Ordinary Time Readings: Sunday, August 3

Reading: Genesis 11:1-9 and Matthew 6:25-34

  1. In this week’s readings there are two different building projects depicted, two different kingdoms being built. The plain in the land of Shinar is the bedrock for what would become Babylon (Gen.11:1; Daniel 1:2). From Gen.11:1-9 and Matt. 6:25-34, what do you hear, what do you understand, what differences do you discern about these two building projects? Consider the outcomes of each: the city of men, the Kingdom of God.
  2. In what areas of life are you most prone to echo the cries of autonomous living (self-governing, acting independently, Gen.11:3-4): to secure future outcomes or propagate personal agendas? Where does this kind of living leave you? How does it affect your relationships with others? What happens to your well-being or peace of mind?
  3. What would it look like for you to seek to live in and operate from the Kingdom of God – with God rather than living by your self?
  4. Take some moments in prayer. Ask God to help you identify where the dominion of the “self” is still largely at work in your life: building, ordering, or reigning supreme. One way of getting at this is to discern what frustrates you most; or looking at your response to interruptions at work or in your daily life; or examining what happens within you when you don’t get what you want or things go “your way”? Ask for the courage to seek God: his ways and his rule over all the matters and concerns of your life.

Ordinary Time Readings: Sunday, July 27

Reading: Genesis 8:1, 15-17a, 20-22, 9:1, 11-17 and Matthew 26:26-29

  1. Continuing our journey in the story of the Flood, Noah and God’s interaction with humanity and creation, spend moments reading this week’s passage in Genesis. What captures your attention? Or captures your heart? Pause to give thanks, ask questions, or name your concerns as you dialogue with God about the on-going saga of relationality between God and his creation.
  2. As you consider God’s covenant promise made to his new creation and to humanity, how does it make you feel as you consider God’s relentless determination to be gracious and loving toward his children?
  3. God offers a sign of the covenant: a rainbow. A rainbow is a visual symbol of God’s faithfulness to his people. We see them in the skies after a storm – refracted rays of light catching water droplets producing varied colors of glimmering light to remind us of God’s faithfulness to generate new life and to cherish the glittering sacredness of that life. How does nature speak to you of the invisible attributes and promises of God? Remember one incident when nature declared the glories of God. How did it speak to you of the goodness of God or about the wondrous love of God? How have you experienced God’s faithfulness to bring new life to you? If you are struggling at present, make this a sacred moment of trust, even though the storm waters might not be clearing for you.
  4. In Matthew’s gospel we hear the invitation of Jesus as he takes the covenant promises of God to a new level of intimacy and assurance. Spend time with Jesus as you hear and receive his words. Let these moments be a type of preparation to come to the table this Sunday as we dine together on the goodness of our Saviors table feast!

Ordinary Time Readings: Sunday, July 20

Reading: Genesis 6:5-8, 9-14a, 17-19, 22 and Matthew 24:36-44

  1. Take a few moments to ask God to open your heart to his abiding word, “to see wonders things” (Ps.119:18). As you read, listen intently to the story of Noah. This narrative is more than a Sunday school flannel-graph board or child’s ark and animals play-set. It is a gritty story of an awesome decision God made to destroy humanity while at the same time save a small group of people and the animals for the new beginning again (or future) of the world. What do you find most difficult or challenging about the story? Talk to God about these things. What do you find most encouraging or edifying? Receive from God’s comfort.
  2. From Genesis 6 we discover that God saw all humanity and all that was wicked. What do you suppose God noticed about the corruption? In the same text we discover God saw Noah and that Noah walked with God. What do you suppose God noticed about Noah? What do you suppose Noah noticed about God?
  3. Genesis 6 can be a difficult passage yet there seems to be a glimmer of hope. God’s saving grace. How do you hold tensions between God’s judgment toward wicked humanity and his saving favor as he sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to reconcile all humanity to himself in love? Have you experienced ruined in your own life? How has God redeemed, recovered, or utterly done something new in your life or heart? The ruin is a significant aspect of the story God tells about the grace of his saving redemption and new life!
  4. As you conclude your reflections, ponder the sobering words of Jesus in Matthew 24:36-44. How would you want to respond to God in these moments? What needs examined in your heart and life? What might need to change? What might need to be fostered or nurtured in your heart and/or life? Respond to God.

Ordinary Time Readings: Sunday, July 13

Reading: Genesis 4:1-16 and Matthew 18:21-33

We’ve exited Eden. The journey of humanity begins with a trajectory of choices and temptations: to return to God in relational dependence for life and sheltering love or to live autonomously making our own way in the world. The narrative of Cain and Abel evocatively showcases the challenges humanity faces. It can be a difficult Scripture passage to understand. The nuances of the Hebrew language punctuates the attitudes in which the brothers’ offerings to God were made rather than the kind of sacrifice offered.  They both offered to God but Abel’s was regarded while Cain’s was not. Abel’s was from the firstborn, of their fat portions suggesting the best Abel had to offer and with the intent to please God.   Cain’s offering, on the other hand implied an offering out of duty. The significance was the intent of the heart. The discourse between God and Cain invites us to explore our intentions, emotions, temptations toward sin and the course of actions toward God and others. We live in a web of relationships. Some connections are broken, twisted, deformed or deforming due to sin; while others  seem to be life-giving and beautiful. As you spend time reflecting on God’s word, ask for the grace to live your life as a reconciler with an increasing ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor.5:18).

  1. Notice what challenges you or what resonates with you as you read Genesis 4:1-16. What do you observe about Cain, Abel, or God?  Are there any admonitions, invitations or encouragements for you from the story?
  2. Knowing you are in the presence of God who loves you completely and seeks relational intimacy with you without condemnation; explore your own heart. Is there any sense of a prevailing attitude, emotion (like anger against God or another) that may breed sinful actions if left unattended? God comes to Cain with questions about his heart, state of emotions, relationship with his brother and offers him words of wisdom. What might God be asking you?
  3. Reconciliation, either with God or another, includes a series of concrete choices and actions toward wholeness: self-awareness, confession, making amends with another. Notice Cain’s choices and course of action (Gen. 4:16 – he settled in the land of Nod, which means wandering). Is there a need to make amends with someone? With God? Talk to God about these things.
  4. What does Jesus’ instruction in Matt.18:21-33 say to you? If you sense your own need, consider how you, as a disciple of Christ, might creatively to rule over sin. (Gen.4:7) If you desire help with this aspect of discipleship, ask a spiritual friend for help; talk a pastor or spiritual director; ask the prayer team to pray with you after a Sunday service.