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28 February 2017 Bible Reading

I was once asked to officiate at a funeral. I remember being nervous because the deceased’s grand-daughter was a train wreck. She was notoriously late to church services (had never been on time). Her children were little terrors. She was a single mother. I had known her for a couple of years and had always assumed she was doing her best. I was sure she would arrive late with the children wreaking havoc. I worried about how I could minimize the impact on the rest of the family and the dignity of the service. Imagine my surprise (and relief) when I arrived to find her already there — a picture of grace and propriety. The children were dressed appropriately and had transformed themselves into the most well-behaved children I had ever seen. Although I cannot remember the conversation, the older of the two said something that made it clear their mother would not tolerate any monkey business at their grandfather’s funeral. Throughout the service, I was moved by their attentiveness and engagement. The next day was Sunday. She and the children arrived late to services, disheveled and wild, oblivious to the worship. It took a while before the lesson came to me: she was not doing her best. She was capable of the kind of preparation, involvement, reverence and respect that we should all aspire to in our approach to worship. She chose to not make the effort where the worship of God was concerned.

Half-hearted worship, like defective sacrifices have never been acceptable to God. We believe God deserves our best effort, but do we give it?

Malachi wrote, “If you offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it to your governor; will he be pleased with you, or accept you? says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 1:8)

Regardless of how we might feel about the person or their politics, if were invited to meet with the governor of (insert your state’s name here), we would most certainly wear the best we had in our closet, whatever that might be. God has given us all different amounts of wealth, so it is not about what we can afford, but rather choosing the best from what we have. In all cultures and points in history, humans have communicated how they feel about an event or place with their dress. This remains true, today. Satan has convinced many of us to adopt a “come as you are” approach to worship. Loosely translated, “come as you are”, when applied to worship means “don’t worry about it – it’s just God”. We show more respect and reverence for human governors or dead human bodies than we do God. If we were meeting with the governor, we would not be late. We would plan for traffic and other things, we would probably be a few minutes early. We would be engaged and attentive, polite, on our best behavior. This is how humans show respect. Given our approach to worship, what are we saying to and about God?

Leviticus 22:17-23:44
17 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 18 “Speak to Aaron, and to his sons, and to all the children of Israel, and say to them, ‘Whoever is of the house of Israel, or of the foreigners in Israel, who offers his offering, whether it is any of their vows, or any of their freewill offerings, which they offer to Yahweh for a burnt offering; 19 that you may be accepted, you shall offer a male without defect, of the bulls, of the sheep, or of the goats. 20 But whatever has a defect, that you shall not offer; for it shall not be acceptable for you. 21 Whoever offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to Yahweh to accomplish a vow, or for a freewill offering, of the herd or of the flock, it shall be perfect to be accepted. It shall have no defect. 22 Blind, injured, maimed, having a wart, festering, or having a running sore: you shall not offer these to Yahweh, nor make an offering by fire of them on the altar to Yahweh. 23 Either a bull or a lamb that has any deformity or lacking in his parts, that you may offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted. 24 You must not offer to Yahweh that which has its testicles bruised, crushed, broken, or cut. You must not do this in your land. 25 You must not offer the bread of your God from the hand of a foreigner as any of these; because their corruption is in them. There is a defect in them. They shall not be accepted for you.’”
26 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 27 “When a bull, or a sheep, or a goat, is born, then it shall remain seven days with its mother; and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for the offering of an offering made by fire to Yahweh. 28 Whether it is a cow or ewe, you shall not kill it and its young both in one day.
29 “When you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to Yahweh, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted. 30 It shall be eaten on the same day; you shall leave none of it until the morning. I am Yahweh.
31 “Therefore you shall keep my commandments, and do them. I am Yahweh. 32 You shall not profane my holy name, but I will be made holy among the children of Israel. I am Yahweh who makes you holy, 33 who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. I am Yahweh.”
23 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them, ‘The set feasts of Yahweh, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my set feasts.
3 “‘Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation; you shall do no kind of work. It is a Sabbath to Yahweh in all your dwellings.
4 “‘These are the set feasts of Yahweh, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their appointed season. 5 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening, is Yahweh’s Passover. 6 On the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to Yahweh. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7 In the first day you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no regular work. 8 But you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh seven days. In the seventh day is a holy convocation: you shall do no regular work.’”
9 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 10 “Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them, ‘When you have come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap its harvest, then you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest: 11 and he shall wave the sheaf before Yahweh, to be accepted for you. On the next day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 On the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb without defect a year old for a burnt offering to Yahweh. 13 The meal offering with it shall be two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire to Yahweh for a pleasant aroma; and the drink offering with it shall be of wine, the fourth part of a hin. 14 You must not eat bread, or roasted grain, or fresh grain, until this same day, until you have brought the offering of your God. This is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
15 “‘You shall count from the next day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be completed: 16 even to the next day after the seventh Sabbath you shall number fifty days; and you shall offer a new meal offering to Yahweh. 17 You shall bring out of your habitations two loaves of bread for a wave offering made of two tenths of an ephah of fine flour. They shall be baked with yeast, for first fruits to Yahweh. 18 You shall present with the bread seven lambs without defect a year old, one young bull, and two rams. They shall be a burnt offering to Yahweh, with their meal offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of a sweet aroma to Yahweh. 19 You shall offer one male goat for a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old for a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20 The priest shall wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering before Yahweh, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to Yahweh for the priest. 21 You shall make proclamation on the same day: there shall be a holy convocation to you; you shall do no regular work. This is a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
22 “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you must not wholly reap into the corners of your field, and you must not gather the gleanings of your harvest. You must leave them for the poor, and for the foreigner. I am Yahweh your God.’”
23 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, shall be a solemn rest to you, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. 25 You shall do no regular work; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh.’”
26 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 27 “However on the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement: it shall be a holy convocation to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh. 28 You shall do no kind of work in that same day; for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement for you before Yahweh your God. 29 For whoever it is who shall not deny himself in that same day; shall be cut off from his people. 30 Whoever it is who does any kind of work in that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no kind of work: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall deny yourselves. In the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall keep your Sabbath.”
33 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 34 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the feast of tents for seven days to Yahweh. 35 On the first day shall be a holy convocation: you shall do no regular work. 36 Seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh. On the eighth day shall be a holy convocation to you; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh. It is a solemn assembly; you shall do no regular work.
37 “‘These are the appointed feasts of Yahweh, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh, a burnt offering, and a meal offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, each on its own day; 38 besides the Sabbaths of Yahweh, and besides your gifts, and besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings, which you give to Yahweh.
39 “‘So on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruits of the land, you shall keep the feast of Yahweh seven days: on the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. 40 You shall take on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before Yahweh your God seven days. 41 You shall keep it a feast to Yahweh seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations. You shall keep it in the seventh month. 42 You shall dwell in booths seven days. All who are native-born in Israel shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am Yahweh your God.’”
44 Moses declared to the children of Israel the appointed feasts of Yahweh.

