Offertory Prayer

Your offering last week empowered ministry within our congregation and in response to the needs of our community. It also helped support the work of ministries beyond the local church, such as the quadrennial gathering of United Methodist youth and adults that happened last month in Orlando at YOUTH 2015! This event brought more than 4800 people together to challenge our youth to embrace their Methodist identity and to “Go On” to a deeper relationship with Christ. The testimonies of lives changed are powerful, and the impact will go on for years. These kinds of cooperative efforts across our connection are made possible thanks to the way the people of The United Methodist Church live and give connectionally. I invite you to give generously as we worship God through sharing our gifts, tithes, and offerings.

Learn more about ministry with youth and young adults at:

August 2, 2015 – Tenth Sunday after Pentecost / in Kingdomtide

Generous God, we rejoice in your wonderful power! In Christ, you give us the true bread from heaven. You satisfy our spiritual hunger and thirst, filling our hearts with your abundant love. Help us to work not for perishable goods, but for love that endures. May these offerings contribute to your nurturing work in the world. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. (John 6:24-35)

August Offertory Prayers were written by the Rev. Rosanna Anderson, Associate Director of Stewardship at Discipleship Ministries, The United Methodist Church.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Battle planned for the Sabbath, a reflection on 2 Maccabees 15

When Nicanor heard that Judas's troops were in Samaria, he decided to attack Jerusalem on the Sabbath. The Jews that were compelled to be with him tried to dissuade him from this lack of respect for the day that the Lord had hallowed above all days.

Nicanor responded by asserting that he himself was sovereign.

When Judas learned of this plan, he exhorted his troops not to fear the attack but to trust that the Almighty would help them. He related to them a dream that he had had: The high priest Onias had introduced Jeremiah who had then give Judas a golden sword saying, "Take this holy sword, a gift from God, with which you will strike down your adversaries."

Encouraged by these words, they determined to attack the enemy because the city and the sanctuary and the temple were in danger. Yet, protecting the temple had higher priority than protecting their wives and children.

Do we make decisions based on dreams--ours or someone else's? How do we decide the priorities?

Friday, July 31, 2015

unf a reflection on 2 Maccabees 14:26-45

When Alcimus (the former high priest who after being ousted of his role sought and got support from  Demetrius by attacking the reputation of Judas Maccabeus) noticed that Judas now was valued highly be Nicanor (govenor and general), he went to Demetrius to attack Nicanor as disloyal for supporting Judas (who Alcimus had convinced Demetrius was a traitor). The king responded by commanding that Judas be sent immediately to Antioch as prisoner.

Nicanor was troubled and grieved. He neither wanted to follow this order or to harm his friend. Noticing that Nicanor wasn't treating him as warmly as before, Judas Maccabeus gathered several of his men and went into hiding. As a result, Nicanor went to the temple to demand them to turn Maccabeus over to him and if they didn't, he would completely destroy the temple.

After he left, the priests prayed to the Lord to protect the temple.

Wishing to exhibit the enmity he held for the Jews, Nicanor sent five hundred soldiers to arrest Razis, a man who was known for having risked his life for Judaism when it was under attack. Rather than submit to the arrest, Razis committed suicide in a prolonged, dramatic, and public way.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Verbal attack, a reflection on 2 Maccabees 14:1-25

Demetrius with a strong army and fleet overcame Antiochus and Lysias and claimed the throne. The former high priest Alcimus realizing he had no hope of regaining his role sought support from Demetrius. After giving gifts to the King, he was invited to a meeting of the council and was asked about the attitude and intentions of the Jews.

He asserted that the Jews who supported Judas, who were called Hasideans, were stirring up dissent. The king's Friends, already hostile to Judas, added to the inflammatory talk. Demetrius appointed the army commander Nicanor as governor of Judea and sent him off with orders to kill Judas and scatter his troops. The gentiles of Judea joined Nicanor thinking that misfortune of the Jews would mean prosperity for themselves.

However, Nicanor, hearing of the strength and courage of Judas and his troops made peace with them. He kept Judas close to him; he was warmly attached to him. At his urging, Judas married and settled down.

(See 1 Maccabees 7).

According to the Oxford Bible Commentary, edited by Martin Goodman, Hasideans were clearly demarcated from Judas in 1 Maccabees 2:42; 7:13, but in this chapter are lumped together with him. The term, "Hasideans", means pious, faithful ones, is used here as a derogatory term much as people today use the term "fundamentalists.

Do we make important decisions based on the alliances that someone has?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Battle and Treaty, a reflection on 2 Maccabees 13

Judas gets word that coming toward his army is a Greek force, led by Antiochus along with his guardian, Lysias, of 110,00 infantry, 5,300 infantry, 22 elephants, and 300 chariots armed with scythes. The Greek-appointed high priest of Jerusalem, Menelaus, supported the invasion. (See 2 Maccabees 4:23-29). When Antiochus was told that Menelaus was to blame for all their trouble, he had him put to death by being pushed off a 75 foot tall tower.

When Judas heard that the large army was approaching, he ordered the people to pray day and night to help them retain the law, the country, and the temple. After weeping and fasting and lying prostrate for three days, they were exhorted to stand ready.

