11th Sunday after Pentecost (August 12, 2012)
Common Lectionary Readings:
I Kings 19:4-8; Ps. 34:1-8; Eph. 4:25-5:2; John 6:35, 41-51
We hosted a number of delightful visitors this week. Nader Abu Amsha and his spouse Sana, visited from the Palestinian village of Beit Jala. Nader is the director of East Jerusalem YMCA, and was in Amman to explore psychosocial support training for volunteers who are working with Syrian refugees in Jordan. East Jerusalem YMCA has significant experience in trauma healing work. Sana teaches English at the Talitha Kumi Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Jala and also works with the school’s innovative peer mediation program.
Agnes Chen, a senior at Wheaton College, is doing an internship with Caritas Jordan through Wheaton’s Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR) program. She is assisting Caritas’ response with Syrian refugees, including the distribution of MCC material resources.
Don and Lurline Campbell, from Brisbane, Australia, are serving as interim pastors at the International Anglican Church of Amman, where we attend. This is the third summer they have served in Amman while the regular priest is away. We have greatly appreciated Don and Lurline’s friendship, pastoral care and interest in MCC’s work.
Recently we were also privileged to hear Dr. Stephen Sizer, an Anglican priest from the United Kingdom, give a thoughtful lecture on Christian Zionism.
In the region this week:
- The former head of Israeli Military Intelligence predicted that Israel will attack Iran in the next few weeks. There have been many predictions like this before, and some say that such an attack is unlikely before Israel is assured that the potential for retaliatory strikes from Syria and Hezbollah is neutralized.
- The Syrian foreign minister defected to Jordan, adding to a growing list of high-level Assad government officials to leave their posts.
The Common Lectionary readings this week are about food for the journey.
In the Old Testament reading, Elijah flees from an angry Queen Jezebel, who has threatened to kill him. In fear and despair he asks God to take his life. (I Kings 19:4) Instead, God sends an angel who prepares a cake and offers a jar of water. “Get up and eat,” the angel commands Elijah, “otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” Elijah obeys. “Then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.” (vv.6-8)
The psalmist challenges, “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Ps. 34:8) In times of trouble, God answers us (v.4b), delivers us from our fears (4c), hears our cries (6a), saves us from every trouble (6b) and encamps around us (7a).
“I am the bread of life,” Jesus proclaims in the Gospel reading. “Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35). While the crowds come looking for manna – miracle bread — like their ancestors ate in the wilderness, Jesus has something far better to offer. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven,” he declares. “Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.” (v.51).
In the Epistle reading, Paul urges the church at Ephesus to “live in love, as Christ loved us” (Eph. 5:2) Living in love means to speak the truth and put away falsehood (4:25); to be angry without sinning (4:26); to share rather than to steal (4:28); to speak in ways that build up rather than to tear down (4:29); and to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving, rather than bitter, slanderous and full of wrath (4:31-32).
These are difficult times. Still, God sustains us in many ways. The encouragement of guests, and new pictures of our granddaughter Sydney, have been several ways that God has provided food for our journey this week.