golden nuggets from Sirach (1)

 

On of the things I’m about this year in my reading is working through the Apocrypha, paying special attention to the book of Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus). More and more so each year, Sirach becomes one of my favorite writings. It’s not a book for quick reading. To truly appreciate what’s being said in it, you must read it slowly and repeatedly, with reflection.

Following are five of the statements that have jumped out at me in my reading of Sirach this time through. Put them in your head and let them steep a bit.

“My child, if you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing.” (Sirach 2.1)

“… conduct your affairs with gentleness, and you will be loved more than a person of good repute.” (Sirach 3.17)

“Don’t deprive a poor person’s life, and don’t avoid looking the needy in the eyes. … Listen to the poor, and reply with peaceful and gentle speech.” (Sirach 4.1,8)

“Don’t lower yourself before a fool, and don’t show partiality toward the powerful. Fight to the death on behalf of truth, and the Lord God will fight for you.” (Sirach 4.27-28)

“Don’t be preoccupied with your money, and don’t say, ‘I’m self-sufficient.’” (Sirach 5.1)

the 3 R’s: respect

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow (Jan. 6). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning entitled The 3 R’s: Respect. Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture texts reproduced below are from the CEB.

Aim

To recall the fundamental place respect holds in all our dealings with God and people.

Word

• I will make of you a great nation and will bless you. I will make your name respected, and you will be a blessing. (Gen. 12.2)

• Each of you must respect your mother and father … (Lev. 19.3)

• You must rise in the presence of an old person and respect the elderly. (Lev. 19.32)

• … respect the LORD and act accordingly, because there can be no injustice, playing favorites, or taking bribes when it comes to the LORD our God. (2 Chron. 19.7)

• The fear of the LORD is wise instruction, and humility comes before respect. (Prov. 15.33)

• … if I’m a master, where is my respect? says the Lord … to you priests who despise my name. So you say, “How have we despised your name?” (Mal. 1.6)

• … give respect to those you should respect … (Rom. 13.7)

• … submit to each other out of respect for Christ. (Eph. 5.21)

• Brothers and sisters, we ask you to respect those who are working with you, leading you, and instructing you. (1 Thes. 5.12)

• … they should first learn to respect their own family and repay their parents, because this pleases God. (1 Tim. 5.4)

• … let’s serve in a way that is pleasing to God with respect and awe … (Heb. 12.28)

• Have respectful fear of God. (1 Pet. 2.17)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all just start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. In 1965, Otis Redding wrote the song that Aretha Franklin made famous in 1968: Respect. How much of this song’s lyrics can your group recall?

2. What words do you consider as virtual synonyms of the word “respect?” Antonyms?

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. Humility precedes respect (Prov. 15.33). What else might precede receiving respect?

2. How could/should/would a church express respect for her leaders (1 Thes. 5.12)?

3. What marks of disrespect are singled out for explicit mention in the preceding texts?

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. Respect has degrees, but can a human become worthy of zero respect? Explain.

2. What sort of things quickly breed disrespect in your heart for others? Why?

3. What behaviors in people do you witness the church rewarding with respect?

4. Is this statement true or false: “Live right and you’ll be respected.” Explain.

5. Sinless Jesus was not respected, but was despised and rejected. How could this be?

6. How does a person’s respect for Christ affect their respect for people?

7. Finish this sentence: “During my life in Christ, I believe I’ve grown in respect of ____.”

this went thru my mind

 

Aging & resentment: Pitfalls of the Pious by Dan Bouchelle

“… as you get older you learn the besetting sin of the mature is resentment.”

Bible interpretation & diversity: Musings on the Bible (1) The First of Three Questions by Patrick Mitchel

“A pressing question for thinking Christians is what to make of the ‘brute fact’ of radically divergent readings of the Bible by other Christians who share a belief in its divinely inspired origin.”

Captialism & church: Values of Capitalism & the Church by Tim Gombis

“One of the ways that capitalism has succeeded in capturing our culture’s imagination, however, is that efficiency has achieved preeminent status, overpowering all other values.”

Congress, faith & politics: The Religious Composition of the 113th Congress

“The new, 113th Congress includes the first Buddhist to serve in the Senate, the first Hindu to serve in either chamber and the first member of Congress to describe her religion as “none,” continuing a gradual increase in religious diversity that mirrors trends in the country as a whole. While Congress remains majority Protestant, the institution is far less so today than it was 50 years ago, when nearly three-quarters of the members belonged to Protestant denominations. … Catholics have seen the biggest gains among the 533 members … Protestants, Catholics, Jews and Mormons each make up a greater percentage of the members of Congress than of all U.S. adults. The same is true for some subgroups of Protestants, such as Episcopalians and Presbyterians. By contrast, Pentecostals are a much smaller percentage of Congress than of the general public.”

Change, humanity, identity & personality: You Can’t See It, But You’ll Be A Different Person In 10 Years by Nell Greenfieldboyce

“No matter how old people are, they seem to believe that who they are today is essentially who they’ll be tomorrow. That’s according to fresh research that suggests that people generally fail to appreciate how much their personality and values will change in the years ahead — even though they recognize that they have changed in the past.”

Christian faith, guns & non-violence: Violence: The Christian Response by K. Rex Butts

“… when it comes to a response to the problem of violence, the loudest voice is that which calls for more arms.  In fact, from where I sit this voice has great support from many Christians, something I regard as gospel failure. The American society already has enough voices advocating for more arms, so the last thing society needs is the voice of the church lending support to this cause. Though likely not so welcomed, what America needs from the church is for the church to be what the church alone is called to be and that is to be the voice of the gospel that exemplifies forgiveness, love, peace-making, and reconciliation. This is for the church to do what it is admonished to do in scripture and put off the old, putting on the new self instead, including a new mindset, and speak truthfully as one body (cf. Eph 4:22-25).”

Humility, patience & tolerance: Suffering Fools Gladly [required reading]

“… understand that the habits we put in practice end up shaping the people we are within. ‘Manners are of more importance than laws,’ Edmund Burke wrote. ‘Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in.’”

Statistics & the United States: Capturing America, Fact by Fact by Sam Roberts

“College graduates have less leisure time than high school dropouts. More people are injured on toilets than by skiing or snowboarding. More households have dogs as pets than cats, but cat lovers are more likely to have multiple pets. And more foreigners visited New York (9.3 million) than any other American city (Los Angeles was a distant second with 3.7 million). Those facts are among the thousands gleaned from the 2013 edition of the Statistical Abstract of the United States. …

“More than 41 percent of births were to unwed mothers, for instance, compared with 33 percent a decade earlier. Student loan debt in households headed by a college graduate soared to $36,809 from $12,373 three decades earlier. Since 1982, the number of federal civilian employees rose by 160,000 while the number of state and local government workers swelled by 6.6 million.”

the Christ house: Luke 5

 

MoSt Church‘s congregational Bible reading project for 2013, The Christ House, fixes our attention on Christ Jesus as we encounter him in the New Testament. The plan is slow and steady, simple and focused: read one chapter a day and memorize one “Christ verse” on which to meditate from each book of the NT.

Today’s reading is Luke 5 and the Christ verse for Luke’s Gospel is Luke 2.11: “Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord.”