Mark 9:30-10:12
30 They went out from there, and passed through Galilee. He didn’t want anyone to know it. 31 For he was teaching his disciples, and said to them, “The Son of Man is being handed over to the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, on the third day he will rise again.”
32 But they didn’t understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.
33 He came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing among yourselves on the way?”
34 But they were silent, for they had disputed one with another on the way about who was the greatest.
35 He sat down, and called the twelve; and he said to them, “If any man wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all.” 36 He took a little child, and set him in the middle of them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such little child in my name, receives me, and whoever receives me, doesn’t receive me, but him who sent me.”
38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone who doesn’t follow us casting out demons in your name; and we forbade him, because he doesn’t follow us.”
39 But Jesus said, “Don’t forbid him, for there is no one who will do a mighty work in my name, and be able quickly to speak evil of me. 40 For whoever is not against us is on our side. 41 For whoever will give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you are Christ’s, most certainly I tell you, he will in no way lose his reward. 42 Whoever will cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if he were thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around his neck. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having your two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire, 44 ‘where their worm doesn’t die, and the fire is not quenched.’ 45 If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life lame, rather than having your two feet to be cast into Gehenna, into the fire that will never be quenched— 46 ‘where their worm doesn’t die, and the fire is not quenched.’ 47 If your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out. It is better for you to enter into God’s Kingdom with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the Gehenna of fire, 48 ‘where their worm doesn’t die, and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 For everyone will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, with what will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
10 He arose from there and came into the borders of Judea and beyond the Jordan. Multitudes came together to him again. As he usually did, he was again teaching them. 2 Pharisees came to him testing him, and asked him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
3 He answered, “What did Moses command you?”
4 They said, “Moses allowed a certificate of divorce to be written, and to divorce her.”
5 But Jesus said to them, “For your hardness of heart, he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. 7 For this cause a man will leave his father and mother, and will join to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh, so that they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
10 In the house, his disciples asked him again about the same matter. 11 He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife, and marries another, commits adultery against her. 12 If a woman herself divorces her husband, and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Psalm 44:1-8
For the Chief Musician. By the sons of Korah. A contemplative psalm.
44 We have heard with our ears, God;
our fathers have told us,
what work you did in their days,
in the days of old.
2 You drove out the nations with your hand,
but you planted them.
You afflicted the peoples,
but you spread them abroad.
3 For they didn’t get the land in possession by their own sword,
neither did their own arm save them;
but your right hand, and your arm, and the light of your face,
because you were favorable to them.
4 You are my King, God.
Command victories for Jacob!
5 Through you, will we push down our adversaries.
Through your name, will we tread them under who rise up against us.
6 For I will not trust in my bow,
neither shall my sword save me.
7 But you have saved us from our adversaries,
and have shamed those who hate us.
8 In God we have made our boast all day long,
we will give thanks to your name forever.
Selah.

Proverbs 10:19
19 In the multitude of words there is no lack of disobedience,
but he who restrains his lips does wisely.

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