsider his whole life and so he works to acquire power. Washington who was born into great privilege relinquishes the power he has. In our reading today, Moses displays similar restraint as he teaches Israel how to say goodbye. He appoints Joshua to continue his work. He finishes his record of the law—his life’s work. He warns Israel about the cost of disobedience. Then he blesses them with a song. This preparation is important. Moses realizes that despite his “specialness,” the work of God is greater than any one person. It doesn’t belong to him but to the whole people of God. What is required, then, is humble work that can be shared. None of us is indispensable, which is just what brings us into appropriate knowledge of how we can exercise power in executing God’s mission—only by relinquishing it in the end.

 

God, help us let go of what we need to give to others, not to be important in ourselves, but that you may be all in all, in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Lectionary – July 10, 20202020-09-08T16:04:30-05:00
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