Posted by: Pauline | August 16, 2015

Scriptures for Sunday August 23

Psalm 84

The people of Israel made three yearly pilgrimages to Jerusalem, to worship at the temple there. This psalm expresses the longing of someone on this journey, longing to be in the presence of God. Such is the blessedness of being there that one day there is better than a thousand elsewhere, and it is better to be a humble servant there than to enjoy power and wealth apart from God.

Ephesians 6:10-20

Some people today are uncomfortable with any militaristic metaphors in connection with our faith. But Paul’s description of the “armor of God” makes it clear that the battle is not with other people, but with spiritual evil. Our weapons are not such as would promote armed conflict – we “fight” with truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the word of God.

We are in conflict with evil whether we like it or not – and if we avoid such conflict we put ourselves on the wrong side of the battle. Only by using the resources God provides can we remain faithful in this spiritual conflict. The end result will be sharing the gospel, spreading not warfare but righteousness and peace.

John 6:56-69

We are used to seeing Jesus in conflict with the Pharisees, and in the passage right before this one it was the “Jews,” which many commentators believe should be translated “Judeans,” representing perhaps a groups with close ties to the temple in Jerusalem and a suspicion of Jesus and his primarily Galilee-based ministry.

Here, however, we see many of those called “disciples” who turn away from Jesus. These are not the disciples known as the Twelve – we see at the end of the passage that they do remain with him. But there had been many others who gladly followed Jesus up until this point.

We don’t know exactly what turned them away – his references to eating his flesh and drinking his blood, or perhaps his insistence on himself as being not only helpful but essential to their spiritual life. Whatever it was, the Twelve may have felt the same struggle, but they had found in Jesus the source of eternal life and knew they would not find it apart from him.


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