by Ray Gentry
1 Kings 5:1-5; 8:1-13
Then Solomon said,
‘The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness.
I have built you an exalted house,
a place for you to dwell in for ever.’
The end of this week’s text sticks out to me. My brain fixates on it because I think that my church building was designed and constructed with the attitude of Solomon. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely building; I’m just not sure it’s gonna be here forever, though I'm fairly certain it was designed and built to be. I feel fairly confident saying that because the temple Solomon built didn’t even survive for 500 years.
Reformation Sunday seems a fitting day for this text. The Reformation, in it’s most idealized sense, confronts the certainty in our faith both personally and institutionally. Where would we benefit from a little humility that our theology is less a perfect understanding of the divine and more a lens of our time?
by Cara Holmquist, M. Div.
A "How'd We Get Here" of 1 Samuel 16:1-13
I've always loved the warning about kingship in 1 Samuel 8. The people covet a a king (can there be a "thou shalt not covet they neighbor's king" commandment?)! All these troubles of empire come to pass, some very quickly - see 8:11 and 15:52.
I think God intended Saul to be merely another judge, not a king. The people's clamoring basically makes him a king by acclamation; until that point in the story, neither God nor Samuel say he's to be king. It's "lead" or "govern," not rule.
The commentaries for Oct 15 were written by members of the Strategic Team for Authentic Diversity in the Northwest Washington Synod.
by Rev. Sara Yoos
1 Samuel 3:1-21
In a couple of weeks, we will celebrate the anniversary of the Reformation. We recall how Martin Luther revolutionized the congregation’s access to God by making scripture and the sacraments accessible to the people. In the calling of Samuel, God comes directly to Samuel, bypassing Eli, the high priest. Eli, much like the Catholic Church pre-Reformation, traditionally mediated contact with God. But in this story, God speaks directly to Samuel, breaking down the institutional barriers between God and God’s people.
As we reflect on what it means to be a reforming church, moving into God’s future, we might ponder what existing institutional barriers are inhibiting people from accessing God (and vice versa). How does the church need to be reformed in order to help God speak more directly to God’s people?
by Ray J Gentry IV
Well, that didn’t take long. Two and a half months after being freed from the empire that had been oppressing them, the Israelites are ready to go back. The struggle they experience with Empire is that, despite their subjugation, the struggle to be free from empire is often so overwhelming that whatever security the Egyptians provided seemed welcome compared to the struggle of following God through the wilderness.
The response provided by Moses through Aaron is for the Israelites to "Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining." But even some of the Israelites seeing the promise of God fulfilled through the food provided struggled to trust. We are told that some gathered more than they needed while those who gathered less all ended up having exactly what they needed.
by Rev. Sara Yoos
Exodus 2:23-25; 3:1-15; 4:10-17
The story of God’s people is the story of the relationship between a small nomadic tribe, the land, and the empire of the day. Today we focus on the story of Moses, the enslaved Israelites, and the empire of Egypt. It begins with God noticing the oppressed. “I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters” (v7) “I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them” (v9)
Let us begin by noticing the oppressed in our empire. Who are the minorities in our midst and how is the system oppressing them? In what ways are we suspicious and fearful of those who are different? How are we striving for control, security, and certainty – and what effect does this have on them?