Committing the outcome to God, Judas lead an elite force to attack the Greek king's pavilion, killing as many as 2,000 men as well as the leading elephant and its rider. Having filled the camp with terror and confusion, they withdrew in triumph.

The king tried to attack a fortress held by the Jews but was turned back. When he attacked again, he was defeated. One of the Jews gave secret information to the Greeks but was found out and imprisoned. After the Greeks won a battle against Judas, they learned that Philip, who had been left in charge of the government, had granted rights to the Jews and honored their holy places.

Lysias tried to appease those disagreeing with this outcome.

(Compare with 1 Maccabees 6:55-63).

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Consequences of war, a reflection on 2 Maccabees 12:26-45

More victories, some leniency, another battle. A couple of things stand out in the description of these military advances: 1) the role of the Lord in a victory is acknowledged; 2) a reason for defeat is given--the Jews had violated a religious requirement.

Judas exhorted the people to refrain from sin and took up a collection to send to Jerusalem for a sin offering as atonement for the dead so that they might be delivered from sin. The author points out that Judas would not have done this if he didn't believe in resurrection.

When we have made a great achievement, do we acknowledge God's help? Do we ever attribute our losses to our violation of religious requirements? Does a belief in resurrection affect one's disposition to sinning?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Victories, a reflection on 2 Maccabees 12:1-25

After the king sent them a letter promising friendship and permission to enjoy their own food and laws and Rome consented,  some of the governors exhibited their own disagreement. They would not let the Jews live in peace. The people of Joppa pretended to be friendly but instead murdered at least two hundred in a horrendous way. When Judas heard about this and similar plans being made by other cities, he attacked and destroyed.

Continuing the march of retribution, they were met by a large force of Arabs that had come to the aid of the Greeks as mercenaries. They put up a good fight, but Judas and his companions, with God's help, were able to defeat them. They then worked out a deal good for both sides.

Judas also attacked a strongly fortified town whose inhabitants relying on the strength of the walls surrounding their town, had slandered the Jews even blaspheming and saying unholy things.  Judas and his men, calling upon the great Sovereign of the world, rushed the walls, took the town, and slaughtered so many that the adjoining lake appeared to be running over with blood.

They continued their march of destruction.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Help from a heavenly horseman a reflection on 2 Maccabees 11

Another attack on Jerusalem prompts Maccabeus and his men to respond. Accompanied by another vision of a horsemen, clothed in white and brandishing weapons of gold, they defeated the occupiers decisively.

Pondering his defeat, Lysias (Syrian general and governor), realized that the Hebrews were invincible because the mighty God fought on their side. So he sought settlement with the Jews by granting every request they made.

King Antiochus then proclaimed that the Jews would be allowed to follow their own rules about food and laws. The Romans consented.

Difficult to accommodate customs of minority religions. Surely, violence isn't the only way to come to agreement.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Battle Support from the Lord, a reflection on 2 Maccabees 10:24-38

Timothy gathers a tremendous force to attempt to take over Judea. Maccabeus and his army prepare by praying. Two armies--one relying on their valor and the Lord; the other, driven by the rage of their leader.

When the battle became fierce, there appeared to the enemy a vision of five resplendent men on horses with golden bridles leading the Jews. Two of the horsemen shielded Maccabeus. They showered the enemy with arrows and thunderbolts throwing them into disorder.

Timothy fled to a fort, but Maccabeus and his army followed him there. They put the fort under siege but then had to listen to terrible blasphemies. On the fifth day, they couldn't any more put up with the wicked words hurled at them. They attacked, killing many. When they set fires,  broke open the gates, thus were able to occupy the city. They killed Timothy who was hiding in a cistern.

Timothy thought he had found a safe hiding place. He hadn't.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hannukah, although Victory is incomplete, a reflection on 2 Maccabees 10:1-23

After the defeats of their enemies, Maccabeus and his army, led by the Lord, worked to restore the temple and the city. They tore down the altars that had been built in the public square and purified the sanctuary. They once again were able to worship at the altar. They implored the Lord that they might never again fall into such misfortunes, that, if they did sin, the Lord would not turn them over to blasphemous and barbarous nations.

They celebrated the purification of the sanctuary for eight days of rejoicing, a custom that continues as Hannukah, also known as the Feast of Lights (1 Maccabees 4:52-59). The date they completed the purification was the date of the holiday Chislev, the festival of booths that commemorated their ancestors' escape from slavery in Egypt.

Attacks by the enemy continued, and Maccabeus, imploring the help of God, continued resistance. Some of the enemies were internal.

How much of holiday celebration is based on memory?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Enduring Suffering, a reflection on 2 Maccabees 9:13-29

As he lay dying, Antiochus made to a vow to the Lord that Jerusalem would now be free and Jews would have citizenship status. He would restore the temple that he had sacked; he would provide the finances to cover the costs. In addition, he himself would become a Jew. None of that accomplished an end to his sufferings. He gave up hope and wrote a letter to the Jews, wishing them well and naming his son as successor.

The author of Maccabees sums up, "So the murderer and blasphemer, having endured the more intense suffering, such as he had inflicted on others, came to the end of his life by a more pitiable fate among the mountains in a strange land" (v. 28).

At what point could Antiochus have changed the outcome?