Tag Archives: Deuteronomy

Generosity

Have you been inspired by people who make large gifts to worthy projects, large enough to merit your name being listed at the top of the donors?

I have not wanted to make large donations for the notoriety, for if I think for a moment, I would not want to have to continually turn down other requests for other projects. Nor would I want my donations to come with strings that would bind the project for such strings would also bind me.

Once when I received an unexpected inheritance, I split a portion of it among three worthy projects anonymously. I don’t know if my gifts made a significant impact with those organizations, but the giving was significant for me.

When I started this blog, I wrote for others, to attract people to the congregation I serve and to my website. But when I began writing simply for myself, I gained more readers, and greater satisfaction.

It has taken me half a lifetime to realize that it is in giving that we receive and that gifts should not be measured against other people’s gifts, but against how well we have developed the gifts that God has entrusted to us.

“At the deepest level, there is no giver, no gift, and no recipient
. . . only the universe rearranging itself.”

— Jon Kabat-Sinn in Wherever You Go, There You Are.

Everything belongs to the Lord your God,
not only the earth and everything on it,
but also the sky and the highest heavens.
— Deuteronomy 10:14 (CEV)

How have you developed gifts entrusted to you to rearrange the universe to advance the Kingdom of God?

February 17th: “Worship as Giving Thanks”

How are we living now in a promised land, physically and eternally? And how do we give thanks?

This Week’s Passage: Deuteronomy 26:1-11

I. Establish the text

C. Other texts for Year C for 1st Sunday in Lent

D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

1 – – Considering both the promised land that we are in and the promised land that is yet to come and considering both the physical and the eternal places where we are and will be, how are we living now in the promised land, physically and eternally? What promised land, physical and eternal, lies be for us to possess and to settle in to?

2 – – All that we have to obtain food to put in our mouths comes from the land that God has given to us. Hence it is appropriate to dedicate a portion of what we produce for doing God’s work in the world.

3 – – Acknowledgment of fulfilling the commands to possess and settle in the land that God has given.

4 – – The priest has no lines except to accept the gift. Should the priest consider the honesty of the gift (as Peter considered and rebuked Ananias and Sapphira for their dishonest gifts) or is the priest to accept whatever gift is given?

5-9 – Statement of God’s actions in the past redeeming Israel from positions of inferiority.

10-11 – Our gifts celebrate all the bounty which God has given. They are not payments, like rent.

E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?

  • Preceded with several unrelated household laws and a reminder of the harassment by the Amakelites, as if to say, those who do not keep these laws will be blotted out as the Amakelites were blotted out.
  • Followed with a ritual of tithing, prescribing how to give thanks, and a charge to observe these ordinances annually.

II. Literary Study.

B. What parallel passages exist? How do they differ? How does this author’s intent differ from other authors? Is the text used elsewhere?

Deuteronomy 12:5-7 specifies bringing offerings to the place the LORD will name.

This passage provides the ritual of offering and details the rationale for the offering of first-fruits.

D. What is the literary style of the text? And how does it affect the reading? What does a poetic form do to the meaning? Lament/Praise/Petition? Any subtle variations in the repetitions? What is emphasized/minimized by the repetition?

Divinely instructed cultural code.

III. Question the text.

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

  • This makes a radical departure from sacrifices. Other gods demanded offerings as payment for protection or payment for gifts received. This is an act of thanksgiving.

F. How will this text be heard by individuals in the congregation, including the preacher?

  • What “lands” have we escaped from?
  • How is our present circumstance a “promised land”?

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

Joseph Blenkinsopp (“Deuteronomy,” The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Prentice Hall, 1968.), citing von Rad, notes verses 5 – 9 may be the oldest Israelite “credo”.

Ronald E, Clements (“The Book of Deuteronomy,” The New Interpreter’s Bible. Abingdon, 1998.) notes this passage declares “the primary importance of the sanctuary with its controlling position in shaping the life of the community in all its aspects.” Citing Rost, Clements opposes von Rad, opining the included creed is of late and revisionist view of the meaning of worship. He reflects that the attention of this passage comes from its portrayal of God as one who acts in history. “Moreover, because these events are related directly to the situation of the worshiper, making reference to the land on which the crops were grown, a bridge is built between the past and the present and between God and human beings.”

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

Worship is an act of thanksgiving for God acting in our past and in our present.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

God gives to each of us the whole of our lives and we should give thanks for that gift.

June 26th: “nurturing disciples through connecting and energizing the people of God”

This week, last week, and the next two weeks, the sermon will consider one of the four facets of the congregation’s vision statement. The notes below lift up exemplifying passages from the Bible and the Book of Confessions.

Exemplifying Scripture

Deuteronomy 6:1-9

John 21:15-19

Luke 8:4-8a – When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: ‘A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.’

Romans 1:11-12 – For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

Hebrews 10:24-25 – Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Philemon 1:4-7

The Confession of 1967:

9.24 The new life finds its direction in the life of Jesus, his deeds and words, his struggles against temptation, his compassion, his anger, and his willingness to suffer death. The teaching of apostles and prophets guides men in living this life, and the Christian community nurtures and equips them for their ministries.